Calm

So I’m cooking dinner, and Ruby is screaming at me in the way that only a two year old can. She wants to be held or help with dinner, but I’m chopping onions, which is a chore that two year olds really can’t help with. So I turn to her and calmly explain that I can’t hold her and she can’t help. I tell her, “If you’re going to cry, you can cry in your crib. You have three options. You can watch TV, you can cry in your crib, or you can calm down. What do you want? TV, crib, or calm?”

Through belligerent tears, Ruby declares, “CALM!”

I’m gonna be honest, this is not the option I thought she’d pick.

So I said, “Ok. Then go in the living room and calm down.”

And the heavens smiled upon me and she stopped crying and left the kitchen.

…Pulled off all of her clothes, sat in her baby doll stroller, and glared at me. So, you know, you win some you lose some. But I’m gonna count this as a win. Who knew my two year old could choose to calm down?

The Bean Museum

Amy and I took the kids to the Monte L. Bean Life Sciences Museum yesterday. As soon as we arrived, we saw the enormous giraffes which, to my surprise, Ruby quickly and correctly identified.

In every room after that, she went around looking for “Giraffe?” Because giraffes are clearly the most important part of the Bean Museum.

Three Month Sabbatical

Let’s just call this hiatus in blogging I’ve been having a 3 month post-baby sabbatical and pretend that I really blogged about everything, ok?

The funny thing is that life has actually been really good for us these past three months. Sherman is a really fantastic baby. He sleeps, he only fusses when something is wrong, he’s calm and quiet most of the time…basically it’s baby heaven. Especially after all of the crying we endured with Ruby. I finally believe people when they say that after about six weeks babies tend to settle out with their sleep. Sherman totally did! He only gets up once, maybe twice at night, and then is back in bed and asleep withing 20 minutes. Sometimes all he needs is a binky, so I’m only up for about a minute to replace the lost binky. It’s magic! It puts Ruby’s babyhood into kind of a negative perspective on the sleep and crying front, but I’m enjoying Sherman’s blissful babyhood all the more for the contrast.

(As an aside, Ruby just walked past me wearing my white high heels, a diaper, and pushing her baby doll stroller. It is cuteness encapsulated. Oh, wait, then she lost her shoe and goes “Oh, crap!”, so–you know. Parenting win in kind words we’ve taught our daughter.)

I’ve got Sherman’s birth story half written up, and I really need to finish it before all of the details disappear from my mind. The quick and dirty version is that I labored for 4.5 hours, he was over a pound bigger than Ruby, and it was a harder labor and birth than Ruby’s was. Oh, and he was born at home. The longer, better version will be posted some day.

But here’s to being a more diligent blogger. We started attending the Family History class at church, and it has made me regret the neglect of this blog. Since its purpose is as a record of our family, it’s important that I keep up. I’m not very good about taking pictures, so this written record has a lot to stand for. On the up side, I figure that it won’t be hard to be more diligent than I’ve been the past few months.

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.