Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Things to love about Christmas

There are lots of things that I loved about this Christmas. 

 I loved Ashlynn's second grade Christmas program, and seeing her absolutely giddy to show off for Mom and Dad.
 Apparently, my seven year old already has lots of admirerers.  The little boy next to her, making googly eyes at her, has been writing her love notes almost every day.  They are in second grade people!   So not funny.
I loved our Christmas tree.  Originally I didn't.  Our only matching ornaments were, unfortunately, glass. They, of course, got broken approximately 2.3 minutes after the Christmas tree was decorated when Max decided to see how stable the tree was by pulling it over on his head.  Our tree was covered in every kind of ornament imaginable, collected since I was a teenager.  We have more handprint reindeer and preschool wreaths than we know what to do with.  Plus, the ornaments were continually rearranged not only by two girls who are wanna-be Christmas tree designers, but also by a toddler who was determined that the football ornaments on the tree were for kicking, not for looking at. At one point this season, I wanted to scrap the whole thing and get a tree with matching decorations that actually looked decent.  Then, gradually, I realized it was really a metaphor for our lives.  A little messy and disorganized?  Yes.  Did the kids love it?  Yes.  They probably loved it even more than they would have loved a designer, everything color-coordinated tree because they got to help.  So yeah, we'll keep the mismatched tree and the kindergarten ornaments.

 I love the treats at Christmas time.  I love that people randomly ring your doorbell and bring you plates of homemade goodies.  I may or my not be devouring nibbling on some of the best homemade caramels I've ever tasted right now.  I love that both my children shown in this picture were eating candy out of their Christmas stocking as breakfast.  It's Christmas, what can you say?  And Max's crazy bed-head hair is just a bonus.  You're welcome.
 I loved watching my two year old admiring the presents, and placing his brand new basketball ornament on the tree.  He was very proud of himself. 
 I loved watching my kids' excitement on Christmas morning.  The shriek that we heard when the girls went downstairs and discovered that not only had Santa come, but they were most definitely not on the naughty list made both of us laugh out loud.  And there's nothing quite like the "I got exactly what I wanted!" smile. 
 I love oddly wrapped presents, and the way it takes the two year old forever to open them, much to his sisters' dismay.  This one was a new Nerf football, complete with a kicking tee for our budding athlete. 
 I love new Christmas outifts, and the little boy who is so excited about his new vest that he demanded to put it on over his pajamas, and threw a screaming fit when it was time to take it off for breakfast.
And I especially love the cuddly new baby, who was completely oblivious to the Christmas celebration going on around him, and slept happily on Dad's chest through the whole thing. 

What were your favorite parts of Christmas?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Newborn Love

I'm still working on Ian's birth story.  Ok, fine.  I'm not.  I'm still working on processing Ian's birth, with every intent to write a coherent birth story any day now.  In the meantime, I'm hooking you up with some adorable pictures of what may very well be the cutest baby in the world for you to gaze at while you wait.
 This became the centerpiece of our Christmas cards with the caption "Look what Santa brought us for Christmas!"  Yes, I did Christmas cards for the very first time in my adult life this year.  I felt unreasonably proud of myself when I dropped them off at the post office today.
 I love newborns.  I love the way they curl up into a ball, the way they fall asleep on your chest, their little grunts and squeaks,
 and their little tiny flutter smiles.
This one is my favorite. 

I'm so thrilled we were able to get these pictures done.  While my babies start out small, they don't stay that way for very long.  Ian is probably pushing 9.5-10lbs, has an adorable double chin, round ultra-kissable cheeks, has lost all trace of his scrawny little chicken legs, and actually has started fitting into his newborn clothes.  It's bittersweet I tell ya.  So glad to have his tiny adorableness on film.

And while I would give most of my non-vital organs for a good nights' sleep or even a decent nap, Ian is our last baby, and I'm doing my best to savor each little grunt, squirm, and nap on my chest. 

Photography by Scott Wilhite- aren't they great?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Instruments of torture

Today, my third grader came running in the door from school, literally bouncing up and down with excitement.

"Mom!  MOM!  Guess what I got at school today?"  She proudly showed me one of these little gems.

I tried to mask my lack of enthusiasm. 
"That's great, honey, why don't you-"

At that point, I was interrupted by a screech somewhere between a shrieking whale and a dying clarinet.

"I learned the note 'c' today, Mom, listen!"

More dying animals.  Dogs in the neighborhood started howling.

(Now, let me reassure you at this point that I am in no way making fun of my daughter's lack of musical abilities.  On the contrary, today we had a very productive practice session working on the Vivaldi concerto in g minor.  What I am saying is that if you can find me someone that can make a $1.25 plastic, made in China recorder sound like something even remotely pleasant or musical, I'll play the darn thing in the 3rd grade program myself!)

"And Mom!"

I gulped, certain I didn't want to hear what was coming next.

"My teacher says I need to practice every day!  I guess I have another instrument to practice in the morning, right?"

Yeah, because violin scales at 7:00 am aren't enough.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Official Top 10 Crappiest Christmas Songs of All Time

This is a re-post from last year, but I was inspired to bring it out after hearing two of these songs in a row on the radio this morning.  Plus, it was written last year, when I was free from crazy, creativity-stealing pregnancy and/or breastfeeding hormones.  Enjoy!

This time of year is famous for lists such as "The best and worst movies of 2010."or "The top 10 reasons the Smith Family ended up in the hospital in 2010." In the spirit of the season, I present to you the:

Official Top 10 Crappiest Christmas Songs of All Time.

10. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus OK, seriously. Think about the lyrics of this song. Isn't it just a bit disturbing? What about poor Mrs. Claus? She spends all year helping in the workshop, feeding and cleaning up after all those elves, nagging Santa about getting all the toys done by deadline, no love, no recognition, no one writes songs about her or writes her letters and here she gets rewarded by Santa sliding down the chimney and kissing the first tramp that comes along. And if this kid's dad finds out, I highly doubt he'll think its a laugh. I'm betting money that next year, the dad lights a fire in the fireplace on Christmas Eve. Oh, and just for fun, I've linked this to the Amy Winehouse version of this catchy little tune. Because that's the only way to make this song more painful to listen to.


9. Santa Claus got Stuck in My Chimney OK, the idea behind the song is a valid one. After all, how likely is it that a fat man in a red suit would be able to slide down all those chimneys without getting stuck? But just take a little listen to the excruciating melody, and tell me you're not going to be singing it incessantly until St Patrick's Day.

8. Jingle Bells as sung (barked?) by a pack of dogs I have a very large dog. She barks. A lot. Loudly. Yes, we're the bad neighbors with the barking dog that everyone hates. I can't count the number of times that I've threatened to kill the dog when she starts barking and wakes the baby that just took everything short of a head stand to get to sleep. Let me clarify though: she' my husband's dog. There's very little love lost between the two of us. So why in the name of Christmas Music would anyone want to listen to Jingle Bells barked by dogs? And who has the kind of time that it took to put this together. Send them my way. I've got some toilets that could use scrubbing, and a refrigerator that stinks.

7. That terrible "Christmastime" Song on the Peanuts Christmas Movie Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against Charlie Brown, Lucy or even Pigpen. I watched the Charlie Brown movies religiously like every other kid my age. But this song! Not only is it screechy, whiny, and unitelligable, but it incredibly out of tune. I'm a violin teacher. I spend all day cringing at notes so bad that they would make Beethoven himself weep so I can't for the life of me figure out how anyone who calls themself a musician would ever put this song on the radio.

6. Feliz Navidad Now before you start getting all uptight and throwing your Christmas fruitcake at me, I have nothing against Christmas songs in another language. But the only thing that's more annoying than a song getting stuck in your head for hours days is having that song stuck in your head when you know only an approximation of the words. It usually sounds something like this, especially when its being screamed sung by the two girls in the back seat of my van: "Feliz Navidad,! Feliz Navidad! Feliz Navidad, prospberlahig blah blah blah blah blah blah." See, I have you singing it now don't I. I have myself singing it now too. Stupid Song. For Bonus Christmas Spirit, the link has Elmo singing. Don't say I don't love you.

5. Mele Kalikimaka Yeah. See above. Only this time it has Hawaiian words. Which wouldn't be so bad if I lived in say, Hawaii instead of in samll town Utah where it was a balmy -5 degrees when I took my kids to school this morning. I think my nose hairs might have frozen, and I still don't think the baby has forgiven me for making him wear a hat. But, I digress. The only redeeming virtue of this song is that its featured on "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," which as any living, breathing human being can tell you is the best Christmas movie ever, but I still fast forward when this song comes on.

4. Christmas Shoes I may be forever cementing my place in the heartless hall of fame for this one, but I can't help but find this song nauseating. I just can't stand songs that are written to purposely manipulate people into crying. It has the opposite effect on me- it makes me wonder why in the world a little boy is wandering around in stores by himself buying shoes. What his mom probably needs and wants most is to have all her family around her at Christmas. I know, I know. I'm a heartless cynic and you're getting ready to throw things at me. Okay fine. Just make sure you throw fudge. And peanut brittle. Keep the fruitcake and those weird powdery white chookies to yourself.

3. Twelve Days of Christmas Once again, I'm being the cynic. But if I had a true love that sent me approximately 7422 birds and 943 random people dressed up as maids milking, lords leaping, drummers drumming, pipers piping, ladies dancing et al, I'd be seriously rethinking our relationship. But I'd keep all those gold rings and taking them to one of those "We Buy Gold" places and buying myself a vacation to Hawaii. I'll even sing "Mele Kalikimaka" while I'm there.

2. Little Drummer Boy Don't even know what to say about this one, other than I wouldn't be sad if I never heard another "PaRumPumPumPum." And have you ever noticed that even when girls sing this, they're still a "poor boy too?" I don't know about you, but if I had jut had a baby, the last thing I would want is for some random kid to come and start banging a drum. Although I have to give props to the people who had the time and the brains to put together the youtube video for this song. It actually makes it kind of funny in a weird sort of way.

And now the moment you've all been waiting for....

Drum Roll Please........

The winner in this year's Crappiest Christmas Song contest is :

1. The Merry Christmas Polka What? You've never heard the "Merry Christmas Polka?" Yeah, there's a reason for that. Like the fact that if this song was any more annoying it would have to not only come with a warning label stating that listening to it might just make the listener repeatedly try to scratch his or her eyes out, but its a polka for cryin' out loud. Could there be any worse form of dance? This came on the radio the other day while I was driving the canyon with my violinist, and she proclaimed that it was "embarassing." There ya go. It doesn't get much worse to an eight year old than embarassing.

So there you have it. Aren't you glad you decided to stop by today? I thought so. Happy ParumPumPumPum-ing and Merry Christmas Polka-ing in your new Christmas shoes, and Feliz Kalikimaka and all that. Arguments? Any others that I've missed? Which song makes you mute the radio faster that you can say "Ho Ho Ho"?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Aiming High

So if I finish out the day today with all four of my kids, myself and my husband still alive, and with our house still standing, it counts as a major achievement, right?

Let's be honest here. Today, this whole motherhood thing is kicking my butt.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reasons I'm a superhero

Yesterday was a disaster, plain and simple. 

You see, I thought I had this adjustment to four kids thing down pat.  Had no idea what everyone was complaining about. 

Don't you hate eating your words?

Yes, yesterday rivaled the first day I was left home alone with my two girls and my husband came home to find the kitchen covered in blood, the baby's bedroom covered in poop, and all three of us in the rocking chair together crying. 

To be fair, so far, things have gone remarkably well.  Everyone has been fed regularly, we've changed approximately a hundred diapers a day without incident, and there hasn't been any major blood shed.

But yesterday, oh, yesterday.

Enter a night of little to no sleep, a very bored toddler, a baby who, after a week, found his voice, two older girls who had a chronic inability to listen or follow through with what they were asked to do, a mom who decided that night was the perfect night to start cooking for her family again, and a husband who texted at 5:30 to say he was going to be late, and no, he didn't know when he was going to be home, and the result is me, wanting to alternately tear my hair out and sob, and wondering who it was that thought parenting four kids was such a wise idea. 

So, in that spirit, I've decided I need to lower my expectations a bit in an effort to stay functional and try to ward off the postpartum emotional wreckage, I present to you my reasons why I'm a superhero.  Feel free to play along and add your own.

** I've showered every day since I came home from the hospital.

** I've put on real clothes- including my pre-pregnancy jeans!- for the last three days.

** Yesterday, I actually took both kids to the library storytime.  Granted, it took nearly an hour to get everyone out the door, and by the time we got home, I felt like I had run a marathon, but at least we got out of the house!

** Naps.  Aaaah, naps.  I've had one every day this week.  Turns out getting both kids to sleep at the same time isn't as hard as I thought it would be.  (Yes, I just knocked on wood...)

** While my house still looks somewhat like a bomb exploded, I did manage to fold a load of laundry yesterday.

There, see?  If doing that puny list of things makes me a superhero, it probably makes you look like the 8th wonder of the known universe!  You're welcome.  Consider it my public service for the day.

And now, for some gratuitous Ian newborn cuteness.

His little outfit reads "Don't let my size fool you."  Indeed.

Alright, I'm off to don my superhero cape and see if I can rustle up something remotely edible for my family for dinner.  And change another few diapers. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

New Baby Bliss

Minutes old
Falling in love
Proud Daddy

Four kids!
Brotherly love
Proud Sister
Couldn't be happier

We signed out of the hospital yesterday, happy to come home and celebrate Thanksgiving with a rented movie, a Relief Society casserole, and our own bed.  The girls spent the day with my parents, and we were thrilled to have a quiet holiday evening with our two little boys.

As I knelt in prayer last night, I was overcome with gratitude.  For my baby boy's safe arrival and for the inspiration that led me to it.  For the blessing of four (four!) beautiful children, and a husband who stands by me no matter what. 

We are truly blessed.  Grateful doesn't even begin to cover it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Baby Ian

It's a boy!

Ian (middle name yet to be determined) was born yesterday at 2:28 pm after about 15 or so hours of on and off labor. He weighed in at 7 lbs 5 oz and measured 20.5 inches long. He is of course, incredibly sweet and beautiful.

Not much about the labor and delivery went according to plan, but I'm still processing and will write more about that later. For now, we're very happy to be snuggled up together getting to know each other.

And I'll try to get some pics posted later today, when I have something more efficient than my iPhone to blog with. Take my word for it though- he's pretty stinkin' cute.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Two

Max is our miracle baby. 


I had all but given up hope of ever conceiving a child again.  I had a preschooler, a kindergartener, and a studio of 30 violin students.  I had started working as a doula, and was loving the increasing number of births I was attending.

We had been to two different fertility doctors, done a few cycles with fertility drugs, with no success.  Our next option was injectable drugs, costing around $3000 a cycle.  There was no way we could afford that, and we had no insurance coverage for infertility. 

I had made peace with being done.  I was excited about it.  I wondered why in the world I had decided "starting over" with a newborn was such a great idea when I was so close to having all that time to myself and developing my career.  I had even put out feelers about a possible midwife apprenticeship. 

At the end of the last cycle, I decided I needed to take one more pregnancy test, to prove to myself that we were done.  Then when it was negative, I reasoned, I could get back to the business of living my life and parenting my girls.

Except it wasn't negative.  And we were thrilled.

***

Since we were being followed by a fertility specialist, protocol dicatated a "viability" ultrasound at 6 weeks.  I was destroyed when the ultrasound showed no heartbeat. 

"I'm sorry," the Doctor said "There's nothing there.  We should see a heartbeat by now.  I'm afraid this isn't a viable pregnancy."

I don't remember what else was said, except that he told me that I had less than  5% chance of having the pregnancy continue, and that I shouldn't get my hopes up.  He scheduled me to come in four days later to do another check, and  said we could talk about options for ending the pregnancy at that point.

Waiting those four days was excruciating.  I have never experienced grief like that in my life.

We went back in on a Saturday, to find a blinking little heartbeat, and a Doctor who nonchalantly said "Well, it's a good thing we had you come back in to check."

***

Max's labor was complicated, long, and difficult.  He was born with his cord wrapped tightly around his neck three times, and wasn't breathing at birth.

While I felt his spirit all around me, and knew that he was going to be fine, I found out later that my husband and my mom were very scared for his life.

It took some maneuvering by my midwife and some fancy resuscitation before we heard his first cry.


***

Shortly after he was born, we started on the crazy medical roller coaster.  Besides finding out that he had a major skull condition, he was also having trouble feeding.  We were told he was aspirating fluid into his lungs, which was a very dangerous condition, and that he couldn't breastfeed anymore because the risks to him were just too great. 

Once again, I was devastated.  Breastfeeding was the only thing I knew.  I consulted with doctors, with lactations consultants, wth specialists.  They all told me the same thing- no more breastfeeding.


What they didn't count on was Max, and the miracles we had already experienced.  Lots of prayer, a priesthood blessing, and I continued to nurse my baby boy.  He weaned a few months ago after 20 or so months of peaceful breastfeeding.  He hasn't had a single lung issue.

***

I've talked a lot on this blog about Max's surgeries.  They are, undoubtedly, the hardest things I've ever had to go through as a parent.  There are no words to describe what it feels like to see your tiny baby hooked up to tubes, wires, and breathing machines in the ICU.

  To be told that he has a baffling complication from surgery that no one can figure out.  To be told just a few short months after the first surgery that the first surgery was a failure and that he would need a second, just as dramatic and invasive as the first.

Everyone says kids are reslient.  I would never have believed that a week after getting his skull opereated on that he would be beaming up at me, almost as if nothing had happened.




***

We celebrated Max's second birthday yesterday.  He is a charming, hilarious, full of trouble little boy, like any two year old should be.  It's been months since he has needed a trip to a Doctor's office, an instacare, or an ER.  (And yes, I did just knock on wood.)  His scar is nearly completely hidden in his mop of crazy curly hair.  He shoots basketballs like a pro, (you mean you don't have a Fisher Price basketball hoop in your front room?) is learning new words at a rate of 5-10 per day, (his newest and cutest is "elevator,") and shows no sign of adverse effects from any of his crazy adventures. 

He makes me laugh every day.  He helps me not to take myself so seriously. 

And he taught me a lot about miracles. 



Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dear Universe, Maternity Edition

Dear Universe:

Yes, I am pregnant.  No, I did not eat a watermelon, a basketball, and I'm not one of those people who is just carrying a little extra weight around her middle.

No, you may not touch my belly.  No really, you can't.  Hands off, you crazy woman!

Yes, I am going to have my hands full.  Is that you volunteering to help? Why, thank you. I have plenty of laundry that needs to be folded, and am always accepting home-cooked meals.

Yes, we do know what causes this.  Apparently, we're pretty good at it too.  Jealous?

No, I haven't had the baby yet.  And for the record, really?  Why would you even ask that?

Yes, I do feel like I'm ready to pop.  I also feel like I want to pop you for asking such an inane question.

No, we are not having twins.  Yes, I'm sure.  No, I really don't want to hear about your sister-in-law's cousin's friend who had surprise twins after having multpile ultrasounds.

No, I don't know when the baby is going to come.  Wishing I had that fortune-telling gift, though, because then we could probably make enough money to pay for this birth.

Nope, I don't want to hear your horror stories.  Or your sister's, your daughter's, or the one you just saw on TLC.   No, really.  I have some of my own.  Like how I once had a baby in my minivan on the side of the road, or how I walked around dilated to a 6 for a week before I had my son.

And no, I'm not going to go into labor while I'm standing here talking to you.  Even if I did, it's highly unlikely that I would give birth with you here watching thankyouverymuch.

So as of today, I'm putting the world on notice.  From here on out, comments on my pregnancy will be limited to "Wow, you look amazing," or "Can I bring you some chocolate?" 

(Or maybe I just need to stop going to the grocery store.  What is it about picking out produce that inspires stupid pregnancy comments?)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Did I Miss Something?

OK, I admit it.  I'm not a big holiday person, especially when it comes to Halloween.  I don't have big buckets of decorations for every holiday and I don't make themed meals.

This year, being in a state of perpetual maternal fogginess, I nearly missed Halloween.  Yup, I'm pretty lame.

It wasn't until the Wednesday before Halloween that I realized I should probably pull some costumes together seeing as we had a costume party coming up, um, that night.

Luckily, my kids were easy this year.

Abby decided to be a cowgirl.  Ok, really I declared that after spending a bunch of money to put together a cowgirl costume for a talent contest this summer, that I was done spending money on costumes for her, and that the cowgirl costume was doing double duty.

Ashlynn wanted to be a bride.  Lucky for her (and for me!) she dressed up as an angel last year.  Because Abby mysteriously lost her angel costume, (don't ask...) and a friends' borrowed white dress was way too long, Ashlynn wore the same dress as last year, (which yes, caused some weeping and wailing) with the halo being remade as a veil.

And Max?  He was easy.  A friend called and asked if I wanted to borrow a lion costume.  She didn't have to ask me twice.  The best part about it?  Max loved it, and spent days running around the house growling.  The girls taught him to say "trick or treat" (which came out sounding something like "ta ta") and then he would roar like a lion.  It was good for lots of laughs.

Finally, the blessed Saturday rolled around.  (Yes, we live in Utah, where the whole Saturday/Sunday trick-or-treating thing really isn't even an issue...) Trying to redeem myself, (or at least redeem myself for the lame-o costumes,) I tried to sit everyone down for a picture before they left. 

Except that my camera wasn't charged.

And the kids' camera was no where to be found.

"Mom," Abby sighed in frustration, "Can't you just use your phone?"

So without further build-up, I bring you the greatest Halloween photos ever.  You have my permission to be jealous.  Of the brilliant costumes, the stellarcamera-phone photography, the fabulous designer yellow paint in my entryway, everything.

Get all three kids looking at the camera at once?  Yeah, not a chance.

In fact, it only took 2 shots for Max to be done with the camera all together.  (Although secretly, I really like this photo, because it reminds me of what life is really like around here!)

So, we'll settle for pictures of the girls, who actually smile at the camera when asked.

And we'll bribe Max with one of his ubiquitous balls to get him to sit still for 2.3 seconds.

So after the photo shoot, I sent them out in the pouring rain, (no joke!) for trick-or-treating.  Less than 45 minutes later, I set out in the minivan to rescue the girls and my husband, all soaking wet and a bit cranky.  They didn't care that their candy haul was meager, at best.  They wanted warm clothes and their beds.  Can't say I blame them.

Max, however, was a different story.  He was having the time of his life running arond the neighborhood at night, having people tell him how cute he is, and then give him candy.  Add to that the allure of rolling in puddles like a puppy, and you have an almost 2-year-old's version of paradise.

Max playing in the rain gutter spout before we dragged him inside, literally kicking and screaming.

So there you have it.  Halloween, Smith family style.  The only thing missing is the large amounts of mini chocolate candy bars.  I may have to hit the Halloween clearance at the grocery store tomorrow. 


Monday, October 25, 2010

Feeling the Love

My friend Serene posted today about gratitude, specifically about people who have done seemingly small things that turned out to be huge, and invited people to link up, sharing their experiences.  I have so many, even in the past few weeks and months.

***
A few months ago, a friend called me out of the blue and asked if I had plans for the weekend.  We rarely have exciting weekend plans, and when I told her so, she said, "Good.  Then we're taking your kids Friday night and Saturday morning so you and your husband can go overnight."

I wasn't sure I had heard her right.  So I asked her, 

"What?"

"I know what it's like to not have family around to do things, and to want to get out.  You guys deserve to have a weekend away before your baby comes."

"Umm..."  I sputtered, "I don't even know what to say."

She laughed.  "Say thank you.  And have fun."

And we did.  While this angel woman came and slept at my house, (including soothing my toddler who woke up at an ungodly hour!) we went overnight to a fancy-schmancy hotel (that was free thanks to some perks from my husband's work,) saw a movie, got massages, and came home relaxed and happy.   Not even my parents have taken all three kids overnight before.  I still shake my head in amazement at her kindness and sheer courage.

***
A few weeks ago, I got pneumonia.  Now that's bad enough, but when you're pregnant, it's extra bad.  So of course, I whined about it on my blog.  A few hours later, I got a comment from a sweet blogger friend that she was bringing me dinner.

And bring me dinner she did.  Homemade chicken noodle soup, and freshly baked, warm bread.  Can I just say that bread was a little piece of heaven?  My husband and I devoured it on the spot before my children even knew it was missing. 

There is something so incredibly nurturing about someone making a meal for you- it's like giving someone a tangilble evidence of their love and concern.  Such a blessing to sit down to a hot meal that I didn't have to prepare.

***
This year, for the first time, I've started teaching students before school at some obscene hour that no one should ever be awake for.  Despite my chronic inablity to be a morning person, everything has worked out well so far.  That is, until two weeks ago when I decided I hadn't had enough excitement and spent the batter part of the night in the hospital with preterm labor.

I had a lesson the next morning, and since I didn't leave for the hospital until 10:30 at night, I sent a text telling the mom I wasn't teaching in the morning and begging to reschedule.  I knew she was an iPhone addict like me, and thought that would be the safest way to get a message to her.

I arrived home at 3:30 that Tuesday morning, and crashed into bed. We all rushed around in a panic the next morning trying to get out the door, and it wasn't until my kids were gone that I thought to check to make sure the mom had gotten my text message. 

She hadn't.

Which means this poor mom had gotten herself and her daughter out of bed and hauled across town at 6:15 am, just to find my house dark and no one answering the door.

I apologized, embarassed.  She brushed it off, laughing, asked me how I was doing, then informed me she was coming to get Max in a few minutes so that I could sleep that morning.

I thought about protesting, but I was too tired and too drugged.

She came and got him, played with him all morning, took him out to lunch, then brought him back to me right before naptime.  Max had so much fun that he ran after her crying when she left.

She had every right to be mad at me.  I would have been pretty irritated to get up that early to arrive at a dark house with no one responding.  Instead, she came and took my toddler all morning so I could crash. 

***
People are amazing.  I have been blessed by so many who have taken the time to love and serve my family.  Just thinking about this has made me resolve to do better to watch out for others. 

Like Serene said, the words "Thank You" seem pretty small and insignificant for things that impacted me so much.  But I can't say enough about how these womens' efforts to reach out and help me, despite the inconvenience, has impacted me. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Surprises

This baby loves surprises.

First, there was the surprise of even being pregnant in the first place. 

Then, when my husband decided it would be fun to wait to find out the gender until the baby was born, we added that surprise to our list.

I was very surprised at 28 weeks pregnant to find myself planning a hospital birth instead of a homebirth. 

And now, just when I thought we were done with surprises, I've found myself in the hospital twice in the past two weeks for pre-term labor.

(That's what I get for thinking that I had already experienced all the craziness possible when it comes to being pregnant and birthing a baby!)

The past two Mondays, contractions hit regularly.  I tried valiantly to ignore them.  Then they started coming every 2-3 minutes, making it impossible.  Both times, I called my midwife, who said I needed to come into the hospital to have them stopped.  So for the past two consecutive Monday nights, I've made the trip to the hospital in the middle of the night to be filled with injections of terbutaline and niphedipine.  I've started dilating and effacing, which isn't great news.  But we were able to stop the contractions, which is good news.  

The new goal is to get this baby to 36 weeks- three weeks from now.  Thanksgiving would be better, but at this point, anything that ends with a healthy baby and little to no NICU time would be fantastic. 

I'm not on bedrest yet, and crossing my fingers that it doesn't get to that point.  Because while a day or two of mandated rest sounds like a fantastic idea, being stuck in bed for three weeks sounds crazy making.  Not to mention what it would do to my poor toddler, who has very little patience with a mom who wants to just hang out on the couch. 

Here's hoping that we're done with surprises.  Because while being on a first name basis with the nurses on the L&D unti is great and everything, I'd really not like to go back until this baby is actually ready to be born. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What family scripture study is really like

As a family, we've been working hard to read the Book of Mormon daily.  We've gotten into a pretty good groove, and over the course of the last two years or so, we've made it through most of the Book of Mormon, at the rate of 5-10 verses a night.  We've had some great experiences, and have watched our daughters grow into great readers as they daily encounter words such as "inasmuch", "iniquity," and "Gidgiddoni."

Tonight was not one of those spiritual nights.

It started when we told Ashlynn to take a shower, as we do every night.  (Oh the horrors!)  Then, big sister Abby asked to take a bath.  Because there's no school tomorrow, we agreed, causing Ashlynn to collapse into a fit of despair, literally crying to anyone who would listen how unfair it was that her sister got to take a bath and she didn't.  Never mind that she didn't ask to take a bath, we were just supposed to know that she wanted a bath, and it was all our fault that she didn't get to have one.  She then flopped down on the couch in the middle of her tantrum and promptly fell asleep.

Things got even more fun when we woke her up and insisted that she join us for scriptures. 

You see, we've been reading for years, and have just now come to the end of Moroni.  We would have finished last night, but got interrupted by two girls who couldn't have stopped giggling if their lives depended on it.  So tonight was the night.  We  were going to have a wonderful spriritual experience as we finished the last four verses of the Book of Mormon.  We all piled onto our bed, and settled in.

Problem is, Ashlynn can throw one heck of a fit when she wanted to.  The only way we got her to actually hold the scriptures was by threatening her with loss of privileges tomorrow.  (I know, I know.  But we tried to tease, talk and tickle her out of her foul mood and nothing worked.)

Tom had gotten through one line of the first verse when Max took a swing at him and ended up smacking him in the face.  After nicely reminding Max that we don't hit, Tom playfully shoved Max a bit and Max fell flat on his face into the bed.  Any other day this would have made him laugh hysterically, but a chronic lack of nap time meant a flood of angry tears.  So now we had one scowling, one screaming, and I looked over to find Abby picking her toenails in my bed.

"Abby," I said, thoroughly grossed out, "Please don't pick your toes in my bed."  All she did was giggle.

We got one more verse read, valiantly trying to ignore the screaming, refusing-to-be-comforted Max, when I looked over to find Abby once again picking her toenails.

"Abby!"  I growled, disgusted beyond belief.  "I don't want your toenails or toejam in my bed!  Knock it off."  That was it.  At the mere mention of the word "toejam" she collapsed laughing.

Tom muttered something about how we were ruining some of his favorite verses of scripture.  I looked at my crying toddler, (who was banging his head against the wall at this point,) my scowling seven year old,  and my nearly nine year old who was laughing so hard that she could barely breathe and ended up with a serious case of the giggles myself.  Tom sped-read through the last two verses, rolling his eyes.

The only interruption in the last two verses was when I had to remind Abby that picking her nose wasn't acceptable behavior either.

So much for our spiritual outpouring. 

The good news is, we finished the last four verses.  And there will be many more years of family scripture study ahead. 

How about  you?  Any good family scripture/prayer stories to share?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

One of those rare times a mom likes to hear the word "no"

We had a follow up ultrasound yesterday. And while I am generally sick of hearing "no," especially when it comes from my obstinate not-quite two year old, I was thrilled to hear "no" twice from the perinatogist yesterday:

There is NO evidence of craniosynosyosis in this baby! Siblings with cranio are extremely rare, but then again, much of what we have been through with Max is. I was very relieved to see a normal head shape and several open skull sutures. (And it was more than a little fun to shock the perinatologist by identifying the saggital suture on the ultrasound. Being an obsessive researcher has it's privileges.)

And there is NO more worry about placenta previa. The placenta has very obediently moved up and out of the way.

Oh and one other no. NO, I didn't peek at the baby's gender. I wanted to, but the ultrasound technician remembered me, and remembered that we didn't want to find out. Busted. Buy we've made it this far, we can make it six more weeks, right?

I was going to upload what has to be the Cutest Ultrasound Pic ever, but my scanner has decided that it no longer needs to do it's job. Much like my van, which sputtered to a stop about 10 miles from home this afternoon without warning while I was carrying 5 violinists home from rehearsal. I was tempted to send them all out to play their violins on the side of the road to see if they could earn the money for what is probably going to be an expensive repair, but then decided that probably wasn't the educational experience their parents are paying me for. Too bad, because it would have made for a very funny post.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

This is what happens when I haven't had an adult to talk to in a while

Due the fact that I feel about 17 months pregnant, I have a chronic inablility to focus on something for more than about 3.2 seconds.  So a post with coherent thoughts, or maybe even a point?  Not happening tonight.  So here you have it: a collection of the minutiae that is my life right now.  (And as a side note, don't you love that word?  It makes me feel intelligent just to use it.  Despite the fact  that I just had to switch over the Word to use the spell checker so I could actually spell it right...)

My laptop is dying a slow, painful death.  It's very sad, really.  It gives me anywhere from 10 seconds to about 10 minutes of use before it goes black with absolutely no warning or provocation. There's no computer repair money in the budget right now, ("Yes, ma'am, I'll look at your computer, but it costs at least $127 to glance in its direction, and we charge by the blink.) and I'm pretty sure I'll go into a deep state of mourning when it does actually kick the bucket.  Stupid technology.

My second grader's spelling words are harder than the third grader's.  Strange.

Does anyone else hate school fundraisers as much as I do?  The kids come home from school completely hyped up about prizes, prizes, prizes  they can win from selling crappy wrapping paper/overpriced chocolates/collecting walk-a-thon pledges from everyone they know, and immediately start begging to sell/collect/whatever.  What they don't get, (and the lovely fundraising people neglect to tell them) is that everyone else they know is also selling crappy wrapping paper/overpriced chocolates/collecting walk-a-thon pledges, making the whole thing an excercise in fultilty.  You then proceed to try to explain this to your child, whereupon they collapse in a puddle of tears, proclaiming that they're going to DIE if they don't earn enough money to get the free donut coupon and the package of Silly Bands.  Am I a bad mom if I ignore the fundraiser and buy the kiddos a donut and a packet of silly bands?

And while we're on the subject of silly bands, seriously?  File that under the "Ideas I should have had so I could make a million dollars and retire" category.  Sheesh.  I have at least one in depth conversation about silly bands with a child or violin student at least once a day.   On the bright side, the morning routine is running a lot more smoothly with the added bribe incentive of silly bands for good attitudes during practice time.

I went to Babies R Us yesterday, and spent entirely too much time ooh-ing and ahh-ing over every baby supply imaginable.  You would think that this being my fourth baby that I would be immune to all the tiny cuteness and matching absolutely everything.  (Don't you know you're a bad mom if your baby's bib doesn't match her crib bedding?  Don't you need to spend an entire's months' salary so that your newborn can have a crib that she can take to college with her?)  I think there's something in the pregnancy hormones that make you completely hypnotized by impossibly tiny socks in all the colors of the rainbow.  I escaped with my checking account relatively unscathed, although I do admit to buying two little tiny newborn outfits- one with baseballs, and one with seriously cute pink flowers- that will fit the new baby whoever he or she is for approximately 2.3 minutes before they grow out of it.  But every baby needs something new to come home from the hospital in, right? 

Speaking of babies, I have given this baby official notice that he or she has exactly 38 weeks to gestate and that's all.  None of this 40 or 42 weeks crap.  My pregnancies have gotten progressively shorter, so I've decided 38 weeks is about right.  The funny part is 38 weeks puts me right about Thanksgiving Day.  Not a bad day to have a baby, right?  So 38 weeks it is.  Think it'll work?  (It'll take a miracle.)  (Bonus points and my everlasting admiration if you get the movie reference.)

Speaking of babies, again, (you would think I was an obsessed pregnant woman or something!) I have an ultrasound next week to check baby's skull sutures and monitor the marginal previa.  I'm still dying to know boy or girl.  I wondering if it would be so bad to ask them to take a quick peek?  I could just keep it a secret from my husband and everyone I know for the next two months, right?

Max is officially obsessed with the iPhone.  Frustratingly so.  In fact, in his nearly two-year-old brain, I am not even allowed to talk on it, because it is his phone.  So if you are brave enough to call me, be prepared for a lot of toddler screaming very loud protesting going on in the background.  I'm trying to decide if I'm going to try to break the addiction or just give in. 

And just because I can, a gratuitously cute picture of the little iPhone addict.
Because it's important to always be fashionable, even in the bathtub.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Change of Plans

Don't you hate eating your words?

Yeah, me too.  Which is why this has been such a difficult post for me to write.  That, and the fact that I had pneumonia last week and still need daily doses of an inhaler just to breathe.  And also the fact that I've spent cumulative hours on the phone with less than wonderful customer service agents the past few days trying to get my internet access restored.  Just for the record, my husband is now in charge of all things internet related. 

Ok, back on point.

Let me clarify a few things first. 

I am a homebirtherI believe in homebirth.  I believe its a safe, wise, and gentle way for a baby to be born.  I believe that homebirth is as safe as a birth in the hospital when the mom and baby are low risk.

I had a marvelous experience birthing Max at home.  I've attended lots of successful, beautiful homebirths as a doula.  So when I fould out that we were expecting again, I naturally started planning for another homebirth.

Problem is, I've never felt completely settled or comfortable with the idea.  Since my wonderful midwife with Max, who also happens to be one of my best-est friends, moved to New Mexico a year and a half ago, I had to start from scratch interviewing midwives.  Nothing seemed to click.  I kept telling myself that I was only dragging my feet because I had such a great friendship with my last midwife and was having a hard time adapting to the idea of having "just" a midwife. 

I hired a midwife who I knew, respected, and had attended births with.  I had seen her in action and respected her experience and liked her style as a midwife.  I still felt unsettled.  I joked with my husband that maybe the reason I was feeling so lost and uninspired was either because I was going to have a baby so fast that it didn't matter who I hired, or I was just going to end up in the hospital anyway.   I stuffed my uneasiness and apprehension in the back of my mind, convinced that the reasons I was unsure had more to do with all our medical drama over the past year and a half than it did any inspiration or instinct about the matter.

This pregnancy, much like my others, has been relatively problem free.  I had two visits with the midwife and an ultrasound, all showing that things were progressing more or less as they should. 

But underneath it all, I couldn't deny that I was feeling uncommitted.  I was dragging my feet when it came time to make another midwife appointment.  I was having trouble envisioning, planning or getting excited about a homebirth.  Previous pregnancies have found me reading every birth story I could get my hands on, devouring birth books by the dozens, (I remember my husband asking me once, "How many birth books can you possibly buy before they all start saying the same thing?") and daydreaming about my perfect birth.  Imagining a homebirth this time around has felt as productive as visualizing a brick wall.

It all came to a head about a week and a half ago.  Out of the blue one Tuesday evening, my husband remarked, "You know, I really have a strong feeling that we're going to end up in the hospital with this baby."

"I do too."  I said, without even realizing that I was going to say it.  And just like that, everything I'd been trying to deny for the past six months came rushing to the surface.  There was a reason behind all the apprehension, the unease.  It was because, deep down underneath, despite all the denying my uneasiness and pretending everything was fine, I really wasn't at all certain about our plans for a homebirth.

We talked more that night after the kiddos had gone to bed.  We talked pros and cons, and put everything out on the table.  After our experiences with Max's birth, my husband is as pro-homebirthing as I am, and was equally wondering why he felt this way.  But I couldn't help but think that if my husband felt the same unease that I did, that it was time for me to sit up and take notice.

The next two days were filled with a lot of praying and a lot of crying.  I didn't want to give up on a homebirth.  I hate hospitals.  I know it sounds crazy to 98% of women out there, but I really do feel like my births belong at home.  I don't know that I have ever felt so conflicted about something in my entire life.

I was supposed to have an appointment with my midwife that week, and called the day before and cancelled it, telling her where we were emotionally.  She was wonderfully encouraging and supportive, asking me to keep her in the loop with whatever we decided.  She said that she had sensed hesitation from me at the very start, and kept waiting for me to come down off the fence on one side or the other.  She encouraged me to follow my gut, and let my instincts and feelings guide my decision, because in her experience, it's women who don't listen to that inner voice that find themselves in trouble.

Meanwhile, I made an appoitnment with a midwife who delivers at a new hospital nearby.  I've done a birth with her as well, (although I have to use that term loosely because we both showed up at the same time- about five minutes after the baby was born!) and she has a wonderful reputation for being as non-interventive as possible, and helping her clients get the birth they want.  The hospital is very new, and from everything I've heard, very progressive when it comes to labor and delivery.  Both Tom and I thought that we should probably start checking out all our options. 

I kept hoping and praying for revelation.  Waiting and wanting the skies to open up, a voice to speak.  So conflicted.  Caught between things I truly believe and the nagging feelings that my husband and I had been feeling the entire pregnancy.

I went to see the midwife this week, and immediately felt at ease.  She was very upfront and matter of fact, easy to talk to, and laugh and joke with about the birth community.  I gave her a brief rundown of how we were feeling, and she also encouraged me to follow my instincts, letting me know that she would do everything she could to help me acheive a peaceful, nonmedicated birth in the hospital.  From what she told me, there are no interventions I would be subjected to routinely, and that rather than forcing her patients into procedures, she would explain the risks and benefits and then let me decide.

I left the appointment feeling like a giant weight had been lifted off me.  I met Tom for lunch, and once again had the odd experience of hearing words come out of my mouth before I knew I had made a decision: "I think this is what we need to do."

So I find myself in a very weird spot.  I'm a homebirther through and through, but we feel strongly that for reasons we don't know, that we need to plan a birth in the hospital.

I don't know what that means, or why we would feel that way.  I had one friend suggest that I may not be completely over all the medical chaos that we went through with Max, and that because of that, I'm having a hard time believing that anything could go smoothly. 

I've wondered if my ambivalence about having another baby may be keeping me from making the committment to a homebirth.

But the last thing we want is to spend all the time and energy investing ourselves in a homebirth and then be forced to transfer late in pregnancy or worse, during labor.  If something is going to go wrong, (heaven forbid!) I would much rather be prepared emotionally to be comfortable in the hospital.  And the biggest nightmare driving both of us would be to look back and realize that we had been receiving inspiration the entire pregnacy, only to ignore it. 

There's also the not-so-small fact that birthing in the hospital would be significantly cheaper for us, to the tune of at least $1000, and probably more.  

I've felt like a traitor to my natural birthing mamas and friends.  I've felt like an imposter.  I've questioned my ability to receive and interpret revelation.  I've wondered if I'm just a big fat wimp.  I don't think I've ever felt so conflicted about a decision in my entire life.

But now that the decision has been made, I feel lighter.  Calmer.  Settled. 

I know that the majority of the people who read this will wonder what the big deal is, and why I'm acting like the decision of where to birth my baby is such a big deal. I know that people can and do have wonderful experiences in the hospital.  I know that there are many (most) women who can't imagine birthing anywhere else. 

I'm holding on to the hope that I wouldn't feel this strongly about something without a reason.

I'm almost 30 weeks, so it won't actually be that long until we know how this story ends. We joke that this baby is just destined to be surprise from beginnning to end. We were surprised to be pregnant, surprised to change our birth plans, and the biggest surprise of all will be finding out if we're having a baby brother or sister.



So we're hanging on for dear life for the rest of this crazy ride.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Pneumonia

pneu·mo·nia   /nʊˈmoʊnyə, -ˈmoʊniə, nyʊ-/


[noo-mohn-yuh, -moh-nee-uh, nyoo-]

–noun Pathology .

1. inflammation of the lungs with congestion.
2. an illness characterized by coughing until I see stars, spending a week throwing up despite the fact that I'm in my third trimester, and a trip to the instacare on an otherwise beautiful Sunday morning, resulting in one semi-panicked doctor, one breathing treatment, two inhalers and two different antibiotics. 
 
I have to tell you, though.  Breathing is a beautiful thing. 
 

Monday, September 13, 2010

The glamorous side of motherhood

So today, not only did I get to fish a piece of corn out of my toddler's nostril, but I also found a stash of about 8 pairs of really dirty underwear stuffed in a corner.  They were hidden there by a certain daughter, who shall remain nameless, who when questioned about it said "I just didn't want to get in trouble."

Sigh.

But I did learn a very important lesson.  I should never, ever venture into the girls' closets.  Dangerous territory.  That's what I get for trying to be ambitious and actually do the laundry.  Rest assured, it won't happen again. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

You might be pregnant if...

~The worth of an object becomes directly proportioned to your willingness to actually bend down and pick it up off the floor.

~You have a favorite color/flavor of Tums.

~Your nightly going to bed ritual includes clearing a path to the bathroom that you'll be visiting at least 47 times that night.

~You've been known to jump out of your seat or yelp occasionally because of a particularly hard kick to the ribs.

~Peeing in a cup at your Doctor or Midwife's appointment feels like an Olympic sporting event.

~You can stand in front of a very full pantry or refrigerator and then burst into tears because you can't find anything good to eat.

~After your husband makes fun of you for crying about it, you yell "Don't laugh at me!" sounding very much like a three year old.

~You then blame the whole episode on hormones.

~Your hips make more snapping and popping noises than a bowl of Rice Krispies.

~You threaten to shoot up a local fast food restaurant (that shall remain nameless) when they screw up your order and all you've been craving all day is a crisp bean burrito.  Why is that so hard people?  Come on!

~You can fall asleep standing up in the late afternoon, but wake up five hundred times later that night to pee.

~You make a nice, healthy meal that looks and smells great...until it's actually sitting on a plate in front of you.

~You could immediately tell a perfect stranger your EDD, LMP, and exactly how far along you are, (27 weeks and 2 days thankyouverymuch...) but you might very well forget your own childrens' names.

Anyone else?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

This is what happiness looks like

Doesn't it just make you smile?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

And the panic sets in

I was at the grocery store at an obscene hour last night, buying toilet paper, toothpaste, bananas and ice, (don't ask!) when the well-meaning but stupid cashier decided to take it upon herself to say "Wow- looks like you're about ready to have that baby."

Groan.

I didn't hesitate to tell her I wasn't due until December, and would have enjoyed watching her hem and haw if I wasn't wondering if I had somehow blown up to the size of a blue whale when I wasn't looking.

It was just one more on a growing list of eveidences that I am, in fact, going to have a baby.

I know, right?  Shouldn't this have sunk in, oh, about the time I got a positive pregnancy test

You'd think so, wouldn't you? 

I think I've adjusted to the idea of being pregnant.  Now the idea of that pregnancy actually leading to a real baby?  Yeah, not so much.

Four.  Four kids.  It just seems like so many.  I'm going to be seriously outnumbered.

I have lots of friends with four kids.  Most of them have an oldest child the age of my middle daughter.  They do great with four.  They handle everything with grace and style.  I'm not sure how well it's actually going to work out for me.

I'm mildly hyperventilating at the thought of parenting four kids, including my toddler terrorist and a newborn.   I don't deal well with chaos, and I've been having viscious flashbacks from the six months of hell that was Abby as a toddler with Ashlynn as a newborn. 

Don't get me wrong.  I love this little person, and I'm looking forward to meeting him or her and adding them to our family.  I have little doubt that a year or two from now, I'll wonder what I was so worried about.  But nights like tonight, when Tom is in class late, the girls are alternating between bickering and singing stupid Cub Scout songs at the top of their lungs, and the toddler launches his uneaten bowl of chicken noodle soup across the kitchen that I wonder how I'll handle fitting the inevitable screaming newborn with the diaper blowout to the mix. 

Once again, I'm finding myself glad that it takes nine months to cook a baby.  Because while I may look like I'm ready to have a baby, it might take a few more weeks for me to actually be ready to parent four kids. 

Moms of four or more, tell me it's easy.  Tell me that the transistion didn't rock your world to the core.  Lie if you have to. 

PS- This new school/teaching/practicing/being pregnant schedule is kicking my butt.  Hoping to get back into a good posting groove soon.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Jealous much?

While I was feeding the hoodlums children tonight, I got this sweet picture text from my husband, who is on a business trip in San Diego.

The caption read "This is my view from dinner tonight."

I had no choice: I had to return the favor.  Here's the photo I sent him.

My caption of course read, "This is my view from dinner tonight."

I might be a little bit jealous.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I Hate Craniosynostosis

It's been a while since I've had to write a big vent about craniosynostosis.  That's because I've started losing track of how far post-op we are, have stopped visiting the CranioKids bulliten board so often, and just in general have tried to put the whole ugly ordeal behind us so we could get on with our lives.   For the most part, Max's head shape looks ok, and until this past week, we were pretty certain that all the worries were behind us.  We haven't even been to the ER, hospital or urgent care for Max in three months.  I think that's an all time record!

And before I go on, my apologies to all the other cranio moms that follow our journey, especially those that are facing a new diagnosis.  No, I don't know why we are facing so many complications on this crazy journey.  No, all of these problems are not routine.  In fact, no, I don't know anyone who has gone through such a bumpy ride.  But we don't really have a choice.  So, my cranio sisters, read on if you dare, and just thank your lucky stars that your journey will be smoother.

The other night, Max was feeling very cuddly, and spent a hour laying next to me while we both read stories.  I was playing with his hair and rubbling his head when I felt it.  A fluid pocket about the size of a quarter on his scalp.  I did as any mom whose son had had two major surgeries in the past year would and panicked.  I called my husband upstairs, and he could feel it too.  There is nothing that can be remotely good, or even neutral, about a pocket of fluid hanging out on my little boy's skull.  At best, it's fluid from the dissolving plates and screws; at worst, it's cerebral spinal fluid collecting from a leak in his brain!

The next morning, I called our surgeon's office, and the nurse didn't even consult with the surgeon- she told us we needed to come in the next day.  Now, we've been trying to talk with our surgeon via email about Max's protruding screws on his forehead and have had no luck for two weeks.  But apparently, all I need to say to get an emergency appointment is "fluid pocket" and I had an appointment the very next day.

So I called a friend to ask if she could help watch my girls, (since taking them to Dr appointments actually ranks even higher than grocery shopping on the "things I would rather scratch my eyes out than do with all three kids" scale,) and I got about two words out before I started sobbing.  Pregnancy hormones combined with a healthy dose of fear had me imagining emergency surgery before the weekend was out.

I probably pressed the panic button too soon, but I couldn't help it.  We've had what seems like every imaginable complication, including two major surgeries.  I forced myself to keep stuffing a bitter sense of dread down my throat while we waited for the appointment.

We went to see the surgeon Friday afternoon, and he was remarkably unfazed.  The fluid pocket seemed to have decreased significantly, and the doctor told us is could very well have resulted from a bump to the head, and if it wasn't causing him any discomfort, there really wasn't anything to worry about.  He also reassured us about the screws protruding from his forehead, telling us that when they went in for the second surgery, they found that Max's bones were on the thin side, and that forced them to place screws where they don't usually.  He actually seemed a bit more worried when we told him that Max had resumed banging his head on things this week and had been unusually cranky.  (Well, unusually cranky is how we described it to the doctor.  "Possessed by the demons of Hell" is how we've been affectionately referring to it at home this week.)

So, when all was said and done, we left the office with the reassurance that things were most likely okay, but with an order for a 3D CT scan just to be on the safe side.  Max's persistent head banging stopped abruptly after his second surgery, and just reppeared this week, and that combined with his behavior this week can point to increased intercranial pressure.  So we're going to get things checked out just to be safe.  And I'm trying not to press the panic button.

Problem is, getting a 3D CT scan is an ordeal in and of itself.  But, we've had miracles in that department before, and I'm not doubting that we can receive help in that department again.  And if there's something that needs to be dealt with after the scan, we'll have to take that as it comes.

In the meantime, I'm wishing that I had never heard the word craniosynostosis.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Don't ask questions you don't want to know the answers to.

You've heard about those so-called "Unanswerable Questions?"  You know, like "Why do drive up ATM's have braille keyboards?" and "If 7-11 is always open, why are there locks on the doors?"

Well, I have some unanswerable questions of my own.  For instance....

Why does Max always have to pee on the same spot on floor right in front of the bathtub?  Why can't he just wait and pee when he gets in the tub?  Or heaven forbid, pee in his diaper right before I take it off?

Why does my daughter, who regularly can't remember things like putting on clean underwear, and absolutely cannot process two-step directions, (i.e. "Put on a belt and come downstairs,") never fail to remember that two weeks ago last Tuesday I said that going to the pool would be fun and can we go right now, please, please please? 

Speaking of, why is it easier for my children to be the fairness police by remembering who sat by Daddy last night, who got served dessert first last Tuesday, and who had to take out the last stinky diaper three days ago than it is for them to remember to, say, pick their wet towels up off the floor?

Why is it that the minute I get into a good, satisfying sleep, (a huge rarity for the pregnant woman now as it is!) I'm guaranteed to have at least one if not more of the little people in my house decide they have to join me in bed? 

Why do parents buy their nine year old children their own phone with internet access?  I'm going to be selfish here and say that all it does is make my kids beg for their own cell phones, and that, my friends, just ain't happening.  (And really, does a third grader need her own phone?  Who is she going to call?)

Why, when it takes me 20 minutes to clean a room, does it take my toddler about 30 seconds to demolish it?

Why is it, when we sing lullabies to our son every night, enroll him in semester after semester of Music Together classes, and expose him to violin music every day of his life whether he likes it or not, that the first song he actually sings is the most annoying cub scout song possible?  And why does he have to repeat it 542 times a day?  And why do we need a song about a dead moose anyway?

Why do my kids appreciate macaroni and cheese with little cut up hot dogs infinitely more than the meals that I spend hours planning and preparing?  (Nothing like hearing "This is the best dinner ever, Mom!" when it came out of a Kraft blue box.)

And finally,

What in the name of garden produce happened to this tomato?  Early jack-o-lantern carving practice?  Tomato-sucking vampire?  A case of mistaken tomato identity? 

Never mind.  I don't wanna know.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Confessions of a (reluctant) ward organist

Like a lot of good Mormon girls my age, I took piano lessons growing up from the piano teacher down the street.  I learned to play passably, and once I could play all the hymns in the hymnbook and became more interested in violin and everything except piano lessons, I quit lessons and went on my merry way.

But as any Mormon who even pretends to play the piano knows, once anyone knows you play, you will be playing piano in meetings frequently, whether you like it or not.  And I really don't mind playing the piano so much.

Then there's this beast.

I admit to being more than a little terrified of this monster.

Many people believe that just because you can play the piano, you should be able to play the organ.  In front of a lot of people.  During sacrament meeting.  Um, not true.   First of all, there are usually multiple keyboards, which has never made sense to me.  How are you supposed to play on two at once without getting completely lost?  And I have to confess, as many times as I've been told, I still can't for the life of me remember which is the Great and which is the Swell.  And then there's the mysterious foot pedals.  Seriously, how in the world is a girl like me, who can barely walk a set of stairs without falling supposed to play an instrument that requires two hands and two feet?  And all the buttons with names like "Great to Swell" and "Flute 8'"?  Seriously, it scares me.

Now don't get me wrong.  I'm not knocking the organ.  I have a good friend who is an amazing organist, and has tried to teach me something about it more than once.  I think it's a beautiful instrument when in the right hands.

Problem is, those hands aren't mine.

In college, my bishop decided that it was time for me to learn to play the organ.  After approximately fifteen minutes of instruction from another pianist-turned-organist, I was set loose on my unsuspecting ward. 

One of my first Sundays on the organ, I realized I couldn't see the foot pedals because I was wearing a long skirt that was covering my feet.  I made a move to adjust my skirt, and slipped off the bench.  (Told you, I have a problem with coordination!)  Just as a bishopric member was sustaining someone in the ward, and asking "Any opposed?" my feet fell on the pedals, honking the organ and sending everyone in the congregation into fits of laughter.  The bishopric member handled it wth grace, and responded by saying "Anyone opposed besides Stacy?"

And still my "career" as an organist continued.

Another Sunday, in another ward, I was accompanying during a congregational hymn that had four verses.  I was playing along and thought that we had finished. I played the last chord, and started to scoot off the organ bench.  Problem was, the congregation kept singing.  Turns out I had decided to stop after the third verse, and the congregation had collectively failed to read my mind.  The speaker that followed wasn't at all phased, and began his talk by saying "You know, I think I'll just take after Sister Smith today and give three-quarters of my talk and sit down."   I was more than a little mortified.

Then their was the Sunday I was playing the sacrament hymn, quietly and reverently, like a good little organist.  I was even managing the pedals fairly well, until I misjudged, and hit one of those metal knobs that sit right above the pedals.  I didn't even know what those were for.  Well, we all got an education that instant, when the organ changed from a soft and mellow, appropriate for the sacrament sound to "Let's sing 'Called to Serve' at Stake Conference" blasting organ.  I think I continued blushing all the way through our three hour block that day.  And I've learned to stay far, far away from those metal knobs. 

When we moved into this ward, it took the bishop about 5.2 seconds to find out that I played the organ.  That tends to happen when he's the one that moves the piano into your house and asks your husband if you play organ too.  I haven't yet managed to convince my dear husband that I don't really play the organ.  I think he enjoys the sacrament meeting entertainment.  The bishop told me that this ward had about eight organists that rotated duties, and I was thrilled, assuming that I wouldn't be needed.  I avoided the organ rotation for almost a year, gracefully declining when the poor unsuspecting music director asked me if I would be interested in playing the organ in Sacrament Meeting.

A few months later, just as I was gloating in my organ-avoiding successes, I had a really hard time telling the Bishop "no" when he asked me directly if I would start taking a turn.

My first Sunday, I thought I had avoided complete humiliation, until my Bishop shook my hand afterwards and jokingly said "Sounds like you might be a bit rusty!"  Um yeah, Bishop, this might be as good as you get!

A few weeks ago, I was playing prelude on my appointed Sunday, and Tom left the heathens girls with instructions to watch Max while he went to do whatever it is guys needs to do before Sacrament Meeting.  (Does anyone really know what that is?  Seriously, I would like to know!)  I was innocently playing prelude, trying not to make the organ honk, when I noticed my toddler running gleefully up the aisle.  Apparently, Max decided he wanted to get down, so the girls let him.  Ok, that makes perfect sense.  So, I continued my prelude playing while shooting rays of death at my girls, trying to will them to come get their brother before chaos ensued.  No dice.  Max was not only thrilled to be on the stand, but more excited to see that Mommy was playing the piano, and decided, of course, that he wanted to join me.  I really need no help making a mess of things when I'm playing the organ, but with Max's accompaniment, it was worse than usual.  I faced the choice of stopping the prelude right before the meeting started and taking my screaming little boy out, or letting him continue to bang on the organ.  Just as I was about to risk Armageddon by removing Max from the organ and the meeting, my husband strolled up on the stand, picked up Max and took him out, with Max screaming "My mama!  My mama!" the whole way out of the chapel.

At this point, I think my ward looks forward to the Sundays when Stacy plays the organ, because they're guaranteed some cheap entertainment.

I think I should be allowed to stick to the violin, and at least minimize the potential for complete humiliation.


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