Sunday, August 16, 2015

Now a Family of Four

Lydia Grace was born July 7, 2015 at 12:52 PM, 6 pounds 10 ounces and 20 inches of perfection. I knew she was going to be beautiful, but I never could’ve imagined she'd be so perfect and breathtaking. I am smitten over and over, every time I look at her.

I feel so humbled—and a little ashamed to think of how much I worried all those months—but I know how often things can go wrong, too, so I’m extremely grateful that she’s here, safe and healthy, and honestly…just…perfect. I know you think I’m biased, so pardon my gushing. But Lydia is just the sweetest, calmest baby, and at the same time so interested in everything and everyone around her. She’s quite the overachiever—sleeping 5 or 6 hours at night already and putting on the loveliest thigh rolls you've ever seen. At just 4 weeks old she started to smile and coo, and she loves to lie on the floor and watch her brother Caleb play.

Caleb loves her, too, and he’s already very protective; whenever she starts to cry he says, “Lydia crying!” and tries to soothe her, and whenever we get out of the car he points to her and says “Baby! Baby!” to remind us not to leave without her. Of course, that would be impossible, since any time she’s in her car seat she’s screaming like the world’s ending. It’s the only time she’s really unhappy.

And like any almost-2-year-old, Caleb can be too rough with her sometimes, so he’s had to go to time-out a few times for not listening, but he’s learning to be more careful. Seeing how much they love each other already though (almost to death in Lydia’s case…), I could see these two being the best of friends when Lydia gets a little older.
Me—I feel absolutely amazing. I think I have the opposite of postpartum depression…postpartum exuberance? It was the same way with Caleb. While I’m pregnant, I’m anxious and moody, but once that baby’s here, I’m on a natural high for weeks. Maybe it’s just adrenaline, but there’s nothing like having a new baby to get me excited about cleaning. And I don’t even like cleaning (for the record, I still hate doing dishes). Weird, huh?

In reality, I’d like to be water skiing or hiking, but nursing a newborn means I'm glued to the couch a good part of the day, so I have to do something with all that extra energy. Of course, I put plenty of energy toward snuggling my little girl, not to mention playing with my high-energy little boy whenever she happens to be sleeping. Give me a couple more weeks (or a couple more kids) and it will all catch up to me, I'm sure.

It's definitely a lot more work being a family of four. Sometimes Ben or I will say something about "the kids," and we'll look at each other like, "The kids? How did that happen?" I mean, we know how it happened, but it still blows our minds every time we hoist the double-stroller into the van or change 5 diapers during the 3 hours we're at church.    

Still, I never could’ve imagined how much I would enjoy being a mom, just like I never could’ve imagined how perfect Lydia would be, or how much I could love her so completely in an instant. When you’re childless, you hear so many times how demanding and exhausting and frustrating motherhood can be, but you don’t always hear how wonderful it is. It’s so wonderful to hold two little kids in my arms, and to watch them learn new things every day, to read with them and to take them to park just because we love to be outside and there's nowhere else in the world we have to be. There just aren’t even words.

And so that’s why we take pictures. Thank you, Jessica Southfield, for capturing our joy! We're having the time of our lives as a family of four.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Our Family of Three (for one more day!)

Well folks, we are ready to have this baby on Tuesday! Nana is here, I stocked my freezer with casseroles and crockpot dinners, the house is (pretty) clean, and the nursery finally came actually turned out even prettier than I’d pictured, although my photography skills don't do it justice.

So quick, before I pop, here’s an update on our family of three, soon to be four. We had family photos taken a few weeks ago, and I really love these shots of Caleb.

Caleb is now almost 20 months old, but he has the vocabulary of a 3 year old. Unlike his mom, this kid is quite a talker! I made list of all the words he uses (uses, not imitates) so I can look back on it later...I’m sure I missed a few, though.

Berries (“Bees”)
“There We Go”
Thank You
Ellie (our cat)

All Done
A, B, C, etc. (knows letters)
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 (counts)

Trampoline (“Leen”)
My Room
Baby Sister
Papa (Grandpa)
Nana (Grandma)
I Love You
Caleb also loves to run, jump, dance, play ball with Daddy, follow Daddy around, help Daddy, go on walks with Daddy, snuggle with Daddy, read books with Daddy, and do almost anything that involves Daddy. He’s lost interest in Mommy lately, but that’s okay...that may change once he has to share me with a baby sister!

Caleb knows where his baby sister is--he pats my belly if you ask--he gives my belly kisses, and he loves to cuddle and carry around his baby doll (we got it for him to “practice” with). I don’t think he knows what a baby sister is really all about, though--crying, waking everybody up at night, taking away Mom and Dad’s attention, getting him in trouble when he’s just trying to “play” or “share.” It’s going to be an adjustment for all of us, I’m sure, but I think he’ll make such a sweet big brother.

Ben’s already had some adjusting to do, though, since he’s now managing the pharmacy he’s been working at since February. There was some turnover at his company, and so along with managing, he’s been working longer hours and spending more nights and weekends on call. I’m really proud of how hard he works, and he’s been doing a great job running everything. Plus, he’s been hiring and training new staff, so his schedule is a little less hectic now. Thankfully, he has enough help to take this week off for our baby girl’s arrival.

Me--I’m just very pregnant and very ready to have this baby! 

39 weeks

She dropped a few weeks ago, and so getting around has been more difficult. I’m a little surprised she didn’t come early, and I’m still a little nervous, but I’m ready to hold her, to see her and know she’s going to be okay. She’s going to be beautiful. I love her already and I can’t wait for her to be part of our family--to be a family of four.

A family of four...doesn’t that sound crazy, thinking how just two and a half years ago we weren’t sure if we’d ever bring children into this world? It’s still hard to believe it’s real, even with all the back pain and contractions these last few weeks to remind me just how real it is and how our lives are going to change any day now. We’re going to have a new baby again--a little less sleep, but a little more love! And new stories and family photos to share. What could be more exciting? So say a little prayer and wish us luck...ready or not, here she comes.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Pregnancy: This Time Around

Wow. Today I’m 29 weeks pregnant--in my final trimester--with less than three months to go until our baby girl arrives in July. I’m absolutely thrilled, but still somewhat in disbelief. With Caleb, we’d waited so long to become parents, it was almost as if we’d been “expecting” him for years.

But this was a complete surprise. I never could’ve imagined or expected such a miracle. It’s almost too good to be true--I even feel guilty, because I know so many people still waiting for their miracle. Isn’t it their turn?

I don’t know why this second miracle pregnancy happened so quickly, but this little girl must be meant for our family right now, and so many things have fallen into place--my health, great doctors, our financial situation (thanks also to Ben graduating and years of working and saving)--to make it possible. It’s all through the hand of God, and we’re in absolute awe.

I know well enough that not all pregnancies end with healthy babies. I’ve lost three. But just like I did with Caleb, I’ve tried not to fear what I can’t control and instead trust in God’s plan. Every day and week and month that this baby continues to grow inside of me is a miracle and a gift.

Now that I’m in my last trimester, it’s all becoming real, even if it still feels too good to be true, and it’s time to get ready for this little girl. It’s as terrifying as it is exciting.

One thing I feel like I need to “check off my list” is to share some memories from this pregnancy to look back on later. I’m so glad I did this with my pregnancy with Caleb; I’ve loved going back and reading about all those new, exciting, and scary first-time feelings. You can read about my pregnancy with Caleb here.

Finding Out We Were Expecting Again

Funny, NO ONE kept calm.
The moment we found out we were expecting another baby was that magical moment I dreamed about so many times, after tossing so many negative pregnancy tests in the trash over those first 5 years of our marriage. With Caleb, I found out by myself in a doctor’s office, and I thought it meant I was having another miscarriage, so it wasn’t the happiest moment.

All those years I’d imagined getting that positive test at home, running and shouting for Ben, then hugging and crying and laughing with excitement. And that’s just how it happened this time, except Caleb was in the middle of all the hugging and laughing and crying. It was completely unexpected and absolutely beautiful.

It’s Different This Time Around

Not surprisingly, this pregnancy has been very different from my pregnancy with Caleb. Mainly, it’s not as relaxing or enjoyable, even as exciting as it is. I’m putting so much energy every day into chasing and playing with and taking care of my little boy, it’s hard to feel like I’m taking care of my little girl and myself the way I was able to with Caleb. I know this is only a glimpse of what it will be like once she arrives, so it’s good to start learning that balance, but it’s definitely more stressful than my pregnancy with Caleb.

The upside is that I was much less nauseous with this pregnancy. I threw up only a few times the entire first trimester, while with Caleb I was throwing up a few times a day. It was miserable and I could barely function, but this time around I could keep most food down, and we only ran out of clean underwear a couple times. It wasn’t too bad, but I was definitely glad when it was over.

Our sweet little babe at 12 weeks

My little bump at 14 weeks

It’s A Girl!

Again, I know every pregnancy is different, but there were some early signs that this one might be a girl: I was emotional and moody, breaking out like in high school, and craving sugar cookies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (I don’t even like sugar cookies, or sweets for that matter, except chocolate). With Caleb, I was on an emotional high, had the clearest skin of my life, and craved hot dogs and ham sandwiches.

Even high-def 3D ultrasound couldn't show the gender...
Those legs were locked down (at 15 weeks)
I expected to have my suspicions confirmed during one of our early ultrasounds--after all, we found out Caleb was a boy at 13 weeks. Just to give some background, I have ultrasounds every 2-4 weeks during the first trimester, since I’m considered “high-risk” due to my 3 previous miscarriages. We went in for ultrasound after ultrasound, but time after time I was disappointed--this baby was too modest! I guess you could say that was another sign she was a girl (everyone said so, anyway).

And sure enough, during our 20 week ultrasound, which is the standard hour-long ultrasound for all pregnancies, the technician had to try 3 separate times and spent several minutes coaxing our baby into position to see the gender. But once she was into position, it became clear--it’s a girl!

Girly Stuff

And yes, we have a name picked out: Lydia. And we already call her “Lydia,” too. I always thought it was a little strange when people named their babies before they born, but I get it now; it just feels natural this time. But who knows? Maybe we’ll change our minds when she gets here. With Caleb, we didn’t decide on his name until a few hours after he was born, and even then it took a few weeks to feel like it really fit. So we’ll see.

I’m not too worried about the name, though. Mainly I worry about girl stuff: doing hair (um, I have no idea...I’ve worn my hair pretty much the same way every day for 20 years), drama (I don’t do drama), boys (let’s not even go there), and other uncharted territory: princesses, Barbies, coordinating outfits (boys are so easy...throw on some jeans and a shirt and go!). I guess it’s silly, but the idea of taking care of two kids is already a little overwhelming without worrying about how I’m going to make that mother-daughter connection. Maybe she’ll be more of a tomboy like me. My dad always said I was the best kind of girl: one who liked to be clean and pretty, but didn’t mind getting dirty.

She's got my nose, at least...

Also, I was worried about where I was going to find girl clothes, since we have dozens of nephews and collected so many hand-me-downs for Caleb that we didn’t have to buy any clothes for his whole first year. It was great! But oh my goodness, I think I already have about twice as many hand-me-downs for Lydia, and more to come. I have so many generous friends who have cleared out their garages and closets for me, and I’m so grateful!

I even have an adorable bedding set from my sister-in-law’s sweet friend, so I can dress up the nursery to be a little more “girly.” We’re going to paint the room a pale yellow and change out the drapes for something more feminine, too. (To see what the nursery, which is still Caleb’s room, looks like now, click here then scroll to the bottom.)

Other Details I Want to Remember

Overall, she seems much more laid-back than Caleb so far. She moves more like a wave or a little fish swimming around, while Caleb bounced and kicked and punched all day long. That’s the other thing: he moved mostly during the day, and she moves more at night. For Caleb, that pattern continued after he was born--he’s always been very active, but a pretty good sleeper at night--so we’ll what that means for this little girl.

I guess the last thing worth mentioning--but I’m not sure if it’s worth remembering--is how I’ve been feeling really on edge with this pregnancy. Throughout my pregnancy with Caleb, I had a strong reassurance from God that he would be born healthy, which helped calm my anxiety, and I didn’t worry at all how I was going to handle nights with no sleep and days with no shower. I was ready for that.

I don’t feel that same reassurance with this one, so I can’t help worrying that something is going to happen to her. I just want her to be okay, but then I have no idea how I’m going to handle having two little ones once she gets here. I’m worried I’ll be a total failure and everything will crumble into utter chaos, and then everyone will be unhappy. I just feel on edge sometimes, like I’m in for something I can’t handle, whatever it is.

Now, as her due date gets closer, I’m actually feeling less on edge and more excited and confident. I know it’s going to be crazy, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to be just as wonderful as when Caleb joined our family. As our friend Luke put it, “It’s more crazy, but it’s more awesome.” And as far as we know, she’s healthy, so like I said at the beginning, I’m trying to trust God rather than worry about what I can’t control.

So again, it's terrifying, but exciting. Either way, she's an absolute miracle, and we are so grateful for her. We'll see what the next few months bring!

At 22 weeks

That big round thing is my placenta; it's right in front,
which means I can't feel her moving as well sometimes.

She's resting on the placenta like a pillow,
with her hands tucked under her cheek.

With her little tush in the air (water?), at 20 weeks