Thursday, August 13, 2015

You are not a mess, you are mine

My kitchen sink is FULL of dishes. There are weeks worth of clean/clean-ish clothes piled on my dresser, and my suitcase from our trip last week is still full of clothes. I was late for Mia's orientation day today and got called out for it by some random administrator (because apparently tardiness is just not tolerated in four year olds on their not-even-real-first-day. Whatever.), and I even tanked at my own blogging challenge.

As I walked into my dirty kitchen with the intention to get a drink and then walk right back out, dishes untouched, to play with the baby, I heaved a huge sigh as loads of negative thoughts flooded my mind in an instant: "You are such a mess. You can't do anything right. You still can't get this time management thing down. What do you DO with all your time?! Your husband is gonna be ticked..." And on and on. But through all that noise I heard Truth speak, "Don't talk like that about My beloved child! You are my beloved daughter. You are not a mess, you are Mine."

He's speaking to you too.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

A baby story: the Adam issue

This blog is hanging on by an umbilical chord. Giant winky face.

My whole pregnancy with Adam I compared to my pregnancy with Olivia especially since my due dates were basically identical; November 29 with Livi and December 1 with Little Man. In addition to analyzing queasiness, butt size, and belly shape, in the last several weeks I obsessively contrasted my early labor signs. With Olivia I progressed nicely and steadily over the last few weeks of pregnancy- 1 and 50%, 2 and 75%, 3 and 75%... so I was expecting the same with this baby. I had heard that the third one is often the wild card, but I just didn't think much about what that might look like. This time I was 1 and "thick" at 36 weeks, 1 and thick at 37, 1 and thick at 38, and hardly having any contractions, Braxton-Hicks or otherwise. My OB planned to strip my membranes at 39 weeks, but I was still a 1 at that appointment and the nurse I saw didn't do it. I remember standing at the gas pump after that appointment thinking, "I'm never gonna have this baby."

Between the girls' birthdays and parties, Christmas parties and programs, and major feast days our early December calendar was full, so Caleb and I (ok, mostly I) poured and prayed over our agenda and hesitantly scheduled an induction for Thursday, December 4. I felt guilty for booting the baby for "convenience", but we also felt like it was the best decision for our entire family. As the weeks went on with no progress or contractions, I got more and more discouraged and mentally prepared to be induced on the 4th.

Around 8PM on Saturday, November 29 I started leaking a little, and I do mean a little, but by Sunday afternoon I was still dripping. I resorted to Google, and that search unsurprisingly turned up loads of conflicting results: maybe it's amniotic fluid, maybe it's your membranes thinning, maybe you're peeing on yourself, maybe we don't know what it is...  But since I had an appointment scheduled for the next morning I figured whatever it was could wait until then. Besides, that day, Sunday, November 30, was Olivia's 2nd birthday, and we had plans for a fun evening at ICE that I didn't want to taint with a pointless trip to OB triage.

Around 4:00 Sunday afternoon we loaded up the van and headed to the Opryland Hotel with Nonnie to tour the ice palace. On the way there Hannah called and said she and her family were going to be up there as well and invited us to join them for dinner, so after ICE and an indoor train ride we had a big family dinner at Chuy's. We got home around 8:00, shoved a "2" candle in a cupcake, sang "Happy Birthday" to Olivia, and put the kiddos to sleep.
One happy birthday girl
At about 8:30 Caleb and I were settling down to watch some Sunday Night Football in bed. The second I sat down I felt a I little spurt of fluid, so I hopped right back up leaving a small puddle behind. I was pretty sure my water had broken, but two months earlier I had witnessed a friend's water break and it was an immediate and all out gush. Since my leak was much more controlled I wasn't certain that's what this was, not to mention I still wasn't really having any contractions, but I called the on-call doc anyways, and she suggested that I go ahead to the hospital. We called Nonnie to come back over to stay with the kids (she had left only 30 minutes prior), and then we changed the sheets, finished packing our bags, and headed out.

Throughout the drive to the hospital, check in, and triage I still wasn't having any impressive contractions, but about 10 PM they confirmed that, yes, in fact, my bag of waters had ruptured and I was 3 centimeters dilated. Since Olivia's labor was so quick, I predicted this baby would be born about 1 AM. *AHAHAHAHAHA!*  In neither labor with the girls did my water break first, so not only did I have no idea what to expect, I also had only a vague knowledge of the acceptable time limit to avoid infection and restrictions on labor; i.e., no, you can't labor in the tub. Though I predicted that I was going to have another short labor, my non-specific understanding of "how long I had" to deliver this baby had me feeling like I was on the clock the whole time. I was very impatient, and unfortunately that was the driving force behind a lot of my decisions.

As soon as I could, I started walking the halls. I walked and walked and walked and walked, and even the nurses were saying that I was going to walk the baby out. And that was my plan. My contractions had begun to get stronger and more frequent, I had to stop and breathe through many of them, and by about midnight I was 5 cm's. I adjusted my prediction for time of birth to 3 AM, and walked some more. And thankfully at this point we were officially out of the realm of "Olivia and the baby might share a birthday."

By 1 AM I was more uncomfortable, though not unbearably so, so with a bit too much encouragement from my nurse, I decided to go ahead and get the epidural. An epidural was definitely in my birth plan, but in retrospect it was just too soon. I was laboring and progressing fairly well, but I could tell Caleb was getting sleepy and I thought that if I had some pain relief we could both get some sleep and then I would just wake up and push a baby out. AHAHAHA, again.

Let it be known that my first two epidurals were just what I needed. This time... notsomuch. Instead of getting any sleep, my blood pressure kept crashing making me feel like I was going to puke which had the CRNA running in to pump more junk into my IV or to stab me in the leg with epinephrine. It also, for the first time, actually did slow down my labor so that I stayed at 5 cm's for NINE HOURS! (Although the epidural wasn't solely to blame for this. More on that in a minute.)

At 7 AM my OB came to check on me, and after my tearful response to her declaring me still a blasted 5, she started Pitocin. There I sat blessedly numb but impatient and sleep deprived for several more hours, and at 10 AM I was still only a 6. By this time, both I and my new, better than the night shift nurse were o-ver it. We knew the baby had been riding high the whole time, and because he wasn't low enough to put pressure on my cervix, I wasn't dilating. Her theory was that baby was posterior which was keeping him from descending, so at about 11 AM she rolled me into a funky side-lying pretzel position to get him to turn, and within minutes I started to feel pressure. Around that time Caleb's dad popped in to say hi and bring Caleb a soda since progress had heretofore been numbingly slow, but about 11:30 I kicked him out because "I need[ed] to be checked!" Well what do you know? The spinning babies pretzel trick worked, and I was now complete and ready to push. My OB came in about noon, and after three rounds of pushing, our 6 lb, 15 oz little BOY was born at 12:20 PM on December 1.  I had guarded myself by assuming we were having another girl, so Caleb and I were surprised and overjoyed to welcome a son! Adam Dawson, you're the man!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

"It's like you're drowning and then someone hands you a baby."

Jim Gaffigan made the above comment about having his fourth child, but it seems like three kids was my tipping point. In fact, I have actually used the word "drowning" more than once in the last couple months to describe how I feel. As I was recently explaining to someone close to me the challenges of having three children, she asked mostly innocently if I regretted having a third child or if I wished there had been more space between the last two. I understand how this is a legitimate question, but my response was something along the lines of *WTF?! No, I don't regret it and I would do it again in a heart beat and God willing I probably will.* Because the truth is that in all the chaos of the last 4 months (yes, Adam is 8 months old, but the first few months were s m o o t h sailing), I have never once thought, "Oh why did we have another baby?" or "Man I wish we had waited another [pick a number] of months." With each of our children, Caleb and I prayerfully discerned that we were in a place to accept more children if that was God's will, and after several months He took us up on the offer.

Because here's the thing: just because something is HARD doesn't mean it is BAD. So yes, I am overwhelmed and there is an inherent difficulty in raising children (any number of children) in this day and time, but this...
...and this...
are not bad. Not bad at all. 

Friday, August 7, 2015


11 months... It had been 11 months since I last posted anything, and then I spouted off with some ridiculous junk about how much I love green tea because coffee makes me sweat. Nothing but the best here y'all.

There's something about summer that makes me want to bear my soul to the masses, or maybe I just need to escape the four walls of our sauna/playroom and it's too damn hot to go outside and I have too many kids and it's too exhausting to actually go anywhere so I escape to the recesses of the blog to do some creative writing. But whatever the momentary reason for writing, I love reading though old posts to see what I got right or what a moron I was or what I STILL HAVEN'T LEARNED. [Exhibit A: for the third year in a row I should get the award for overscheduling summer vacations (2013, 2014, 2015 recap to come).] In the "moron" category, I especially love the story about "empty threats parenting" which I won't even link to because it is too embarrassing but it is already out there and shows me how much I have grown along with my children.

Anyway, after essentially two years of radio silence, I am challenging myself to seven days of posting. I hope to feed my soul by creating something lasting and to provide material for comic relief for my future self. So friends, if you've neglected your blog for while, please join me in the challenge! I love reading your stuff. (I'm cyberstaring at you Layla.)

And because no post is complete without pictures...
From the cutting room floor:
Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A
When did Mia turn 13?

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The silver lining list

Today has been tough, really tough. With Mia's strep diagnosis, the resulting lack of sleep, and two other little people who both seem to be in an unusually needy phase, I am fried. Tired... impatient... empty. On days like this it is easy for me to feel like I am failing all around. I yelled at Olivia at nap- FAIL! My kitchen is dirty- FAIL! I didn't read scripture today- FAIL! But somewhere in the waaaaaay back of my mind (or on the background of my phone) are the simple words of Christ: "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Cor. 12:9). His power is made perfect in my weakness. I am forgiven. I am loved. Jesus fills in the gaps where I fail.
Even with these truths in mind, it takes a lot of effort to be mindful of His presence and to praise and thank Him for ALL of it... the good and the bad. I certainly can't say I am running toward Him with open arms screaming, "Thank you for the opportunity to take up this cross!" but here are a few things that I am thankful for today.

1) Amoxicillin! This $4 bottle of scientific genius should relieve Mia's discomfort and diminish her contagiousness in 24 hours. Thank you Modern Medicine.
2) TV. I admit I have probably overused this prop today, but the effects of too many hours of screen time cannot be as bad as the damage I might do without it. #sanitysaver

3) "Baby Adim"! Though his recent motto seems to be "Nurse to sleep or don't sleep at all," I am cherishing every minute of his sweet smelling snuggles. Nursing this guy are the few times that I actually breathe; I sit in my chair and take deep inhales of the cool, dark, quiet air, and it brings a little bit of peace to my disquieted mind.
Other Notables:
-Caleb's step mom who took my rooster:thirty phone call and went to the pharmacy to pick up some children's Advil
-Layla who immediately Googled and schooled me on how to deal with the after effects of washing a disposable diaper
-A verbal child that could tell me, "My throat hurts." She mentioned it in passing, and I relayed it to the nurse with equal casualty. The diagnosis was in the details.
-Green tea! I love coffee, but I really have to limit my intake because me + too much caffeine = anxiety and pit stains. Green tea gets me through these long days without the bipolar effects of coffee.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

That's it, we're leaving!

This morning at the breakfast table and rather out of the blue, Mia asked if we could go to Mass this morning. It wasn't on my to-do list for the day, but when a child ASKS to go to church, the answer better be a loud resounding "Amen, Allelulia, H-to-the-YES!" Mass alone with the kids is usually a physically draining, patience-testing adventure in the wiggles, so my plan was to keep them in the vestibule and watch through the glass doors. On the drive over I laid out expectations for Mia's behavior with the promise she could run around in the grass afterward. As we trotted into church just in the nick of time, Mia beelined for a corner, got down on her knees, and started praying that she would find her missing piglet figurine. Olivia "Me-Too" Templeton copy-catted her way over right next to sister, and this mom's heart swelled with relief that today might not be the worst Mass ever. But the relief was short lived. Running and raised voices rapidly ensued, and despite my best efforts to calmly correct, in T minus the Gospel, Mia had disintegrated from this...

to this.
I warned her that if she reached a running clip one more time we were leaving, so as she trotted away from me post tongue-out incident, I pointed to the door and out we went. She hung her head as we walked to the car knowing she had disappointed me and asked if she could try again. Yes, I told her, we will try again on Thursday, and per her request, we will try sitting IN the chapel.

There are 100 ways to analyze, question, deconstruct this incident, but here's the angle of the day... As heart wrenching as it was to walk out of Mass before communion, I think it was an effective punishment for Mia. You know those empty threats of "If you X-Y-Z one more time I'm calling Miss Layla and we're not going to A-B-C!"? (Or maybe I'm the only idiot mom who makes empty threats that in my gut I know I'm not going to follow through on.) I have a whole new perspective on just how effective it might be to actually go through with it one time. My hesitation to follow through is usually based on disappointing my friend or the friend's kid. After someone has made the effort to have us over or meet us somewhere, it feels insensitive to yank my kids away and bail. But on the flip side, I wouldn't mind if any of my friends took their kids home if they were misbehaving. It would probably be a good lesson for Mia in the process. Kristi and I talked about this a long time ago, and her suggestion was to warn the person that today may be the day we leave, but for some reason I never have the forethought to do that. 

So the next time you invite us to play, we might have to go home early. And if you ever want to follow through on cancelling plans with us due to behavior, I completely understand.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Rolling out those crazy, dazy, not lazy days of summer

I had really hoped that I would get back to blogging this summer, since summer was the season that started it all last year and hello longer days and bye bye seasonal depression et cetera, but evidently my priorities have fallen short of self centered cyber sharing. I'd like to blame my ridiculously part-time job, but in truth I simply decided I'd rather experience life than write about it, at least on a regular basis.

Last summer I lengthily lamented my state as over-traveled mother of infant, and I foolishly assumed that the infant part was the key portion of the statement. The month of June 2014 basically beat into me that the over-traveled status was the real relaxation killer. Within the span of 6 weeks we: traveled for a long weekend (lake with the Krogs), were home for 11 days, traveled for 10 days (beach/Georgia/lake), were home for 14 days, and traveled for 7 days (B'ham, Lake Martin, Highland Lake with Pawpaw and Tutu). We are on glorious week 4 of being home, and I finally feel caught up. Caleb has another 7 days of vacation scheduled beginning on Monday, and with heavenly inspiration we have decided to stay home, work on projects, and have local family time. Between Caleb's work weekends and the constant tug of the lake, we're rarely just home on any given weekend, and if we are, we're struggling to cram 3 weeks of backlog into those 48 hours. Recipe for stress and failure.

But despite the lengthy recovery from all our trips, the time away was well spent. We had wonderful relaxing family time,
at Poppee and Yaya's house on the way to the beach
Mia's favorite part of our entire tri-state trip- the one night hotel stay

 took the girls on several fun and exciting adventures,

 celebrated my grandmother's 94th birthday with family I see once every 10 years, 

and spent 12 ridiculous hours with our best good friends from RI. 

There is nothing I would change about the past 2 months because of all of the wonderful things we were able to do, but looking ahead I vow to learn from the exhaustion. I realize that traveling with kids is guaranteed to be completely absurd, and if you want to do anything you have to be willing to pay the price of insanity. It was totally worth it for the aforementioned escapades, but there is very little I want to do badly enough to hop back in the yellow submarine and sail off to crazytown anytime soon.

It was good, great, and wonderful, but I'd rather save my energy reserves for summoning patience with the girls. Because oh Lord, when Olivia dumped the entire contents of my FULL water bottle on the bed or when Mia bit/hit/kicked me on the way to time out or coping with the loss of the paci or when Mia peed all over herself/her bathroom... Its enough for me to just Be. Here. Now. And never leave again. Until we do.