Monday, March 23, 2015

Outnumbered

I grew up in a family of 7. It was my mom, my dad, and 5 super awesome daughters. My poor dad - he is a very patient man. He handled it pretty well. He does blame us (the girls) for every single gray hair and every last inch of balding on his head, and I think he's probably right in doing that. We didn't exactly give him an easy time. I think I remember one of my sisters getting caught using my mom's razor to shave my dad's head while he was napping in the bathtub. I personally recall drawing pictures all over any part of exposed skin with my mom's lipstick while he napped on the couch (maybe he should have learned not to ever nap while we were around). My mom even has some blackmail pictures of him wearing one of her dresses, some heels, makeup and jewelry. He would occasionally let us paint his toenails and put clips in his hair. He was a good sport. And he was always our biggest supporter. Whatever we were doing - whether it was a sporting event, a play, cheerleading or a spelling bee - he made an effort to be there. In short, my dad is a rockstar.

When I was little, we bought a boat. Most of us called it the banana boat because it was as yellow as a perfectly ripe banana, but my dad officially named it "Outnumbered." It was quite fitting. The guy was surrounded by 6 females constantly. Even when we all started having kids of our own, it was years before a boy finally made an appearance.

I think I'm starting to have some sympathy pains for my dad's experiences. Not being outnumbered in terms of gender, but simply being outnumbered by my children. When it was just me and Charlie and Caroline at home, it was manageable. Crazy, yes, but doable. And then when Forrest was home from work we could move to a man-on-man defense. It worked well for us. Enter Juliet. Now life is a whole different story!

Life is now a whole new level of crazy. Still wonderful, of course. But so crazy. Juliet and I have had to learn to breastfeed "on the go." Meaning that I often have to jump up with her in the middle of a feeding to pry Charlie away from Caroline before he rips a chunk of hair out of her head. Or I have to intervene when Caroline is about to slam the door on Charlie's little fingers. Or when one of them has climbed onto the kitchen counter and is headed straight for something dangerous.

As an added bonus, I now have 3 children in 3 different sizes of diapers. Not at all confusing! My plan is to potty train ASAP, though I don't know how in the world I can give the twins enough attention to successfully potty train while I'm feeding a baby around the clock. Wish me luck with that one!

Even when Forrest is home to help, leaving the house takes us about 5,692 times longer than it used to. And once we do finally get out the door, inevitably someone is hungry, or a diaper needs changed, or I forgot to stock the diaper bag with diapers, wipes, or an extra change of clothes. Or I forgot to brush my teeth. Gross, I know, but when you are so focused on getting 3 little bodies ready to leave, it's easy to forget the basic things like that!

In all honesty though, having Juliet at home has still been 100 times easier than the first couple of months with the twins. Having two newborns was just so demanding! With only one baby to wake up with in the night, I feel so well rested. Seriously. So much easier with one, even though I am woefully outnumbered.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Juliet

Last Tuesday, I was 39 weeks and 1 day pregnant. Once again I felt like a whale, but in comparing pictures of me then vs. when I was 38 weeks with the twins, I literally think I was about half the size this time around. That morning I woke up, disappointed that I was still pregnant. Like so many of the nights before, I'd woken up in the middle of the night with a few strong and steady contractions, only to fall back asleep and wake up contraction-free. I had an appointment with my midwife that day, where the plan was to sweep my membranes and hopefully bring on labor.

I didn't think I'd be in any hurry. When I first found out I was pregnant, I was ready to have the baby stay inside of me as long as possible. Because every day the baby was inside of me meant that Charlie and Caroline would be one day older. And hopefully one day easier to care for. But then 38 and 39 weeks rolled along and I was beyond ready to not be a whale anymore. I longed to be able to roll around on the floor and rough house with my kids like I used to. And I desperately wanted to meet my baby. To know if the little tenant in my tummy was a boy or a girl, and to know whether he or she would be another white haired beauty or not.

And then there was this military training. A few days before, Forrest and I found out that he had a required military training at Camp Williams on March 6, 7 and 8. He would be gone day and night for those three days. And I was due March 9. I was absolutely terrified that I would go into labor while he was away and out of reach. So Forrest and I talked about it and decided that we would talk to my midwife about breaking my water early in the week, before his training so that there would be no chance of him missing the birth of our sweet little one.

So back to Tuesday. I woke up that morning and got myself and the twins ready for the day. Forrest went off to work. I drove to Salt Lake and dropped the kids off at a friend's house, then went in to my appointment. The midwife came in and swept my membranes (it hurt - I didn't expect it to hurt), then we began discussing my concerns and our options. She called over to the hospital and found an opening for me to go in for an induction the next day, Wednesday, March 4.

I didn't want to be induced. I had been having a fair amount of contractions and was reasonably dilated already, so breaking my water wasn't a big deal, but I still didn't want to have to be induced. I had decided I wanted a natural, un-medicated birth, and I hear inductions usually make that a little more difficult. But given the time constraints and my overwhelming desire to have Forrest present at the birth, I nervously agreed to be scheduled for Wednesday morning.

It's a strange thing, knowing what day your baby will arrive. Knowing that that day was our last as a little family of four. Knowing that my next few hours with the twins before I put them down to sleep would be my last with them as my only children. After I picked them up from my friend's house, I didn't just want to go home. I wanted to make some memories and have fun with my sweet Charlie and Caroline. So we went to a mall and walked around for a while and got a Jamba Juice.

Forrest met us at home where we bundled the kids up in their snowsuits for the first (and probably only) time this winter and went outside to play in the snow. They thought it was wonderful and so did I. Then we went and picked up some dinner, ate at home together, gave the twins a bath and kissed them goodnight. With my pregnancy hormones at their peak I cried and cried, knowing that the next day they wouldn't be my little babies anymore. Of course they will always be my babies, but I hate knowing how fast they will have to grow up now.

You know when you have something important the next day and you know you need to sleep, but you just can't? That was one of those nights. Forrest and I talked, watched TV, added some last minute things to our hospital bags, and went to bed well after midnight. And we were to check-in at the hospital at 9 AM. The next morning my mother-in-law came over to take care of the twins and we drove to the hospital.

Checked in at 9:30. Water broken at noon. Contractions started almost immediately. Then slowed. We walked, and walked, and walked. My mom came. Then my dad came. And my mother-in-law came. Forrest was there, and my nurse was there, and my midwife was there. I spent hours walking the halls with Forrest, pausing every 2-3 minutes to breathe through a contraction. I spent hours on a birthing ball, rolling my hips in a figure 8. All the while I was feeling pretty strong. I was hungry, yes, and tired, yes, but I was able to talk and laugh and join in conversations. And at every check, it was apparent that I was progressing pretty slowly. Finally around 8 PM, we decided to start some Pitocin to help increase the frequency of the contractions. After that, I wasn't much for conversation. I vaguely remember what was going on around me, but all I could do was breath and groan from the pain of the contractions and try to remember the end product.

My midwife was amazing. She was perfect and even though I hated it at the time, she knew exactly what to do to help me get closer to delivering. Sometime around 10 PM, she had me kneel up on the bed. It was completely agonizing and after only a few contractions of that, I remember yelling out that I needed to push. After some changing of position and a little confusion (at least it was confusing to me - the pain made everything so hazy), she checked me and told me I could start pushing. The time was finally here. It was nearly 10:30 PM and I had been in labor for over 10 hours.

And I thought the pain of the contractions was bad. Pushing was completely unbearable. I can't even describe the pain. It was like every fiber of my body was on fire. And I honestly and truly felt like I wanted to die. I remember telling Forrest that and he just smiled and said "no, you don't." And then suddenly, after 6 minutes, the pain was completely gone and there was a perfect little dark haired miracle laying on my chest. Forrest took a look and called out "It's a girl!" and we were all thrilled. We knew right away we would call her Juliet. Juliet Rose. She is the most perfect thing I've ever seen, just like her brother and sister.

Her birth was without a doubt the most difficult thing I've ever done. I have gained a whole new level of respect for anyone who has ever gone through that. I don't know if I will do it again, but it was a beautiful experience and I'm so glad to have gone through it.

Now that she's here, life is a whole new level of crazy. Today I sat in a chair nursing baby J. I was holding her with one arm, using that elbow to shield her head from the toys Charlie kept bring to put in my lap, and holding Caroline on my lap to read her a story with my other arm. The twins love her so much, but they are still learning how to control their impulses. They constantly want to touch her nose and poke her eyes and kiss her head. Caroline is obsessed with sharing things with Juliet - particularly her food. I can't put her anywhere close to the ground when the twinados are awake, but it is a wonderful kind of crazy and I wouldn't trade it for anything.

As for me, I feel fantastic. The recovery from a natural child birth has been a breeze compared to recovering after the twins. I am looking forward to being able to run again, hopefully soon. And life is good. So, so good.