Month: December 2017

2017 with a bow

It’s the last day of the year and it always comes with a hint of sadness and a bit of reflection for myself.  Another year has been written down, in totality, in our family books.  The girls each added a higher notch on our family growth ruler, celebrated another birthday, and all of us packed in 365 days of life, building lots of memories along the way.

This year was a good one, but I don’t feel AS sad to see to it go as I have some in years past. That being said, it was a great improvement to 2016, and I feel thankful for a year of some reprieve following that one.  Still, it seems too soon that we have gotten to this point, the days flying by much faster than I care for and a big giant pin about to be stuck in the space labeled 2017.  Here we are.

Of course I would be remiss in not mentioning that this year was very big for us in one major way.  We spent half of the year in ignorant bliss about the direction our family was going and then the other half reeling from the shock that we would be adding in another one, later coming to be known as our fourth girl, Baby Surprise. It seems this year had a very clear demarcation to it: the half of the year BEFORE we found out about Baby Surprise and then the half of the year AFTER.  Both good in their own right, just approached AND remembered with different feelings.

That was our biggest news but we also went on two vacations, one long one to Seagrove Beach and the other a mini vacation to Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg. I’ve come to realize that when we are singing over our (proverbial) champagne about the memories from each year, vacations are always the highlights for me.  So many good feelings surrounding vacations, with memories almost pungent from how real they still feel.  I love the way they force you to slow down, leave behind, take it all in, and somehow, always leave differently.

Besides those two vacations, we also went to Indiana three times this summer and said goodbye to N’s grandpa, Grandpa Joe.  We had lots of visitors, especially this summer, and have carefully crafted our own perfect guide to the city; including where to eat, what to do with/without kids, and what to see along the way.  It’s becoming our home.

We’ve become more established here, in our hometown, and settled into our new normal.  This was the year we declared “our grocery store”, “our church”, “our gym”, & “our pool”.  We poured a lot of love into our home, some of it via physical labor and some of it via digging into our pockets to pay someone else to do the manual labor for us.

The biggest change to our house we made was our floor/kitchen renovation this spring. We even got kicked out and had to go live with my parents for a week+ while the heavy duty work was being done.  Almost a year removed, and I’m still so glad we did it.  A huge improvement from what we moved into and certainly more our style.

When you move into a house that’s 15+ years old, there are bound to be some surprises, and we had a few of those as well.  But when I look around our house, I don’t see any big gaps anymore.  We used to have a non-functional eat-in kitchen because we didn’t have a table that fit there.  This year we gained that, among an array of other things you buy/build/borrow to make everything from your old house transition successfully into your new one.  It’s still hard for me not to look around and see all the things still left to do, though thankfully this is a list left more in my head and not glaringly obvious when you walk in the door.  But such is the case when you live in a house built 15+ years ago: almost everything is due for an update.  The bright side to that is that get to pick these updates to my liking.  But still.  Almost everything is due for an update.  And the way our time and money seem to traditionally work is that not everything gets updated in the same year.

That being said, I hope in 2018, we see a lot less workers in our house.  Between this year and the seemingly endless rolling in and out of the sticky, plastic, carpet-protecting, runner at the schoolhouse, I’m tired of turning over my routine to the schedule of others. It’s especially difficult when you have a nursing/napping babe, and I’ll be getting another one of those in about two months.

My greatest wish for 2018 is that it brings more reprieve and peace.  That sounds like a crazy wish when you are planning to add in another child (a fourth one at that), and maybe it’s a bit idealized.  But there’s a method to my madness.

Though as I said earlier, 2017 wasn’t a rocky year of deep lows, but there are a few negative feelings left over from it.  N was very busy.  I don’t think busier than he’s ever been (that would go to our first year in the schoolhouse when his job was ultra-demanding, he was taking a labor-intensive class for his doctorate, and we were also undergoing renovations on our house), but because the girls are getting older, it felt like more of a sacrifice at times.  Add to that the weariness and sickness of a surprise pregnancy and a super sensitive emotional meter that accompanies each one, and there were many days I barely scraped by with either my nerves, tears, stomach, or mind in tact.  We also got sick a lot this year.  Unusually so for us.

To cap off the year, MG spent a late night in an ER full of fluish, vomiting, and hacking children to be seen for a badly split open chin (all the way to the bone).  Those accidents happen so fast. One minute I was lying on the couch reading a Christmas book to Sib, thinking about how I was going to bed early (*that’s another thing.  I think I went to bed around 9pm for most of this year) and savoring the delight of the older girls running around and acting silly around us.  The next minute, I was throwing on blue jeans and putting boots on my hysterical 7 year old, trying to explain to her that we weren’t going to call an ambulance to come take her away, but we were headed to the hospital right now.

Seven hours and seven stitches later, she was nearly as good as new, but once again, my nerves were left rattled and my mind wondering, when is there going to be peace in our house again? (ironically or not, she broke out in hives from the medicine used to treat the stitches and spent the last days of 2017 with a puffy face and on steroids.  What a month for her!)

Thank goodness for family that lives nearby.  Like my mom coming over to stay at the house so N could join me in the ER and help us keep our sanity after going on hour four.  She finished cutting and baking the sugar cookies for our planned decorating party the next day and cleaned our kitchen while she waited up into the hours to make sure we got home safely.

Just a reminder that we’ve had some rocky moments this year, but each one has come with a safety net.

To finally circle back around, the word that has been haunting me in this time as I reflect back on 2017 and pray forward to 2018 is peace.  I’m not sure if this is a positive peace (like everything is truly going to be okay, even better than imagined) or a negative peace (like this year is going to be turbulent, so find your Peace now and hold onto it for dear life).  But I have been constantly reminded of one of the names of Jesus being the Prince of Peace and also coming to this world to bring peace.  Either way, I’m clinging to that for now, and will continue to meditate on what it means as this year is slowly unveiled.

I also deeply hope that 2018 is a redemptive year for us. I openly wrote about how I felt some of the joy surrounding Sib’s birth and her first year of life was stolen from us via the massive upheaval in our lives that year, her lateness and consequently my induction, and her scary illness.  I had made peace previously with it by saying, well we’ll never have to do any of that ever again. But now that I’m looking down the barrel of another potentially trying but also potentially lovely year, I’m hoping that we get to enjoy, thoroughly enjoy, the fruits of our labor (so to speak), as we add in the final piece to our family puzzle via a sweet, precious newborn (my favorite).

Traditionally, transitions are NOT our sweet spot.  This is something we both laugh over and stew over, a bit anxiously at times.  But this transition is one we have seen coming from a mile away and that has given us a lot of time to prepare for, and talk over, what we want it to look like, to the best of our ability.

And so, with that, 2017 comes to a close.  A fond farewell to you, my friend.  I’m thankful for the growth you brought us, the memories I have made with you, and the closeness I have felt to my family inside your bounds.  But it is time to cast you off and see what your dear sister has for us as we set sail upon her.

And thank you, as always, for finding your way here time after time, Reader.  I will see you on the other side,

-smk

Baby Name Game, Round 4!

Well, here we are!  I’m 31 weeks, which is when I typically start this riveting game*, but I’m still running about a week behind because this is the INTRO into the game, not the first actual clue.  I *do* have a basic outline written for the clues, so it should be easy to pump them out soon, BUT, I’ve been catching up on other projects lately and with the holidays this week, this has not been as big of a priority as I would have liked.

As announced in the title, this is round 4!  Rounds 2 & 3, should be easy to find in the archives and round 1 was only visible to our “lucky” family.  Back when I was pregnant with MG, it started as a series of emails since we did not reveal the name to anyone prior to her birth. I still appreciate a good surprise (for others, not myself!) and I know I’ve said this many times, but just for the sake of fitting it neatly in here, I love the moment of the big reveal of our baby name.  Because we put so much thought into our names and because I feel like our chosen names say something about us, I revel in that moment of the announcement.  Right up until that very moment, I am sealed lips about the name and often have nightmares in which I accidentally tell someone or publish it publicly.  It just wouldn’t be the same to me if it went down that way.

I’ve been a name aficionado since, well about as long as I can remember.  I put a lot of deep thought into the names I gave my dolls and stuffed animals, pets, and then of course girls.  I spent money on baby name books long before we were pregnant and would flip through the pages,circling potential winners (those are pretty funny to look back on now!).  A badge of honor on my chest is that I’ve had multiple friends solicit my naming advice over the years (though in full disclosure, none have actually used any of my suggestions, to my knowledge).  I also have been able to successfully guess a few friends and acquaintances babies’ names prior to their birth (okay, like 3).  Nameberry.com has been my favorite naming website to consult through the years and even though I had given up on the idea of adding another little girl to our family some time ago, I, thankfully, still had a running list of inspirational names that we were able to draw from when we found out about our little surprise.

It is a topic I’ve chatted about, ad nauseam, to many friends, my sister, and my husband.  One of the saddest things about closing this chapter of my life is also not having any more future babies to name.  But because we follow a similar pattern with each of our girls, it has also gotten a little harder each time. And so, for that reason, it took us a little longer than usual to settle on this name. But that is all I will say for now.  The upcoming clues will give you some more peaks behind the scenes.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, this isn’t really a game at all.  The clues are specifically designed so that you CAN’T guess the actual name.  Really, this is an anticipation-building (hopefully) activity that can help pass the time for both of us and also give you some insight into the complicated logic of how we choose our dear daughters’ names.

Just a heads up that these clues are going to be very similar to the the rounds posted previously.  Some will be nearly identical, because, well, we have ourselves a little baby name box that we neatly outline each time.  What can we say, we didn’t think we were theme-y people, but look at us now!

After her birth, all will be revealed and I will break down the clues to help explain them further, as well as give you the total meaning behind her name.

That being said, and just to throw some confusion to the plot, there are actually SOME differences this time so I will leave you to read about those in the clues that follow.

Let the pre-gaming ceremonies begin!

-smk

(*”game” is a loose interpretation, depending on how much you enjoy being stumped for 10 weeks of vague “clues”)

Clue #1

Lettuce Have a Baby

Six months have passed with our little surprise and that means we are in the FINAL trimester of the FINAL M pregnancy.  It’s no doubt this has been my quickest pregnancy yet (based on feelings), and though one would think with your fourth pregnancy, especially one of the same gender, one would know what exactly what to expect.  Unfortunately, this hasn’t exactly rung true.  But for now, let’s take a look back on this month.

I am 27 weeks and baby is the size of a head of lettuce (or something like that).  I do know that three weeks ago, she measured a pound and a half (average, so they said), as I had a followup ultrasound to check on the PAC I mentioned last time.

It was my first and only time at an MFM (maternal fetal medicine) and for that I am so grateful.  Those places are a little bleak, with rarely good news coming from them, and I was reminded of an author, one in particular that I have closely followed her story, who received dire news about her baby at that very building a few years ago.  Thankfully, my visit was mostly precautionary, though there was always the chance they could discover something unexpected as they looked at things a little more in depth than my initial anatomy ultrasound.

The tech spent about thirty minutes on me, measuring the normal things again, studying baby’s heartbeat, and then the majority of her time was spent thoroughly looking at her heart.  And I mean THOROUGHLY.   She looked at it from every angle, having me position myself in different ways at times, zooming in on certain spots, and sometimes displaying colors on the screen to show blood flow.  The tone of the exam was a positive one, though she warned me she could not tell me results directly, it seemed to be going well.

Afterward, I met with the doctor on staff (i.e. not my normal OBGYN) who explained that everything came back healthy, from the look and function of her heart to her heartbeat.  There was nothing abnormal discovered in her heartbeat this time!  He said that it’s not uncommon for that to happen either. So I was merrily dismissed and breathed a sigh of relief that we could check this box off on the list of pregnancy anxieties.

The next big surprise this month came in the form of a little clear, 10oz drink.  On the morning of November 17, just a week or so before Thanksgiving,  I went in to take my glucose tolerance test.  Once again, this being my fourth time, I knew the drill.  I protein loaded in the morning and swallowed my drink quickly, met with my doctor in the interim time it took for the hour blood test to be drawn.  I felt fine, all things considered, as I have most of the pregnancy (well especially so in comparison to my previous ones).  I felt a little ill that afternoon (hours after the test), but chalked that up to the combination of the sugary drink and a high carb lunch.  It resolved when I ate a healthy dinner.

So it came as a big surprise when the nurse called me on Monday morning to tell me that I had FAILED!  I wasn’t sure if I should take it as a greater loss that I had failed by 3 points (so close!), or a sign of encouragement (I was so close to the line that I’ll more than likely pass the next test?).

Nevertheless, I was dazed for a few hours from the news.  The three hour test scares me a little (12 hours of fasting, drinking the glucose, then three more hours of blood draws and fasting).  The diagnosis of gestational diabetes scares me even more (greater risks for so many things, including a induction, which I have been DESPERATELY hoping and praying against).  That test comes this week, and since I’ve had some time to process the news, I’ve been able to come to more of a peace about it.  A few personal friends and acquaintances have had GD and while it is a serious diagnosis, thankfully can be mostly managed by a clean diet (and that has a few more benefits to oneself as well).  In the mean time, I have cut way back on carbs and sugar, hoping that baby can remain happy no matter what, and am resolved to my fate, whatever that may be.

I’ve also been preoccupied this month with baby’s position.  The ultrasound revealed she was breech, and though this isn’t anything serious yet as she is still small enough to change frequently, it made me consider what I can do to get and hold her in a good position until birth.  In the past, birth positioning has been a struggle with all three of mine.  For some reason, my body likes to hold them high, fluid level also high, so they do not drop down and become engaged, signaling for labor to begin.  Bea was the only one that I went into labor on my own, and that was with my water breaking first, so who knows if she even intended to come at that point.

Even so, I had my easiest labor with her as she came out correctly and with no back pain on my end.  With the other two, I was induced (by water breaking), and had horrible back pain, specifically in my sacrum (a bone or two above the tailbone, from my understanding).  All three have wanted to come out sunny side up, but only MG succeeded.

Anyway, this had me researching spinning babies (i.e. everyday exercises you can do to help position your baby more ideally for birth) and the Webster technique (i.e. a technique done by a certified chiropractor that aligns your sacrum).  I found a chiropractor who specializes in it and I went to see her today.  It was a good experience, not too unlike my other prenatal chiropractor experiences, but I’m seeing her a bit more preemptively this time.  I’m hoping she can help me avoid this dreadful pain again, and the price will be worth it, if not for peace of mine alone.

One thing she asked me to work on is not crossing my legs.  I am a habitual offender of this (I’m struggling right now as I type not to cross at the knee.  My legs always feel so much happier elevated).  Every time I cross my legs, my hips go out of alignment a bit and with my already loose ligaments, they don’t naturally go back in place right away.  This creates a less than ideal opening for baby to comfortably sink into, and instead could be a reason why my babies stay high, avoiding sharp bones poking them as they attempt descent.  So add this to the list of ways a pregnant woman must make herself uncomfortable, including not sleeping back nor belly, trying to stay on left side as much as possible, never reclining (to keep baby from going spine to spine), and now no crossed legs.  It feels like a lot, but I am determined to do everything, in my power at least, to make this my best labor and delivery yet.

Finally, we were able to tour the hospital where we will (Lord willing), be delivering this baby in roughly 3 months.  The facilities are nice and very accommodating for the natural birth I hope to have again this time.  This being a new hospital for us (4 babies, 3 different hospitals!), there are some things I miss about my last experiences, but also some things this hospital has to offer that my previous ones didn’t.  It’s hard for me to let go of past experiences sometimes, and not let them shape how I think the future will be.  But that’s what I’m working through right now and I love this verse that came up in my Bible app this morning, “For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, Saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.'” (Isaiah 41:13)

Between all of that, Thanksgiving, MG’s birthday, deal shopping, company, and the like, this has been an eventful month.  I anticipate next month to be similar, if not even more busy. That’s part of what makes the time pass so quickly, but also so thankful for so many good things to celebrate.

As I order another embroidered PBK stocking and sign our names to another annual Christmas card, I think about what Christmas will look like this time next year.  Four girls (!) to trim the tree, curl up and read Christmas books together, open the Advent calendar, circle every last thing in the Target toy catalogue, cut and decorate sugar cookies, and talk about Jesus’s birth.  There is something about the feeling of our family’s circle coming to a close.  It makes the traditions feel more alive and the memories more noteworthy. No more waiting for things to change and no more years of progress with anticipation of regression.  This is the time of our lives.

-smk