February 15, 2017

When your toddler turns into the Hulk.

We've had one of those weeks where it's like the Energizer Bunny from Hell. It just keeps going and going and going and, seriously, is it only Wednesday? At least, that's how the week started.

After reading another scary article someone shared on Facebook about RSV, I noticed Molly had some of the symptoms. She's fine, but we spent 24 hours in the hospital with her under observation just to make sure she was okay.

When her and I got home, Parker had a nasty cough and a rash that looked similar to one he had when he had an ear infection. Off to the clinic he and Karl went, where they waited two nightmarish hours (anything over 20 minutes of waiting with a toddler is like a visit to a psychopathic dentist) only to find out he didn't have an ear infection, just a cold. They came home with a prescription for a puffer and some steroids to help with his wheezing.

The pharmacist instructed me to only give Parker the steroids in the morning with breakfast because it would give him an energy boost. May the good Lord have mercy on us all because he wasn't kidding.

Parker destroyed our house this morning. I'm not exaggerating. There's usually a fair amount of chaos left in a toddler's wake, but this morning he reached a new level. No amount of discipline could get him to listen to me and stop attacking my tea trolley or breast pump while I used it. He pulled the change pad off his dresser. He pulled the clothes out of his laundry basket and drawers. He got everything off the top of his bookshelf. I walked in on him trying to tip his bookshelf over. My house looks like it's been searched by very inconsiderate thieves. The place is trashed.

My toddler had a case of roid rage and it was terrifying.

Molly had her follow-up appointment with the paediatrician today so I asked him about Parker and he told me that steroids aren't necessary for bronchiolitis (which is what Molly has so Parker likely does to). Sold. Done. No more steroids for that kid unless daycare wants to take him tomorrow because I am not a crazy person, but I will be if we go through that again.

On the bright side, all the built up tension from having a small scale natural disaster take place in my home has given me enough pent up tension and energy to go back to the gym and hit the treadmill. If I don't, I worry that I may have my own Incredible Hulk moment. I also have an excuse to redecorate Parker's room and a new bookshelf for my living room. Winning.

February 06, 2017

You win some, you lose some.

After a solid month of having family around, we are finally getting the chance to try our hand at being just a family of four. Today was the first day of just me and the kids at home, and there were no tears. (Even though only two of us are actually able to produce tears at the moment.)

Molly will be four weeks old tomorrow and, even though I'm not as much of a mental case as I was when Parker was born, I'm still pretty sleep deprived and, as a result, plain old stupid. My brain power is being used to change bums and ensure that anyone under three feet tall is fed in a timely manner. Everything else is secondary. Except laundry. I am a laundry doing fiend and when it eventually gets folded I put it away like a fiend, too. We're still working on getting back into a fiendish folding routine. We're only four weeks in though, and I know it was a solid eight with Parker before I felt capable of life.

When I dropped my mom off at the airport Saturday evening I managed to confuse myself enough with figuring out how to drive to Michaels afterward that I started thinking it was Friday and wow rush hour traffic was light and dang I might as well go to the thrift store on the way home to pick up some books since I have no kids. Except of course it was closed because it wasn't Friday at all and things close earlier on Saturdays. Then I went home and to bed at 8:30 because adulting is fun.

I cleaned my kitchen this morning, did laundry, and emptied the dishwasher so I think the second time mom is ahead of the game. I imagine moms with three or more kids are making dinner in the delivery room they're such pros.

Having a toddler and a newborn presents its own challenges. When Karl's around I like to negotiate my way out of changing all the diapers. I'll offer to do one kid in exchange for him doing the other. The question I find myself asking is whether I'd rather change one giant raunchy toddler turd or eight newborn ones. Usually there's no actual option, but these are the deep things I think about in the middle of at the night while I'm up at BFG o'clock acting as baby buffet.

I remember thinking with newborn Parker that he never napped when I wanted. Why did that kid just want to be awake and torment me? Now I can't help but wish he slept like he did when he was a newborn. Okay, I wouldn't trade the 13 Parker-free hours I get a night for all the diamonds in the world, but during the day? Yes, please, nap all the time. I didn't sleep while holding him until he got his first cold at two months because I had the fear of squishing him branded into my soul by the health nurses. This go-round Molly and I nap together regularly and we tend to co-sleep half the nights. She's got some gas issues (she doesn't like it) and I have some issues with being woken up every couple hours (I don't like it) so cuddling is mutually beneficial. She has someone to fart on and I can get up to three and a half hours of sleep in a row.

During the day I get to stare enviously at Molly napping in her vibrating massage chair, working to get the gas out, while I get fed pieces of chalk and pull a wooden bee around the house on plastic cord. Today the big game was helping Parker put on his hoodie and zipping it up everything 90 seconds.

With Parker I found I had to go easy on my ginger consumption, but I now I've had the horrendous realization that I may need to take a break from eating black beans with Molly. I was planning on making (and eating most of) a bean cake for her due date. I'm glad I realized the negative impact that can have on our lives/sleep before I went hardcore. I'm sad, but I've got coffee to comfort me so it could be much worse. And I'm fairly confident in my ability to make a decent chickpea cake.

Parker fell down the stairs yesterday before going to a Superbowl party with Karl. It wrecked me, hearing the thump-thump-thump-cry. He was fine, just scared, but we didn't see it happen and I had visions of him with a broken head or neck and then I contemplated getting our fireplaces removed and wrapping him in bubble wrap. I had a lot of that kind of anxiety when he was born, but I'm doing really well this time. I've never thought about getting a helmet for Molly, and she's only had one head injury so far.

Parker is very into his books, and the other day he got a little over zealous with the Toot book (his current favourite) and hit Molly in the temple with the corner of it while I was burping her. She cried, he cried, she had a tiny red mark on her head all day, but the real takeaway was that he loves her enough to feel empathy to whatever  extent a toddler can actual feel complex emotions. I just know they're going to be BFFs, he just has to stop trying to stick his fingers in her eyes and ears.

Molly and I had our own grand old Superbowl party. We drank milk, ate cookies, got tummy massages, and watched Sherlock. I even did laundry. The good life.

I have to say, I really wasn't sad to see the tail end of January. Excepting Molly, it was kind of a crummy month. Sure, I ate some amazing cake, but I spent a fair amount of time in a body that was, in all likelihood, trying to kill me. Without modern medicine I would have been a walking bag of infection (probably still would be, and super pregnant to boot). Nevermind the whole water breaking thing, but I also got a stomach bug last weekend. There is nothing more desirable than having a 2.5 week old infant and being forced to spend an embarrassing amount of time in the bathroom while also necessitating a giant mixing bowl beside your bed. It's okay, though, because I lost five lbs over night, and since I'd over indulged in lactation cookies my milk supply didn't seem to suffer one bit. I was also the only person in the house to get sick and had a good excuse to stay home from church with Molly and watch Netflix.

I've got to hand it to January, though. I surpassed my weight loss goal, and am now down 23 (okay, 20 since I started eating/drinking again) lbs. Take that, Christmas weight.

Speaking of food, our church has arranged a meal train for us, so instead of making supper this week I can do other productive thing instead of preparing food for my family. Like blogging.

January 21, 2017

Molly's birth story

With a due date of February 7, I always suspected Molly would be a January baby. Parker was, after all, eight days early, relatively unusual for a first pregnancy. Babies, of course, don't follow any rules, though, and no one can ever predict what's going to happen. Pretty much the only guarantee is that eventually, somehow that baby is going to exit your womb. In my mind I figured that she would probably be two weeks early, never imagining that she'd be so eager to join the outside world she'd try for a full 36 days early.

This is a birth story. It's long and involved. Go grab a coffee, grab a snack, and maybe grab a quick nap beforehand if you're feeling drowsy. I make no apologies.

I wrote about those first few days already so I'm not going to spend too much time rehashing them, but my water broke early, possibly January 1st but definitely January 2nd. When presented with our options, my doctor recommended being induced on the 2nd at 34 weeks and 6 days.

I was fairly flexible with my birth plan, the goal always being to have a baby and bring it home, and this time I knew with absolute certainty I wanted an epidural. I never thought much about the bringing baby home part of the plan because it always just seemed like such a given. With a normal pregnancy and normal ultrasounds and prenatal appointments it never even crossed my mind that leaving my baby at the hospital was an option. Standards vary, but in Regina if your baby is born before 36 weeks they go to the NICU. I'm still a little unclear on if there's wiggle room to take them home earlier if they're doing well, but the NICU certainly did not fit into our birth plan. 

We opted for 48 hours of IV antibiotics in hospital, then five days of oral ones at home if labour didn't start naturally. When we went into the hospital January 2nd I had minor irregular cramping that seemed like it might be a prelude to labour, but it went away. I spent the next two days in a hospital bed, trying to catch up on sleep and watching Jane the Virgin. I had a visit from the NICU doctor while I was there to talk about what we could expect when Molly was born. The big worries were her breathing and eating. Babies that early don't necessarily have the sucking reflex figured out yet, let alone superstar lungs.

I had an ultrasound on my second day in the hospital and the tech informed me that baby still looked like a girl (I asked, since she was looking around) and that she estimated her weight at 7 lbs 3 oz. Considering Parker was 6 lbs 10 oz at 10 days early, I was shocked. Naturally, I knew that there's room for error in that number (usually half a pound) but I couldn't believe the baby I expected to be tiny was actually a relative giant five weeks before her due date. The tech even asked if I had gestational diabetes because of my baby heifer. Part of me wanted to be induced at that very moment just to make sure she didn't turn into a 10 lb turkey. Sorry, lady bits.

When I was done my antibiotics and getting ready to be discharged my doctor popped in to chat. He told me that the steroid shot I'd been given to mature Molly's lungs was a little controversial and, he thought, unnecessary. The obstetrician hadn't told me that the shot was definitely needed before 34 weeks, but that it might not be necessary for a baby at 34 weeks and 6 days. She also hadn't told me that the shot could have the side affect of helping the baby gain a lot of weight for a week or so, particularly if I had a lot of sugar. My favourite part of the hospital food I'd been getting was the juice they gave me four or five times a day. The food was so abysmal that I was taking full advantage of all the wonderful orange juice they were giving me. If I had to stay in the hospital, I could at least treat myself to an abundance of juice. I had visions of myself giving birth to a 10 lb juice baby, being ripped clean in half during delivery, and her not fitting any of her newborn clothes.

The doctor and I decided on Monday as my induction date, a week after my water officially broke, since it wasn't quite 36 weeks, but was the last day of my antibiotics. He warned me that there was a slight possibility my membranes could fix themselves and, in that case, we could actually make it to 39 weeks. I prayed that wouldn't be the case. I'd gotten used to the idea of a 36 week baby and laying off the sugar for a week. (I made it three days at home before I got back on the chocolate train. I'm weak and was leaking. Hold the judgement.) Do you remember the story of the 14 lb baby that was born a few years ago? I saw Molly and I following in his footsteps and becoming the next headline on the news, possibly entering the Guinness Book of World Records.

When I was discharged Wednesday afternoon (January 4th) I was thrilled. It's hard to sleep in the hospital, especially when your antibiotics need to be changed every few hours and your ruptured membranes like to do their ruptured thing while you're in your deepest sleep. With Parker I thought 36 hours of broken water was horrendous, but a week is a whole other adventure. Remember, amniotic fluid regenerates itself so your broken water just keeps going like you're constantly wetting yourself, no matter how empty you keep your bladder. Glamorous.

On the way home from the hospital, Karl and I went to Costco. I was a little worried that all the walking would start labour (as most people go into labour within 12-24 hours of their water breaking), but I am now convinced that if left to its own devices my body would never actually go into labour and would just leak amniotic fluid until toddlers eventually crawled out of my womb and demanded peanut butter and jam sandwiches. My body just isn't interested in the whole giving birth ordeal and I can't say I blame it. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Costco did not cause me to go into labour (surprise, surprise), and the only painful part about it was how much money we managed to spend. 

We went home, where my dad was watching Parker and they were having a grand old time. I planned to never leave the house again, then Karl talked me into a trip to the grocery store that night. Apparently there's a part of me that can't say no to the control that comes with buying the week's groceries and scoping out good deals. While at the store I felt an all too familiar gush as I bent to pick up some almond milk from a lower shelf. Thankfully I was wearing a long winter coat and we were at the end of our list, so my laughing husband, wet pants, and I finished up our shopping with as much dignity as I could muster. I vowed not to leave the house again and, short of one five minute trip to the drug store for what I like to affectionately think of as "lady diapers," I became a shut in until it was time to go back to the hospital.

While I really wanted to make it to my induction date, I knew everything would be okay if I could just get a couple hours at home before having my baby. I needed to mentally wrap my head around it all, even just have a chance to pack my own hospital bag and put some baby clothes in there. Karl did an okay job, but he didn't understand which swaddle blanket I wanted or how many headbands to bring. I also just needed the chance to go home and wrap my head around it all. Molly's room wasn't done, the laundry room was a mess of boxes of kids clothes, and our darn Christmas decorations were still up. Had she come on January 2nd, the tree would probably still be up today.

As it was, I had five days to hang pictures on her walls, sort through what felt like hundreds of boxes of kid clothes, do some baking, reading, and sleeping. I was tired, but got everything done that I needed to.

Two days before I was due to be induced I started cramping again. Karl and I went to the hospital but they sent us home after an hour and the cramping went away. It had been a pretty intense day of doing laundry and hanging pictures so I opted to take it even easier from then on. I finished Molly's room and it went from a space that I really didn't like, with its mixed and matched furniture, to a room I'm genuinely envious of. It's amazing what the random art I've had laying around the house and a crocheted triceratops head can do for a space, never mind my mental state.

We got the call early Monday afternoon to come in for our induction. There's something so nice about walking into Labour and Delivery and being greeted by your smiling nurses, then calmly brought back to your room where, yes, finally, you know that baby is going to come out. There's not as much uncertainty, no tears, no labour pains, just friendliness and anticipation.

In the delivery room the white board had a tick mark next to the NICU section. When I asked about it, they informed me that the NICU people would be present for her birth because she still wasn't quite 36 weeks. While it wasn't what I wanted, I was glad that there were measures in place to help our little girl should she need it.

Being induced with Molly was very different from my experience with Parker. With Parker it took hours for anything to happen, and when it did it was like someone had poured kerosene on my insides and lit them on fire. With Molly, they started the drugs at 3:30 and I had minor cramping registering on the monitors within the hour. We started taking bets as to what time we thought she'd be born. Our nurses thought it would be just before midnight, and they didn't think we'd still be there when they got back in the morning. They were lovely, but we were okay with not having to see them again. Operation Get The Baby Out was in motion.

I listened to an audiobook and played Tetris on my phone to pass the time while we waited for things to get going. Because my membranes were ruptured no one was in a hurry to check how dilated I was due to our dear friend "infection risk." My doctor visited at 8 o'clock after delivering a 10 lb baby in the room next to us (that poor mother) and checked me. Three c.m. dilated. Before leaving, he instructed the nurses to call him if I seemed at all ready to go, even if they thought it was a false alarm. My baby, he said, was going to fly out of me when the time came. I have super children.

An hour or two later my cramping started getting more uncomfortable. It was still manageable and I could talk through it, but I decided to ask for my epidural. The magical epidural window is, ideally, 2-4 c.m. so I knew I was eligible. I didn't necessarily need it at that point, but I remembered what could happen without it and I wasn't ready to start practicing any heroics. Parker wasn't born so long ago that I've forgotten the excruciating pain that came along with his induction or how quickly it came on. Besides, who wants to be in pain if they don't have to?

When I got my epidural with Parker it felt like it took less than two minutes from start to finish. This time I must have been more in touch with reality because it took significantly longer. Last time my back was stiff for several weeks where the needle went in, but this time I don't even have a bruise. Once the epidural got going everything was set right in the world. They joked that we could name the baby Molly after a variation of the anaesthesiologist's last name. Karl and I laughed awkwardly.

After my epidural came one of my favourite parts of the birthing experience: the relaxing, comfortably numb part. It was ruined at 11 o'clock when I had to admit to the nurse that I probably needed a catheter since my epidural was doing such a good job. I was still only three or four c.m. After that, I couldn't get quite as comfortable. Ironically, I constantly felt like I needed to pee. The catheter was not everything I'd dreamed it would be.

From there on out I managed to relax for a little while if I let my mind wander and Karl even took a little nap. I couldn't feel anything, but the nurses assured me that my contractions/cramping were still happening regularly and we just needed them to get stronger. Have I told you how much I love my epidural?

Around 1:30 the nurse recommended that I try laying on my side since I'd been on my back the whole time. She said that sometimes babies can flip or turn when you're on your back for an extended period of time and it looked like maybe mine had done that. She didn't have to tell me twice. I rolled onto my side, but the darn catheter kept getting more uncomfortable. After a few minutes, I told the nurse it just wasn't working for me and she said I could go back onto my back.

At this point I was getting really uncomfortable. I wanted nothing more than to rip my catheter out and throw it across the room. I called Karl over to hold my hand and the nurses decided to check my progress. Lo and behold, I was 10 c.m. and baby's head was right there. I'm a little unclear as to the timeline on this, but I think it was around 1:55 when they called my doctor to come in.

Eight minutes later, at 2:03 a.m. he came in, gowned up, and they took the bed apart. It was go time.

Labour with Molly was very different than with Parker. With him I felt a lot of pressure like I needed to poop, but with her I was really uncomfortable on the front. I didn't feel the pressure come in waves like I did with him, I just felt so uncomfortable, even with the epidural. It was bearable but not something I'd want to do long term, and more intense than when I'd gotten the epidural a few hours earlier.

At 2:08 a.m. as I put my aching legs in the stirrups, my doctor told me that without the epidural Molly would have been born already because my urge to push would have been too strong. It felt like they were telling me to push even as they still took the bed apart. It was hard to wrap my head around being able to push without the urge to do so. I wasn't sure how much effort I could muster through the pain (more than discomfort, but akin to really bad period cramps), so I tried to push while talking to them through it. The next thing I knew they were telling me not to push so hard because that was baby's head. I let up on my push to the point that it felt like I almost wasn't doing anything at all and my body was just running the show.

And then her head was out. And it was another gentle push and the rest of her came out, crying with those perfectly strong and capable lungs at 2:13 a.m.

I took eight days of stalling, two pushes, five minutes, one fabulous epidural, and zero tearing (praise the Lord!) to bring Molly Faye Morton into the world. She was a perfect 20.5" long and 6 lbs 6 oz light. It all happened so fast that it took my brain a couple hours to fully comprehend that I had, in fact, given birth again and my little girl washere. I don't even think my doctor was up for an hour before it was all done and he told us he was going home and back to bed.

When they first held her up, one of the nurses told us we had the little boy we were expecting. "I mean girl!" Well that would have been a funny story.

Before heading to Mother and Baby we told the nurse to let the anaesthesiologist know that we had, in fact named our baby Molly. Hopefully it made her night.

We made it to 36 weeks and 133 minutes before our little nugget was born. She was right on the edge of being jaundiced but my doctor let us go home the next day as long as we promised to keep an eye on it and bring her in the next day if she wasn't improving. We were so glad to head home, and after four full days in the hospital in just over a week I was getting much too used to the menu. I also got the delightful experience of being a teaching experience for six nursing residents while we waited to be discharged, but that's another story for another day. Going home was wonderful and Molly did everything she could to kick the jaundice, including surpassing her birth weight within a week.

She is quite probably the mellowest baby in all of history. We all love her dearly and can't wait to see who she grows up to be.