Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The 28th

Right now in our family, all of the new generation were born on the 28th ...

Shelby Hope July 28th, 2012

Cousin Caleb June 28th, 2013

Victoria Grace May 28th, 2014

All exactly 11 months apart! You can't plan that. Well, maybe just a little ... when you have a repeat Cesarean. But it was mostly a coincidence that my Dr does surgery on Wednesdays, and the Wednesday that was within a week of my due date was the 28th.

Anyways - today is the 28th, so Shelby is exactly 2 1/2 ... Victoria Grace is 8 months old ... and Cousin Caleb is 19 months old!

Shelby when she was about 8 months old
Thinking about Tori's birth reminded me that I wanted to write about my C-section. With Shelby, my HELLP syndrome was so advanced that I couldn't receive an epidural or a spinal block because my platelets were too low. It was an emergency, full anesthesia Cesarean from which I awoke some time later, stitched up and being offered my sweet baby girl for the first time. Everyone else had already met her! It was a little surreal ... though the memory that broke through the foggy mist of my very sick and drugged state is her little hands. I noticed those delicate, tiny, yet graceful hands first.

With Victoria, we arrived at the hospital the morning of surgery. Everything was planned out - GiGi and Dude were taking Shelby and though she seemed a little nervous and apprehensive she was excited too. She still loves to look at the pictures GiGi printed up in a little album for us!

We went upstairs and I waited in a prep room curtained off from a few others who were having surgery that day. I still felt a little "made over" as apparently even the L&D nurses don't see a lot of HELLP and they wanted to be sure I didn't have it again. Other than an elevated blood pressure though, I was fine for a "normal" Cesarean.

Once again, the anesthesiologist assistant was my hero. I know there are a lot of unsung heroes in the medical field, but for me these guys take the cake. They know all about what is going on, and seem specially trained to put you at ease without you feeling hoodwinked. Neither of mine have been patronizing at all, they were quick to tell me exactly what was going on. She  prepped me (and turned off the weird heater suit when it made me feel sick) and worked her magic. I still didn't like the idea of a needle in my spine, but there it went and with a little rocking of the table to make sure I was even I had the strange sensation of having NO sensation from about mid-chest down.

Now people had tried to explain a regular Cesarean to me, and while it is accurate to say that you "feeling tugging" but no pain - that makes it sound so much worse. Sure, I could tell they were moving and manipulating my body - but I couldn't TELL what they were doing. There was no moment where my brain screamed "THEY'RE CUTTING MY BELLY!" I had no idea exactly when it happened.

Do be warned ... if you are squeamish, do NOT look up at the reflector in the lights. I was able to see at one point that my intestines were out of my body and that my body was unbelievably wide open. Nah - you don't need to see that. Even Tim had to look away (he watched quite a bit of it over the curtain) when they stretched the incision open.

They struggled some to get Victoria Grace out ... she was breach and had her head tucked up nicely into my ribcage area. She had to be essentially folded up to come out. It was weird hearing all this going on, and being apologized to because I'd be sore later from all the tugging and stretching, but soon she was out and I got to see her right away! And you know what, it was still magical. She was angry and I was shivering uncontrollably from the "hormone dump" ... but it was magic, there she was this angry little wriggling thing who had been in my tummy so many months. Welcome to the world sweetheart!

So while I have no point of reference about recovery, it wasn't THAT bad. It is annoying, but a surgical laceration heals a lot faster than an accidental one and eventually you do feel normal again. The hardest thing the second time around was not being able to pick Shelby up, but I had done my best to do so as much as possible beforehand and to tell her mommy wouldn't be able to for a while but that I still love her just as much. And while I'm pretty "crunchy" ... I have to say I enjoyed my Cesarean. The first one saved my life and Shelby's life, and the second one just had to be. I try not to waste time lamenting the natural birth I dreamed of. I just wasn't meant to know true labor.

She was so excited to meet her sister. She still gets excited about her, even though we're getting to the stage (8 months old and cruising) that Shelby doesn't always appreciate her attention or her efforts to play together. Victoria, on the other hand, ADORES Shelby. No one has gotten her to laugh the way big sister can.

Shelby seeing Victoria for the first time

"Sharing" the Little People castle

I hope they will always be close at heart ... not just in age.

Monday, January 26, 2015

One Flu Over Our Nest

One might consider it a nod to success that I am not counting down the days until the "end" of my personal shampoo-less challenge. I have no idea what day we're on anymore. I all honesty since my last few descriptions it hasn't changed a lot. I go 3-4 days before I feel kinda "bleh" about my hair. I intend to start using distilled water for my baking soda and vinegar mixes. I added a few drops of lavender to my vinegar mix ... cause I love lavender. I'm sure to some I might smell like a Victorian sachet from a bygone era ... then again if its bygone most would have no idea what that smells like so I'll just call it a vintage scent.

Take that, flu ... I washed my hair Saturday night and I'm wearing makeup for the first time in 10 days!

The fact is I haven't given a flying flip about my hair since the Wednesday before last. Victoria Grace had been coughing a little, but at about 6:30 that morning it morphed into a gasping, croupy, scary sound. We took her to the Dr while grandma and Aunt Chris to Shelby to library story time. They prescribed a steroid (three doses - after she promptly vomited two doses we never tried the third).

A few days later, it got Shelby and I. Fever. Aches. Grumpy, whiney, snotty, coughing, messes with no appetites we three were. Shelby Hope's cough got so bad, and her breathing so wheezy, that last Monday former paramedic Daddy took her to the Dr. (after we had a minor fight about going to the ER at 2am). She tested positive for influenza A.

We discovered that the girls have inherited being an impatient patient from their momma, and that Tim has a secret superpower called not-getting-the-flu. Ok, really its Jesus. I'm not sure what we would have done without him.

No one has had fever in several days, but I wake up with sinuses pulsating and the worst headaches I've ever had. I finally had to risk taking a decongestant while breastfeeding and it seems to be going ok. Tori is finally starting to smile again, and I'll be so ecstatic when no one is coughing and our noses are clear and dry again!

I have a new appreciation for our little girls' health. And have renewed my prayers who have children who have chronic disease. I don't know how they do it. It must be God.

Sickness and disease should never strike innocent children and that's just another indication that this world is riddled with the consequences of sin, and that we belong Home with Him. I wish I knew better how to show others that. Dear friends who question God's goodness when so much awful happens here. Sin separates us, and this world, from God. There's one way back to Him. And one day all of this will be burned up. And I shall rejoice over the final death of the flu ... and cancer ... and diseased, misaligned genes ... and depression ... and I pray God makes me a better ambassador for our future Home with Him.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Exp-hair-iment: Day 33 and Ferber

You know you live in the country when you see large dark shapes in your yard at 1am and have the following discussion with your spouse:

W: There's something in the yard.
H: Probably deer.
W: No its too big!
H: A cow?
W: It looks more like a horse.

Turned out the neighbors semi-wild donkeys were out again and found our winter rye appealing.

Go away, that's for my future goats!!!
Day 33: I think it's about time to wash my hair tonight. But pulled back in a ponytail it isn't bad. It never looks that bad in the pictures I post, but I can see it is getting oily. Pretty amazing though that I've got from washing it every. single. day. to being able to say "Meh, I guess I should wash it tonight" after four or five days!
I dunno why I post the pictures anymore, but there ya be.
Victoria is on a roll! She is pulling up on everything. Yesterday at one of her naps I wasn't hearing much of anything then suddenly heard the "oh no I'm STUCK" type of crying. After running back to her room with visions of an arm or leg through the slats of the crib I was instead greeted with her standing next to the changing table portion of her crib holding on for dear life. She was stuck indeed!

Mmmmm, blanket!
She's growing up so fast. Though I looked back at pictures of Shelby at the same age - and they're really doing very similar things. But it always feels so much faster with Victoria.

We are doing Ferber faster. Much faster. A long time ago I promised to write about why I thought Shelby was suddenly taking real naps. For most of the first year beyond the very newborn portion of her life, Shelby did not. Would not. Could not. Not in a box, not with a fox, green-eggs-and-ham take a nap. Until after we "Ferberized" her.

What is "Ferberizing?" It is a "method" of sleep training based on the advice of Dr. Richard Ferber in Solve Your Child's Sleep Problems. I'm not going to write out the method. It is controversial, I am not  a Doctor of anything ... MD, PhD or otherwise, and I really think anyone who wants to know more about it should read the book. And this article where Dr. Ferber himself answers a few of the concerns about his "method." I'll go as far as to say it does involve some crying (though much to my surprise more with Shelby than with Victoria ... though Tori is louder) and is referred to as "progressive waiting."

Tori when I went to get her up at 8am after our first night
As a somewhat attachment parenting, crunchy type ... I put it off with Shelby as long as possible. I even brought her to our bed sometimes so mommy could sleep in a bit. Then I was pregnant with Victoria and Shelby had some kind of gastroenteritis for about a week. The three-and-a-half of us shared a bed, and not a one of us got any sleep. It was time to do something.

And it worked. Shelby quickly learned to put herself to sleep. I bet she MAYBE spent 45 minutes crying over the course of several days all added up. And she started taking an afternoon nap - which she does to this day.

So for our family, we feel a few nights of crying with intermittent reassurances that all is still right in your world in order to develop your own good sleep habits is far healthier than a dragged out struggle where we as parents try to coerce our independent girls into falling asleep the ways we try to show them. Not that we don't have a routine ... We most definitely have a bedtime routine. Shelby wouldn't let us miss a step ... including adding "when the sun comes up" to my "see you in the morning" if I forget to say it.

So after Tori stopped sleeping through the night and increasingly loathed being put into her crib in anything but the deepest sleep despite her unsettled slumber against her momma's weary and sagging shoulder ... We decided it was time. We held out on Shelby till 15 months.

It's never easy to hear your baby cry but being able to check and see that it was the angry crying out against change rather than pain or terror helped. She didn't even last more than 10 minutes per waking. She woke at all her favorite times ... 11:30, 1:15, 4:15 ... With some stirring around 6 ... but I fully expect even these to vanish. And I'll take a short albeit loud power struggle for 6-7 minutes over three restless hours together which neither mom nor babe seems to particularly enjoy.

In fact, I enjoy our deliberate cuddling much more than the late night codependent clinging where I wonder if either of us will learn to be well rested.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Exp-hair-iment: Days 24 through 32

I know, I'm behind ... Can I blame our internet? The tower I connect to is usually 4G but ever since we got back from visiting my family it has been E ... until today! Whew! The "hardships" of modern rural life.

Day 24/Dec 31: I kinda think the brush I got isn't real boar hair ... it gives me electrifying static. Oh well. For my hair length, it isn't as important. I've pretty much decided I'm not going for super long hair, but rather like this "just barely ponytail" length. It suits my face and my season of life. IE - princesses Grabby Hands and Sleepy Fingers.

Day 25/January 1: Happy new year! We did NOT make it to midnight, ha ha! Ah the life of parents of young children. I wouldn't trade it for anything! Nothing to note today.

Day 26/January 2: Getting a little oily but not out of control. Have I mentioned I'm glad I did this during the winter? Tori got two more teeth! Poor girl, no wonder she's not been sleeping well. I ended up using dry shampoo tonight. Tonight? I think it was tonight.

Day 27/January 3: We came home today, then went to Santa's Wonderland! It was really neat, Victoria was even able to enjoy it at  her young age! They blew "snow" which was some kind of soap (call me a Texan, but I thought it was still pretty magical). Though it did make me joke to Tim that it was undoing my no-pooing. Why yes, in case you didn't know I'm a big dork and make corny jokes. I'm afraid in our family instead of "bad dad jokes" it'll be "messed-up mom jokes." I actually am looking forward to that part of the teen years ... being the cause of the eye rolling instead of the one making them pop out of their sockets to be sure EVERYone notices how, like, LAME it all is.

Lights AND music? She's captivated


Day 28/January 4: I'm starting to think the dry shampoo just makes it look better. My scalp feels gritty and a little itchy. I think if I do use it, it will be just to get to the shower that given night. To which Tim said "Why do it then? Why not just go ahead and wash it?" Touche. Perhaps I am going too long between washes?

Day 29/January 5: Washed last night! Yay,  no more cinnagrit on my head. I left the baking soda on like so many do, but I think it dried my scalp a bit. I'll be rinsing it out right away next time.

Day one!

Day 30/January 6: Day two is just as nice as day one, though not quite as straight.

Day 31/January 7: Tori has so many teeth! And she's so happy! Though she is NOT sleeping well. She gets up in the middle of the night and is perfectly content ... if you hold her. Mommy is grumpy.

He he he - I'm keeping Mommy up but I'm so cute!

Day 32/January 8: I like my bun curls!
Day three after a not-poo
I should have blogged more often, I feel like I had thoughts but have forgotten them. But we're back at home and the cell tower is fixed (thank you AT&T ... the woman I spoke with at their customer service number was actually very nice and informative).

At some point well over a week ago I ditched my drying and unaffordable ProActiv and started using the "oil cleansing method." I have the argan oil for my hair already, so I used that. I remove my eye makeup (oil works well for that too, I've been using coconut - goodbye Ponds!) then massage it all over my face. Then I plop a hot wet washcloth on top and just bask in my own little mini-facial. When it starts to cool off, I use it to wipe my face gently. Then I splash on some cold water. So far so good! My face isn't as dry and tight feeling.

When we got home I tried a 50/50 mix of olive and castor oil, but started getting a bunch of bumps around my eyebrows and hairline, so I switched back to argan oil and they disappeared.

Ok, it has taken me most of the day to write this. I've started reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp so some of my precious free time is going to that. I'm sure I'll have lots more to say about that at some point. Right now I am digesting it a few pages at a time. She is splaying my heart open, but with poetry and grace. There is so much for me to process ... it is a meal for savoring.