Friday, February 28, 2014

A Mother's Dignity

You want to get a lot of attention?  First, take a shower.  Then take three really cute little girls to the mall.  Next put a newborn into a Moby and prepare yourself.

The hardest part will be not breaking down into a puddle of sobbing post partum tears when the strangers, with admiration in their eyes, keep telling you what a good mom you are.  Try to believe them when they say this.

You know, the human body has a lot of fluid in it.  Really, we are pretty juicy creatures.  All sorts of fluids, and some are supposed to come out of the body, some aren't.  Some smell bad, some smell worse.  I don't think any of them smell good... but I could be wrong?

Last week I sent this email to some people, soliciting advice.

"Hazel just peed all over me.  I'm wearing the only pair of pants that I can wear without pain from my incision.  We are leaving in about twenty minutes to go to Hallie's doctor appointment.
I mean, I could go to the doctor in my pajamas, but I just don't want to.
I feel like my only other option is to wear these pants.
That just got peed on.
What would you do?
I'm at a loss.

My friends and family came back with their advice, and in the end I wore the pants, because it is cold here and the pajamas in question were a. a nightgown, and b. thin cotton pants.  Neither of which I wanted to wear in sub freezing temperatures.

AND because I have a limit on how disgusted I can be by myself and the fluids that land on me from these little bodies I take care of, and infant pee is really pretty harmless.  In comparison to other bodily fluids, it seems like it is practically water, right?  I made the only choice I felt I could make.

We've had the vomits around here. Again. Then Again.  And then again, a few days ago.  When kids aren't feeling well you know where they like to be best of all?

Right. By. Mommy.  And you know when their tummies really start quaking and shaking who do they turn to, cry to, try and express their discomfort to?

Mommy. It all seems to come together at just the right moment and I can't tell you the number of times I have been thrown up on THIS MONTH ALONE, not to mention the six years I've been doing this gig.

Now we've talked about the pee, and the vomits.  What else should we cover? There are many options, snot, tears, spit up, breastmilk, blood, drool, the meal at dinner that just didn't taste as good as it smelled and they changed their mind about swallowing and where else should it go but all over Mommy. 

Hazel is a master at spitting up when I least expect it, and having it land in the most random places on my person.  "How did she manage to get me there?" is what I find myself wondering late at night when I am tired and can't decide, should I change, or am I not so wet that I can't go back to sleep?

A few days following that email, the day I wore the peed on pants to the doctor's office, we went to church. It was my first time back at church and I was so excited to be back and singing with the kids again.  (I'm the music leader for the children's class at church).  I ran out to nurse Hazel real quick so she would hopefully sleep the two hours I would be occupied.

Then I decided to change her diaper before I went back in.  You know, one of those wild and crazy spur of the moment kind of ideas. I don't learn from my mistakes, apparently, and decided to change her on my lap because of all sorts of reasons that just don't matter because the point is she peed on me.

I guess the doctor's appointment day was just a dress rehearsal.  I wiped it all up as best I could, got Hazel cleaned up as best I could, and out we went to face the world.

There are a lot of things I look forward to as my children grow up, but this past month (Happy One Month Birthday, Hazel!), nothing in all the world sounds so good as the day that my clothes are clean, the whole day through.  I don't get wet at all, from anything, and I don't have to change my clothes, or take another shower.  Or, honestly, a first shower, because some days it really seems like what is even the point?

Today was a victory.  I did shower.  And then I got dressed in real clothes.  And then I gave the girls baths.  And then I did their hair.  And then I actually cooked a lunch. And then we went to the mall.

This is not even a joke. I did all those things.  Before we left for the mall, I think Hazel had only spit up on me four times.  Actually, I think you can barely even  call it spit up.  It was more like white drool, or a really really wet burp.

Here's to the end of February! And a big big welcome to March!  Come roaring in, you wild and wonderful month!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

She Just Did That

Heather is an almost perfect child.

Then she turned two, and I held my breath.

But she was still an almost perfect child.

Really. I'm not exaggerating, she was this close to it.

And then she woke up one morning, about a week after her second birthday.

She dumped out an entire bottle of cinnamon.  But actually, that wasn't all that unusual.  It was probably the fourth or fifth bottle she has dumped out.  You'd think that we would have learned by now that we have to keep the cinnamon far, far out of her reach.  But whatever, right? Keeps my spices fresh, you know?  Also, then when I vacuum it always makes me think I'm baking something delicious.  Bonus and bonus.

Then she decided she wanted to potty train herself without telling me, and took her diaper off.  It wasn't a great success, as she peed in front of the dollhouse.  My guess is she was too busy playing to think about things like toilets.

And then she pooped in front of the dollhouse.  That's when Hallie and Hanna decided it was time for me to get involved.  But, like, my carpet really needed to be scrubbed anyway.  Bonus.

A little while later Hanna came running to me in tears and explained that Heather was putting all of her toys in the toilet.  I guess she decided to take her potty training to the next level, but didn't want to leave her toys behind?  No matter the reason, that was gross.

Devin came home from work and we ate dinner.  Heather whined.  And cried.  And wouldn't eat.

She got up from the table and Devin and I were talking about something and we didn't pay much attention.  She found a full bottle of shampoo that I had just bought at the store that very same day.  She squeezed the entire bottle out onto one couch cushion.  Devin and I weren't sure how to get a full bottle of shampoo out of that one poor couch cushion, but we gave it our best shot. If you come visit, I will never tell you which cushion it is, but it's probably the one that smells like mango.

While I was working on the couch, Devin went upstairs to get the girls into their pajamas.  While he was helping Hallie and Hanna, Heather dumped out an entire bottle of hand soap.

As he was cleaning that up, Heather thought it might be a good time to put more toys in the toilet, because it had been so much fun before probably.

We finally jammed her in bed and closed the door and heaved a huge sigh of relief.  The creature was sleeping.

I mean, wait.  She's not a creature. That makes her sound like a monster.  When really, you know, she's nearly perfect.  Nearly.

This picture taken on her second birthday.  Look at that face!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

And Now, About Food

Hallie really loves the camera we got her for Christmas.  She takes pictures all of the time, and when she runs out of things to take pictures of, I hear her saying things like, "Oh! I know! I haven't taken a picture of the carpet yet! Come on, Hanna, let's get a picture of the carpet!"

Yes. That really happened.

It is fun to look through the pictures she has taken, to see what sorts of things catch her interest.  I don't know what she will be when she grows up, right now she always says she wants to be an illustrator, like of children's books.  I wouldn't be surprised if she really did.  I also wouldn't be surprised if she ended up being some sort of photographer.

Like, say, one of those people that carefully arranges food so that it looks perfect for the ten foot poster they hang in the windows of McDonald's to showcase their new hamburger.  Someone has that job, and why not Hallie?  I mean, take a look at her early work.







Friday, February 21, 2014

That Man

Today I was feeling really grateful for Devin.  As I went about doing the things you do in a day, this is what I thought about him... because sometimes when I think about people I think about them as if they were a character in a book, and the way they would be described.  Because I'm always writing a book in my head, just like normal people do.

"There was an air about him that made a person want to sit up just a little straighter, and check their hair to make sure it was all in place.  Not out of a feeling of inferiority because of some supreme beauty on his part, for although his wife found him extremely handsome that was probably due mainly to some bias on her part.  No, it was not his own perfect features that made people want to appear their best.  Rather it was a sense they felt of his always having everything in place, of always being in control of his person that made other people want the same for themselves, and feeling that perhaps they, too, could be so orderly if they only brushed their own teeth more routinely, or ironed their shirts more carefully.

It felt at times as though he lived on a wavelength that moved just a fraction of a moment faster than that of anyone else.  While most people would still be standing and contemplating all the steps required to complete a task, he would be approaching, said task quite finished, and begin discussion for what was to be done next.  And exactly one moment before you thought the conversation was over, he would already have that next task accomplished as well.

He was rarely the center of attention, but merely having him in the same space did something quite inexplicable to the other occupants of the room.  Those who had been feeling nearly insane, suddenly found that they were feeling a little more sane.  Those unhappy found themselves a little more happy.  Ungrateful persons found reasons to be grateful.  All the un-s and in-s of the world fell away for a time while he was with them, and people began to change their thinking from impossibilities to possibilities.

Let us not get carried away and say that he had power over the heavens, and that the very clouds moved out from blocking the sun at his arrival, because that would be nonsense.  What is true is that even on the cloudiest of days, his presence made the people near him to feel more the sunshine in their own souls."

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Heather Is 2!

Happy Birthday little girl!

Sometimes you are my Sunshine Kisses, and sometimes you are my Kisses in the Rain.  Sometimes you are my tiniest goose, but you are always my doop doop.

I love you, baby.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I Don't Know What to Title This Post

Predictable and Unpredictable.  Planned and Unplanned.  Prepared and Unprepared.  Expected and Unexpected. Routine, Habit, Boredom and Novelty, Surprise, Excitement.

I am a person that is more typically in the first camp.  I once said to my friend Alisha something along the lines of, "I really love spontaneity, as long as it is well planned out first."

I think that is part of why Hazel's birth has been kind of difficult for me to come to terms with.  I wonder if I had known what "umbilical cord prolapse" was, if I had done all my research the way my sister meticulously did, would I have been more afraid of what was happening to my baby, or less? 

Because the delivery was so urgent and there was (thank goodness!) no time for an epidural, I was put under general anesthesia and slept through the whole thing.  This means that I don't really know what happened when she was born.  Everything I know about it I received in bits and pieces afterward from various doctors, nurses, and anesthesiologists as they came to my room to check on me.  And sometimes, the information they had for me was wrong.

For instance, once I woke up and was ready to be moved, a group of nurses came to help me switch from the bed in the operating room to the one that would wheel me down the hallway.  A nurse grabbed my leg and began to move it for me, saying as she did so, "We're just going to move you to this bed over here, and since you can't move your legs we'll help you with that.  You just lie there."

And I, in my drugged and confused state, said, "I can't move my legs?!"

At which time, as she continued moving my legs for me, I found myself helping her along by moving them myself.  She noticed this.  "Oh!  Looks like you do have a little movement in your legs!  Usually people can't move them at all."

"I can't move my legs?!" I repeated again, utterly confused and scared.

Finally, one of the other nurses around me stepped forward and said, "She didn't have an epidural."  To which the first nurse responded, "Oh, well.  Then I guess you can move your legs."  To which I felt strangely like I had been given permission to do something forbidden.

I was moved onto the other bed and wheeled down the hallway to my recovery room.  Once there, the bed sort of inflated and lifted me onto my new bed, and then deflated again.  I think it was magic.  It felt like being transported by a puff of clouds.  Although, I was all drugged up so I don't know.

This next part doesn't make much sense, the only thing I can figure is that it must have been a new group of nurses because we went through the whole thing again with the legs.

"Ok, now you're on your bed we're just going to help you get situated so you are more comfortable and we can have a good look at you.  Since you can't move your legs I'm going to..."

and, drugged and confused as I was, I was only too willing to fall for it again. "I can't move my legs?!" 

"It's perfectly normal, we don't expect you to be able to move your legs yet."

"Why can't I move my legs?!" I ask, wondering what they had done to me, even as I move my legs into position along with her.

"Oh, you do have some ability to move your legs!"  as if I had just accomplished some great thing.  I remember feeling vaguely like there was something familiar about the scenario, but couldn't quite put my finger on what it was.

We went round and round until another nurse spoke up and explained that I had not had an epidural.  Shortly after, I got to see Hazel for the first time.

That was the silliest example of not knowing what had happened to me, and I'm sure most of what I have learned about Hazel's birth is accurate, coming straight from the people who were there and answering my questions in the days that followed. 

The nurse who kept Hazel inside me told me that she has been a nurse for 11 years and has never had to do what she did.  She said she has seen one other prolapsed cord case and watched another nurse get wheeled down the hallway in similar fashion, but this was her first time. 

The ob said this was the most complicated c section he had ever performed, referring to how Hazel's head and arms were stuck in the contraction that wouldn't let her go.  He also told me that the whole thing took about three minutes from first incision.  Those guys are fast. 

I know she was born at 4:13, that I had arrived at the hospital at around 3:45, after contractions had started around 2:30, and that I got to hold her for the first time around 6:00.  I know that in addition to the prolapsed cord she was breech with the cord wrapped around her neck. The nurses made many jokes about her being a gymnast, because just two weeks before I had had an ultrasound and she was in good position. 

I know that she weighed 8 lbs 13 oz, and that she was 21 and 3/4 inches long.  I know that she is beautiful.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

When They Took You Out

Some of my thoughts as I try to reconcile what happened when Hazel was born.

1  2  3  4

I never made it to 5.

What dreams may come?

Unicorns and daffodils?
Sunbeams and kittens?
The jabberwocky and me?

cords and gowns and hands
knives and masks and blood
just breathe now

when they took you out.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Week With Four

Well I'm a day past a week with four children.  You want to know if the stomach bug hit anyone else in the family?  Well, thanks for asking.

It hit Devin hard.  Then Hallie.  I was down with a fever for a day, but thankfully for me that was as bad as it got.  I believe in miracles.

Can you imagine vomiting violently a week after having them cut up your insides?

But really, that's enough about that.

Let's have some pictures!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

So Good to be Home

So there we were, that Monday night, laying in our beds with visions of free popcorn and five dollar movies and getting to know new Disney princesses dancing in our heads.  I slept on the couch that night because I was too uncomfortable in the bed to sleep.  Suddenly, a child's crying pierced the night, and I went dashing up the stairs to see what was the matter.

Hanna was sitting up in her bed sobbing, and Hallie in an almost angry voice declared the moment she saw me, "Mom, it smells like yucky vomit in here.  I think Hanna did it."

Then Heather began to cry.  First things first, I told Hallie to lay back down and try to go back to sleep.  Next, of course, I went to wake up Devin and demand his help.  Then we set to work cleaning up Hanna and her bed, and getting Heather back to sleep as well.

Tuesday, as you know, saw Hanna sleeping on the couch.  She didn't really eat or move at all that entire day.  And by entire day I mean up until around 3:00, I don't really know what she did after that because I was at the hospital, doing other things.  Remember that?

I do know that at some point in time, she recovered from her illness and everyone was able to come see me in the hospital on Wednesday.

I spent Thursday, Friday, and half of Saturday in the hospital too.  It was so nice to come home today. We pulled in to the driveway around 3:00, and Hallie and Hanna were jumping around, so eager to hold Hazel and give her all the kisses.  Heather was sound asleep in her bed.

She just kept sleeping and sleeping, that tiny little self.  Sleeping, sleeping, sleeping...

My mom had put her down for her nap around 12:30, and she didn't wake up until almost 4:30.  She came downstairs, and like her sisters was so excited to see that Hazel and mom were home!  Yay yay, happy day!

She sat on my mom's lap next to me on the couch.  I was holding Hazel and we were just enjoying being back together again.  My mom put Heather down on the couch next to me and got up to go the bathroom.

And then there was a sudden sort of choking sound from Heather.  And then there was vomit everywhere.  Red.  Chunky.  Thick.  Like a strawberry smoothie had exploded out of her mouth, and it just kept coming.

I did what anyone would do who had just come home from the hospital after a c-section and was holding their new baby in one hand and a vomiting toddler in the other.  I screamed for my mother.

She helped me clean it all up.  Everyone all fresh and smelling better, and we tried to renew the pleasant atmosphere of moments before.  My mom took Hazel and I settled in to give Heather a proper snuggle.  Oh, how I had missed my little Heather!

And then there it was again, that tiny choking sound and ...

all over me and all over her and everywhere in all the nooks and crannies of everyone and everything everywhere.

Devin had run to the store to get my prescriptions filled, and my grandpa was blissfully unaware on the other side of the room, knitting socks for Hallie and Hanna.  So again, I did the only thing possible.  I screamed for my mother.

I'll just let you imagine how the rest of the day went, and now with all but me in the house sleeping and quiet, I can't help but think that

It is so good to be home.

And also, that I hope no one else gets this stomach bug.