Monday, October 19, 2015

Seagull eyes

Every time we go to the pediatrician, the paperwork says (over and over again) "limit screen time" l and "no screen time for children under the age of two". But every time we're there, there is something playing in every waiting room. 

There's something there that I find very funny. But that's not the point of this story. 

The last time we were at the pediatrician for Genevieve, we ended up in the pharmacy, like you usually do after an appointment. The Little Mermaid was on the screen in there at what is - in my opinion, the best part of the whole movie - just before "Poor Unfortunate Souls". 

There's so much to love about this scene- but mostly a villainess who speaks some hard core feminist truths. (Look up the lyrics. They'll give you chills.) 

Whether it was intentionally written to be subversive and feminist or to show what a "bad woman" looks like, a la Roxana, who's to say? (I prefer it the former, in case you were wondering.)

So naturally, because Disney knows how to make children happy in an eerily precise way, Genevieve wanted to (a) listen to the soundtrack [which I had on the iPod (the Broadway version)**] and (b) know everything about The Little Mermaid that there is to know. 

[In case you were wondering, the message of the film, according to Genevieve, is NEVER EVER sign a contract without reading it and understanding it. Especially without an adult and/or lawyer checking it first. Also that giving up your tail, friends, and family for someone you've never had a conversation with is a bad idea. Thank you, Frozen!*** Parenting is the best.]

Since Genevieve was so eager to see the whole movie, and I'm not made of stone, we borrowed it from the library and watched it. We learned that people who do things for us aren't always nice people, we learned that parents always love their kids and will do anything to keep them safe and/or save them, and we learned about seagulls. 

Lest you think that we keep her chained up in a closet [CPS: we certainly do NOT keep her chained up in a closet], she had seen them before, but they hadn't really registered for her. Now, courtesy of Scuttle, seagulls are very interesting. 

So, we were out having lunch as a family, and I asked SuperAndrew (of the enhanced LASIK eyes) if he could see an airplane in the distance, and at which point he lost sight of it. 

"If your eagle eyes can't see it, I certainly can't," I said. 

"I can see it with my SEAGULL eyes," Genevieve said, because obviously that made much more sense. 

Since then, I have asked her to use her seagull eyes whenever we're looking for something. I really hope "eagle eyes" aren't part of an S.A.T. question in her future.

Version 2
Coy seagull

** The Broadway version is fantastic, especially if you have a kid who loves the movie. There are more songs, and there is definitely more exposition. You can never have too much exposition, in my opinion. 

*** There is so much to love about Frozen. A future post, I think. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Rex, enter stage right

On August 16th, at 7:23PM, I gave birth to our son.

Rex Tiberius, 6 lbs 8oz, 19 1/2" long
Which means that officially, we have kidS. Even eight weeks later, it sounds so strange to say it. I'll say it. Having kidS is SO different from having just the one kid. Everything is so much easier (we aren't worried about every sneeze and ... suspicious diaper) and simultaneously so much harder - like organizing outings.

Me and my KIDS!

The hardest part is when everyone needs something at the same time. Fortunately, both kids nap, and that leaves me a little time to knit in the afternoons and eat Lemon Oreos (my current addiction).

What can I say about Rex? He's delicious, he has a shriek like a mandrake, and is mostly a pretty chill dude. He has the same reflux issues that Genevieve had, but we caught them earlier, so that's good, and it just means he can't spend too much time in the carseat. He loves to be worn in a sling (or wrap), and he's only waking up two or three times a night. (Mostly.)

[I had a member of the extended family who asked if Rex was a good baby, to which I responded, "He doesn't do drugs, and he hasn't committed any crimes yet. So, I'd say yes." She answered with, "I meant, does he SLEEP?" My sense of humor clearly isn't for everyone.]

He nurses differently than Genevieve did, and it's taking a bit of time to get that nursing relationship to click, but he's growing like a weed, so something must be working. Unlike Genevieve, he has a strong need to suck, but doesn't want to nurse ALL the time, so I'm coming to terms with using a pacifier to help him.

I'm balancing soaking up all of that new-baby-ness with continuing to parent Genevieve and let her know that she is still special, I still love her, and she'll always be my best girl.

But Rex is our last baby, and with that comes all the "this is the last"s. Everything that was so exciting when Genevieve was a newborn is colored with a kind of sweet sadness. (It might just be the hormones talking, though.)

With the basic introduction done, here's the answer to the big question that we've been asked:

How is Genevieve adjusting?

She's doing really well, except for when she's not. She isn't used to having to share attention or time with someone at home, and she loves Rex like crazy.

My KIDS! KidS!

It's me she's angry with, and have been the focus of her negative feelings. (Hitting, kicking, biting. Things that are very out of character for her.)

This is really challenging for me, but I would much rather have it that way, than have her direct all the negative behavior and feelings towards Rex.

When I was at my wits' end, I posted on Facebook that I *wished* that there were a hotline/helpline from the school, because at our AMAZING co-op, there's always a solution, and the teachers are an incredible resource for all things Positive Discipline and parenting.

Like an angel from the heavens, Genevieve's brilliant teacher from last year answered my call and said:
"Yes, this sounds like a child with a new baby. I'm sorry. To Genevieve, it's like your husband bringing a second wife home when he already has you. Genevieve is really mad. And you are probably sleep deprived and caring for 2 kids is huge.
- Make sure you take care of yourself as much as possible.
- Concrete words about not hurting you will need to be repeated often to Genevieve.
- Is your mom available to take Rex a couple of short times a day so you and Genevieve can have undivided 1:1?
- Is Genevieve interested in play dates with other kids right now?
- Does daddy have time before or after work to play with Rex?
- Have Genevieve let you know what kinds of things she wants to do with you. You can have her dictate her feelings about the changes in her life or how she feels. Write them down word for word and acknowledge her feelings frustrations.
- Some families do a small candle demonstration to show the older child how there is enough love in your family for all of you. 
Hang in there!! School starts next week, maybe that will help."

(I'm posting this here because it was a lightbulb-like epiphany, and has worked REALLY, REALLY well for us. I hope it can help someone else, too.)

Genevieve really loves helping with Rex- picking his clothes, singing while he's getting his diaper changed, helping wash his hair, and most of all, getting to hold and snuggle Rex while we read bedtime stories. She does her best when she has a job to do, which she's always enthusiastic about- if it's a Rex job.

We have rules about how we hold Rex, which are (not surprisingly) the same as my parents' rules for when KidBrotherSam was a newborn: you have to be sitting and supervised by an adult. Ancillary rules also apply, like not yanking his head around or covering his nose while giving enthusiastic kisses.

... and now, what you really came for. The birth story.


I had been having intermittent contractions (both real and Braxton-Hicks) for a couple of weeks, and I would have - at most - three in the space of an hour before things settled back down again. So, it was no real surprise when I wasn't feeling well during lunch that day, or that I had a couple of contractions while I was putting Genevieve down for her nap.

... and then, there was a fourth one. And then I fired up the contraction timer on my phone, because, you know. Just in case. I texted Andrew (because Genevieve wasn't quite asleep yet) to get the chargers packed, just in case, but it was probably nothing. Because I was only 36 weeks and 4 days.

... and then, the contractions kept coming. So, I called Kaiser, whose advice a few weeks prior had been, "If this is your second/third/fifteenth baby, and you *think* you're in labor, JUST COME IN." You can guess what they had to say.

So, I called our friend Colleen (who was Genevieve's designated Support Person, since The Plan was to have a sibling attended childbirth), and again, I said, "It's probably nothing, but JUST IN CASE it isn't..." With that, Colleen (and her go-bag) were on their way to us.

Andrew hustled around, finishing the packing because OMG this is our second child and WOW are we blasé about everything. Mom grabbed her go-bag, and Colleen arrived just as Genevieve was getting up from her nap.

I went into the bedroom to let Genevieve know what was going on, what the plan was for her (pee, have a snack, then come to the hospital with Colleen when it was close to time for the baby to be born), and Andrew, Mom, and I were off. (In two cars, so Mom could sleep over with the dogs afterward.)

There weren't any clear indicators of labor like last time- because, let's face it, when your water breaks, YOU KNOW IT. Contractions can be tricky and intermittent, and that makes a woman question herself.

But I will tell you, when Andrew and I were driving and he had me texting his boss to let her know that This Might Be Happening Today, I had to stop TWICE for contractions. (We are less than 15 minutes away from the hospital.)

We got checked in, changed into a hospital gown, strapped into a monitor to be checked initially, dilation checked (at 2 cm when we got there at 4:30), and Andrew set up the iPad so I could watch cartoons while I lay there, trying to be limp as a noodle.

Remember when I said "OMG this is our second child and WOW are we blasé about everything" above? We couldn't get into a Bradley Class (or a refresher) that *didn't* end AFTER our due date (which was September 9th, for the record). I had - THAT MORNING - pulled our copy of Natural Childbirth the Bradley Way, and read the pertinent bits.

All I could really remember was the bits where it said, "When it gets serious, relax and be limp." And also supported by pillows. And I'm a girl who loves to rest supported on pillows.

So, there I was, as limp as I could be, watching cartoons on Netflix. When Midwife Melanie came to check again an hour later, I had progressed to ... 2.5 cm.

We talked about how I felt about (maybe) going home, and I told her that I was absolutely not going to do that. (Not from any psychic sense, or instinct, but there was no force of nature that was going to move me out of that bed when I was finally just marginally comfortable.)

It was 6:30 and neither Mom nor Andrew had eaten dinner yet, so Mom went to pick up sandwiches, and brought them back.

While Mom ate, Andrew started rubbing my feet, and then he pushed the magic pressure point. The one that a massage therapist friend recommended "should labor not progress". Andrew wanted to go elsewhere to eat his dinner (which I can't blame him), at which point I informed him that he wasn't. Going. Anywhere.

A few minutes later, my water broke. Then the contractions got serious.

"I would like to talk to an anesthesiologist, please," I said.

"Ok, we'll see what we can do," said the nurse, "Let me know if you feel any pressure, like you need to poop."

And then, there it was. I felt it, and then a gush.

"Oh, sh*t," I said.

"Um, there's blood," Andrew told the nurse.

And then things got serious, and they got serious FAST.

The nurse *booked* it out to get Midwife Melanie (who was in with a C-Section), and both of them came in tout de suite, along with another nurse.

"I asked for pain management," I said, "I'd like an epidural."

"That's not happening," said Midwife Melanie, "He's crowning."

"No he's not," I said. Because you don't go from 2.5 cm to crowning just like that.

"Yep. If you feel like you need to push, PUSH," answered Midwife Melanie.

And, boy did I.

Everything happened so fast - which you wouldn't believe - but Midwife Melanie didn't get her fancy splashguard scrubs on until after the first push, and she recommended that Mom get out of the "splash zone" because Rex. Was. Coming.

Three fast pushes, some colorful language, and out came Rex. Somewhere between pushes, Andrew said something supportive, like, "You're doing great!" I may have answered with, "Stop. Talking." Ah, isn't love beautiful?

(At this point, a nurse asked a question, and Midwife Melanie said, "She wants it quiet." I wanted to clarify that I just wanted *Andrew* to stop talking, but as it was, I was a bit preoccupied with the having a baby and whatnot.)

Natural childbirth is terrible. It's painful. Midwife Melanie did a great job delivering, Andrew was a great coach, but WOW, natural childbirth is terrible. Fortunately for me, my delivery was more like a cannon, and not a long-drawn out situation, but I'm SO glad that this was my last pregnancy and delivery. SO, so glad.

I was so focused on getting the pushing done that when they put Rex on my chest, it took me a moment to realize that- oh, yeah- all that pushing was for a baby. (Don't judge. You wouldn't be at your best that moment, either.)

I snuggled with Rex while Midwife Melanie did the repairs (minimal, thanks for asking), and Andrew called Colleen, and then his family members.

Genevieve was really bummed that she missed the delivery but really, there was no way she would have made it, since there was about ten minutes from when things really started to when Rex was born.

Both of us were in great shape post-delivery and could have gone home after the requisite 24 hours, had Rex not been early. But rules are rules, and they held us a little longer *juuuuuust in case*. (Like I said, all parties involved were just fine.

The whole delivery experience (overall) was really great at Kaiser, except for one thing. They have a junk food jihad going on there, which does not work if, like me, you crave sugary treats to get those fast calories to turn into delicious, nutritious breast milk. Fortunately, it wasn't forever, and Andrew made sure I had sufficient sweet treats at home to satisfy my cravings.

Thank you all for the well-wishes and congratulations. I am overjoyed to be sharing the newest addition to our family with you all!

He totally loves his hat.