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.
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.
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.
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?)
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.
Abby is eleven and in fifth grade. She practices like crazy, love performing, and "really, really, really" wants to be in the symphony someday. She loves ice skating, riding horses, and has more energy than both of her parents put together.
Ashlynn is nine years old and in fourth grade. Ever since her arrival in the front seat of our minivan on the side of the freeway, Ashlynn has always done things her own way. She keeps everyone in the family laughing, and is always there for a hug, a smile, or a cuddle. She loves gymanstics, playing the piano, and frequently is found bouncing off of one piece of furniture or another.
The Big Brother
Max is a four year old ball of energy and fun. Obessed with the iPhone, Toy Story, and Phinneas and Ferb, he regularly has us laughing hysterically at his antics. Max was born with metopic craniosynostosis and has had two major skull reconstructions, and has come through with flying colors.
If there's trouble to be found, two year old Ian will be in the center of it. Ian is charming, articulate, funny, and incredibly determined to make the world exactly the way he wants it. He loves his brother, climbing on the counters and waking up at obscenely early hours.