Sunday, September 11, 2016

7QT {09.11.16} -- Random Brain/Photo Dump

It's Sunday. I've been trying to write this post since Friday. I'm alone at Starbucks for an hour or so -- the first time I've been alone anywhere that I don't have to clean since Dominic was born. Let's get to it before I get a call that Mr. D is starving and inconsolable. (Tardily linking up with Kelly.)

1.  I feel like we're settling in to life as a family of 5. Charles started back on an in-service rotation last Monday, which was also the day after the last of our family/company/helpers left, so that was our kick back to reality. I'm still figuring out how to get out the door consistently on time, in part because Dominic is still pretty unpredictable. Tonight, Charles starts his first week of nights (plus a more-than 24 hour shift on Saturday/Sunday) since D was born. I'm not going to like, I'm terrified, but I also know that we'll get through it, and I'll feel like I've got a much better hold on life as a family of five on the other side of this week/end. Just trying to take it one day at a time, instead of overthinking it. Trying being the operative word. Let's just say I bought paper plates, I intend to use them, and I generally hate paper plates.

2. Speaking of Mr. D, he turned one month yesterday. He's cooing and smiling and only hates tummy time 50% of the time. The other half he just finds a fist to suck on and goes for it. Boy loves to nurse, and even takes his "cow paci" sometimes. He still sleeps insanely well at night (counting my blessings while they last), and is basically my little appendage. He's a good, sweet boy, and the big kids are in love. 

That tongue.

3. He also got baptized two weeks ago. Boom! Good-bye Original Sin! Hello New Life in Christ! 

All the heart-eyed emojis.

4. Clare started pre-K (?!?) at the end of August. She's loving it. Her class has 14 girls, no boys, several friends, and the same teacher as last year. #winning. 

First day. Front porch. Not at all cliche.

Bonus: This year, Peter is enjoying his Clare-free time, "helping" me around the house, reading lots of books of his choice, and playing with whatever he wants whenever and wherever he wants. Then, he's excited to go pick her up -- it's just enough alone time for him!

5. Clare is also back in weekly gymnastics and dance. This year, her dance class does both tap and ballet, and she's loving having tap shoes. She especially seems to love them during nap time. #notwinning

Ahem. Throwback pic to her first class . . . in June.

Excited for her tap shoes!

6. Life with your third newborn is decidedly different than life with your first. Example: at three weeks, Clare had been to Target and Mass. At three weeks, Peter had been to Target, Mass, the grocery store, and one or two parks. At three weeks, Dominic had been to Target, Mass, the grocery store, a few parks, the zoo (twice), the children's museum, a handful of other stores and several restaurants. Yet, somehow, I'm trying harder to soak up his tiny-baby status, because I know it won't last. 

First trip to the park

7. I would be remiss if I didn't make mention of today, since it's the 15th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. It's a day that I, like pretty much everyone, will never forget. I can recall my "where were you" vividly -- huddled around a dorm TV. I cannot help but pray today -- for the lives lost, for lives irreconcilably changed, in thanksgiving for those who served in the aftermath, for the changed world that has emerged. I pray to remember, and I pray for peace. I also reflect on my own life in that time, and pray in thanksgiving for the gift of faith. I pray in thanksgiving for the life I'm now living. 
Happy week (and waning hours of the weekend)!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Savoring the Season

It started with a check yourself moment Monday morning. I began to feel sorry for myself, because the holiday day was starting to look like a pretty ordinary morning. And, with Charles off, wasn't I supposed to have a lovely, photogenic family day?!? It lasted about 30 seconds before I snapped out of it, reminding myself that the media, and especially social media, are not purveyors of 100% accuracy in their portrayal of life. Besides, our afternoon plans were for the pool and burgers on the grill. What is more hashtag-worthy than that?

So I righted my thinking, got over it, and got on with my day, which proved to be perfect in that it gave me, not an Inta-worthy photo, but deep, penetrating, soul-feeding contentment. That happiness is so very much better.

Four hours after my momentary pity party, I found myself reflecting on the whole thing. It was a strange Labor Day Weekend. On the one hand, the calendar had flipped to September, so we (societal we) were all about apples and pumpkins, scarves and boots. Fall, in all its glory, had arrived. On the other hand, here we were, celebrating the waning days of summer, on the last "official" (if artificially designated) day of summer. Knowing the days ahead will bring the fall of the media and the catalogues in fits and starts for weeks, months even. Knowing that the public's taste for autumn will come and go all too soon. The Christmas catalogues, surely, are already being prepared for mailing.

So there I was poolside, nursing Dominic, while Charles took the big kids to play in the water. Watching the scene before me, my eyes welled with the simultaneous recognition of how blessed I am and how fleeting it all is. 

Change, like fall, is in the air. Charles' and my minds are occupied with figuring out what follows residency--and where. Mulling possibilities and futures and dreams.

Clare was running and splashing and squealing -- oh! how she squeals! -- in French braids and her purple tutu tank that will surely be too small next summer.

Peter was there, a home body away from home, but happy with his people. His safe place. Fumbling his toddler-ish way from baby to boy, his cars and his family never too far away.

And tiny Dominic, 4 weeks old, and already filling out, growing. I'm going to blink, and he'll be Peter's age. Clare's. And they'll be...I don't want to think about it.

I want to rebel. Stop rushing time. Stop declaring the commencement of fall before summer ends. Stop running headlong into Christmas before the turkey is roasted. Stop wishing away today's challenges, tempted by the promise of tomorrow.

Instead, I want to savor the little girl squeals (even though they pierce my ears), the cars under foot (even when they make me curse under my breath), the sweet baby who has dozed off in my arms (even when it means the laundry won't get folded). I want to savor the present, not because it is perfect, but because it is good, intrinsically, life affirmingly good. Because I can already feel it slipping through my fingers. 

I want to savor this season, because I only get to taste it once.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Naming Dominic Jude

I love when people share a little bit about how they came to name their children what they do. I'm an old-school name nerd.

The main man himself

Dominic's name was the longest, hardest, and easiest for us so far. 

We (I?) decided that being Team Green (not learning the gender of baby until delivery) was something I really wanted to experience, probably right after Peter was born. Our biggest "drawback" to going for it was the daunting prospect of coming up with names for either a boy or a girl.

We had tossed ideas around in the past, and pretty much have a girl name settled if we are ever so blessed. At least a first name. Middle names around here seem to be up for debate until the last possible minute, so you never really know!

Anyway, that left us with deciding on a boy name! There are, of course, two types of people in the world: those who struggle with girl names and those who struggle with boy names. We are the latter.

We had tossed around ideas and possibilities in the past, but when there's an actual baby to name, stuff gets real! Compounding the challenge this go 'round was my due date: August 8, which happens to be the "feast" (liturgically: memorial) of St. Dominic, to whom Charles and I have a long standing devotion. I said that if I had a baby boy on my due date, we *had* to use Dominic as a first or middle name.

So Dominic started its rise toward the top of our name list, along with a surprise contender: Jude. At one point, before I was even pregnant, I found Charles' St. Jude medal--one I didnt even know he had -- while sweeping. I decided it was a sign and started to consider Jude as a name, even watching it grow in popularity among young Catholics. At some point, we threw out the idea of Dominic Jude together, and we both sort of agreed that we really liked Dominic Jude.

But did I want to "save" Jude for another first name down the road? Did we want to use Jude as a first name now? Did we want to choose a middle that we just can't use as a first for whatever reason (like being too weird or used by close family/friends)? So began our trip down the long, winding middle name road. We had SO many middle name possibilities. 

I chatted with Kate, who gave me plenty of ideas, which was both helpful (great ideas!) and not (more ideas!).

We knew that middle names would be a game-day decision either way. We were somewhat settled on a middle for a girl, but for a boy? Still not sure.

By the time we were walking into the hospital for my August 8 induction, it was clear that we'd be using Dominic for a boy, but I remember thinking that I was pretty settled on a different middle name.

Once he was born, and he was a Dominic, everyone in the room found out that we were still debating a middle name and threw out some terrible (for us!) suggestions, most notably, Chase! I mean, my Paw Patrol obsessed bigs might have liked it, but it's just not our style. *Giant wink*

As I was holding him, for the first time, I felt like I knew: his middle name was Jude. 

Finally, after what felt like forever, the room cleared out of alllll the people, and Charles and I had a chance to talk middle names with privacy. I told him that I was really feeling Dominic Jude and, miraculously(?), Charles agreed right away.

It was the longest naming process, because it really did last theee longest. Twelve or fifteen or twenty-four months. It was the hardest because 1) two names and 2) all of the doubt. It was the easiest because the due date gave it away and the name we ultimately settled on had felt so right for so long.

St. Dominic, pray for us.
St. Jude, pray for us.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Baby Dominic's Birth Story

It's a boy!!

Dominic Jude

{Skipping over the announcement post, and getting to the real meat: birth story! Also, all the usual birth story TMI warnings.}

Clare's Birth Story
Peter's Birth Story

So, much like with Peter, I was pretty much done with being pregnant several weeks before birth. Also much like Peter, I went through weeks of irregular early labor/Braxton Hicks/whatever contractions. A few times, things looked promising...until they petered out. Blah.

So we get to 39 weeks. I had an appointment that Monday, when I was 39&0. Since we were planning induction for the next week, we had to do a cervix check (to see how favorable I was for induction, etc.), and things were promising: 3cm/80% effaced/0 station.

My doctor was sure that I'd go Monday or Tuesday. Or in the next few days at the outset, but scheduled a pitocin induction for Monday morning just in case. Ha! Famous last words!
So Monday came and went. My in-laws arrived to watch Clare and Peter on D-Day. That  was helped put my mind at ease. Greatly, since, even though I had several people offer help, it just made everything so much easier to know I didn't need to worry about it.

Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, weekend. All the walking and eating and pedicure-ing did nothing to move Baby along. By Friday, I resigned myself to induction, because it was so much easier on my mental state.

At least Baby would (presumably) have the awesome birthday of 08.08.16!

Sure enough, Charles and I were up and moving bright and early Monday morning. Ate breakfast--enough to sustain me in labor, not so much as to be a huge disaster if it came back up. Fun times! Gave the kiddos final good-bye kisses. Headed out.

As predicted

It was grey and rainy. I felt at peace about everything, but I also can't say I wasn't nervous about the unknown. We parked and made our way in to admissions. Ironically, it was the first time I'd ever set foot in St. Joseph hospital. Ironic because of the thousands of hours Charles has spent there. Literally thousands.

Anyway, we got checked in and make our way up to labor and delivery, and got the administrative side of things going. Flattering hospital gown. IV. A million questions from nurses and residents* and the anesthesia team. Another (always fun) check on progress.

When all was said and done, they started pitocin at about 8:30. For the first two hours, we watched the Olympics, ate ice chips (disappointingly old school--at least give me real water, people!), and hung out. Contractions were getting regular and were more uncomfortable, but still not too bad.

My main complain the whole time was that my nurse, who was so kind and very competent, was also an insane chatterbox. Like she made small talk constantly--even through contractions--to the point of being really annoying, and keeping Charles and I from having any conversations (important, ridiculous or otherwise) of/on our own.

I had my second check at 10:15ish without much progress, but after that, things started picking up. Contractions were getting really hard to sit through, and I was definitely breathing/not talking/wouldn't be walking through them. 

I got out of bed to use the restroom with the intention of laboring on the yoga ball after, but standing felt so good, I decided to stand/sway through them instead. 

By now, the contractions were pretty regular and pretty intense. I was definitely breathing/ working through them. I'd found through the last weeks of pregnancy that praying the Hail Mary through uncomfortable contractions/checks/whatever was really comforting and helped me to relax greatly. 2 or 3 Hail Marys really got me through each contraction. I'm sure calling in divine comfort and assistance aided me to that end as well. 

I also found great comfort in the Crucifix. Because I delivered at a Catholic hospital, there was one in the room and I happened to have positioned myself so it was right in front of me while I was up and out of bed. Maybe my guardian angel helped me get there. Regardless, focusing on Christ and His sacrifice, and trying (however pitifully) to unite my suffering to His, also helped me work through contractions. 

At noonish, they came to check me again. Progress! Officially declared to be in active labor!

Throughout my pregnancy, I had debated the epidural question, in part because of how fast I went with Peter. Finally, I had come down to  the realization that natural onset of labor would likely go too fast to bother, but if I was induced I was going for the meds. I wasn't trying to be a hero, and didn't see any reason to work through 6 more centimeters unmedicated.

So, since I was officially "in labor" the plan was to get the epidural, break my water and go from there. 

According to everyone, the anesthesiologist on call was The Best, and soon he and his nurse were in my room working their magic. 

Sure enough, in spite of the world's most uncomfortable labor position, and even though I had breathed and tried to relax and pray and was straight coached through a lot of rough contractions by Charles (who also got his hand squeezed like I was trying to do serious damage), the epidural worked its magic and the pain? Gone!

So, back the residents came to check again and break my water. But now? 8 and then 10 centimeters! Baby time!

They let me labor down, thanks to the epidural, while the team got things ready for delivery, then it was time to push.

I was actually nervous, because the epidural was so fresh and because I had no feeling of pressure or needing to push or anything "baby is coming"-y. That was one thing about Peter's birth--I definitely experienced that primal urge to push!

But, as it turns out, I'm one of those people who is naturally fairly good at pushing, and even without feeling it, I was pretty effective. I pushed through about 4 contractions and then...there he was!
It was interesting, because from the angle I was at, I could see that baby was a Dominic* at the same time as everyone else. No big "it's a boy!" announcement--just a lot of comments that yep, it was a boy.

They did immediate akin to skin (I was feeling very Mama Bear--give me my baby)! He was slow in pinking up, though, so the newborn team pulled him over to the warmer to clear mucous and get color in him. I got all teary waiting and watching--talk about hormones! I'm sure his initial set of Apgars was less than stellar, but once they got him going, a few minutes that felt like forever later, he was fine. They put him back on my chest and we snuggled (and Dominic started rooting), while they finished the slowest set of repairs ev-er for a barely second-degree tear. 

Finally, I got to sit back and nurse and let people know that the baby arrived. About this time, Charles and I were finally given a minute alone to finally decide on a middle name--Jude winning at long last*--to share with family and friends.

After a couple of hours, we were moved to a recovery room--the giant corner room, actually (perk of delivering where Dad works!). My in-laws brought the big kids to visit.

"Reading" to her brothers

"Baby Domnick, I love you."

My little mama

We ate and rested and nursed and got bored and got the heck outta Dodge 26 hours after birth, when we got the all clear on bilirubin! I don't care what anyone else says, there's no place like home!

Since then, things have been great! So far, we're enjoying the sleepy newborn phase, the sweet tiny baby snuggles, the help/company/baby holders, and Charles' days off + relatively easy schedule this month.

As nervous as I was about the induction, it could not have gone more smoothly. I was on the piton for about 5 hours from start to baby, and once labor kick started, things progressed fast: a little more than two hours from the onset of hard contractions to baby; one hour from 4 cm to complete -- it looks like those contractions while they were placing the epidural were as bad as they seemed. I'm sure all of those things will impact decision making if we have more kids. I'm mostly just grateful for a good experience, and for a healthy baby boy. 

Yeah. We're all smitten!

First family pic -- not cropped. :S

*Blog post forthcoming

Friday, August 5, 2016

7QT {08.05.16} -- A Watched Pot Never Boils

Here I am. I'm 39 weeks, 4 days pregnant, and feeling every single bit like that watched pot. So long as L&D are not happening, I'm trying to keep walking and keep busy, which means I'm linking up with Kelly this morning.

1. At this point, I've had irregular contractions more or less every day for weeks. These range from totally fine to pretty uncomfortable, but I'm still waiting on the big daddy contraction: the one that says get me to the hospital NOW! I've had 2 or 3 instances where I was hopeful that things were picking up, but only to have my hopes dashed. At my appointment on Monday, the doctor thought things looked promising to happen soon, but just in case, the plan is to induce this coming Monday if Mr./Miss Sassy pants here doesn't decide to come on his/her own.

2. In preparation for the next month of recovery, ceaseless breastfeeding and momming through the fog of sleepless nights and busy days, we got a new rocker/glider for the living room. It only took 3 shopping trips to find the perfect one, but on trip #3, we found it at the first place we looked. We wanted: something really comfortable, something that would last and work in future homes (more investment, less throwaway), something wipeable (for easy clean-up of spit-up, milk spills, whatever else kids do to furniture). This guy was delivered last weekend and fits the bill perfectly. Charles calls it my captain's chair, and while I'm sitting in it now as I type, I am mostly just looking forward to settling in with my little snuggle bug. The one who's still waaaay too comfy snuggling on the inside.

Post-chair delivery photo courtesy of Charles.

3. Want some bump pics? I'd love to say that these are my last 3, but the way things seem to be going, I'll get a 40-week picture on Monday morning. :-P

4. Last weekend, I was able to do something that I really wanted to do for each kid before baby comes: take them on a Mom-date. The original plan was to go to ice cream or something, but because of schedules, ironically, things got more elaborate. Clare and I went to dinner (she wanted pizza), then we did a little back-to-school shopping, grabbed a treat (she picked gelatto), and ate dessert by the fountain at the shopping center where she made wishes and ran around like the 4 year old she is.

5. Saturday morning, Peter and I went to breakfast, ran errands, and then had coffee/juice/giant cookie at Starbucks. He took soooooooo long to eat that dang cookie, but by golly, he ate the entire thing! It was nice to spend time with them before the baby. They are so excited and are going to be such good big siblings, but it IS going to be a real adjustment for them, too. Especially Peter. (Side note: he's already too big. I'm not looking forward to the come-home-from-the-hospital and your former baby is a giant/kid phenomenon.)

6. Last weekend was a flurry of activity (Clean! Get haircuts! Finish projects!) and preparations for arrival of the baby and the family that comes with it. Charles' parents are here until sometime next week. Then my dad and stepmom, and then my sister. So, we were busy, busy bees trying to make it all happen. One thing we finally did was set up the swing in the living room, since it did require some toy moving and rearranging to make happen. Anyway, Clare immediately decided it needed some love and put her baby down for a nap in it--sweet girl. 

7. OPENING CEREMONIES ARE TONIGHT!!!! Do you hear that baby?!?! Come out and watch with us! I'm super excited, and not ashamed to admit that when I saw when my due date was for the baby, I was excited to have a totally justified reason to sit on my bum and watch way too much Olympic coverage. I'm not watching dressage at 5am because I care. I'm watching it because Baby is hungry. 

And that's all I got. Happy weekend!!