Sunday, March 29, 2020

A Letter to August on his 4th Birthday

Dear August,

You’re four whole years old and I just can’t believe we’re here: me, a mama of two babies that have somehow grown up into little boys without me even realizing it. So much has changed, but so much has also stayed just the same. You are YOU, through and through, and no amount of years will change it. 

Your eyes are always mischievous and laughing and you talk a hundred thousand miles a minute. It’s become a running joke in our family, about how nobody else can really get a word in edgewise. You love to entertain those that you love best and are so incredibly full of life. You’ll do anything to get a reaction, from making funny faces, to making up jokes that make no sense, to putting on a show, to standing on chairs and making “announcements”--half the time something that you haven’t thought though and need a minute to make up in your head once all eyes are on you.

You shine in your preschool classroom, and the feedback that we receive is that everybody adores you. You recognize all of your letters, can write your name, are really good at tracing, can count to 30ish, and are a master at rhyming and beginning sounds. You’re getting less shy at drop off, happy to be reunited with your best buddies, Dommie and Leo. 

You’re a builder, an assembler, and then a ripper-aparter, with LEGOs, Duplos, Tinker Toys—really anything that can be put together to remotely resemble a “blaster”, a “shooter”, or an airplane, ship, or missile. You’re still so good at independent play, making things talk to each other. Your made-up dialogues have us rolling, all the while us trying not to make eye contact or too much sound as not to distract you from whatever made up conversations you’ve got going on.

Batman is still life, and we’re celebrated the THIRD Batman birthday in a row for you in late February to make extra sure that you had your moment to shine before your sister made her appearance. Your Batman shirt that says “four” on it makes you the happiest, as do Batman figures, LEGO mini figures, your yellow rubber boots, your snow pants (even if its way too warm outside for them), and above and beyond all else: anything squishy. 

You love your cousin Brett and your brother Oskar more than anybody, and watching the three boy cousins in the family grow closer and closer together as the age gap closes is just so fun. At home, Oskar is someone you mimic and strive to be just like, from your interests, to your vocabulary, to what you want to play with him. Thus, Nintendo has blown up in this house, you, the Mario Kart master at a mere 4 years old. It’s a treat for you and Oskar to play with your dada before bed, me not knowing who loves it most. Your brother and you love each other fiercely, and this year has brought you closer together than any other. Sure, there’s still a lot of fighting, as brothers do, but you really seem to understand each other better than anybody else and your imaginative play together has totally taken off—both of you in sync with what the other is thinking. 

You’re still my best eater, especially if big brother isn’t around to sway you out of whatever I make. You love meat best of all, which is polar opposite of Oskar and me. You call any dipping sauce hummus, and hearing your request for pancakes and hummus is something only a mother could decipher and understand. 

Sleep is getting more challenging because you’re completely done with naps, but still forced to take them 3x a week at school. Those nights leave us struggling, with a kiddo who wants to talk until 9:30 at night while bouncing off the walls. I’m hoping we find a happy medium—and a more consistent schedule-- this year, because wake ups and bedtimes on school days look totally different from non-school days, and I’m sure it’s not the easiest for you, either.

You started Kindermusik this year, your first extra-curricular activity outside of school that you’re finally getting in the groove of. You’re still hesitant to try anything new, and your shyness overtakes you at anything unfamiliar or at any place where mama is not. I’d love for you to start swimming lessons after your birthday, but so far, the answer from you has been a resounding no. We’ve tried karate twice so far, both times resulting in tears and an August who just wouldn’t participate. So, we’ll see. It’s still such a crazy paradox, knowing how huge your personality is as compared to how reserved you can be around anybody you don’t know well. 

I’ve been anxiously awaiting to watch your transition to a big brother role and have always felt you’d be the perfect middle child. Easy going, happy-go-lucky, flexible, but not to be left behind for a minute. You were interested about the pregnancy, the baby sister, but also pretty nonchalant—like you knew she was coming either way, and we’d meet her when she got here. We had to move you to a new bedroom to make room for her nursery, and you picked up your stuff and moved it without really skipping a beat. And then she came along, and your wonder and awe about her could really just make me cry. You’re gentle, inquisitive, and such a helper when I need you to be. And my favorite thing of all is how you get super close to her and say, “Oh, hi, little miss!”

A few funny things you say because I never want to forget them. Remember = Bamember, Thanks = Sanks, Sure = SHUA! (which we all say now), and you start SO MANY of your sentences with “DID YOU KNOW…?!?!”

August, you’re the happiest boy with the most infectious personality, and don’t tell anyone else, but you’re also my easiest. You’re always up for tagging along, on a walk, to the store, on an adventure, and thus have become such a sweet little side kick of mine any time I leave the house. You’re so lovable, and even when you’re not, it only takes a quick distraction to get you laughing again, a sound so contagious it makes my heart explode.

Happy, happy birthday to my forever baby boy. We love you to Gotham City and beyond. May all your four year old dreams come true.



Monday, March 23, 2020

Maren Josefine: A Birth Story

It’s been 11 days since our sweet Maren was born, and what a crazy world she was born into. We’ve been in survival mode in a lot of ways ever since, but I didn’t want too much time to pass before sitting down to write her birth story. These are often my favorite posts to read from others, and I also want to be able to reflect back on how she came into the world. 

Monday, March 9th was supposed to be my first day of maternity leave at 38 weeks pregnant. My company had just recently implemented a policy to allow leave to begin 2 weeks preceding an expectant mother’s due date. The plan was for me to send the boys to school, business as usual, in hopes that I’d have some extra time to clean, organize, and maybe even treat myself to a pedicure before the arrival of our baby girl.  That is, of course, until August’s classroom had a Flu A positive classmate in his preschool classroom the Friday before my leave began. Plans changed. I decided to keep the boys home with me to prevent potential exposure to them (and in turn, me) in the coming days. I got nothing on my list done that first Monday off, but we did fill our day with walks, shopping, eating lunch out together, and lots of playing. I had a regular OB visit that afternoon that I had to drag the boys along to (always an experience), but had very little progress from my previous check: I was still about 1cm dilated with baby sitting super low. My OB decided to strip my membranes and told me that there was no way I’d make it to 40 weeks, but estimated that I’d deliver closer to 39. I felt some super mild cramping that night, but then crickets. 
my last belly picture at 38 weeks pregnant

Tuesday, March 10th I took the boys swimming at a community recreation center. We swam for over 2 hours, my huge belly along for the ride. I got lots of questions on when I was due and pats on the back for braving a swimming pool with two wild and crazy boys when I was so close to having a baby. The rest of the day was normal as can be and we made plans for another special day with mama at home the following day. I went to bed without Matt that night, who stayed up late working and finishing notes. He finally came upstairs at 12:30am, and I sat up and realized that my water had broken. Total shock. My water had never broken on its own with Oskar or August, so it was uncharted territory. My OB had told me to expect to deliver quickly, and since I was Group B strep positive I needed to get on an antibiotic drip as soon as possible to prevent exposure to the baby. I had a bag packed, for the most part, and furiously threw in the remaining items on my list with shaking hands. My mom sped over to spend the night with the boys, and off we raced to Magee Hospital. 

We were admitted to triage around 1:30am and it seemed like forever to get seen and evaluated by their team of triage physicians. They tested the fluid that continued to gush out to make sure it was, in fact, amniotic fluid (shocker: it was), and noted that I was about 3cm dilated. I was fully expecting for contractions to start on their own, fast and furiously, but nothing happened. We sat in triage for almost 3 hours in a claustrophobic room, Matt in a wooden chair, until a labor and delivery room opened up. I did get hooked up to a penicillin drip in the mean time, with the hope of getting two bags in before the baby was born. We were so exhausted. We finally moved over to our own room a little after 4:00am.
Triage Selfie

The OB checked me once we were roomed and noted I had progressed to 4cm. The plan was to start Pitocin around 7:00am once I had made it through bag one of two of penicillin. Still no meaningful contractions on my own. Matt snoozed off and on but I was wide awake, too nervous to fall asleep. Time seemed to stand still, but baby was healthy on the monitors, so I tried to be patient and wait for morning to come.

Finally, at 7am, the nurses came and started the lowest dose of Pitocin and it was game on. The contractions came almost right away and intensified so much that by 8am I was having a hard time talking or breathing through them and asked for an epidural. I had initially wanted an attending physician to perform my epidural (the only thing that I really cared about since it directly affected my spine—I was fine with residents for all other aspects of my delivery), but as it turns out, no attendings were available for the foreseeable future. A resident came in at 8:30am and offered to place the epidural himself, and by that point I was miserable enough to take any relief I could get. The placement was seamless, but shortly thereafter my blood pressure plummeted to 80/60 and I felt lightheaded and panicked, with my blood pressure monitor sounding an alarm every time a reading was taken. After about a half an hour anesthesia was paged and phenylephrine was shot into my IV, which did the trick of bringing my blood pressure back up to where it needed to be. After that, I was able to relax a little bit and eventually fell into a light sleep.

At 10:30am I woke up to intense and grueling pressure, something my epidural didn’t mask. I had gone from 4cm to a full 10 in under two hours. I immediately called the nurse who checked me and told me that it was time to have a baby. The OB was paged, the room was prepared. That moment of watching the newborn bed getting readied is always absolutely surreal—the realization that your baby will earth side, in that bed, in a matter of moments.  The agony was real in those next handful of minutes, and at 10:50am I started to push. I screamed and cried in pain, not knowing how I could possibly go on. It only took three pushes, but it was everything I had in me. And then there she was. Matt cut the cord and they put her on my chest, and we couldn’t stop crying. She was so beautiful. She looked right at me, through me, like she had known me forever, like we were meant to be together all along.

She was 7lbs 1oz, and 19 1/4" long, with fuzzy dark hair and dark blue eyes. She's nursed and slept like a champ from the start.  We knew she'd be Maren as soon as we learned that she was a girl--the name just always felt right. She has felt so special from the beginning, and our love for her is indescribable. She's perfect. There are no words for how grateful we are for her.

Her big brothers were wide eyed with wonder meeting her in the hospital and their faces are something I'll never forget. We got discharged in the nick of time, right as the coronavirus started to rapidly spread and pose a significant threat. I never could have imagined being quarantined at home with three kids for two full weeks (and many more to come), but somehow, we've survived. And our love for this sister baby has grown every single day. The world has turned into a scary place, but I'm thankful for the laughter and light within these 4 walls and the newborn that we're all soaking up together.

Welcome to the world, Maren Josefine, the most beautiful rainbow babe and the happiest ending--and new beginning--to our story. 

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