Sweet Adeline…

Well, then.  Three months later I’m posting my birth story.  You could say I’m prompt.  It’s one of my many strengths.

Going from three to four has certainly been eventful, but though my evident procrastination may belie this sentiment–it’s actually not been too terribly difficult.  Her entrance was not unlike the pregnancy, with the multitude of unknowns that consistently reminded me I am not, in fact, in control.  She has humbled me, which is a gift I’m not sure I could ever repay my bright-eyed little darling.  What am I to do but try, however, and help make her life as joyous as she has mine.  Without further ado…the birth of Adeline Grace.

This was a routine appointment; as routine as any terrifying growth scan had been up until that point, anyway.  The last two weeks were met with hesitant optimism as the prior ultrasound had her jumping from under the fifth percentile to over the tenth, which was absolutely astounding and left the high risk team scratching their heads but confirming that the last scan was, in fact, accurate.  At 34 weeks gestation, the baby had been well under the second percentile for growth.  This appointment was met with furrowed brows and a lot of correspondence with the obstetricians who oversaw my case, back and forth for an hour as to whether or not I should be hospitalized for induction or to risk letting the pregnancy progress.  Everyone was hesitant, but all agreed 34 weeks and an extremely small baby did not bode well for a pleasant outcome, should she be born.  Mostly they were concerned about the stress induction would have on the clearly failing placenta.

At the next scan, 36 weeks gestation, she had somehow measured at over four and three quarter pounds, which was a massive growth spurt.  We shall refer to this as the last hurrah of the poor, aged placenta which was already showing grade four calcification.  After the dismal scan last time, I had been put on additional monitoring for a total of three appointments per week, plus two unforeseen very scary labor and delivery appearances between then and the birth for failed kick counts.  Every single appointment gave me another wrinkle, I’m sure of it.  My worry lines are now permanently etched into my face, and all spell out “IUGR” in neat little rows across my forehead.  Nonetheless, it wasn’t until this aforementioned routine appointment at 38 weeks that things took a turn for the worse.

She smiled differently during the scan.  Her lips were set more firmly, and her face took on almost a waxy quality.  This was the face of someone who was forcing herself chipper so as not to worry the over-worrier.  By that point, they knew any bad news would send me spiraling into the black soot of despair.  I assume she didn’t want to see me flood the ultrasound room with my fits of sobs, so she smiled.  My chest was heavy watching her, then looking toward the screen.  The baby had been more lackluster those two weeks (bearing those impromptu L&D visits) and I was already nervous.  Then she said, “Has your water been leaking any?” and my stomach sunk far below me.  “No.  Not at all.  Not even more discharge,” I responded tightly.  “Hm.”  A puzzled look and then the smile again.  She tried making small talk but I honed in on the monitor.  Left to right my gaze shifted until I saw the numbers I was looking for.  AFI.  Amniotic Fluid Index.  Last biophysical profile it measured well above 15, and that was only days ago.  Now the AFI number was a scant 5.2 cm.  I was shaking.  I knew what that meant.  Everything they told me about IUGR, everything I had voraciously read from case studies to anecdotal stories on internet forums confirmed the one thing I had been dreading from that horrible 22 week appointment that confirmed the baby’s restricted growth:  the placenta was failing and my baby could die if I didn’t birth her right. now.

It was a long wait in that conference room.  I searched the walls for medical text I could read to distract my brain from seeking the worst conclusions.  I had promised myself not to search Google, as though it was informative, it tended only to exacerbate my anxiety and I needed to stay grounded.  Focused.  The textbook I had chosen was essentially a troubleshooting guide to handling high risk cases.  In it, the importance of keeping the pregnant woman calm and feeling supported was expressed numerous times.  It was a green book.  I had read six large pages, forcing my eyes to seek the letters, forcing my brain to process.  “Are you bored?” Danielle said, gesturing toward the book.  “No, I actually enjoy reading this sort of thing.”  They sat.  The high risk OB was to my right.  Danielle was to the left.  “Well, your AFI is borderline, but we aren’t prepared to induce you right now,” he said.  I wasn’t prepared for this response.  I asked why in a dozen different incarnations, and then I began to cry.  Heave.  Sob.  He told me the baby appeared to be doing well.  I explained that she’d failed her kick counts twice in the last week.  He told me the NSTs and BPPs were technically fine.  I said it had taken twice as long to reach the movements they were looking for in the last week.  Armored with my forest green text book and its contents, pleading with them to understand that I did not want to go home only for my baby to die in utero while I wait for the next appointment, they gave me two options:  continuous hospital monitoring or wait-and-see.  I was distraught, and I left the appointment as soon as it concluded, face-forward, tears streaming down my red face, angry, and I didn’t respond to any of the nurses who had bid me goodbye.  I practically ran to my car and sobbed.

“What do I do?” I begged D. over the phone, who was per usual the calm amidst the storm.  “What can I do?”  He instructed me to call my regular OBGYN and discuss this with one of the physicians overseeing my care.  He comforted me.  He was equally confused and enraged.  So I did what he suggested.  And though this same doctor had once upset me with his laissez faire attitude about this situation, I found solace in his words.  “I’ll tell you what,” Dr. H said, in his way that seemed like he was always smacking gum in his mouth, though he had none, “I’ll fit you in for another BPP in two hours.  Can you make it?  We’ll measure the amniotic fluid and go from there.”  I downed fifty ounces of water within that time, hoping that the reason I was showing such low numbers was easily explained by simple dehydration (though I knew from my earlier appointment I was not at all dehydrated).  I was, for once, talking myself into the best case scenario.  I went through the rounds of specimen taking, blood pressure reading, and finally I sat in the chair with the wand moving warm jelly across my abdomen.  I didn’t wait long for the results, mainly because I could see that the numbers had fallen.  “Well, it looks like you’re having a baby today or tomorrow,” he said.  The AFI had dropped four centimeters in two hours, and the range of disparity all but ensured this was no mistake.

I was able to go home.  I called D., shaking but less helpless than before.  A plan in place always makes me feel better, even if I was still excruciatingly scared of what the outcome might be.  He was nervous, as I saw when I met him home, hurriedly shoving last-minute items into the labor bags, equally worried about the baby’s health as he was about attending his first birth with me.  He held me.  Throughout this ordeal D. has been my absolute ally.  He is my strength outside of me.  Not all of my concern abated, but being dwarfed in his arms melted my worry just a bit.  I knew he would be there for me, I know he loves me, and even if he had only felt Adeline kick from the outside very periodically (as she was small and I had an anterior placenta, the kicks weren’t often felt by others) I know, full-stop, he would do anything for our daughter.  His muffled words spoken to her through my belly every single day, “I love you very much, baby girl, I can’t wait to meet you,” are etched into my memory for the rest of my life.  So I stopped thinking about the worst outcome and started hoping.

We had a detour at a local hospital which impeded the induction for several hours.  Initially I had wanted to deliver at the hospital with the NICU, and was absolutely adamant that I do so despite my OB staff’s assurances that they could revive and transfer–but I wouldn’t be able to transfer patient status there should that occur.  However, once at the NICU L&D, it became clear that not only was their equipment malfunctioning, prohibiting proper monitoring of the baby during induction, but that should I induce there I would be under the care of the most horrifically arrogant, compassion-lacking obstetricians I couldn’t have envisioned even in my nightmares.  So we transferred after arguing with this asshole for close to half an hour about what was best for the baby.  He had spoken with my team repeatedly until our arrival and according to Dr. H all was well, yet when we sat there in his presence he claimed that he did not know them, their competence (high risk specialists with over 80 year of experience between them, I might add), and that he was the authority in that hospital and we would be doing what he wanted, his way.  For me, this obviously did not work.  I did not want more drugs than was necessary to ripen my cervix and put me into active labor.  I did not want my baby to become stressed or have heart rate dips because of the generous pitocin use he suggested, so we left.  We risked the transfer because it was in the best interest of the life I sheltered, and I had just prayed that I did not need a cesarean section so that I could be with my baby the moment she stabilized, should that occur.  The only positive thing I could state about that experience was that I was on continuous heart rate monitoring the whole time, and that gave me piece of mind in the interim.

It was late when we arrived at our delivering facility.  After 11 p.m.  I was tired and my face was extremely puffy from spending hours upon hours crying into D’s outstretched hand.  I was contracting fairly regularly even before the induction, as we saw on the monitoring, so I had hoped that my very low Bishop score (1) would have increased.  Luckily, I had advanced an entire centimeter since that morning and though I still needed Cervadil to ripen my cervix, the Bishop score was thus more favorable.  I spent twelve hours lying supine so that the medicine would work.  After removing the Cervadil, I was checked and I had effaced enough that I could begin the Pitocin in two hours.  We slept that night, but mine was fitful.  I was still contracting every 6-8 minutes and toward the morning it became so intense I could no longer sleep through them.  I never intended to fast through the induction and I was SO hungry so D. and I walked to the cafeteria for the planned feast.  However, I was still contracting painfully, particularly while upright (here’s some foreshadowing for you), and found myself unable to consume more than a few bites of each breakfast food.  We walked back to my room and began another round of antibiotics (I was strep B positive yet again), fluids, and the lowest dose of Pitocin possible.

D.’s parents had come to visit after the Pitocin had been increased.  I had planned to allow his mother to be in the room with us during the labor and delivery, but things weren’t progressing very quickly and I sincerely underestimated how painful the Pitocin contractions would be without pain management.  I was cocky.  I had had three previous natural births.  I had this.  As it turned out, I did have it but it took a helluva lot more focus than before.  At some point after going to the bathroom and having earth-shattering, fucking brutal contractions while standing, I asked her to go talk to her husband in the waiting room so I could lean on D. for a while.  D. never called her back in (he just didn’t think to) and she ended up going home for the evening.  The induction had lasted 24 hours at this point.  I was utterly exhausted.  My body was done.  After I entered active labor (about 18 hours into the induction) I had the Pitocin removed and my water broke on its own.  D. was there to help me to the bathroom each time I needed to go, and each bloody time I got up from the bed the contractions became unbearable.  It was all-consuming.  I couldn’t believe a human being could survive with this much pain.  I still can’t.  This is where I tell you I should have stayed upright.  If I had it to do over again, I would tell myself that more intensity means less time laboring.  I would have been sitting up, I would have been leaning on D., anything to help the baby descend.

My contractions had slowed to every 8 minutes, and when I was able to sleep for what seemed like a long time each instance I awoke with a contraction, I knew I was stalling.  Dr. D. checked my cervix and determined I was complete, but the baby hadn’t descended.  I had no urge to push whatsoever.  This completely freaked me out, because I had no intention of going back on the damn Pitocin (devil drug which was suggested to me after stalling) and because I had never once experienced my body completely. giving. up.  It was the must surreal sensation I have experienced to date, this total body exhaustion.  I cried (yet again) to D., “What do I do?” and the doctor was called in to discuss options.  Though I was adamant the entirety of the pregnancy that I would refuse an epidural unless it was a medical emergency and I needed a crash c-section, his argument for it in that situation was appealing.  He said I would be able to rest for a few hours and then start pushing.  He said it would be a shame to give me a c-section at this point.  So I looked to D. and I said, “What do I do?” (notice a pattern here?  He is seriously my rock, as cliche as that is) to which he responded, “I think you should go ahead and do it.  We don’t want the baby to get into distress after being in labor this long.”  So I agreed.

But here’s the caveat, and here is what saved me from making a decision I would regret and feel guilty about forever and ever (and honestly, I’m not knocking your decision to get an epidural but I have made the personal decision based on lots and lots of research that it’s simply not worth the risk to myself or the baby–so there’s that disclaimer):  I sat up, and that allowed the baby to descend.

“Curl her shoulders more,” the anesthesiologist told D.  I was leaning against D., the bed perched in its highest position.  “Keep her still,” he said, as he prepped the lidocaine needle.  I grunted, “Uuuuuh, I’m pushing the baby out!” but no one heard me.  One lidocaine shot went into my back and I screamed this time, “I’m pushing the baby out!!!”  The nurse, unconvinced, said–and I’ll never forget this either–“You aren’t pushing anything out sitting on the bed like that.  The baby’s gonna come out flat.  You need to be on your side.”  I vaguely remember the anesthetists zipping up their bags and hastily retreating and thinking, “They left fast.”  I was on my side and finally, that familiar, comforting sensation of involuntary pushing was upon me.  D. lifted the sheet and told the nurse the baby’s head was out and to get the doctor, and the next second my baby girl had entered the world onto the bed and into D.’s hands.  Again, the bed was still perched precariously high and if it were not my darling D. having been beside me this entire time she may have fallen onto the floor.  The next several minutes were a blur of movement as the doctor and staff finally entered the room after what seemed like too long a lapse, and my baby, my sweet Adeline, covered in vernix from head to toe was snug against D. and the front of his black shirt was then white, and he kept her warm while I sat stunned from it all.  Let it be known that he, too, was stunned, but in that moment he was not only my rock and support, he was Adeline’s as well, and he was there, fully present and aware and awake, crying while looking into our beautiful baby girl’s eyes.  And then he said that it seemed like I was bleeding too much, and everyone just mumbled that it was normal, but he looked scared and I felt the bed wet underneath me, so I said, “Can someone please look at me before they say it’s normal?!” and they palpated my abdomen and administered more Pitocin to stop the bleeding while they delivered the very small, very calcified placenta.  And D. cut the limp, pale cord while I held my sweet Adeline, wincing as I was being stitched from a first degree tear (which was surprising as she had exited so quickly–one would think I would have had more stitching).

They took her from me very briefly and I was alright with her being aspirated until they began taking her measurements, so I demanded D. bring her back to me immediately because “they could do that later.”  So he did.  And in that moment this great sense of relief finally washed over me as I heard the Pediatric Specialist tell me that she seemed perfectly healthy.  And, of course, I cried.  She was here, in my arms, and she was only 5 pounds 6 ounces at discharge and so very tiny and fragile, but she was out and in my arms and finally…finally safe.

The end…and the beginning.

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And now here she is, topping out at a whopping 16 3/4 lbs. at just over three months.

 

adeline three monthsAnd she is so, so loved.

Throes and Thunder…

It’s dark outside, but it’s daytime.  Muggy, moist, deeply uncomfortable.  This is the sort of weather that makes you feel slick beneath your clothes.  The sort that makes it absolutely pointless to do anything with your hair more strenuous than braiding it, because it’s frizzy.  Oh so frizzy.

Adeline was born.  The ultrasound measured her weight to be a full pound over what it actually was, but she’s healthy.  And, shockingly, getting extremely fat.  The placenta was small and pretty well calcified, as predicted.  Other than that, there’s no indication of other anomalies.  Placenta pathology rarely yields definitive results, according to the OB.

Birth was…hard.  I still feel the acute tension in my shoulders thinking back on it.  I wasn’t expecting an ideal birth, given that it was likely I’d be induced (and I was), but I have never experienced such physical exhaustion in my life.  My body literally gave out.  I was spent.  I have the details stored neatly in my mind, but I’m still not prepared to put the experience into words.  I feel mournful of the experience I could have–should have–had, but elated that it’s just over, that she’s here in my arms, safe and nourished..  It’s a complicated emotion.

The thunder is still booming outside, hours later.  I look outside, and I see my thoughts.  I see the despair lurking behind sheets of rain.  The discomfort and dismay of the swaying trees in the distance.  I’m trying to keep from drowning.

Ongoing.

Fel died.  My stepdad.  February 14, cloaked in my mother’s tears while she held his swollen hands, he took his last artificial breath, then passed.  Gone forever.  Gone in a sudden, terrifying heart attack.

My daughter was born.  Hardest labor, fastest delivery.

I am struggling so very much.  Trying to be there for my mom, navigating this new role.  It’s always new, bringing a baby home.  You just never know what to expect.

She is healthy and growing.

She is thriving.

I am not.

Sacrifices.

It’s been a while…

Anyone else think of that Staind song when they read the title?  I suppose I can relate, though I’d need to add the lyric, “It’s been a while/Since I’ve slept a full night.”

Anyway.  To update on the IUGR diagnosis:  the baby is doing well enough.  She’s not growing in her abdominal area as expected, but it’s been a consistent enough growth pattern that I’ve been able to return to my regular OBGYN for once or twice monthly growth scans and NSTs/doppler readings in addition to regular visits.  That was a relief, though I’m not sure what may happen at birth right now.  She’s very tiny, and the likelihood of her having a stay in the NICU is still pretty high.  It all depends on her ability to maintain body temperature and her lung maturity, I suppose.  This is strange for me, considering I’m pretty anxious and controlling in general, but I realize there is nothing more I can do to facilitate a better outcome, so I’m allowing the Universe to guide me on whatever path I’m destined to take.

My body feels as if it is failing to endure this pregnancy as well as the others (though, looking through my archives I’ve been pretty whiny).  My uterus is a tired old gal, so it’s certainly no surprise I’m having stronger and more frequent contractions, as well as a more difficult time enduring things like backache and joint pain.  Hence the not sleeping reference above.

Optimism isn’t my strong suit.  I’ll be the first to admit how worried I am about everything.  In some irrational part of my brain I am also concerned all this is some retaliatory measure from those powers-that-be (whatever they are) for freaking out so thoroughly when I discovered I was pregnant this go-round.  We’re talking sobbing in the bathtub for an hour or two, here.  Utter despair.  Needless to say I was just not prepared to add another munchkin to our brood.  But at some point we breeders just need to relax and accept that we love our kids, and adding one more might be a touch more expensive but we aren’t going into this thing unprepared.  We’ve experienced most of what infancy, toddlerhood, and now childhood has to offer (in my case, up until age five).

Speaking of my five year old little girl…  I was shocked to discover recently the eruption of adult teeth–under and behind her baby teeth, which are not really that loose, unfortunately, so it’s off to the dentist we go on the ‘morrow.  They may elect to pull them.  We shall see.  For now she looks like a shark, and I think it’s a terribly cute way to refer to her orthodontic state.

Aiden and I have come to an understanding of late.  With an increase in communicative ability, so comes his ability to process emotions more effectively.  It’s taken us a while, but I think we’re on pretty good ground.  He is still the softest little poot.  Seriously.  He is a major cuddler and I LOVE it.

Jude, oh Jude.  That boy is something.  Curly blond hair for DAYS (and you recall that I am not accustomed to hair on babies, as both Olivia and Aiden were rather bald for the longest time) and a smile that reaches deep into the soul of those who witness.  Shew, that boy can throw a tantrum, though.  Luckily it’s quelled pretty easily.  And, of course, he’s adorable, so I find it simple to forgive.

And thus endeth the update for recent months.  Sort of boring, but I prefer it that way.

Depression Wins Again…

Yesterday I had the growth scan, and the results weren’t promising.  It looks like the baby/I might have something called intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).  Luckily it’s asymmetrical, which from what I read is the more preferred type (?!).  She’s measuring right on track for everything but her abdomen–and that, unfortunately, is serious cause for concern.  That measurement alone diminishes her growth percentile to 7%.  The doctor tried to be reassuring, but she saw in my face that I knew exactly what it meant.  I’d done enough research to prepare myself for possible diagnoses.  And now, I’m officially in the high-risk OBGYN.  I have genetic counseling on Tuesday with an out-of-town practice, and I will have frequent monitoring at the very least, if not more invasive testing depending on the results of the placenta scan.  They suspect the placenta isn’t performing adequately.  She’s growing enough in the “right” areas, such as her brain and femurs, but she’s still under duress and malnourished.

I cried in the bathroom at the OB.  Dried my eyes and barely made it through the referral and into my car.  Sobbed again.  I am so sad.  So very distraught.  I know in my bones that I am coming home without my baby, at least for a little while.  I fear for her health most of all.  More selfishly I am upset that I’ll likely have a cesarean section and wont birth this baby naturally like my others.  I read something last night that really affected me:  “Babies with IUGR typically do very well in the NICU as they’re already accustomed to being under duress in the womb.”  That was from a forum where a NICU nurse chimed in.  It was supposed to be comforting.  It’s not.  Now I’m wondering if she’s so active because she’s suffering, because she’s hungry.

I’ve had difficult pregnancies, sure.  Olivia’s was typical and uncomfortable.  I had some sickness, backache, swelling.  I was young and my body rebounded quickly, however.  Aiden’s was traumatic during the birth.  I had prodromal labor for about three weeks before he was born, and then there was the hospital debacle (which I still resent fully).  I had hyperemesis gravidarum with Jude.  Several hospitalizations from dehydration and surgery after surgery for thrombosed hemorrhoids.  But they were all healthy.  Small, under 6.5 lbs, but so healthy.  I don’t know what to do or think.  I’m terrified.  I can’t imagine not holding my baby after I birth her.  Watching her through a plastic incubator being fed through tubes.  Not breastfeeding.

I am so scared.  I want to crawl into the cave of my bedding and do nothing but cradle my belly, talk to her, tell her it’s all going to be okay.  Beg her to grow.

But she might not have a choice.

Nightmare…

I suppose I should begin by coming clean.  I’m pregnant.  Andy and I are still in the midst of our divorce proceedings, so I’ve been staying inactive on the blog (I’ve never been a very good liar, and deception past silence isn’t my strongest suit).  But as I have so much to say, and evidenced by my nighttime horrors, I really need to get it out.  I have been having nightmares.  Soul-shattering, wake-up-shivering, teeth-clenching night terrors.  It’s pretty damned awful, actually, and something I haven’t had to endure past childhood (I think?  Most of the time I had wonderful flying dreams, despite the circumstance of my childhood being very ehhh).  I’ll armchair diagnose myself so you wont have to:  I have unresolved feelings of angst, despair, and desperation that are presenting themselves subconsciously in my dreams.  Knowing the why sure isn’t helping me get past it.

I wont go into the specifics of who or why (I mean, sure, we all know how babies are made…you go into your respective fertility specialist’s office, take a valium or other strong sedative, get your eggs retrieved and send them off to the lab to develop an embryo with donor sperm…wait…no.  This time I just had sex).  However, I will unequivocally state that this had absolutely nothing to do with Andy whatsoever.  She (can you believe I’m having another little girl?!) is destined to be sister from another mister, and judge me all you like (the same way I’ve underhandedly and unfairly judged young-ish mothers for having children with different fathers all my cognizant existence–I admit it, I am an asshole) but I couldn’t be happier.  Now.  Finding out that I was unexpectedly pregnant while just beginning the divorce filings, well, that is another story.  Suffice it to say, I wasn’t happy the moment that formerly coveted second line showed up.

You see, there’s this weird law in my state that says you cannot divorce while you are pregnant.  I’ve encountered this little tidbit formerly while pregnant with Jude.  Even in the case of domestic abuse, one cannot divorce until the baby is born.  Seems a little, eh, unconstitutional, right?  I mean, Washington’s got the right idea–let’s follow suit here!  That fact alone was enough to send me into a spiral of uncertainty and dread.  I would really like to be done with that part of my life.  I want this divorce to be over, O-V-E-R.  I want a judge to sign and seal the records I painstakingly got Andy to agree to, with a lot of hesitation and back-and-forth, and I want to move on with my existence.  At last, finally, forever and ever; you get the picture.  It’s been a long road reaching near the two year mark.  I am so. done.

The pending divorce alone is enough to make me go a little crazy in the dream sense.  Add to that worrying about the baby and I’ve got myself a nice little spaz-cocktail.  Disturbance soup.  Mental mush.  Man I’m hungry right now.  Anyway, the baby wasn’t showing adequate growth at the anatomy scan and now I am waiting the requisite month to have another ultrasound to either ease all my fears (thank you, sweet doctor, for giving me these four precious weeks of Google.  It. Is. Not. Helpful!) or determine that I need genetic counseling for some rare anomaly the baby has.

I just want to clarify that though things are not perfect by any means, my life is very good right now.  Very rich with support and kindness and love, and I am extremely grateful for that.  This pregnancy has been a shock to all, but is being accepted gracefully.  I am very lucky.

(ETA: If anyone should show a blatant lack of respect, even mildly, instead of support, I don’t have them in my life.  Simple as that.  I had a little emoticon reaction from one of my [very few] followers on Instagram that really, truly, and sincerely hurt my feelings very deeply.  Let us not assume I am so strong I can withstand that amount of judgment and criticism, because I simply am not.)

Birthdays Ahoy…

Though it rained (and has been cloudy and drizzling perpetually since) and our plans to play at a local park were dashed rather dramatically, Olivia’s fifth birthday and subsequent party was…sufficient.  It wasn’t grandiose or particularly eventful.  Birthday pancakes (gluten-free and with sprinkles added) were consumed for breakfast per request.  She had a pleasant party turnout consisting entirely of family (we have yet to venture into making long-term friends as she’s not in public school).  My second eldest sister was wretchedly late, as usual.  That was probably the most difficult to endure, knowing that Olivia hadn’t seen my sister in months but also needed to visit with her father.  Andy had to work on both her birthday and the party the day after, so he wasn’t exactly pleased to have to wait an additional hour and a half to see her.  Either way, the quality over quantity mentality for gift-giving I’ve adapted in recent years has made for some really well-received and, might I add, beautiful additions to her toy/clothing collection.

DSC_0201Forgive the over-editing.  She awoke before 6 a.m. in excitement and the lighting was terrible.

She specifically requested a new dollhouse to replace her cheap (and thoroughly broken) one, the KidKraft Chelsea Doll Cottage [side note:  do not waste your money on this.  The varnish comes off easily, it’s basically composite cardboard, and it didn’t last me three years with moderate use].  I lucked out on an Amazon deal for this real-wood, handmade, and beautiful dollhouse.  It came together splendidly and it is extremely sturdy.  I foresee many years of fun with this behemoth of a play structure.  (Here is the link if you’re interested–not affiliate.)  The photos on the listing don’t do it justice whatsoever.  I nearly passed it by until I read the numerous positive reviews and saw a few customer images which displayed its actual size.  Definitely worth the dough.  She got a couple other things at home (a royal family set for the dollhouse, spill proof paint cups [link here], and a new book) but the gifts which brought forth the most elation were the play dresses my eldest sister gave Olivia.  Another Amazon purchase, these dresses are exceptionally high quality.  She lives in them, day in and out.

DSC_0221I was hoping to provide her a more extravagant party for her fifth, a la Pinterest mothers of the past, but she was thrilled with pretty much anything, so I count that as a success.

Current favorites:

Food–I would say a meal with strawberries, salad (with ranch dressing), and barbecue “bone chicken” (chicken legs) are her go-to faves.  Still on the green smoothie bandwagon.

Activity–Painting, coloring, drawing.  She’s exceptionally artistically inclined.  Building with blocks.  Singing.  Lyrically, it’s pretty amusing.

Outfit–the Anna dress at the moment (but of course) and the Elsa dress is a very close second.  Her pink rain boots with jean leggings and a muted shirt.

Book–Still My No, No, No Day! by Rebecca Patterson.  How To Train Your Dragon series is also top-shelf.  Invested heavily in Olivia the Pig.

What She Wants To Be When She Grows Up–A mommy, with “lots of kids” (oh, lawd) and, of course, a Princess.  If all else fails she’ll settle for what I interpret as a marine biologist (“swimming and looking at fishes and sea creatures”).

Reading Yet?–Nope, though definitely on the right track.  Recognizes alphabet, can phonetically sound out letters (confusion with hard c and soft), knows numbers and can do basic arithmetic if I assist with finger counting.  Can count into the several hundreds.

Random–Olivia enjoys exercise in any form.  Yoga, cardiovascular activities, body weight exercise…  She’s very strong.  Not a fan of cleaning or organizing, though she prefers to have an open and visually clear space.  That means mommy cleans up after brothers a fair bit as she’ll refuse to take responsibility for anything but her own toys.  Her favorite cat is still Souxie, that poor patient thing.  I will not allow her to watch My Little Pony or anything of the sort, though she did get a brief viewing on her birthday (one of the major requests).  “Octonauts” and a new Netflix series with pelicans remain her causal go-to television shows (we definitely don’t turn on the TV or tablet most days).  “Peppa Pig” at Daddy’s house.

Overall, she’s an incredibly smart, mature, and well-rounded little girl.  I’m lucky to have her.  Quite lucky.  She keeps me grounded, always.

Happy birthday, not-so-little Spud.

DSC_0205 (2)I love you.

 

 

Avoidance…

Lately I’ve been deliberately avoiding people who show even an inkling of negativity about children.  I no longer gregariously engage the grocery store cashier who will say, “Wow, you have your hands full, don’t you?”  (You’d be shocked to know I hear that exact phrase from numerous individuals at least, oh, nine times per grocery trip.)  They mean to come across with good nature, but the underlying message is in there.  Lurking.  They mean that I have a lot of kids.  That maybe I’ve been a little irresponsible in the birth control department.  It once made me feel really terribly about myself, the idea that I must seem exorbitantly ill-fitted for parenting.  The thing is, though, usually I’m dressed like any other woman in the store.  Now I don’t give a damn what they think, because it’s never about me.  It’s about them.  I don’t have stains or wrinkles on my (rather nice capsule wardrobe) clothing (but that’s fodder for another post).  I’ve got at least a little makeup on.  The kids behave pretty darn well, if I do say so myself.  And I do.  There aren’t tantrums over candy they know they’re not allowed to eat.  Never tears over toys.  They are somehow well-adjusted, smart, amazing little munchkins.  I’m proud of my kids.  So when someone utters their unnecessary opinion on my family size in a negative manner, I tend to get a little ruffled.  I’m tired of being ruffled, though, and since those comments are a constant, I have learned to avoid them entirely.  I survive trips out with a tight smile and downcast eyes.  I exude an antisocial nature.  So far it’s worked out pretty well for social interaction I don’t want to have.

The internet…not so much.  I appreciate the openness of some people who will state their struggles, warts and all.  It makes them real, unscripted.  Nothing wrong with that.  But I’ve had to just stay away from certain blogs that wont stop complaining about how hard it is to raise [insert number] of kids.  No, it’s not peaches all the time.  I’m pretty sure more than two children opens up your life to more chaos than you’d ever imagined you could endure.  More than three?  Dear god.  Five?  Well, depending on how far apart the kids are, having five is like having four, and so on.  In my experience, independence starts at around three and flourishes before five.  That’s my reasoning.  If your kids are insane in the membrane [insane in the brain] regardless of how old they are, or if any have special needs, you get a pass.  The point is I’m trying desperately not to ONLY focus on how hard it is to raise my brood.  How little sleep I get.  How few moments of free time.  How much laundry I have to wash, dry, and fold, and those damned cloth diapers.  *shudder*  I don’t want to think about any of that, because as cliche and corny as it sounds, it truly does rob you of your ability to appreciate what you have.  The respective (and plentiful) positive traits of each of your children go unnoticed when all you’re allowing yourself to hear is the collective scream/squeal/shriek of all those kids in the house.

Right now I’m enjoying the sound of my almost-three year old beat on a metal pot with a straw.  The laughter of the almost-five year old as she chases the cat around the room.  The pattering of the infant around the play room.  I’m also feeling the breeze (oh, heavenly Fall…) of the open window.  Tasting the semi-warm and too sweet coffee.  Life isn’t perfect.  It never will be.  But my kids aren’t what’s wrong with my life.

New Beginnings…

My divorce isn’t final, but it’s [im]pending.  There’s some sort of relief knowing things wont change for a while.  It’s all been hashed out.  Parenting plan forged, with a little resistance of course.  I still struggle with this life.  It’s hard.  I’ve read divorce books and blogs and articles.  Nothing can prepare you for all the chaos.  Andy has finally accepted that we’re over.  That part was the hardest, I think.  Every other week he’d get this notion in his head that it would all blow over, much like the vicious arguments we used to have, where I’d forget the hurtful words for a few days, until the next time.  But I never really forgave.  Not until recently.  I’m still a little bitter.  He has his free nights, while I do not.  Sleep is a precious commodity.  I don’t get much sleep.  I think the most difficult transition is accepting that he does things differently as a parent than I do.  Of course, there has been somewhat of a tug-of-war in certain areas.  I’ve had to express frustration more than a few times at his poor housekeeping.  He has the two older children enough (about 1/4 of the week) to make significant changes to their constitution.  Diet, sleep schedule, that sort of thing.  There’s no medication in sight.  I can’t say for sure that’s a good thing for him, but he seems to be managing.  Speaking of medication…I am free of the painful grip.  I am still finding balance.  Parenting three small children alone (most of the time) is not a walk in the park…unless, of course, we’re walking in the park.  I think I’ve just learned to let go for the most part.  There will always be things that are important to me in any facet of my existence.  That’s just me.  Every day I realize how much I accept who I am as being a (mostly) permanent fixture.  My moods, nuances, desires.  Seems to be a trend among the nearly 30 year old crowd.

It’s been over a year since Andy and I left a house we (sometimes) cohabited together.  Shortly before Jude’s birth and a couple months after, he was sleeping in the room with the kids while I nursed quietly on the couch.  I can’t say I’ve never been happier, but I am happier.

I have someone in my life.  I have love.  My only friend, really.  I push them away far too often for both our tastes.  I try to keep a distance so I can establish what I need for myself, what my children need from me.  That, and I can be pretty moody.

Olivia turns five this month.  Aiden three the next.  Jude is a little over one.  I want this year to be better.  We all need a little reprieve, I think.