He’s Here!

After 41 grueling weeks and 1 day (and believe me, that last week and day were particularly onerous for me), I finally went into labor. Thanks heavens! After 4.5 hours of labor, our beautiful baby boy, Sherman Jeffrey Meeks, was born into this world this past Saturday, May 3, 2014. He weighed 8 lbs 8 oz, was 21.5 in long (which is apparently in the 97th percentile, which makes me wonder if he’ll be tall like his daddy), and he’s our little angel.

This birth was harder than Ruby’s was. I think it’s a combination of the fact that it wasn’t a water birth, that he was well over a pound heavier than Ruby (who weighed 7 lbs 3 oz), and that it was a faster labor. I’ll write up the whole birth story later, but suffice it to say that I was incredibly grateful and worn by the time he arrived. It wasn’t the euphoric, near magical experience that Ruby’s was, but it was miraculous in a different way. By the time it was over, I definitely felt like I had labored. Kyle got to catch him, and it’s cool to hear Kyle tell me the story of seeing Sherman being born and getting to catch him as he came out into the world.

I’m glad that he’s finally here. It’s beautiful to be on the other side of pregnancy.

Nesting

I’ve reached the “Any day now, Baby!” phase of pregnancy. I had contractions for a couple of hours the other night, but they failed to get more intense and finally faded away as Kyle and I played a board game.

One thing that is different this time is that I appear to be nesting. I’ve spent all week cleaning and organizing. I’ve even been wiping down walls and baseboards! I’ve managed to finish all of my to-make projects, and all that’s really left is to reorganize the kid’s room a little bit. We bought a changing table (because we have room for it now, as opposed to our last place) and it has been put together, but is currently sitting in our living room.

I feel ready for this baby, but the other day when I was having contractions I suddenly wasn’t so sure. I mean, newborns change everything for quite a while. Getting up at night, I can’t really be gone for more than a few hours at a time. I wonder how Ruby with do with the baby…but I’m still excited.

And ready to not be pregnant anymore.

Any time now, Baby!

The Accident

As long as I’m writing about scary things I’d rather not have gone through, I might as well write this one up, too.

The last Thursday in March I got into a car wreck. It started hailing as I entered the interstate, southbound from Salt Lake. Ruby and I had dropped Wesley off at the airport and then had lunch with Kyle (I mean, if we’re in Salt Lake we might as well see Kyle). As I was getting up to speed, my car hydroplaned and crashed into the concrete barrier.

Everything seemed to stand still as I pulled out my phone to call 911. The adrenaline secreting through my body made my motions seem sluggish and disoriented. It seemed to me that there was tangible time between dialing a number and the number appearing on screen, although there is usually no discernible difference between touching the screen and having it react.

Ruby, in the back of the car, was totally ok. She was the first thing I looked at after the accident, and she just looked at me with her big, brown eyes. Didn’t even cry. I’m not sure she even recognized that anything had happened. Since her carseat is still rear facing, she took the entirety of the accident in her cushy carseat, and she never displayed any indication that she had been hurt by the accident. The worst thing was that she missed her nap that day because of the chaos and took a few days readjusting from it.

A couple of men who were getting on the interstate behind me saw the accident and pulled off to the side of the road to help me. They seemed like construction workers, and they helped me get my car out of the flow of traffic, helped me locate my glasses (which I can barely see without, so it was adding to my disorientation), and stayed with me until rescue workers arrived.

I felt ok, nothing hurt. Everybody kept asking if I was ok, and all I could say was that I was shaken up by what had happened, but otherwise all right. I could see the burn of where the seatbelt had caught me on my neck, but through the shock and adrenaline, I couldn’t feel it yet.

A couple of off duty highway patrolmen stopped by, as well, to make sure that everything was ok before the emergency team got there. When the EMTs arrived, they got my vitals and looked me over. My blood pressure and heart rate were high, but that’s fairly normal for this kind of situation. I could feel the baby moving, and I wasn’t contracting, so I was pretty sure that physically I was ok. Judging by the seatbelt burn, I am really grateful that I was wearing my seatbelt.

The on duty highway patrolman had arrived, and he declared my car undrivable, and offered to drop us off at Kyle’s office. We filled out paperwork for about an hour, and then he took me and Ruby back to Kyle’s office. Ruby seemed to think that being in the cage of a cop’s car was pretty cool.

Kyle took the rest of the day off, a co-worker dropped us off at the FrontRunner station, and we took the train back to Orem, where Kyle’s car was parked. I called my midwife, and she told me a couple of things to keep an eye out for. Amy brought us dinner. I was slowly calming down from the accident, and the physical ramifications of the accident were slowly manifesting. Mostly, the seatbelt burn hurt and I was sore across my chest where the seatbelt had caught me.

That night I started vomiting over and over again; when I called my midwife she recommended I get looked at. So we went to Labor and Delivery at the hospital, which is where they handle post-motor vehicle accident pregnant ladies. They hooked me up to fetal monitoring, and everything with the baby looked fine. They gave me an IV and some anti-nausea medicine. About two and a half hours later I was done with a clean bill of health for both me and the baby, with instructions to come back if anything looked amiss. As far as we can tell, the vomiting was my body reacting to the stress and trauma of the situation.

I had been a little nervous about going to the hospital; I was afraid that baby would be in distress and they would want to induce. Fortunately, I was 36 weeks which meant that if they’d induced, the baby probably would have been fine. If that had been best we would have induced, but I wasn’t really in a great position physically (so sore!) or mentally (still kind of freaked out!) to be going through labor. So when the nurse hooked up the fetal monitors, and baby’s heartbeat and brain activity were looking totally normal, it was a huge relief to me. I was also nervous about getting bad reactions to the news that we’ve been planning a home birth, but everyone that we talked to at the hospital was really kind and positive about it. They put my information into the system so that if we end up with a hospital transfer there will be less paperwork. A few days later, a hospital clerk called me to get some more information since I’m technically registered at the hospital for delivery now. When I explained to him why they had put my information on there, he made a note on my file and told me that he thought it was a good idea to have a backup plan, but was otherwise very congenial about it. It was actually very reassuring to have the hospital staff be so accepting and kind about our plans.

I left the hospital feeling like a new person. The IV drip had rehydrated me after the vomiting, the anti-nausea medicine had calmed my stomach, and the fetal monitoring had calmed my nerves. Before we got checked out, I had felt pretty confident that nothing was wrong with the baby, but it turned out to be tremendously reassuring to know for sure.

I took it easy over the weekend, some lovely people brought us a couple of dinners, and I was able to handle my responsibilities all the following week. Which is good because Kyle had to work really late the following Monday and Tuesday to make up for all the time he missed at work. So it was good that I was feeling better, albeit sore.

At this point, most of the soreness has passed. It’s been about a week and a half, and I’m glad for the distance from the accident. I’m tremendously grateful that nobody was injured seriously, especially the kids. It’s probably just about the scariest experience I’ve ever had in my life. Ever since the accident, I’ve been particularly grateful for little things like hearing Kyle read subversive bedtime stories at night, tiny hugs and kisses from Miss Ruby, and for a thousand other small things. Thanks be to God that we’re all alright.

Nursemaid’s Elbow

A few weeks ago, it was my turn to teach in Relief Society. Church is at 11, and on Sunday morning my lesson was an amalgamation of thoughts and notes that only needed to be organized into a thoughtful lesson outline. It was all there, just not in order.

As I sat down to put the lesson in order, I heard Kyle scolding Ruby for doing something naughty, then a thump. It sounded like she had thrown herself on the floor. Then the waterworks started.

And continued.

And continued.

Normally when Ruby bumps her head or is scolded, she cries for a minute, gets a hug, and goes on her way happy and tearless. This time, Kyle brought her out to me and told me she wouldn’t stop crying. So I held her. I nursed her. I offered her apple juice. She refused to calm down, so I asked Kyle for specifics on what had happened.

It seems that Ruby had been trying to run away from a diaper change, so Kyle grabbed her arm to lead her back. Unhappy with this solution, Ruby flung herself onto the floor–her hand still in Kyle’s–and Kyle heard a pop. At first Kyle hadn’t really thought anything of it, but her unceasing tears seemed to indicate that something was wrong. Upon closer inspection, she was holding one of her arms very, very straight and refusing to move it.

I called my resident medical adviser (my mom), and we decided that it was time to go to urgent care. We arrived, there was very little wait, and went in to see the doctor. It turns out Ruby had what he called Nursemaid’s Elbow. Apparently it’s pretty common for children ages 2-6. It usually happens when an adult is holding a child’s hand and the child throws a tantrum and flings their body in an unexpected way. Because the ligaments in their elbows aren’t fully formed, it can partly dislocate their elbow, which is very painful. Evidently some children are more prone to it than others. The doctor held her arm, popped her elbow back in, and in an instant it was as though nothing had happened. The doctor assured us that it wasn’t uncommon, and that it didn’t mean that we were bad parents.

I ended up preparing my lesson during the second hour of church and it all seemed to work out pretty well, despite the stressful morning.

Filled

I found myself roped into doing the choir at church. It kind of became a “couldn’t find the gumption to say no” to the choir director, so I dragged my sorry bum to choir one day a few months ago and to the chagrin of my pride, I realized just how much I had missed participating in music.

I did music a lot in high school. Like, a lot a lot. It was basically my life. But when I got to college, I essentially quit. I still play the piano occasionally, but I didn’t sing in any choirs and I abandoned the trumpet with a gleeful fervor. I was hopelessly out-performed in every sphere at BYU in regards to music, so I just didn’t try.

But we were singing a Handel song for Christmas in our ward choir this year. And I love singing Handel. The bouncing, moving, intertwining lines, provide the right amount of challenge and satisfaction for me, and as I learned the piece and sang I found myself filled. Filled with the Spirit, but also filled with satisfaction that while I might not be a high caliber musician, I am at least proficient. And with my proficiency and a challenge appropriate to my skill, I can enjoy music for what I can do with it instead of worrying about what I can’t.

Music can be peaceful and beautiful. It can be many other things as well, but I’ve found that as I sing in the ward choir I am filled with peace and entranced by the beauty of the pieces we sing.

It’s a nice reminder that I can love music, and that it can be fulfilling to me even though I may never excel at it. That what I can do is enough if it brings me joy and fills my heart.

Ruby at Church

Kyle had a cold today, so Ruby and I braved church all alone. Our church only has a nursery for the last two hours; the first hour everybody meets for Sacrament Meeting, or the worship service. So Ruby and I are sitting in Sacrament Meeting, and then she looks at me, says, “Bye bye!” and attempts to walk out of the pew.

I grabbed her shoulders and turned her right back around.

This didn’t stop her from trying to do it about 15 more times before the service was over.

We sang a hymn, and after the hymn was over, in the silence, I distinctly heard Ruby singing the “Ooo oo oo ooh” from Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together”. Fortunately, while she’s got the rhythm ok, she doesn’t really do pitch. It’s more, ah, monotone. So I was the only one who knew that we were getting a little bit of Taylor Swift in with our God today.

She also tried to color on the pew in front of us, so I had to take her crayons away.

Then, in Relief Society, one of the nursery leaders brought her to me because she needed a new diaper. They got to the open door, and Ruby cries out loud enough to be heard over the teacher who has a microphone, “MOMMY!”

I’m so loved.

(Also, nursery is a real blessing.)

Physical Realities of Pregnancy

Because apparently pregnancy is all I can write about on this blog anymore. Don’t worry fair readers, in about two months I will no longer be pregnant, and we will ALL rejoice! (But then I’ll write about newborns. Look, I’m not forcing anybody to read this stuff.)

Many many moons ago I had a roommate who has a pretty severe form of Celiac Disease. She was awesome a great, but had all of these bizarre side effects from her illness. She would routinely come home and tell us things like “Guys, today I pooped whole broccoli.” (Incidentally, broccoli is one of those words I will never ever ever spell correctly the first time.) I once witnessed her become dyslexic for an evening after she ate a piece of cake (the last piece of cake she has ever eaten, last I heard). It was one of the weirdest things that has ever happened to me. When you live with someone who is that up front about the physical ramifications of her disease, well, it kind of breaks your “this is a thing about my body that is commonly considered socially acceptable to talk about” filter. I’m usually about half way through a “TMI” story before I realize that this person might not want to know this many details about my body, and at that point my foot is already lodged in my mouth.

Which is all a preface to say that if you feel weird about physical realities of things like pregnancy and diseases, this is not the post for you. It’s also a way to blame my friend for breaking a social filter–like I needed one fewer of those! I’m already at below minimum on my number of social filters!

My extended disclaimer is now over.

So. Pregnancy stats, as it were.

Starting weight: 130 lbs
Present weight, 32 weeks: 172 lbs

I anticipate gaining 5-10 more pounds before this is all done because, hey, there are like 8-10 weeks left for me. This has fascinated me, because when I was full term with Ruby, I weighed 165 pounds. I had started at 130, so there was a net gain of 35 pounds. But I also lost 10 lbs before I started putting weight on (thanks over-active pregnancy sickness) which put me at 120. So the gross gain was 45 pounds, which is much more similar to what I’m looking at this time around. I didn’t lose weight this time (thanks to not being as violently ill), so maybe the weight is just coming on differently. Or maybe this is just a different pregnancy, and I’m gaining a different amount of weight because of that. Maybe the baby’s bigger? Who knows.

Incidentally, I would much rather put on 50 pounds and only have terrible nausea and fatigue than put on 35 pounds and be vomitously ill for four months. I will take those 15 pounds with gladness if it means less misery. I also remain interested in whether this will make it harder for me to lose my baby weight this time around. My baby weight last time kind of melted off, which was fortunate for me because I didn’t do anything to help it. Unless you count breastfeeding; apparently you can burn like 300 calories a day breastfeeding, even when you’re sitting on the couch nursing and watching Hunt for Red October at 3 am because baby won’t sleep. It’s about the only thing I did to burn calories.

Heartburn: Yes. The past few weeks the heartburn has been slowly approaching. Fortunately, Tums still help.

Stretch marks: Yesser. In addition to the ones I got with my pregnancy with Ruby, I am now getting even more on my belly, breasts, thighs, hips, and belly button (weird, right?). Because, seriously? Those anticipated 50 pounds have to go somewhere. And my thighs are where my weight likes to come on.

So there’s this TV show called Bones that features an forensic anthropologist who can tell you things about a person’s life just by looking at her bones. Like, she can tell you that this victim broke her arm when she was around 8, probably falling off her bike, based on the age of the victim (also identifiable by her bones), how much the bone has healed, and the type of fracture it was. This character likes to note that our lives are literally etched on our bones. The reality is that our lives are also etched on our bodies, and this is something that I find really cool about stretch marks, scars, and other aspects of our bodies. I still have scars on my knees from when I got peer pressured into taking the training wheels off my bike and scraped up my knees trying to learn to ride without them. Even when I’m no longer carrying these babies, the fact that they were once a part of my body, of what I gave them physically, will forever be sketched into my skin, muscles, and organs. I will forever carry these stretch marks on my belly and breasts. After you have a baby, your uterus will never be the same shape, and I’m pretty sure that even your pelvic bones and vagina are somewhat altered by the experience. You can look at the new contours of your body and tell pieces of your life story from it. I think it’s fascinating that my life experiences can not only shape me emotionally, but they can also be physically written on who I am.

Vomitously ill? No!

For the most part. I’m still nauseous, and it’s actually been getting worse the past couple of weeks (hand in hand with heartburn, baby), but I’ve only thrown up a couple of days this time around as opposed to daily for months on end. I count this as a success.

Fatigue? Uber.

So, so tired. All day, every day. Ruby’s sleeping problems have exacerbated this. I am not yet at a point where I can write an entry about this while also feeling like my dignity is in tact.

Depression? Yeah. Kind of.

Between the fatigue (lack of sleep is a major trigger for depression for me) and the loneliness of Kyle basically working 11 hour days (between the commute and work), well, let’s just say that you can often gauge how good I’m feeling emotionally and physically by the state of my house. My house is a wreck right now. I basically call my mom every day, hang out with Amy as much as possible, and get Kyle snuggles to combat it; these things help.

Wow, this list make pregnancy look awful. I guess you can’t change the truth. I’m not one of those happy, healthy, joyous pregnant ladies. I’m a grumpy, feel-my-pain, curmudgeonly pregnant lady.

Why, then, you might ask, do you have these babies, Eliza? Why didn’t you wait longer before getting pregnant with this one?

Because. BABIES. I need all the babies.

There is no other reason.

It’s Like a Billion Miles, Guys

Something has happened to me over the past seven or so months.

The ground has gotten really, really far away.

I’ve given up shaving my legs, because they’re close to the ground and have you noticed how far away that is?

Kyle has to help me pull my pants and socks off because my ankles are basically on another planet.

I can’t even see my feet anymore beyond the protrusion of my belly, so that means that they’re not really there.

Ruby is very, very close to the ground, so she has to reach up if she wants to be picked up. Better yet, sometimes she’s on a couch or a chair. Her toys might as well be in somebody else’s house for how easy it is for me to get to them. They’re also tiny tripping hazards, because I can’t see the ones near my feet, which means that they’re also not really there until I’ve tripped on them. In related news, if I make it through this pregnancy without tripping on a plastic zucchini and falling to my death, it will be a miracle.

Amen.

Feelings, Worries, and Hope

I’ve been having a lot of introspective feelings about having babies and watching them grow lately. It feels like I’m somehow settling inwards to prepare for the birth of this new baby. I’ve been reviewing labor techniques and breathing patterns that helped me last time, and as the weeks go by, my confidence grows in my ability to birth this baby. My body knows what to do, and I coped well with labor last time. I feel like labor will probably be shorter this time (with Ruby it was seven hours from the time contractions woke me up to the time she was born), but it’s impossible to know for sure.

I’m not worried anymore about how Ruby will react to the baby. I think she’ll be alright. I am a little worried about who will take Ruby if I go into labor during the work day before my mom comes (when Kyle is an hour away, and Amy is unavailable), but I’ve made a list of people I might talk to about taking Ruby in the unlikely event that such a situation arises. I’ve had some passing worries about going into labor early, but that’s kind of a we’ll-deal-with-it-if-it-happens thing.

I am a little worried about Ruby’s sleep. Her sleep problems could probably take up an entire post, but suffice it to say that she’s never been a great sleeper. It goes in phases, some weeks she’ll sleep through the night, and other weeks she won’t. It can be nearly impossible to get her to go to sleep sometimes, and I wonder if we’ll be up at night with two babies who won’t sleep.

But overall I feel hopeful. I’m excited to meet this new baby. To know if it’s a boy or a girl, and to get to know Baby’s quirks and cutenesses. I find myself longing to nurse a newborn again–to feel the rush of love that comes with letdown–and to have Baby sleep on my chest and snuggle the way only newborns snuggle. The hormonal aftermath of birth is a roller coaster, but the beauty of the highs are something to behold. I know intellectually that I’m romanticizing the post birth experience. Baby blues, soreness, late nights, and struggling with nursing can all be their own nightmares to compare with the wonderful highs, but I want to bask in the peace and enthusiasm that these romantic projections are bringing. I don’t want to focus on the hard things that are coming; I will deal with those when they get here. For now I want to focus on the beautiful things that are coming.

Because beautiful things are coming.

Big and Small

As I hold Ruby before bed, rocking in our little rocking chair, I am struck by how big she is. This girl who was so tiny the day we brought her home from the birth center. I used to be able to hold her body on my forearm as she nursed, but now she fills my lap and arms. It all happens so gradually, so infinitely slowly that you can’t mark the change from one moment to the next. But with the inexorable press of time, her tiny body has grown and changed. Now she walks and runs, speaks little words, calls me “Ommy” and knocks on doors she wishes to enter. With enough effort, she can properly stack Duplo blocks.

But at the same time, she’s still so little. While walking is a feat long under her belt, she still falls down routinely because balance is hard. She needs a helping hand to go down the stairs. She often needs help getting up onto the couch, and all of the hurts in the world can be healed with a cuddle and a nurse.

I suppose it’s a paradox that will manifest in different ways as she grows. Big and small, small and big; learning so much while having so much left to learn. Perhaps it’s something we are all still going through.