It's been 15 weeks and five days since Liam was born - well beyond the expiration date for posting the average birth story - so it shouldn't surprise me that I've already lost a number of details I was so determined to hang on to regarding that day. And yet, it does. The name of this medication, the reason for that test, Liam's Apgar score - oh, shit, did I even ask about Liam's Apgar score? Whether I knew it then or not, it's definitely gone now. So understand this won't be a suspensful or even entirely accurate play-by-play of his arrival. Besides, scheduled c-sections by their very nature lack the unpredictability factor required for a nail-biting read. I didn't experience false labor, my water didn't break in Target, I wasn't at risk for giving birth in the backseat of my car. That said, no matter how routine it was or how many holes there are in my story, on June 29, Liam was born, and it was one of the best days of my life. It deserves to be celebrated.
Luke and I were late that morning, getting to the hospital. We woke up early enough to shower and finish packing - before five, I think, and we were due at St. Vincent's by 7:30 - but I couldn't get out the door. I kept finding things to do, all the while thinking, "This is the last time." Not that I wasn't going to rinse a dish or change a pull-up again, but you know what I mean. The last time.
We arrived on campus around 7:45. I spent most of the car ride e-mailing family and friends, including my boss and my CEO, whose own wife had given birth just three days earlier at the same hospital. When I shared that Luke and I were on our way to deliver Baby Brother, he joked, "I hope there'll be someone around to help you out!" After checking in at the front desk, I called Samantha, who was driving to Indy with my parents, to give her the latest update. Luke debated getting coffee but decided against it (silly man). I half-wondered if I'd be out of recovery in time to watch All My Children.
I remember waiting in triage with Luke, sending Tweets into Blogland. I used the bathroom twice, dreading the inevitable introduction of my catheter. The nurse inserted the hep lock for my IV and did a beautiful job. I saw my obstetrician. I tweeted some more.
I spoke to the anesthesiologist on call for my surgery, trying to figure out if he was present for Nathan's birth (he wasn't) and if there was something he could do to curb the crazy itching I would have in reaction to the morphine soon to be pumping through my veins (there was - administer less of it).
Luke couldn't join me until my spinal was in place. Had to keep busy somehow!
The first thing that struck me was the temperature of the room - cold, so very cold. There could have been icicles hanging from the ceiling and I wouldn't have been the least bit surprised. I was helped onto the operating table and waited while my medical team prepared for surgery. Lisa, my nurse, stayed by my side and outlined the process for administering the spinal. Arch back. Relax muscles. Keep very, VERY still.
Now, as long-time readers know, Liam was not my first c-section; all three of my kids were delivered under the knife. I should know the drill by now, yes? I was certainly on my game when Nathan was born; cracking jokes, following directions, and just plain making everyone's job easier because I was so excited to meet my baby. But this time, despite my best efforts, my body wouldn't comply. I couldn't stop shaking, my shoulders wouldn't unclench, and then, suddenly, I was crying. Bawling, actually. It was almost embarrassing, the jaggedness of my breaths and intensity of my sobs.
Everyone in the room was so kind and did their best to help me calm down. "It's so cold," I kept telling Lisa, and, "I'm sorry."
Eventually, with some deep breathing, I was able to control myself long enough for the anesthesiologist to inject the medicine into my spine, and soon I was laying down on the table, arms extended Jesus-style, and feeling a warm sensation run through me as the anesthesia began to take effect. After performing the standard pin-prick to make sure I was completely numb, the anesthesiologist went on to explain that he gave me a little less Dura*morph (aka morphine) to combat the itching and paired it with another drug (Tora*dol, maybe?). He told me to let him know if I started feeling any pain or discomfort any where, any time.
I was fitted with a nasal oxygen mask as a precaution, and then Luke was at my side. By that time I was so anxious all I could do was cry again. "She's a little emotional," Lisa told him as he wiped my tears away. He was nervous, too.
We didn't talk much. Luke rubbed my head while I focused on my breathing. I was so tired.
Luckily, it wasn't long before those pulling and tugging sensations I was so familiar with from Kara and Nathan were happening, and at 9:48 a.m., the room exploded with the most beautiful sound of my life: my newborn baby's cry.
"He's okay, right? He's okay?" I asked, nearly choking on my tears.
He was okay. All nine pounds, eight ounces, and 22 inches of him. The medical staff was impressed.
Luke went over to the baby while they cleaned him up and the doctor continued on with her business. The anesthesiologist was checking on me constantly, which I was glad about, because this c-section was so different from my other two. More discomfort than I was used to, overall, in addition to taking longer. There was also a sharp pain in my right shoulder that the doctor said was normal. It was hard to take deep breaths sometimes.
My boy was brought to me once for a quick snuggle and kiss while my OB/GYN closed me up. "What's his name?" Lisa asked. I turned my head towards Luke. We'd been waffling over two choices for the last few weeks. The only thing we'd decided on were Baby Brother's initials - LBD, just like his daddy. This was the first time we didn't have a name immediately at the ready. "We're not sure yet," he said.
Before I left the O.R., my legs were wrapped in sequential compression devices (SCDs) to help avoid clotting after surgery, since it would be about a day before I attempted walking again. Once they were finished, the baby was nestled into the crook of my arm, and we were wheeled off to recovery.
Surprise! The happiest moments are not always the most photogenic.
Once in recovery, it was just Luke, me, the baby, and my nurse - my family was still en route to Indy, and Molly, the only other person I would have wanted in the room - was at home watching my other two kids (along with hers. God bless you, friend). It felt so good to have all that weight removed from my uterus, and so wonderful to hold him, that I didn't have a care in the world. My nurse was concerned, though, because my temperature had dropped, so I was covered with an air blanket for more than an hour to bring it back up.
It also took about that long to settle on a name. Our contenders were Linus Brendan and Liam Benjamin. We thought about Linus Benjamin, but people. We are only one year out from LOST. The world is not yet ready.
We loved the uniqueness of Linus but worried my Chicago Southsider parents would label it yuppy or too "out there." Plus, I have a weird thing about having at least one "a" in my kids' first names. We loved the simplicity of Liam, and it had actually been on our short list for Nathan, but.... But....
"Honestly, I could go either way," Luke said, each time I asked his opinion. "He can be whatever you want."
Eventually, we ran out of butts.
"He looks like a Liam," I finally decided. "Liam feels good."
Welcome to the world, baby Liam.
It was around one o'clock that Luke, Liam, and I were brought to our room (and yes, I did catch a little AMC). Samantha, my parents, Molly, and all the kids showed up around three-thirty.
Kara and Nathan showed a lot of interest in Liam when they first arrived, but after the first ten minutes or so they were distracted by all the other people in the room. They would make their way over to me a lot, though, when Liam wasn't with me. I don't think the visit lasted longer than an hour, which was fine by me because I was still so tired, and crying on and off, too.
There is a special place in Heaven for this woman, who stayed with my children and hers starting Tuesday night and lasting until Friday afternoon.
Samantha's made it to the hospital on the day of every one of my children's births, despite her hectic life and the long drive. She and Molly, who is equally busy, are the only people who can say that. Amazing.
This was the first time my parents were there. When I found out we were pregnant again, it was one of the first requests I made of them, to come see us in Indy and meet the baby and not wait until we made the trip to Chicago. I'm so happy they did. Luke's parents would have been there as well, like they were for Kara and Nathan, except they were in Wales on a trip that had been planned long before we learned about Liam. Thank goodness for Facebook.
Then, soon, it was just us again.
Our pospartum time in the hospital was the best of all three experiences. I was using the bathroom and walking the day after surgery, Liam nursed well, and I was getting more sleep than I expected. We had lots of visitors, but usually they didn't stay that long, which fed my conflicting needs for company and solitude nicely. With the introduction of the SCDs, I felt like I had more "stuff" constraining me this time around, but my IV hep lock was removed more quickly this time than with Kara or Nathan, and my pain med cocktail was working well, though I did have a lot of gastrointestinal issues. Weeks later I was still having pain in my abdomen, a lingering byproduct of all that gas.
As much as I enjoyed the "free" hospital food and chance to rest up, though, I missed my babies and was eager to get on with the regular course of life. I made sure my OB, nurses, and pediatrician knew of my goal to be discharged after two days instead of three and worked hard to meet all of the standard milestones. Luckily, Liam was healthy and I was progressing well, though my ped was (appropriately) concerned that I might be overdoing it. He knew I was experiencing more pain with this c-section. But I wanted to be home. So on Friday, July 1, we dressed Liam in his going-home onesie, and home we went.
In the three and a half months that Liam's been with us, to say that Luke and I have been overwhelmed at times is an understatement. There just aren't enough hands to get everything done that needs to be done. My bathrooms have never gone this long between cleans; getting a decent night's sleep has never felt more primal. And with a longer work commute and increased responsibilities (and costs!) of raising toddlers who are fast growing into full-fledged children, sometimes all I can do at the end of a day is stick my hand in the cookie jar and collapse in front of the TV. Not exactly how I want to spend my time long-term.
We couldn't be happier.
Indianapolis started school almost a month ago, but for the Frema-Useless Clutter household, we are just now closing our chapter on the season that is summer.
Nathan started his parents' day out program yesterday. He was so excited about it that he ran into the classroom ("Terrific Twos!") before Luke and I could hug him good-bye. As it should be, even if it did stab my heart a little.
Kara would have started along with him in the Thriving Threes and Fours group as was planned earlier in the spring except that Luke and I decided to mix things up at the last minute in light of my recent pay increase and upgraded her registration to preschool. Compared to others, her classroom time seems relatively light at just two afternoons a week, but for us it is the perfect amount of exposure to new concepts and reinforcement of what she's already mastered at home. She's even completed her first homework assignment, doled out at last Thursday's open house, if you call cutting up magazines for an "All About Me" poster homework, which I totally do, because hello, the girl's only three. Her first session was today.
Meanwhile, the newest addition to our family turned 10 weeks old this morning. He continues to delight everyone in the house with his smiles, coos, and poops. He isn't sleeping through the night yet, but he does pull some seriously long stretches from mid-evening to early morning. Now if only his stupid parents would use this time to sleep instead of watching Friends reruns and loading the dishwasher.
As for me? Well, today was my last day of maternity leave.
What to say about these last ten weeks? It's been amazing, relishing in newbornhood one more time, and spending days upon days clocking hours of snuggle time in our glider, building robots out of Legos, playing catch up with Pixar, and overall just enjoying my babies. They are all such funny little people, so smart and charming, and Kara and Nathan were so patient with me during my pregnancy with Liam. They deserved this time to bond with me, too, to get caught in the rain with me at the zoo, to have me drive them to and from tumbling class, to share a blueberry muffin with me at Starbucks after a random trip to Target. I was introduced to Mater and Ladybug Girl and Yo Gabba Gabba!, and they were reminded that their mother is capable of doing more than visiting the doctor and sleeping on the couch. It's hard for them sometimes, watching me with Liam when they'd rather have me for themselves, but these growing pains will become easier to handle as he gets older, and they pale in comparison to how much fun we have when we're all together.
I think everything is ready for tomorrow: outfit ironed, lunch packed, professional shots of Liam ready to be added to my desk. I've got a fresh hair cut, new purse, and filed nails. I'll certainly look ready to be back at work, even if the pit in my stomach indicates otherwise.
Having pushed through this hurdle twice now, I know in the end it'll be okay. I work with wonderful people who will help me transition back to office life, and the kids couldn't be in better hands with Luke. Good things are ahead of us. I just wish time could've stopped a little bit longer.
Liam turned seven weeks old a few days ago, and when I compare where we are now to where we were at this point with Kara and Nathan, I almost can't believe it.
For one thing, of my three maternity leaves, this one has definitely been the most active. I've brought the baby to work and met coworkers for coffee and lunch twice; scheduled several playdates with friends; went with the entire family to our local Children's Museum (and finally secured our membership); took the toddlers to a splash park and numerous trips to Target; and saw the doctor (OB/GYN, dentist, and pediatrician) more times than I care to count. We drove to Chicago and northwest Indiana last weekend to attend my nephew's third birthday party and spent two nights away from home, Liam just six weeks old - the earliest we've ever traveled with a newborn.
Walking with Grandpa
Cuddling with Auntie Samantha
Mugging with Uncle Geo
Another first: exercise. I didn't work out at all after Kara, and Nathan was five or six months old when I welcomed The 30-Day Shred into my life, but this time around, I started exercising in the same week I was cleared to do so. Two Jillian Michaels DVDs and a couple of easy runs totaling about a mile each. There were times during each of the videos where I found myself flopping around like a fish, and I think a snail passed me on the trail yesterday, but still. For my physical health and mental sanity, I am making fitness a priority, and DAMN, does it feel good.
It helps that Liam is such an easy-going baby, save for some recent episodes of evening-time grumpiness. He is cooing and smiling and most often content so long as he is snuggled in your arms, which I am happy to oblige, even though my floors need mopping and phone calls need returning and hey, the checkbook isn't going to balance itself. I start back at the office the Wednesday after Labor Day (on a somewhat reduced schedule, thank goodness), and that familiar Oh my God, I'm going back to work dread has already started creeping in, reminding me how important it is to savor this time while I still can.
Last August, I felt trapped in my own life. I loved my husband and children beyond measure, but our future was blurred, seemingly without direction, and I had no idea how to best move us forward. I missed my extended family something fierce and cursed the miles between us. My writing goals were drastically changing shape but equally undefined. I struggled to make peace with not having any more babies, and Luke and I were in the worst financial shape of our marriage, having first fallen into the trap of paying everything by credit card, then depending on quarterly bonuses to catch up on bills, and fnally spending more each month than we brought in.
I became insanely jealous of those who seemed to have it all figured out, and I couldn't stop comparing our situation to others with similar demographics. I found myself asking, "Is this all there is for us? Is this the best that life can be?"
Thankfully, the answer was a resounding NO.
I still don't have all the answers, and our path isn't completely clear, but for the first time in years, I can finally see its shape.
What a difference a year makes.
Six weeks and six days ago, I had a baby. Here he is.
The Beach Boys and hottie John Stamos aren't the only ones who want to go to Kokomo.
At six weeks and six days, Liam:
Harbored behind those bright blue eyes and chipmunk cheeks is an ocean of wisdom.
Meanwhile, this is me.
At six weeks and six days postpartum, I:
Let me explain.
Early on in my second trimester, I was diagnosed with having diastasis recti - the separation of your abdominal muscles into left and right halves. It felt like a pretty big deal at the time, as I cried out in pain whenever someone so much as brushed against my stomach, but by my third trimester, the discomfort was gone and I assumed I was out of the woods. Prior to my c-section, though, my OB/GYN promised to be mindful of my abdominal area and do what she could to tighten things up during surgery, if such tightening were necessary.
The first few weeks after Liam was born, I was in such hell from my c-section and then so focused on recovering that I didn't think much about the diastasis recti, until a fellow Hoosier blogger posted about her own dance with the condition. I wasn't feeling any of the pain Casey talked about, but my stomach protruded in a similar fashion, albeit saddled with eight extra tons of Frema flab. Now, I've never rocked a six-pack, or even a one-pack for that matter, but maybe at least some of the flab could be attributed to this? I decided to ask my doctor about it at my six-week check-up.
The exam itself went great. Incision healed, vitals normal, birth control taken care of (thanks again, honey), physical activity approved.... All good news. Then I brought up the diastasis recti and waited to hear the recommended course of treatment. Ab splint? Physical therapy? Whatever it is, I said, I would do it. Bring it on.
My OB/GYN was silent as she rested her hand slightly below my breasts.
(Get your mind out of the gutter, you.)
"There's still a slight separation I can feel right here," she explained, her hand still in place, "but most of what we're dealing with is stretched out skin."
Hmm. Not exactly the verdict I was hoping for. "Since I'm cleared for exercise, would that do anything for me?"
She tilted her head as she considered the question. "It could help some, but typically excess skin, once it's there, doesn't go away without surgery."
Enter abdominoplasty/tummy tuck conversation here.
Before you start railing on my doctor, please note that she did not in any way, shape, or form suggest that I need to have this done. If you had been a fly on the wall for my entire check-up, it would have been obvious to you that the thought of carrying around this amount of skin for the rest of my life made me more than a little uncomfortable. She also went on to say that during my c-section, she added some extra stitches to tighten things up around my abdomen and pointed out that internally I am not completely healed. "It's too soon to make any decisions right now. See what you can do with diet and exercise, and after some time, if it still bothers you, I can give you a referral for a plastic surgeon, and you can schedule a consult to get more information."
So, there you have it. One more bullet point to add to my list of "Things I Used to Scoff At Before I Became a Mother."
Seriously, though, I'm not sure what to think. On one hand, even before having kids, I've always had a bit of a belly overhang that kept me from effortlessly shopping for clothes, being naked in front of other people, and having sex without feeling at least a little self-conscious. After Kara, that bit of overhang turned into a tire gut, and after Nathan, graduated to the dreaded "mother's apron" (a term I just today learned from Shape of a Mother, thank you very much), and now? Well, let's just say even the worst "Before" pictures on Wikipedia's abdominoplasty page don't do my midsection justice. Yet, all this time, I've never before entertained the idea of having it surgically removed. Girl power, love yourself and all that jazz. And now as a parent, in particular a mom to a daughter, I worry about the kind of message I would be sending about self-love and acceptance by submitting myself to unnecessary plastic surgery. How can I encourage Kara to embrace who she is, AS she is, if I'm having my own imperfections hacked off with a scalpel?
On the other hand, it's not as if I'm in danger of becoming the next Heidi Montag. Overall I quite like my body and thank God for all it's been able to do, including but not limited to carrying three healthy babies and running a half-marathon. I have no problems walking out of the house sans make-up, even to work, and I can take or leave coloring my hair. Getting a tummy tuck would be a specific answer to a specific problem that's frustrated me for years. And unless I changed my zero-tolerance policy on bikinis and tube tops, the only person besides me who would even notice the end result is Luke. Which is fine by me, since I would only be doing it for me.
As for Kara and the boys? Well, I may be relatively new to parenting, but even I know enough to appreciate that this one choice wouldn't negate years of consistent teaching and role modeling when it comes to loving yourself as you are. Plus, while I believe in the importance of self-acceptance, I also support making your own happiness and not closing a door out of fear for what others might think.
On the other OTHER hand, cosmetic surgery is not something to be taken lightly, and after three c-sections, going under the knife a fourth time to basically improve my self-esteem hardly sounds appealing. Also, I'm nowhere near convinced that the benefits outweigh the risks when I've barely scratched the surface when it comes to improving my commitment to physical fitness. I may never eliminate my gut entirely that way, but who knows? I might come close, all on my own, and that may be enough.
Also, dudes. Tummy tucks? Not cheap. Even if I was resigned to having it done, we couldn't afford it until Luke was back at work, which could be another five years away, and even then I'd have a hard time justifying the cost when the money could be deposited into one of our retirement accounts.
Maybe one day Liam would take pity on me and HE'D pay for the surgery. We could call it the Mother's Day gift that keeps on giving. You think?
Luckily, this is not a decision I have to make (or can afford to make!) tomorrow. What I can do is run over to Wal-Mart, pick up a new Jillian Michaels video, and draw inspiration from one Marty McFly: "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything."
* ETA because I didn't even think about the title indicating that this might be a sleep entry.
Four weeks ago yesterday, at 9:48 a.m., the last child I will ever carry (that is, unless Luke is fatally injured, I meet Joshua Jackson, and he requires biological offspring in lieu of a marriage prenup) was strategically evicted from my uterus. Only it doesn't feel like four weeks ago, more like an eternity, because it's already that difficult to imagine what life was like without Liam.
Fortunately and unfortunately, the biggest hurdle to overcome thus far has been my own physical recovery. There's some persistent fluid build-up causing tenderness in my abdominal area, tenderness that until a few days ago inspired mild nausea whenever anyone came into contact with my stomach, and my tire gut contributed to bacterial and fungal infections around my incision that interfered with the normal healing process. Apparently, all that extra skin (sexy!) worked against me when it came to keeping the scar dry, turning the whole area into a red, blotchy mess. I've been to my ob/gyn's office twice since coming home from the hospital, with another follow-up slated for today.
Luckily, an elaborate ritual involving cotton balls, hydrogen peroxide, MY FRIGGING BLOW DRYER, anti-fungal powder, and hospital-grade gauze applied twice a day for the last week has resulted in me finally feeling like myself again, my personal best, even, since before the onset of my first trimester morning sickness. I'm feeling so good, in fact, that I also have two full days of meds-free living under my belt, with not so much as an over-the-counter pill in my system. Hooray for me, and also, IT'S ABOUT DAMN TIME.
It's only because I'm doing so well I can admit that in those first few weeks, all that unresolved pain paired with the traditional complications from this type of surgery seriously impacted my ability to function. What I said about mornings being a cherished part of my routine in my last post was true, but it's also true that they were the hardest part of my day. I posted a lot of jokes on Facebook about my A.M. coffee intake, but truly, I was no good to anyone until half-way to lunch, even though Luke and I shared night duty for Liam, and even though Luke continued to get up with Kara and Nathan just as he does when I'm working so that I could go back to bed for another couple of hours while Liam dozed after his first morning bottle.
For so long I was embarrassed about this, would apologize to my husband for having to pick up my slack, and felt like less of a mother because I couldn't push through my own issues to be fully present for ALL the members of my family. It wasn't like I was completely detached from daily living, but oftentimes even simple tasks such as giving a bath or unloading the dishwasher put too much strain on my body, so that I couldn't do more than a couple of things like that in a 24-hour time span. Now that my infections are just about healed and my overall pain has been downgraded to annoying at best, all I can do is recognize that I'm not Wonder Woman, acknowledge that I needed help - a lot of help - to get back on my feet, and thank my lucky stars Luke was around to give it to me. His being the at-home parent in our relationship allowed Kara and Nathan to get the care and attention they needed and enabled me to focus on bonding with Liam and getting better. I'm not proud of how often I fell short, but I can forgive myself for it and move on.
And yet, even in those early weeks when I would cry over not being the wife and mother I wanted to be, I was still in much better shape mentally then I was after having Kara, as I learned how to integrate the role of mother into my life, and after Nathan, born not fourteen months after his sister, who was still just a baby herself. This time around, there was no veil of self-doubt, no wavering in making decisions that were best for my family. I was still able to embrace each day for the gift it was, laugh through the building of Lego towers with my toddlers, and appreciate every hour of snuggle time with my new baby.
I keep comparing this maternity leave to Kara's and Nathan's, and each time, I realize how far I've come since then. This is the first time I've been able to bring home a child and hold onto the best, most confident parts of myself. I am so grateful for that. This focus and sense of peace I've discovered since Liam was born, it's such a blessing.
Speaking of Liam, he continues to knock our socks off. He's finally "woken up," so to speak, and joined the world of the living in that he isn't sleeping twenty hours a day anymore; he has fussy periods in the morning and evening hours, but they are not unbearable or even a surprise, given his age. At last Friday's weight check, he clocked in at a whopping 10 pounds and 3 ounces. Two days later, he rolled over for the first time. He enchants us all with gassy smiles, wide eyes, and pursed lips. Poor thing still has traces of Kara's and Nathan's cold, and it appears that we are dealing with a clogged tear duct in his right eye, but again, nothing unbearable. I can't believe how lucky we are to have him, or that I owe his existence to a bottle of red from Walmart. Miracles, though, aren't picky.
As for me, I am good, so very, very good, if not a little stir-crazy from mostly hanging out indoors, partly due to the above-mentioned ailments and partly from the Midwest's record-breaking humidity. I've generated a few unexpected bills since my leave began (damn crown, breaking off two days after coming home from the hospital!), and since we had to deplete a lot of our savings before Liam's birth for a variety of reasons, I have decided to return to work two weeks early so we can avoid financial strain. This puts me back in the office the week of Labor Day instead of late September.
In the past, the very thought of this scenario would have reduced me to a weepy puddle of WAAAH, but I'm okay with this decision, too. I'm not wishing my time away with my family by any means, but there is a piece of me that's eager to embrace our new normal, and that new normal includes me going back to work. Plus, there is so much for us to do now that Liam is here; prepare to put our house on the market, for one. Pay off our credit card debt (and new array of medical bills) once and for all. Start tending to my professional network again. In other words, make our dreams come true.
I am so ready.
These days, mornings are a cherished part of my routine. For one thing, there is coffee, something I didn't miss much during my pregnancy but has quickly become an invaluable commodity since Liam's birth. Second, I'm fresh from at least a few consecutive hours of sleep. And finally, there are all the positive feelings associated with the promise of a new day.
I'm very aware that I could jinx our good fortune by speaking this out loud, but Liam continues to be the most easy-going newborn Luke and I have parented. Despite all the pictures we have of his bright baby blues, the boy sleeps ALL. THE. TIME., usually only waking to eat or poop or make funny faces at his brother and sister. He is especially fond of sleeping on my chest, so that's how I spend a lot of my day. It is exactly what I wanted for this maternity leave, this unfettered snuggle time with him.
Everything else is okay. C-section recovery is still slow; I run out of happy pills today, and I have to figure out if I want to call my OB for more or figure out a lesser way to handle my pain. I never came to this point with Kara or Nathan - possibly needing more drugs than originally prescribed - so I can only assume opening up a twice-healed abdominal scar one last time would of course produce some unanticipated physical effects.
It doesn't help that I've been on my feet more this time around, but with two toddlers craving activity and attention from a mother who is now home 24/7, sometimes there isn't a choice. I'm so excited for us to start having our adventures, and it already feels like time is flying by so fast, but Luke keeps reminding me there are many good days ahead of us and that I'm not doing myself any favors by taking shortcuts around my recovery. Sound advice, but hard to follow nonetheless.
Here is my last belly shot with Liam from June 28, at the start of week 39, twenty-four hours before Baby Day. Already, it feels like this shot was taken forever ago, and that Liam's been with us for so much longer than one day shy of two weeks. Luke and I were talking last night about how we each feel differently, now being parents to three children, but it's hard to articulate why. For me, there is a feeling of completeness I've never known before, a confidence that I am on the right path, and a sense of peace in knowing that all the right puzzle pieces are finally in place. Liam's arrival has also increased my capacity to love all the members of my sweet little family, as well as my desire to do right by them, and myself.
I don't know what the future holds for us, but I'm eager to take it all on. Nothing feels impossible.
A week ago yesterday, I gave birth to Liam. And in this past week, I have dealt with two sick toddlers, 48 hours worth of c-section recovery without the aid of narcotics, and nursing difficulties that once again rocked me to my core.
On the surface, it all sounds pretty craptastic. Yet, that isn't the case at all (mostly - Kara and Nathan's colds weren't fun for anyone).
I've given myself 20 minutes to post, so most of the bloggy goodness will be shared over time, but here is what I feel compelled to share at this particular moment about having three children - or, more directly, three c-sections.
RATION THY NARCOTICS.
In the hospital, I was taking two capsules of my OB/GYN's drug of choice every four hours; as a result, I was feeling well enough to shower, meander through my corridor, receive visitors with a smile (if not without bloated ankles and droopy eyes), and leave within two days of surgery, which became a primary goal the minute Liam was out and we were both deemed healthy. Because I was afraid of losing my post-partum high, I continued this regimen once I returned home, which meant by Monday morning, I was out of meds. No worries, I thought. I have one refill. I'll just refill it! So imagine my surprise when, after Luke called in the prescription, the pharmacy's auto robot denied my request because it was too soon to have depleted my supply.
(Are you imagining that scene from Wayne's World where Mike Myers walks into the guitar store and sees the "No Stairway" sign over his favorite piece? If you weren't, you totally are now, aren't you?)
The bottle said I could take one to two pills every four to six hours, so I didn't see anything wrong with following the maximum dosing schedule. Apparently, though, the on-call OB/GYN who released me did. Which meant that entire Monday all I could depend on for relief was Al*eve and Ty*lenol.
Tuesday came, but I was afraid to call in again because what if the pharmacy's auto robot was keeping track of this and thought my profile matched that of a bonafide street addict?
Monday and Tuesday were not good days.
Luckily, then came Wednesday, and I was brave enough to call again, and the gods were smiling upon me, because I received another dose of happy pills. Of which I am now taking one, every six hours, and am no worse for the wear.
If they don't want you to take two pills every four hours, they really should just make that clear on the damn bottle.
I'm very sorry for wasting so much of your time with my pill-popping story, but this is an issue that quickly became very important to me, so I would like to spare all of you similar pain if I can. You are welcome.
Okay, okay, more pictures.
Kara is in love with Liam and constantly refers to him as "my baby." She can't help herself from kissing his hands, feet, cheeks, head, etc. Luckily, her fever/cold is just about gone, so I should be able to allow her to make contact with his sweet little face again.
Nathan, poor thing, took the brunt of the summer cold this time around, but is thankfully now on the mend. He loves his baby brother just as much as Kara does, and they are equally concerned for his general welfare. Whenever he wakes up or cries or does anything even remotely resembling an awake human being, they immediately start shouting, "Mommy! Daddy! The baby NEEDS you!" until Luke or I stop what we are doing and tend to whatever the issue is requiring attention.
They've said some pretty funny things about Liam, too. I wish I could remember them all, but here's a sample.
Kara: (after staring at him intensely) Is Liam creepy?
Nathan: (after waking up and finding the two of us on the couch) Oh, Mommy! The baby is still here!
I have passed my 20 minutes, but there is one more thing I wanted to share before signing off. Mainly because I don't plan on talking about it in-depth and prefer that it not turn into an "Is she or isn't she?" lingering kind of issue.
I am no longer nursing.
I did it while I was in the hospital, and I'm glad I did, and continued a bit when I got home, but that first night was extremely difficult, and I quickly realized what I personally would need to do to make it work for my entire family. In the end, I decided it was not my path. So Liam is now formula fed, and I am at peace with it. So, if anybody would like a half-used box of Mother's Milk tea and a completely new bottle of fenugreek for their upcoming breastfeeding needs, just let me know.
Alright, fine, one more picture.
I am seriously over my time limit here, but how can I let you go without telling you how amazing this baby is? Because he is. Everything about Liam is wonderful, from his Danny DeVito hairline to his piano-player fingers, from his bright blue eyes to his ruby-red lips. Right now we are in the honeymoon phase that is the first week, during which they sleep almost ninety percent of the time and therefore trick you into thinking they are absolute angels and that their agreeableness is the result of your mad parenting skillz, and then somewhere between weeks two and three they wake up for longer than 90 minutes at a time and trick you into thinking you don't know anything at all. So I very well could be pulling my hair out seven days from now over the latest development of his personality. But right now I am grateful that he eats, pees, and poops well and is content to sleep almost anywhere and takes all the poking and proding from his older siblings in stride. Also, that he is a happy, snuggly baby, a miracle baby that I am so, so grateful for.
The five of us, we are going to be unstoppable.