Tuesday, July 26, 2011

First, do no harm

First, do no harm is part of the hypocratic oath that all physicians must take. Personally, I think it would be better as part of the mothers oath that all mothers should take. Isn't it amazing that you have to do more paperwork to adopt a pet than to birth a baby? But, that's a post for another day.

Anyway, my goal is to do no harm to my children. I want to help them thrive physically, mentally, and spiritually. Anytime that I feel like I have harmed my child in any way, I feel terrible. Usually, it's a psycological harm I worry about. Was I too harsh with them, did I raise my voice needlessly, was my frustration taken out on them?  But, I try very, very hard to do all I can to keep their minds, bodies, and souls safe. So, imagine my horror this weekend, when the one piece of equipment that is supposed to keep him safe, hurt my little Phillip.

Just to back up a minute, I am a safety freak. You would think after three kids, I would have loosened up a little, but I haven't. We NEVER go without a carseat. There are no quick trips with a little one sitting in the seat. Olivia was almost 9 when she moved out of the booster seat into the regular seat. Phillip (and Matt) will be in a five point harness until it no longer fits. I research EVERYTHING and stay on top of recalls like a hawk. So, when I bought Phillip's carseat, I was sure it was the one for us. It had safety ratings higher than Britax, it was rated to 100 lbs, had the side impact wings, everything.

Anyway, Sunday, after church, I put the kids in the van to head home. Phillip was talking to Mom, so I started the car, cranked the air way up, put Matt's seat into it's base, Olivia got in her seat, and I buckled P in last. As I got in, he started screaming "Turn the hot off". I assumed he meant the car was hot and told him to chill, it would cool down in a minute. He then started screaming, "It's burning me, it's burning me". I told him he would be fine, and he stopped crying a couple of minutes later. He had missed his nap and I chalked the drama up to being over tired. He is not a crier at all.

We get home, eat some lunch, he and Mike wrestle a while and Olivia points out that he has red marks on his back. I don't look at them, I just tell her they are from him wrestling with Mike. Phillip is VERY fair and the least amount of pressure leaves a red mark on his skin for a few minutes.

Fast forward to bath time. Mike bathes Phillip and they spend about 30 minutes playing and learning (since March he's learned his ABCs, numbers to 30, and numbers to 10 in Spanish during bath time). Right after Mike puts him in the tub, he yells for me to come in there RIGHT NOW! I can hear Phillip crying. I run in there and he points to these three huge red blisters on Phil's back. I asked Phillip what they were (although I already sickeningly realized what they were), and he replied "It's where my carseat burned me, I told you that". My poor baby! The water was making them hurt again. The safety warning label (oh, the irony) on the backrest part of his carseat had gotten so hot that it blistered his skin. I noticed when I was putting him in that his shirt was getting too short and it hiked up in the back but thought NOTHING OF IT!

His poor little back

Oh, the guilt! I cannot believe this happened. We put burn cream on him and now, two days later, they are much better. He says they don't hurt anymore. I told our pediatrician about them and he couldn't believe it. I am always so careful about not letting the metal buckles touch his legs, but I never thought about the nylon tag.

So, I am emailing the company and asking for something to cover the tag or a refund on my carseat. I don't expect anything else, but I do think it's the least they could do. I am also going to ask that they recall that model. I mean, at least 1/4 of the year is hot, carseats are going to get hot. I try to keep them shaded and precool the car when I can, but it's not always practical.

The offending carseat, Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite

So, I have learned two lessons. First of all, don't assume your safety equipment is safe. Second, listen to your kids. Don't assume you know what they are talking about. If I had asked Phillip a couple of questions, I could have figured out what he was talking about. Granted, he would have already been burnt, but I could have treated them sooner. The thought that he soldiered through the discomfort all afternoon long, because I told him it was fine, breaks my heart. Go check your carseats people!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Taking it all for granted

Confession: I tend to take my picturesque, wonderful life for granted. Growing up, I always assumed I would grow up, go to college, meet my soul mate, get married, have a few kids, live in a pretty brick house and live happily ever after. So, it was no surprise to me when I did. After all, it was all in my master plan. Granted, the children did not come in the order/timeframe I expected, but they still came, beautiful, perfect little beings that I pictured in my mind when I was a little girl. Well, I didn't picture that one of them would be red headed, that was a surprise to everyone!

A Sunday morning photo attempt

I get up every morning to this sweet little life and think nothing of it. Because I take it for granted, I sometimes neglect it. Sometimes, I act a little spoiled, I don't take care of things like I should, I snap at little children for acting like (gasp) children, I waste things because I can always buy another (*disclaimer: nothing major is wasted, we are not wealthy people who are burning blocks of money for warmth or anything, just little stuff).

Another Sunday morning photo attempt

My husband, on the other hand, had given up on having any of this. When I met him, he was a successful restaurant manager, who changed jobs every couple of years, always for a little more money, a little better hours, something. He moved from apartment to apartment, city to city, not laying down roots and living a very lonely life. He was 32 and had given up on having a wife, kids, the dogs, the house, the whole thing. So, he is incredibly grateful for everything. He sees the magic in the every day mundane, he delights in the antics of our children, he truly cherishes everything we have and do.

I give up, I will photograph them all together when they are adults!

These days, I'm trying to see the world as he does. I try to look at my little people (especially the oldest) and try to imagine what it would have been like to think that I would never have them. I try to take better care of what we have, as if it is a treasured possession, not something I can easily replace.

I am trying to not take any of this charmed gift of a life that God has given me for granted. So far, it's making me a much happier person!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In regards to my lifelong aspiration to do everything perfectly...

Motherhood is not something that came naturally to me. Motherhood was not something that was on my mind in that season of my life. I was planning a wedding (don't judge, it happens to the best of us), finishing up college, and mapping out the rest of my life. Then BOOM, I was a mama. A non eventful pregnancy turned into a very eventful birth, a hellish few days, and then Mike and I were at home, ALONE, with a baby. I was uber confident my entire pregnancy that I would be a great mother, a natural. I am one of those people that learns quickly, excels at most things I try, how hard could it be? Mike was worried the entire pregnancy that he would suck at it. He was 36, had never so much as held a baby, what would he do?

Guess which one of us was the natural? Mike, of course. It was like the book "Are You My Mother?" and Olivia picked him. I was a drugged up, worn out, miserable person for the first few weeks of her life. I had a severe reaction to one of my pain meds, but didn't know it was a reaction, so I was sick as a dog, thinking it was normal. It is literally a fog, I remember very little. I tried and tried to nurse Olivia, but she would have nothing of it. I cried and cried, she cried and cried, and Mike kept us alive and sane. I would stuggle with her for hours, trying to get her to nurse, trying to pump, tearfully talking on the phone to the La Leche people, to no avail. Then Mike would feed her a bottle, while I sat in the corner, watched TV, and cried. It was a happy time :) But, in my mind, the perfect mother nursed her baby, she put her to sleep in her own bed, she sang lullabys and never got tired. Dang it, I was going to be the perfect mother. At Olivia's one month appointment, our sweet doctor told me that she thought Olivia was lactose intolerant. We switched to soy formula and I made the hard decision to stop nursing altogether. I was devastated, but she wasn't really getting much from me and it was exhausting. She was up from 12 a.m-8 a.m every night/day. I was at my wit's end. So, I started giving her formula exclusively, I put her in the bed with us, and started singing songs I liked. You know what? She was a new baby! She was happy, healthy, and finally seemed to like her mama!

Fast forward eight years. I have a new baby, and quite frankly it feels like being a first time mama again. I have forgotten so much about babies and this baby is completely different. All he wants to do is sleep. He has jaundice and it takes a few days to get him better. My milk takes forever to come in, so we have to supplement with formula. Once my milk is in, I stop the formula and I'm determined to be "perfect" this time. Well, he nearly starves to death and sleeps all the time. I'm not making enough milk for the little guy! So...it's a repeat of last time, I nurse, Mike bottle feeds, I mope. Finally, I throw in the towel. I also don't make him sleep in his bed either, he sleeps with us and is happy as a clam. He's a healthy, happy baby.

Now, here comes Matt. I told Mike it would work this time or I would die trying. However, when I was pregnant, I found out that the stupid, awful, non life threatening disease I have that caused all the infertility issues, weight issues, etc also causes poor milk production. AHA! We have a reason! It's not my fault, well at least not in a way I can control. So, I go bonkers researching what supplements I can take, what I can do to make it work. In the hospital, I start taking herbal supplements. I spend hours with the lactation consultant. When we get home, we are already supplementing with formula. He dehydrated in the hospital and they insisted. Go figure :) But, that's okay, because he's nursing good and taking very little formula. Then, he starts to grow. I can't keep up. Every nursing book out there tell you that your body will keep up, but mine didn't get the memo. So, after having two kids, raised on formula, who are incredibly healthy, bright, and wonderful, what do you think I did? Well, you're wrong. I didn't give up, not yet.

For some reason, I am bound and determined to torment myself one more time. I am taking the most random and expensive combination of pills and supplements. I just took 18 pills before I sat down to write this. Is it working? Nope. But, I figure every little bit of breastmilk he gets is good, so I'll keep plugging along. We have a system now, Matt and I. I nurse him first, then I give him his bottle. He stares at me the whole time, so sweet and trusting. He doesn't care where the food comes from, he just feels loved and safe that it keeps coming.

The last few days, I have really questioned my motives. I don't buy into the whole formula conspiracy. I do believe that breastmilk is the perfect food for babies, but I don't think that formula is bad. My other kids thrived on it. But, I find myself watching the faces of others when I give Matt a bottle. Are they judging me, assuming I'm too selfish or ignorant to breastfeed? What do other mothers think of me? I feel the need to tell people the whole story, which is extreme oversharing, but I just want them to know that I'm trying to be "perfect", it just isn't working.

The funny thing is, I don't think twice when I see a mother giving a baby a bottle. Statistics show that a majority of mothers wind up switching to formula. I don't judge any mother as long as they are keeping their child safe. So why do I assume they are judging me? Why do I feel the need to be "perfect"?

It's not just breastfeeding. I spend every day making sure my kids look great, attempt to get them to act great. I make sure the house is near spotless every night before I go to bed, even if it means sacrificing sleep I dearly need. I volunteer in excess, I will go out of my way to make sure my family is happy, no matter what the need. The only thing I don't focus on making perfect is my appearance, which could use some work! All in all, I am an extremely happy person. I adore my husband, I love my children, my home, my job, my church, everything.

Anyway, there is no conclusion to this story, just a brain dump, I guess. Take care, dear readers, I'll be back with something lighter and fluffier soon!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Matthew's Birth Story

Well, I will start at the very beginning. Mid October 2010, I started to suspect I was pregnant. I had all the usual symptoms I had with the others, plus I was horribly nauseated and sick to my stomach. I was without kids, as I had sent them to Mom & Dad's house for the evening. I ran to our local Fred's (we are without a Wal-mart in our tiny town) and bought a pregnancy test. I didn't tell Mike (who was at work) my suspicions, as I had thought I was pregnant a million times when we were struggling with infertility and I felt a bit like the little boy who cried wolf. Also, I had been on the pill (for medical reasons, not conception reasons) up until a couple of weeks before, so what are the odds that Infertile Myrtle was pregnant. Turns out, pretty good. I got the two pink lines. So, I called Mike and he was stunned. Excited, but stunned. I then called my parents, brother, best friends, etc. I also had dinner that night with one of my best friends, Leah, and got to tell her in person. Then, we went and told her mom (also one of my best friends, I like to have friends in both mine and Mike's age ranges). Mike got home that night and we just stared at each other and laughed. Another baby! It felt like we had just had a baby. Granted, it was two years before, but when your kids are eight years apart, two years feels like nothing.

So, I called my doctor and they didn't want to see me until 8 weeks. We had a vacation planned the next week, so off on a 12 hour road trip we go. For the first time in my life, I had morning sickness...ALL DAY LONG. It was a long vacation.
Fast forward 8 months. It has been a miserable pregnancy. I feel guilty saying that, as being pregnant was something I wanted for so long, but it is what it is. I fell on the vacation we took and possibly broke my tailbone. We couldn't get it x-rayed, due to the bun in the oven, but it was either fractured or a bone bruise. Either way, it took about 6 weeks to sit or sleep comfortably. After that, I had severe hip pain until the moment Matt was delivered. And the nausea, don't get me started. Also, from about 32 weeks on, I had contractions off and on. It was a blast.

Right before we left for the hospital

So, on the morning of May 27, we headed up to the hospital. We arrived at 6:30 a.m. They got me checked in, hooked up to monitors, and told me we were just waiting on an operating room. My precious doctor, who I love, came by and checked on my, the anesthesiologist came in and introduced herself. In her introduction, she told me what she would do if anything went wrong. This is key. If a medical professional ever introduces herself with the worst case scenario, you should worry. More on that in a minute. So, about 8:15, they wheeled me to the OR. They had Mike wait in the hall and told him he could come in when my spinal was done, 5 minutes or so, 30 minutes later, he was beyond worried. Meanwhile, inside, the anesthesiologist tried 6 times to get my spinal in. I am in misery. I have never had a spinal be so painful. Finally, one of the nurses pages another doctor and he gets it in on the first try. I didn't get his name, but I would like to get him in my will. I was beginning to panic, thinking they were going to have to put me to sleep. I was asleep when Olivia was born and it is one of the biggest regrets of my life.  It's good that I was, as she was born non responsive, without a heatbeat, so I probably would have come up off the table, but still, I hate that I missed her first moments.

Me, waiting to meet my son

So, I'm finally numb, a worried Mike gets to come in and they get down to business. My belly was HUGE. Now, I'm a chubby girl. Years of PCOS, fertility treatments, and a fabulous cook as a husband have not been kind to me. But, my belly was ALL BABY (so we thought). My doctor and I had been guessing he was around 10 lbs. Dr. Roy cuts into me and right before says "I think we've got a big boy here!" Then he says "Whoa, there is way too much fluid here! Get me the vaccuum". I assume it was a Dyson, only the best for our OR (kidding). Turns out that's why my belly was so huge, I had way too much amniotic fluid and a little baby in there. Then he says, "We have a little boy here" and pulls out this little, red, screaming boy who is peeing everywhere! Mike follows him over to the scale, where they measure and weigh him. He's still average size, 18.5" long and 7 lbs 8 oz, but he is my smallest. His sister was 22" long and 8 lbs 13.5 oz and his brother was 21" and 7 lbs 13 oz (three weeks early). Mike brings him over to me and I talk and coo at him and notice he looks like he has been in a fight. Both eyelids are bright purple/red and his nose is flat. He was pressed so far down he face was smooshed into a bone. During all this, they are suctioning all the extra fluid out, tying my tubes, and closing me up. Mike and baby exit to the recovery room and I follow them soon after.

Our little peanut is here, and he is MAD about it!

Our family is complete!

In the recovery room, I nurse Matt then Mike brings Olivia and Phillip back. Olivia is in love, holding him and loving on him. Phillip is freaked out. He looks at Mike and say "I ready to go NOW". He won't hug me or look at the baby. Slowly, in twos, the rest of the family filters back and meets the little guy. I happily chat with the recovery room nurse. She comments that I'm in a great mood to have just had surgery. It's then that we realize she was my recovery room nurse with Phillip too. She made the same comment then. Both times I told her "If you have ever had an emergency C-section after 26 hours of labor, had a baby born that had to be revived, and woke up from surgery with absolutely NO PAINKILLER WHATSOEVER in your system, a routine C-section seems like a vacation.

In the recovery room, getting to know each other!

They wheel me to my room and I get settled in. Mike is a superhero during times like this, catering to my every whim. He helped me pull my hair back, get comfortable in the bed, and got me a Diet Coke :) Then, I waited for my little peanut to come in. When he got there, I fed him again and spent a long time cuddling him and marveling over ANOTHER baby!  He looks a lot better now that he's cleaned up and promptly goes to sleep. I try to follow suit, but by now the PAIN has hit and hard.

My heart (and hands) are full!

The next few days are a blur. I had some small complications and spent an extra day in the hospital. I was offered one more day, but I just wanted to go home. This was a decision I would regret later in the week, as I was back at the doctors office, but it all worked out. Matthew lost about a pound and promptly dehydrated. My milk wasn't in yet, so we had to supplement with formula. My lactation nurse was a champ. She stayed hours after work one night, dripping formula in his mouth with a syringe while he nursed so that he wouldn't prefer the bottle. Seriously, she was wonderful. He rehydrated slowly, but was fine by the time we headed home. It took him three weeks to get back to his birth weight, and he's still tiny, but healthy.

Father and son

Happy to be headed home (we haven't told him he has to share a room yet)

Observing the new wildlife

Thursday, July 7, 2011

This post uses the word "boobies"

This is just too funny not to post. It does talk about breastfeeding and boobies, so if you are offended, well don't read my blog. Anyway, I am a big fan of breastfeeding. I am not militant about it and my other kids were formula fed at some point, but I do always start out breastfeeding. Obviously, Phillip does not remember this, nor has he witnessed anyone else doing it. However, at 2, Phillip has a healthy appreciation for the female form. He loves boobs. He has told total strangers in low cut tops, "Hey, I like your boobies". He has been admonished several time to not touch boobies. So....

When I was in the hospital with Matt, Mike went and got the kids and brought them up for us to spend family time together. During that time, I had to feed Matt. Phillip eyes got really BIG and he ran over and said "No, no, baby brother, we don't mess with boobies". He was shocked that no one was disciplining the baby. Well, fast forward a few days and I am feeding Matt in our room. He comes in, asks several questions about what the baby is doing, and stays to chat. Once I am done feeding Matt, I put him in his bed and started putting myself back together. Phillip quickly says "I need to hold you" which is Phillip speak for let me sit in your lap. So, he crawls in my lap and starts pulling up my shirt. I quickly pull it back down and tell him that it's just for babies. He then cocks his head to the side and says "C'mon, gimme a try". I laughed and laughed.

I later found him with his face stuffed in one of the horns of my breast pump, singing his heart out. I told him no, that it was Mommy's and he said, "No, it's a microphone".

Finally, we were on our way to take Olivia to camp, right outside of Nashville. I asked if Mike wanted me to get him a drink when I ran into a store on our way out of town. He said no, he had a Dr. Pepper. I then asked Olivia and my mother in law. Phillip piped up and said "Daddy has Dr. Pepper, Mommy has Diet Coke, Nanna has water, Sister has water, Phillip has juice and Baby Brother has boobies!!". He is killing me with all the boobie humor. What can I say, he's obviously a boob man!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pictures of Matt

Matthew is growing...so slow :) Usually, it's the other way around, but he had a slow start, I guess. I am enjoying having one in the newborn stage a little longer. At 5 weeks, he is 20.5" long and 8 1/2 lbs. That is smaller than his big sister was when she was born. He is such a little guy, but he can hold up his head and coo and smile, so it's the best of both worlds.

Matthew at 2 weeks

Matthew at 6 weeks

I padded the basket on the second one, since he cried at 2 weeks, so he looks a lot bigger in the second one. However, the basket is a mini wicker laundry basket that I used to keeps baby socks and things in, so that give you some idea of the tininess of this guy. Love it!

Here is a feeble attempt of a group shot, no one is looking at the camera, Big Red is pouting, and Matt is about to cry. Ah, our new normal!

This is Matt's first friend, Tigger. He loves this Tigger, he will stare at it for the longest time.

Well, I am working on a birth story post for Matt. I think after that, I am going to do one for each of the other kids. I forget more than I remember these days and I want to chronicle everything while it's still semi-fresh!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Welcome Jenna's Journey Readers

Though I am a lousy blog updater, I am a faithful blog reader. However, I rarely comment. I guess I don't want to seem like a stalker or something. Which is weird, because I LOVE getting comments on my blog. Go figure. Anyway, I am participating in Jenna's Comment Challenge, where I comment on ten blogs a day. Fun, fun. If anyone stops by here from the challenge, WELCOME! Jenna's blog is one of my favorites, so I am happy to participate in this. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Our New Normal

Well, a lot has happened since March. On May 27, Matthew Corwin Bell joined our family at 9:04 a.m. He was beautiful to me, but to the rest of the world he probably looked like a boxer who had been in one too many fights. He spent his last two months VERY low, with his face pressed up against a bone. His nose was FLAT and he has a large strawberry birthmark over his right eye and a small one over his left. Both will fade, the other two kids had them too. Let's just say, for the first few hours, he looked rough. But, since then, his nose has popped out, his complexion evened out, and he looks JUST LIKE his sister.

He weighed 7 lbs 8 oz and was 18.5" longs. He dropped down to 6 lbs 12 oz, but has rebounded back. At 5 weeks, he is 20.5" long and 8 lbs 8 oz. He's our runt. He's still smaller than Olivia was when she was born. We think the due date may have been off a little. They moved it around several times, due to the fact that I was on the pill when he was conceived (is that TMI? Oh, well, it's my blog so I guess it's okay :)). Phillip was 3 weeks early and was larger than Matt, so who knows? He is here and healthy, that's all that matters.

The kids absolutely love him. We have had no jealously whatsoever. I am exhausted, but it's not their fault. It has been a rough recovery for me. The spinal took 6 tries and 30 minutes to get right, so my back was very sore (and had a black, softball sized bruise) for several days. I had a tubal ligation, as well as a C-section, and boy, that's a rough combination. I had no idea. I don't know if I will ever stand up straight again. Also, having a 2 year old who doesn't understand completely that mommy can't carry him or pull at him is difficult. But, I'm finally on the mend, so life is getting easier.

I absolutely love having three kids. It's really not any harder, so far. Matt is an amazing baby, he only cries when he's hungry. Otherwise, we don't hear a peep out of him. I hope to blog a lot more now that the pregnancy from Hades is over. I promise you, I wouldn't have another baby (biologically) for a million dollars. These last nine months have been miseable. Constant nausea, vomiting, horrible hip joint problems, severe back pain, fatigue, and moodiness, all rolled into one grumpy package :) He was worth every minute of it, but I don't care to do it again!

I am on my mother in laws computer, so this is the only picture of the three Bell kids I have. This was in the hospital, I had to move heaven and earth to get them matching shirts, so I was bound and determined to get a picture.

I will be back blogging soon!