Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Farewell to Summer

School has officially started (more on that soon!),
and it forced me into a more rigid schedule--especially with the mornings.
Since Maxwell was just 3 weeks old when school started,
that gave us just the right adjustment period we needed before plunging into the school year.
Now the mornings are a rush to get everyone ready before Talmage needs to catch his bus,
but we're able to have a lot tucked under our belt by mid-morning.

I'm so amazed by the renewal of energy and motivation I feel now that I'm not pregnant anymore.
Having a newborn is exhausting, but I feel SO much better than I did 1 month ago
and I am accomplishing things with zest that have been sitting on the back burner for months.
We had a pretty uneventful summer, thanks mainly to the lack of energy I had during the last months of pregnancy. I was pretty much in survival mode.
But we still worked in a few of the things that make summer so great--swimming, the splash pad, Bear Lake, parades, backyard fires, the 4th of July, low-key hikes, ice cream outings, museum visits, and one camping trip.
I'm going to miss those carefree summer days,
but I'm feeling good about the new routine we've established as a family of 6 (!!!)
and I'm looking forward to all that Fall has in store for us!
There is something exciting about each season change.

Thanks to that new routine, I'm planning on getting back on track with this blog as well.
I'm not sure whether or not I'll be completely consistent with daily posting,
but it's currently my goal! (Weekday posting)
Posting daily pushes me to find something noteworthy about each day
and reflect more about past experiences.
Thanks to my readers for sticking around!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Mommy Doesn't Play With Us

A few months ago, Sam said something about me playing with the boys.
In response to this, Talmage quipped, "Mommy doesn't play with us!"
Sam jumped to my defense and replied, "Yes she does!"
Talmage thought for a moment and then said, "Oh"

I found the conversation somewhat amusing, but it also gave me food for thought.
"Do I play with them?" I wondered. "And should I play with them more?"
When I had one or two small children, I was their primary playmate.
We built forts and flew airplanes to foreign countries and jumped on the trampoline.
I flipped them into the "poof" and put on puppet shows and drove toy trucks for hours.
But as our family has grown and the responsibilities of caring for their needs have become more all-consuming, my role as playmate has diminished drastically and they have turned to each other for play.

And sometimes I feel guilty.

My version of "play" now more often involves going on "field trips," painting with watercolors or sculpting with play-dough, and playing board games and card games.
I make an effort to spend intentional time with my children each day,
but there is no doubt that it is different than Sam's interaction with them or their interaction with each other.

But as I've contemplated the subject, I have realized that in addition to my role as nurturer and teacher,
I have now settled into a role as a creator.
I am the primary one who creates the framework for their happy childhood.
I think up and implement meaningful family traditions.
I bake pumpkin gingersnaps in the fall and dip chocolates at Christmas time.
I fill the shelves with jars of fruit and fill the freezer with jam.
I schedule outings and organize playdates.
I gather the family around the piano to sing songs as I accompany them.
I take pictures and make photo books and blog and journal to preserve memories.
I purchase gifts and organize toys to make imaginative play more accessible.
In short, I create a stable, comfortable, safe home where we learn and grow and love and laugh together
while making memories we'll treasure forever.

And yes, sometimes I play.
But not as often as I once did.
And, as I've mulled over it, I've concluded that it's okay.
My primary role is not to be a peer to my children,
and my efforts, as mundane as they may seem, are doing much to create the happiness they enjoy.

And my hope is that as my role continues to evolve as they grow,
they will always feel of my inexpressible love for them in each stage of life.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Maxwell's Newborn Pictures

I've taken newborn photos for a couple of people,
so I thought I knew what I was doing when I set things up to take some of my own when Maxwell was just about a week old.
Unfortunately he was super agitated and it was a rather exhausting couple of hours.
But we still caught a few sweet shots.
And now here we are, 2 1/2 weeks later, and he has already changed so much!

-He is starting to wake up more and occasionally smile and I overflow with joy every time.
-He eats every 3 hours pretty much on the dot. My babies crave schedule just as much as their mama, it seems.
-He isn't quite as spitty as some of my other babies have been, but he really struggles when he is laid flat. When he is having a hard time sleeping in his cradle at night, I almost always find him in a puddle. So we elevated one end of his cradle which helps somewhat, but I still spend many nighttime hours cuddling him on the couch. It's a good thing I can't get enough newborn cuddles!
-He is pretty content as long as he is fed and swaddled. He tends to get agitated when he isn't swaddled, so he spends most of his time wrapped up tightly.
-He loves his swing while it plays the sound of rushing water and he likes car rides as long as he isn't hungry and the car doesn't stop for more than about a minute.
-He LOVES his bath--always gasps with shock when I first put him in the water and then gets so calm and stays calm the rest of the evening.
-He has big, super dark eyes when he is alert. He loves staring at the wall of books in his room.
-He is already growing out of some of his 0-3 month clothes.
-He has his whole family wrapped around his tiny finger!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Hospital

The time in the hospital after having a baby is always kind of a surreal time for me.
I am one who wants to get home as soon as possible and jump back into real life.
But at the same time, when I look at the plastic bassinet the baby sleeps in,
the faded flannel receiving blankets,
the wrist/ankle ID bands and poked heels,
and the cone-shaped newborn hats,
I am filled with a multitude of tender feelings.
That time in the hospital is unlike any other as we become acquainted with our new babies
and marvel at the newness of life we witness.

This time around we took turns cuddling our babe while Sam read "A Tale of Two Cities" to me.
We looked out over the Salt Lake Valley from our perch up on the mountain and watched the birds frolic on the ledge outside our window.
We introduced Maxwell to his older brothers and a few extended family members.
We napped
and snacked
and took pictures
and rejoiced together in our little chub.

I still can't believe he is ours.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Big Brothers

The older boys have done so amazingly well as we have welcomed Maxwell into the family.
They all absolutely adore him and every thing he does.
They even get excited over his cries, although Lincoln sometimes says they hurt his ears.
The other day we were in the car and Maxwell was crying and Lincoln kept saying,
"Daddy?? Can you please calm Maxwell down?"
Wesley tells me almost every day how glad he is that he was born.
Talmage lights up every time I ask him to "tend" Maxwell for a few minutes.
Lincoln is constantly getting in his face and exclaiming that he is "soo cute!!!"

Watching sibling relationships develop is one of my favorite parts of motherhood.
I'm so happy we've been able to add another boy to their happy little trio!
I can't wait to see all that life has in store for the four of them together.


Friday, August 12, 2016

Maxwell Joseph--The Birth Story

It was Tuesday, August 2nd.
I was 3 days past my due date and had been having contractions all throughout the day.
This was nothing new--regular contractions had been the norm for the past month, at least, so I paid them little attention as I kept myself occupied throughout the day with a Lego organization project for the boys.
But that evening, as I prepared dinner, I had an especially hard contraction--hard enough that I had to stop what I was doing and focus on breathing through it. "Could this be it?" I thought, hardly daring to hope. I left to pick up Sam from the bus stop, silently willing more hard contractions to come.

And come they did, after we returned home.
As we ate dinner, I experienced another one or two hard contractions. We began to make a mental note of when each contraction was coming and as we cleaned up the dishes and began to get the boys ready for bed, they were coming every ten minutes.

So I began to vacuum.

I recently read that you know you're in labor when you are running around cleaning your house while doubling over in pain every few minutes, and that description fit me to a T.
As long as I was actively moving around, the contractions were hard and coming every 3-5 minutes.
But when I sat down to read scriptures with my sweet family before tucking our boys into bed, the contractions all but stopped. I kissed three soft little cheeks goodnight, wondering if this would be our last night as a family of 5, and began folding a load of laundry while Sam and I watched Random Acts to get my mind off of the contractions.

As I sat on the bed folding laundry, I was getting a very mild contraction only about every ten minutes. I did my best to ignore them, but each time I stood up I would get a very hard contraction. Eventually I decided to lay down. Sam and I discussed possibilities for a while, but I still didn't dare hope that I was really in labor, and I dozed off.

A few minutes later, Sam woke me up so I could finish getting ready for bed. As I awkwardly rolled off the bed, another hard contraction came. And then came another, and another.
Because I had tested positive for Group B Strep, we knew I needed to receive antibiotics 4 hours before the birth of the baby which left us wondering if perhaps we ought to go to the hospital and check things out. Eventually I decided to call the on-call midwife and explain what was going on. I described my situation to her and she said, "Why don't you just come in and they can start the antibiotics. If you haven't progressed, they can send you out to walk the halls and see what happens."

Sam called my mom just before midnight and she came over to spend the night on our couch. I threw the last of my things into my hospital bag, still not daring to get excited, and we headed out into the cool, dark night to make the 35 minute drive to the hospital.

By the time we arrived, there was little doubt remaining in my mind that I was in real labor. I clung to Sam's arm as we made our way into the hospital and shakily signed a few papers at the desk in Labor & Delivery before gratefully sinking onto the hospital bed to breathe through the contractions. It was about 12:45 am. I was so relieved when a nurse checked me and informed me that I was dilated to 7 cm. She left the room, I looked at Sam, and I finally began to let myself feel excitement.
We were about to meet our fourth son!

They quickly started the antibiotics, and the midwife came in to talk to me. She said that, ideally, I would not have the baby for another 4.5 hours so they would do nothing to speed the process along. After about 30 minutes the antibiotics were in, they disconnected the IV, and got me settled in a room with a huge tub of warm water waiting for me. They gave me a top to wear and I settled in to labor in the tub.

The warmth of the water relaxed me and helped me stay calm as the contractions progressed and became stronger and stronger. Sam and I worked out a system that was very effective for us--with each contraction he would squeeze and rub my shoulders as I breathed deeply through the pain. The nurse commented multiple times on his amazing support--he also said that he had poked his head in a few times to see how we were doing, but it looked like we were having a day at the spa, so he just let us be! I felt such a tremendous outpouring of love from him through the process and I clung to his presence, drawing comfort from his strength and steadiness.

The midwife eventually came in and began placing cool washcloths on my forehead as extremely intense contractions were coming one on top of another and I began to feel a little out of control. She kept telling me to relax my forehead, which was both annoying and helpful. Part of me wanted to scream, "I am minutes away from HAVING A BABY!! Why does it matter if my brow is furrowed???" But at the same time, it gave me something to focus on and I knew that the more relaxed the muscles in my body were, the more smoothly things would progress. So I tried my hardest to relax my forehead along with every other part of my body and not fight the contractions. And after about 2 more contractions, she could tell I was feeling a strong need to push so she checked me and I was at 10 cm and the baby was coming!

During the brief moment between contractions, I hopped out of the tub and ran to the bed where I essentially fell over onto it as the next contraction began and with one great push, my water broke and Maxwell's head was delivered! Things had happened so quickly that the nurse hadn't even made it back into the room yet. He came running in and in the frenzy of preparations they saw that the baby had his hand up by his face which made his shoulders extra-wide. But there was no stopping anything at this point, and in another minute or so, the baby was completely out and favoring us with his beautiful, furious screams.
It was 2:58 am.

We had mentioned earlier that our babies had each been about a pound bigger than the last and that our most recent baby had been over 9 pounds. We were assured that this baby did not seem to be really big and would probably be 7.5-8 pounds. So lo and behold, when all of his 10 pounds, 2 ounces made his appearance I heard the nurse exclaim in shock, "Whoa!!! Your momma hid you well!!!" 
They laid him on my stomach and Sam cut the cord as I was overwhelmed with emotions--elation, wonder, exhaustion, and relief, and most of all that incredible, unconditional, maternal love that comes so immediately with the birth of a new baby.
Our nurse said, "Every once in a while, I get to witness a really amazing birth, and this was one of those."
It really was such a beautiful experience and I couldn't ask for a more ideal birth.

Because of his very large size and the fact that his arm was up, the post-delivery repairs were somewhat extensive. And then I began to hemorrhage and they had to use 4 different medications to get the bleeding to calm down. The hour after his birth was rather traumatic and I was worried that recovery would be really rough as a result. But I've been tremendously blessed as the recovery has been very smooth and quick in spite of it all.

When everything had settled down, I was able to really take in the presence of our new baby.
He was swollen, purple, and bruised and blood vessels had ruptured in his eyes.
And he was perfectly, exquisitely beautiful.
And he was ours.

Welcome to the family, Maxwell.

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