Monday, January 30, 2012

by request, more cute baby pics

Caving into peer pressure and posting a couple more pictures of baby Rosebud. I'm hindered by several factors: 1. my camera totally sucks -- it's broken, in more ways than one, including the fact that I can't see anything but a black blur in the view finder, the fact that the view finder, bad as it is, is actually off subject -- no matter how carefully I center subjects, they wind up with heads or feet cut off. Oh, and the fact that the light meter no longer reads accurately, so the auto-flash function either doesn't work when it needs to, or goes off when it doesn't need to and washes everything out.


2. The vast majority of the time Rosebud is like this:

Seriously, it's like the kid is narcoleptic. Which works for me, I'm the most well-rested new Mama on the planet! No lack of sleep around here. I know babies are SUPPOSED to sleep a lot, but neither of our boys seemed to know what a nap was, nor did either of them sleep longer than 1 1/2 hours before waking and demanding to nurse until they were about 3 years. Rosebud has already settled into a pattern of only waking every 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours per night (yes, you read that right, she's only waking ONCE during the night to nurse), then goes right back to sleep. It's hardly even disturbing to my sleep. Heck, I haven't slept this much conceiving J. Which is GREAT for being well rested! But not so great for photo opportunities, especially when the request is "more pictures with her eyes open, please".

Most of my good photos wind up having Zoo Boy in them. He's crazy mad in love with his little sister (tho don't tell him I said that, he'll deny it for sure). Which makes for totally adorable photos that I'm just nuts for, but also means all our photos sort of look the same.

Totally off topic, but check out the skin tone difference in those two kids!! Both J and Zoo Boy have The Map Man's pasty white German complexion. Rosebud's complexion is just like mine. She's also going to have brown eyes, I'm pretty sure, or at the very least hazel like mine, unlike the blue in all our men-folk. Hair color is still a mystery -- I was born with very dark hair which lightened over time, The Map Man was born with very light hair that darkened over time (the same with the boys). Rosebud doesn't have enough hair to even make an educated guess (although the Pediatrician says she's going to be blond, due to her lack of dark eyebrows, we know that's pretty much genetically impossible, so we're not betting on it).

Sorry, that's all I've got for today! Hopefully things will pick up a bit once we start getting her out in the world a little -- if nothing else, other people with GOOD cameras will start having access to her.


To add chaos to our already busy lives, we decided to have a baby right in the middle of Summer Program Audition season (for ballet). This time of year all the major ballet schools are auditioning for spots in their summer dance programs. Summer dance is a great way for students to experience other schools, instructors, and programs, and gives them a taste of what a career in dance feels like -- training from dawn to dusk and living and breathing dance all day for a couple of weeks. The age ranges of the programs vary, as do the length -- older kids have intensives that last for 5 or 6 weeks, including room and board. Most schools also have programs geared at younger dancers, some with and without room and board. J's at that in-between age where he could qualify for either type of program, but given his relative inexperience (he's only been dancing for 2 years) and immaturity, we've decided that a day-program at the younger dance level is the best fit for him. This has reduced the number of appropriate programs greatly.

Number one on his list of preferences is the American Ballet Theater's (ABT) Young Dancer program, which is held for 2 weeks in New York City for dancers that are 9-11 years of age. Auditions were held this past weekend in Boston, and J attended along with a bunch of his classmates (see photo above). His instructors drove him up and back -- I really wanted to be there, but Rosebud still can't go out in public yet. I hear he did great at the audition, and suspect he will be offered a spot in the program, but the expense of having to stay in NYC for 2 weeks means that we'll only be able to afford to send him if they give him a scholarship (which I figure is fairly unlikely, but you never know!). So everyone keep your fingers crossed for that! We should hear back sometime in the next 10 days, then we can decide which other programs he will audition for this season.

Last summer he attended the 2 week intermediate intensive at his regular ballet school (plus the one-week Modern Intensive). Honestly, I'm OK with him doing that again, and continuing his private lessons through the summer (the expense would come out about the same). He's still young enough that I feel like he's got plenty of years ahead of him to attend programs at other facilities. But since this is the last year he qualifies for the young dancer program at ABT, I figured we'd give it a shot, as I'm sure it would be a very valuable experience for him, and give him a taste of what living in a big city is like, which can only serve to help him in deciding whether or not ballet is a suitable career for him, or if he'd rather keep dancing as a hobby rather than a profession.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

the cat who wanted a baby

Above, Linus the cat and "his" baby, Rosebud.

Linus has never had a normal life. I don't think he knows he's a cat. He's not quite human either, of course, but some sort of strange human/cat hybrid. I bottle-raised him from the time he was a day old -- a woman found him and his brother, newly born, in the trunk of her car, after seeing their mother jump out of her back window while she was driving. She tried giving them milk and brought them into the veterinary hospital where I worked the next day -- Linus's brother had eaten quite a bit of the cow's milk, and he ultimately didn't make it. (You just can't feed a kitten cow's milk and expect it to survive.) But Linus had not eaten well, so he survived, and I raised him on kitten milk replacer. He went everywhere with me, since he needed to be fed every couple of hours. He went to restaurants in my pocket, he went to dog shows in my car. I was pregnant with J at the time, so Linus was still quite a young cat when J was born, and I guess he figured J was his littermate. They were inseparable, and the vast majority of the photos I have of J (and subsequently Zoo Boy) as babies has Linus in them as well. From that point forward, Linus only wanted to be with the kids, he pretty much stopped having anything to do with me. Instead, he became the world's best kid's cat -- he let them dress him up, stick toy kittens on him as though he was nursing them, and fawn all over him.

About 2 months before Rosebud's birth, Linus suddenly took an intense interest in me again. He started following me around, crawling all over me whenever I sat down, sleeping up against my belly at night. He started greeting me at the door when I came home, and watching me intently whenever I was at home. It confused us for the first week or so, then we figured it out -- he somehow realized I was pregnant and was waiting for the baby.

Now Rosebud's here, and Linus doesn't really want much to do with me anymore. Why would he, he's got the baby he wanted at long last!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

family photos

Just a few random shots from the past week of us all enjoying having our Rosebud with us.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

purple belt

In the midst of all the birthing chaos, The Map Man managed to get Zoo Boy to his karate belt test, which was held the day after Rosebud was born. Here he shows off his forms in his final moments as an orange belt.

Zoo Boy receives his certificate and belt from Master Ken.

Our new Purple Belt.

Monday, January 23, 2012

7 days (aka, our adventures in the NICU)

Our first picture as a family of 5.

I thought it would be good to document our hospital experience. Rosebud was technically a NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) baby, even though she never spent more than a few minutes at a time in the actual NICU room (and only with one of us along to "supervise"). We joked that she was the most ridiculously healthy NICU baby ever, and everyone agreed -- the only reason she was admitted there was because she had an indwelling IV catheter for her antibiotic treatments. But it did mean that she couldn't leave the birthing center at all until she was done with all of her medications. Which, given that I was discharged on day 3, presented a few challenges.

Day 1: Rosebud's birthday was a very long day that started with her birth at 4:51 am. She was only with me for about 10 minutes after birth until she was whisked away (with The Map Man in tow) to the NICU for testing and treatment. When she returned after all the poking and prodding and trauma, she slept until I woke her up at mid-morning to make sure she had a good feeding (she'd only had a couple sips from me right after birth). Fortunately, she was a very good feeder right from the start, and never gave us any reason for concern there. Later that morning, the boys came for their first visit, along with Laurel and her girls. They all had a turn or two holding her and gave her birth gifts. Then in the afternoon, I got to take a shower (HEAVEN!!!) and The Map Man's parents came to visit and fuss over her. At this point, we still thought the antibiotics were just a preventative, and would be discontinued when all the lab results came back, and we expected to go home on Sunday morning.

Day 2: Mimi, Aunty H and cousin K came to visit in the morning, and while they were there we received the news that Rosebud's lab work was showing unexpected results and there was a possibility that she might need to stay, although the details were still unclear. The boys came back for another visit, too, and got to sleep at home that night with The Map Man. Uncle Jeff came to stay the night with us at the hospital, and we all cheered on the Patriots to their victory over the Broncos. This was my last "official" night in the hospital.

Day 3: This morning the weekend Neonatalogist came in and sat down for a chat with us. He explained what the lab results did and didn't mean, and explained that since the infection was in the umbilical cord as well as in the placenta, chances were really good that Rosebud was also affected. I pointed out that the blood culture was negative, but he said that it could have been a false negative result due to the bag of antibiotics I was given during labor and delivery. While The Map Man and I strongly agreed that we wanted Rosebud to get the full dose of antibiotics to protect her, I was very upset at not knowing what this would mean in terms of my being able to be with her, care for her, and breastfeed her. I had a consultation with the lactation consultant to discuss options. Then I had my friend Laurel come over for a visit -- she spent several hours with me and basically talked me off the ledge and helped me adjust my viewpoint back to taking everything one moment at a time. We created a little wardrobe for Rosebud by cutting the arms off of a few tops on the side her catheter was in and decorating them with sharpie markers. My OB discharged me, but arranged for me to stay one more night in that room, something I was told I could take day by day as a "boarder" so long as there was room on the ward. The boys came for another visit before going to Laurel's for the night so that The Map Man could stay with me and Rosebud.

Day 4: We were awakened at 5 in the morning to the news that we had 2 hours to get out of our room. So much for day to day. Rosebud was due for an infusion at 6, so I grabbed a fast shower (the last I'd have until Thurs night) and went with her for her treatment while The Map Man cleared all of our belongings out of our room. Unfortunately, Rosebud's catheter was not functioning properly and needed to be replaced. So more torture for the poor little girl. Luckily this was the last day they needed to draw blood, so at least that part was done.

They parked us in a corner of the NICU for a bit, but then moved us out to the regular nursery when things got busy in the NICU. It was a relief -- it was warm and stuffy and crowded in the NICU itself, and there was really no reason we needed to be in there. It was much more comfortable in the nursery, and we took up residence in a couple of rocking chairs and waited to see what the day might bring. When the Neonatalogists did their rounds, we discussed her treatment and my intention of staying with her. They mentioned that there were several families in the same position, and Rosebud's nurse promised to fight for us to get a bed for the night, although there was only one available for all who wanted it. Later in the day, the Drs informed us that we would have the available room that night (which was Monday) and Wednesday night, but that another family would have a turn on Tuesday night. The room was pretty lousy, sort of a closet with a bed and sink, no toilet or shower or window, but it had a real bed, and when the boys came to visit that evening, they got to have some fun interaction with Rosebud. The Map Man brought the boys home for the night, and Rosebud and I got as much sleep as we could in the stinky little room, getting up every couple of hours to traipse across the hall to the NICU for her treatments.

Day 5: This was our "hospital hobo" day. Since we had no room for the night, we settled into our rocking chairs in the nursery and prepared to wait it out. I was quite resolute that I wasn't leaving the hospital. The Map Man was running out for meals for us, and I was making the best of the public restroom just outside of the Family Birthing Center. The boys spent the day with The Map Man's parents and the night with Laurel -- since we didn't have a place to be, they couldn't come to visit. When the night shift came on, Rosebud's nurse asked me what my plan was, and I told her this WAS the plan. So I spent the night sitting in the rocking chair, holding and feeding Rosebud, only leaving her to use the bathroom as needed. I sent The Map Man home to get some sleep around midnight since everyone seemed OK with me stubbornly sitting in my rocker. It made for a very long night, but we all survived it. An entire night in the nursery was certainly an eye-opening experience, and very confirming that I'd made the right decision to stay, and to always have one of us with Rosebud during treatments.

Day 6: The Map Man came back early with breakfast for me, but wound up having the throw it out because I was in the middle of the ordeal of trying to get another new catheter into Rosebud. First we had to pin her down and try to save the old catheter, which was very traumatizing for the poor little girl (and her poor old mother), then 5 different people tried to place a catheter but kept blowing her veins. Finally the Neonatalogist came in and place a catheter in a large vein in her leg. Which meant that it was less likely to blow and need replacing, but also meant that she could more acutely feel her IV treatments, which became very unpleasant for her. Poor little thing. Half way through the day we were told that we would not get to have the room we were promised for that night, which was a real bummer, but we figured we'd survived this far, we'd make it a bit farther. We rearranged childcare plans for the boys, then rearranged it again when suddenly we WERE able to get the room. The boys came for a short visit that evening, then went back to Laurel's for one more night so The Map Man could stay with us. We actually got quite a bit of sleep that night, as Rosebud shifted her schedule to sleep for two back-to-back 3 hour stretches.

Day 7: We woke up on the home stretch! After Rosebud's morning treatments we napped a bit more in our room until we had to check out at 11. Then we settled into the nursery to await her last treatment at 4pm and her discharge. As it got closer to 4, I became very antsy and found it impossible to sit still. I couldn't believe how physically ramped up I felt. Finally 4 came, and she got her last treatment, got her catheter removed, and we signed all the papers we needed to sign. The Map Man warmed up the van, and I carried her out of the Family Birthing Center at long last!

Home at last!!!! The boys fuss over their sister, they were as happy to get her home as The Map Man and I were.

We need to keep Rosebud away from others for a couple of weeks, since any fever that might start is going to be treated aggressively, so better to keep her away from other germs for a bit, just in case. We're watching her temperature to make sure it doesn't start going up, but otherwise we're just living our lives and loving our new little flower! We're looking forward to being able to take her out visiting and show her off a bit once we're done with our little "quarantine" period. But for now it's a whole lot of snuggling!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Rosebud's birth story

I've included some photos of Rosebud's first couple of hours -- nothing graphic, so don't worry. (This first is of me holding her for a quick photo after they first bundled her up -- I got to hold her a little when she first came out and The Map Man was dealing with the cord, etc, but of course neither of us were thinking of photos at that point!)

I went into labor the morning of Wednesday, January 11. When I got out of bed at 7am, I lost my mucous plug, and contractions began soon thereafter, although they weren't particularly organized. We went about our day as scheduled, although I did call The Map Man to come home from work at noon, just so I wasn't driving around in labor in case things suddenly got serious. While we sat in the ballet studio during J's classes, the contractions settled into a good solid pattern of every 5 minutes for about a minute each. I called my OB on the way to pick up dinner, and since I was going to be a VBAC, she wanted me checked at the hospital, so we took a drive over there around 6pm. They confirmed that I was in early labor, but I hadn't really dilated yet, so I convinced them to send me home until my scheduled induction the next morning at 7am. We dropped the kids off at Laurel's (our incredibly wonderful friend and support system!) and went home, where I continued to labor at about the same level all night, but also managed to get in a couple hour's worth of sleep.

(This is a photo I must have taken of The Map Man and one of our nurses working on Rosebud at the warming table in our labor/delivery room. Honestly, I can't remember taking it, or even having had the camera in my hands, but apparently I must have!)

We awoke to snow and ice and a treacherous drive to the hospital. The highway was closed due to a serious accident, so we poked along on back roads and called to warn them we'd be a little late. My labor was still in the quite early stages, but we discovered that I was dilated to 2cm when I was examined, so I was pretty thrilled with that. They hooked me up to pitocin and began augmenting the contractions, which picked up right away into a good solid rhythm of every 3 to 4 minutes for about a minute. We spent some time walking in the hallways. My OB checked in on me around noon, but I was still only at 2cm. She broke my water at that point (and I have to say, the fluid gushing out of me for my subsequent contractions was by far my least favorite part of my labor -- I found it quite disgusting, actually). They continued increasing the amount of pitocin. At some point I started running a fever, which continued to climb throughout my labor until I was about 102.5 a couple hours before pushing, at which point they hung a bag of antibiotics on me. Rosebud was giving them a really hard time with the remote monitor, she kept shifting her position, and finally they asked to place an internal fetal monitor, which ended my ability to walk in the halls, but I could still sit on my birth ball or the edge of the bed to labor.

(Rosebud on the scale for the first time -- 8lbs, 7oz.)

My OB checked on me again around 9pm and found me to be at 5-6 cm. I was absolutely thrilled -- so far I had been managing the contractions without pain meds and felt like I could keep going for awhile more like that. However, Rosebud's heart rate had started dropping at the peaks of the contractions, and they realized that she too was running a fever. They wanted to push my pitocin even further, and they suggested that now was a good time to get the epidural, as not only might it relax me and get me to dilate faster, but also would also ensure that if I did wind up needing a c-section, things would go much smoother if the epidural was already in place. I debated over this for awhile (I was going through a period where I could not make up my mind about anything, The Map Man said it was a definite shift in my attitude). Finally I did ask for the epidural (around 9:45), and got it at 10:30. What a horrid experience that was -- at that point my contractions were 3 minutes apart and 2 minutes in duration, plus I was on a blood pressure cuff that kept triple-inflating because my blood pressure had shot up so high (due to my fever), and I was shaking uncontrollably also due to the fever. That wasn't exactly conducive to relaxing and holding still while they stuck a big needle in my back. But I got through it with help from The Map Man and a really wonderful nurse, and soon I was comfortable, although still shaking. Warm blankets helped me relax enough to be able to sleep.

(Rosebud receives her first IV antibiotic infusion on a warming table in the nursery.)

At midnight the OB checked on me again. I was still at 5-6 cm. Everyone was getting worried about our temperatures and the heart decelerations, and I had a strong impression that if things didn't get moving, I was going to wind up with another c-section by dawn. I tried not to let that bother me, reminding myself that a healthy baby was the important thing, and I agreed to do whatever my OB decided was right. We went back to sleep for awhile. Around 2 am on Friday morning, I began feeling a lot of pressure in my vaginal area. I told the nurse and she checked me, but felt that I was still at the same dilation level, although my cervix seemed to be completely thinned out. The pressure continued to increase, and they woke my OB and had her come check me around 3am. She said "almost there!" and did the happy "almost there" dance. I heard her tell my nurse "we're pushing in 10 minutes," so I woke up The Map Man by saying "Hey, honey, wake up, we're having a baby!"

(Our sweet little Rosebud, back with a very happy Mommy a couple hours later.)

I began pushing at 3:15am. Our nurse had a couple of other nurses join her as back-up. She assured me that I was pushing correctly. I couldn't believe how much it hurt, or how strong the need to push was, but I still didn't feel like it was really going to happen until my OB came in. Then I shifted into a whole different gear -- she sat down and said "alright, we're having this baby right NOW." And a few pushes later, at 4:51am, out came Rosebud! I could tell we were getting close when I heard The Map Man begin choking up -- he was counting for me during my pushes, and I knew that he must see her. I had my eyes closed and was very focused on what I was doing, but very clearly was thinking "I can't believe I'm doing this!" The feeling of seeing her beautiful little self placed up on my belly was the most amazing thing!!!

Her fever was as high as mine, and they decided to send the placenta off for pathology and start her on antibiotics, just in case, although everyone assumed her fever was due to mine. My own fever dropped immediately after giving birth. They let me nurse her quickly (she latched on like a pro from the start!), then she went with The Map Man and the pediatric team to the nursery for evaluation, blood tests, catheterization, and her first doses of antibiotics. We were all shocked when the pathology report showed a severe infection in both the placenta and the umbilical cord. Even though Rosebud's blood culture came back negative, they feared that it might be a false negative due to the antibiotics I received during labor, so it was determined that she should stay for a full 7 day course of antibiotics. But more about our adventures in the NICU later!

Friday, January 20, 2012

she's here and we're home!

Sorry to leave you all hanging and wondering!

Our Rosebud was born at 4:51 am on Friday, January 13, weighing in at 8lbs 7oz and measuring 21 1/2 inches long. I'll be posting MANY more photos, her birth story (I did it! I got my VBA2C!!), and our adventures in the NICU (purely precautionary, there's not a thing wrong with this cutie pie!) in the coming days, but right now we are just THRILLED to all be home and together at last! We got home last night, and are all dripping in love with our adorable, sweet baby girl!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

changing table and baby update

The boys put together a changing table for their little sister today. Well, OK, so the changing table is really for their big mother -- at my age, I just don't feel like getting down on the floor or bending over my bed to change her, so for the first time in our parenting history, The Map Man and I decided to buy a piece of baby furniture. (All our babies have slept in bed with us until weaning, so we've never had a need for traditional nursery furniture.) Luckily for us, the Man's office had gifted us with a large enough gift certificate that all we actually paid for was tax and shipping, so it was pretty painless. And made a nice project for the boys.

So, I know everyone is pretty much waiting for me to announce the birth of little baby Rosebud. As my babies always do, she is making us wait until she is good and ready. I went into labor with J on my due date (which would be this coming Tues or Weds for Rosebud). I never did go into labor with Zoo Boy, and chose a repeat c-section at 42 weeks with him (as opposed to being induced for a VBAC with a 10lb + baby). This time I've agreed to induction just a couple days after her due date, so she'll be on her way one way or another as of Thursday. She's measuring a little over 8lbs at the moment, we're all guessing about 8 1/2 lbs by the time she's born, and my chiropractor reassures me that her head does not feel large.

I feel like I really could go into labor anytime. At my most recent appointment yesterday afternoon, I found out that I'm 50% effaced (cervix thinning) and that her head is low and well engaged with the cervix, so even though I wasn't dilating yet, that could start really anytime and I should progress nicely when it does. I've never been told that my baby's head was low and engaged before (not even when I was fully dilated and pushing with J!), so I'm feeling very positive and confident that I'll get my VBAC this time. I have an appointment with my chiropractor on Tuesday mid-day, she'll do some voodoo to try to ease me into labor, then I have a doctor's appointment later that afternoon where she'll do some voodoo of her own.

So it'll be soon, one way or another! And now we're ready with a handy place to change her when she gets here!

We're all very excited and ready to welcome baby Rosebud into our family. I will try to post a photo from the hospital with The Map Man's smart phone.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

THE belly shot (the one and only so get it while you can)

And there you have it, a 39-week pregnant belly. For those of you who have seen me at +80lbs during the pregnancy with each of my boys, this isn't too terribly shocking -- +27lbs just isn't anywhere near as dramatic.

Stay tuned, I'm bound to have exciting news sometime soon!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

resolutions (or lack thereof)

Every year for the past half dozen or so I've posted a year-end wrap up where I post progress on goals I'd set at the start of the year, and then I post again in a few days with my goals for the coming year. I've always enjoyed both reviewing the year and looking ahead, but I'm changing that all this year. In fact, I'm not even going back to read what goals I had set for this year, because it's all entirely beside the point now.

With this pregnancy throwing us all for a loop, generally changing the future "face" of our family, and making me feel like I've accomplished something just by getting out of bed every day, I can pretty much guarantee I achieved none of whatever goals I set for myself for 2011. At the same time, I've come more and more to understand that it's not about what you do or do not accomplish, or how you go about accomplishing it, but rather that you are living your life in the moment, every moment, regardless of what that moment brings your way. That's a pretty huge leap for an over-planning dreamer like me, and while I've always known that I WANT to live my life that way, the actual implementation has been a process. I think I'm close.

So I have no goals for 2012. Oh sure, I have wishes, and hopes, and a general feeling of how I can see things going for us. But I also am 100% committed to just taking life as it comes this year, living in the moments as they happen, and enjoying my family, our farm, and the lives we have built together to the absolute fullest, every moment of every day.

And that's my one and only resolution for this year. Just to BE, and to be OK with whatever will be. I'm pretty sure it's going to be an amazing year, and I don't want to miss a single minute of it thinking of what could be or could have been.

Wishing you all a joyous, present New Year!