Friday, December 28, 2007

Lucky (or blessed)

This is our 2002 Malibu after a car wreck that I found myself in on Friday afternoon.

My car

My car again

Both the driver's and passenger's side airbags deployed
(leaving me with a lovely, broken nose)

The car that pulled out in front of me

I only had a broken nose from the airbag, a very stiff neck, and one humdinger of a headache the next morning. The other driver walked away with a ticket, nothing more. I am very angry with her, she did a stupid and selfish thing. You just don't make a left turn onto Orchard Lake Road during rush hour.

Tom is concerned that the insurance company may total the car, which would be very unfortunate for us. It's a 2002 Malibu with about 90,000 miles, but we own it, it's been paid off for years, and it's in very good running condition. We just put $2,200 transmission into it--the day before Ava was born. The car is worth far, far more to us than the monetary value that we would be paid if the insurance company decides to total it. And, being a holiday weekend, the insurance adjuster won't be going out for several days, so we won't know the answer to that question before January 3 or 4.

It could have been much, much worse, and I thank God that I did not take my kids with me on that "quick trip to the bank."

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Ava's First Christmas!

This is humiliating. Seriously.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas!
Have a peaceful, blessed day, and remember the Reason for the Season.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Liesl's birthday gift from Amy

Liesl's godmother, and my best friend of 18 years, sent Liesl this birthday gift. It's a handmade apron with tiny pockets for a couple dozen crayons. The wearer can tote crayons ALL OVER THE HOUSE and color at a whim.

My walls will never be the same. If anyone comes across a sale for Mr. Clean Magic Erasures, please let me know ASAP.

Liesl also received a gift from Amy's parents, "Grandma" and "Grandpa" R., After 18 years, I still call them "Mom" and "Dad," even though I am no longer an adolescent (shut up, Amy.)

(Seriously, Amy, "Grandma R." and "Grandpa R.," thank you.) :-)

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Happy 2nd Birthday, Liesl!

My sweet little baby is 2 years old! What a thrill to watch her grow and learn!

We had a nice "little" party at Grammie and Papa's house. No fuss, just family. Grammie made a wonderful meal to celebrate. There were new toys to play with, naps to be taken, and laps to be cuddled upon. Many thanks to my friends who remembered her birthday with emails and cards!
Liesl at 2 weeks old

Liesl at 2 years old--with a massive second helping of personality :-)

She's on MY side of the couch!

Ava at Liesl's party--"Papa, I'm BORED, when do I get presents?"

At Liesl's party, Grammie served ham.
(You are what you eat.)

Mommy, does Wilton know about you? (tongue in cheek)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"Put a little holiday in your heart..."

...It'll put a little shuffle in your step!"

I love Christmas music, though sometimes they play it a little too early in stores and on radio stations for my taste (like October....) But anyway, I couldn't think of the artists who sing a great version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and the song was going through my head constantly. On a whim, I emailed Teresa Lucas of Detroit's WNIC radio, a station notorious for playing Christmas music all day, every day, throughout the holiday season. I thought DJ's would be too busy to read and respond to all the email they must receive; but Teresa contacted me later that day and told me who sings the version I was looking for. (The song is actually a combination of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" and "We Three Kings," and it's sung by the Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLaughlin.)

Anyway, I downloaded it immediately, and played it for my girls. As you can see, both enjoy the version of the song as much as I do. (Liesl is a far more skilled dancer than her mother. Scary, isn't it??) Next on the playlist: "Santa Claus is Coming' on the Boogy-Woogy Choo Choo Train" by The Tractors, and "Put a Little Holiday in Your Heart" by Leann Rimes.

It was so kind of Ms. Lucas to contact me right away. Sometimes people get a little harried during this season, and with a new baby, adjusting to life with two little kids, cold weather keeping us in the house, and the demands of making a perfect Christmas for my family, I'm no exception. This song was such a treat for me.

Have a blessed holiday season, everyone! Cookies, trees, shopping and gifts are fun, but be sure to make time to dance the dance and remember the Reason for the Season!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Ava's Birth Story

I can do all things in Christ who strengthens me.
Philippians 4:13

On Friday, October 26, I had been feeling some pressure and surges throughout the day, but I thought they were practice labor and ignored them. Truthfully I had been experiencing them all week, and didn’t want to get too excited, only to be disappointed later on that I had not REALLY been in labor. By the evening, though, I felt more like relaxing on the couch than doing anything, so I asked Tom to take care of Liesl while I lay down. He took Liesl out on several errands and didn’t return until close to 7:00 p.m. , then he fed her dinner and put her to bed. We then sat down to eat by ourselves, I decided to have a light meal of scrambled eggs and toast in case this really was labor. I took a shower and went to bed. At 8:30 p.m. , I felt my membranes release, so we called our midwife. My favorite midwife, Jess, was on call all weekend, and Tom swears that this is why I didn’t give birth before the weekend—I just LOVE Jess to pieces, so I was thrilled that it would happen on her watch. She suggested that I stay in bed and try to sleep, and after hearing that I was concerned things might move quickly, also suggested we call my parents and ask them to come over to be ready to take care of Liesl should we have to go to the birth center quickly. We called my parents and told them they may want to be ready, but not to come out quite yet. At about 11:00 , I started to shake and tremble. My membranes had released several times, and I couldn’t quite get warm enough. We called Jess again, and she suggested we make our way into the birthing center just to be on the safe side. We called my parents and they quickly left to come here (they live 45 minutes away.) I found out later that my mom didn’t really believe I was in labor and was just humoring me by coming out in the middle of the night. I find that amusing! I also called my doula, Kristen, and told her it was time to go. While waiting for everyone to arrive, Tom got up and got a few last-minute things ready and I stayed in bed and worked on relaxing and doing my slow breathing during surges. I could never really answer how far apart my surges were, as we didn’t focus on the clock, but we were able to tell Jess how many surges we had within about an hour. When my parents arrived, I got up, got dressed, and went in to kiss Liesl goodbye and tell her she’d be a big sister the next time she saw Mommy (she slept through this whole conversation.)

Kristen showed up just as we were leaving the house, so I got in the van and I listened to my HypnoBirthing programs on my iPod. Since the birth center is connected to the hospital and it was the middle of the night, we all arrived at the hospital’s emergency entrance and I asked Tom to park and let me walk into the hospital. We did just that and the security guards were horrified that he had “made” me walk, and tried to get me in a wheelchair. 3 different guards said, “I’ll take you to Labor and Delivery, here’s a wheelchair,” and to each I said, politely but firmly, “I’m going to the Alternative Birth Center , and I don’t want a wheelchair.” The first guy said, “I’m sorry, this is hospital policy,” two which I replied, politely but firmly, “Ok, then, throw me out, because I’m not getting in that chair.” They finally gave up and sent me to the birth center with an escort.

We got into a room, and soon the nurse checked me and found me only at 2 cm. I was disappointed, had hoped to be further than that. It was about 1:00 a.m. at check-in, after that I lost all sense of time, so I am relying on Tom and Kristen’s account of what happened past this point. I asked that the lights stay dim in the room so I could concentrate on relaxing, and except for a few times when the nurse needed light to check things, I got my wish (when she had the lights on, I just covered my eyes with my hand.) Kristen filled the Jacuzzi tub and I kept working on my sleep breathing and slow breathing. The tub took a LONG time to fill so there was a lot of waiting.

I went into the bathroom a few times with Tom’s help, but there came a time where I wasn’t comfortable walking on my own anymore, because when a surge came I felt an uncontrollable urge to just sit down and curl around my belly and my baby. I felt most comfortable lying on my side on the bed, and when surges came, I kept my eyes closed and focused very intently on my breathing. I did get into the tub, and it felt wonderful at first, but when the surges came, I did not feel “safe,” I felt like I needed to curl around my baby to embrace the surge, not breathe through it, and I didn’t feel that “safe” feeling that I had when I was laying in bed. Somewhere in that time, with my eyes shut, I asked Kristen and Tom to remove my best friend and my mother from the room because the conversations were too distracting.

At this point I was starting to feel like I was hitting that “wall” that people talk about. Not long after that, I tried to give up. I told Kristen and Tom that I couldn’t do this anymore, I needed the drugs, I needed to get out of here, that they needed to transport me to labor and delivery. Both of them told me, “Oh, no, you're doing so well, you’re doing GREAT, you can’t stop now!” I felt like crying when they said this, so I asked to get out of the tub and lay back down on the bed. That was when I truly “checked out” of my body as much as I could.

Jess, the midwife, showed up around 3:00 a.m. , and from that point on, she left the room once for only a few minutes; other than that, she never left my side. When she first arrived, she checked my cervix at my request. I had gone from 2 to 8 in less than 2 hours.

When surges happened, I kept reaching out for a hand…and there was always, always a hand for me to hold and squeeze during surges—usually Kristen’s, but sometimes Jess’s or Tom’s as well. To have them all understand that need was so unbelievably helpful, and I didn’t even have to ask. There were several surges that I actually did cry out, and I felt like they were uncontrollable, but when Kristen and Jess reminded me to make “low, guttural” noises instead of breathing fast and crying out in pain, it really did make the surges easier to deal with. (Easier, but not easy!) I kept feeling the urge to push or breathe down, but I wasn’t quite dilated yet. Jess checked me a few times…but only after asking me if I wanted to be checked (I initiated the request every time.) For a period of time I stayed at 9.5 cm, but the urge to push and breathe down was so great, Jess suggested that she keep her hand on my cervix and sort of ease it back during the surges. I agreed, and that’s when things really stated moving.

I did a combination of breathing down and pushing for probably about an hour (again, I lost all track of time.) Kristen let me breathe out the first few surges, but then she told me it would be best if I concentrated on breathing down, and just to be reminded was very helpful. With each surge thereafter, she told me to make sure to “make it count.” I was so very tired and at one point, I actually stopped surging for 15 minutes and everybody said I started snoring—I apparently took a 15 minute nap right in the middle of pushing. A surge woke me up (boy, did it wake me up) and after a few more surges, finally, the baby crowned. Tom gasped and said, “Oh my gosh, there’s the head!” I had to wait a few more minutes (seemed like a lifetime) before another surge came and finally, my baby was born.

My baby was placed immediately on my chest and then covered with a blanket, I just laid there, not believing it was over. I just laid there with my baby on my chest and hugged and cuddled, and then I had the wherewithal to ask, “What is it…what is it????” My midwife had remembered my wishes to have Tom tell me the sex of the baby, and I suspect she knew the sex at that point, but she said, “I don’t know, Tom will have to take a look!” Tom peeked under the blanket and said, slightly incredulously, “ANOTHER girl?!??!” Everyone in the birthing room laughed at that (he was the only male in the room!)

Every good and perfect gift comes from above.
James 1:17

The best part of Ava’s and my birth story is what happened afterwards. Mom and my best friend, Amy, came right back in, having been granted access once again to the room. My father and Liesl came for about half an hour to meet Ava, and then everybody but my husband left. I had some difficulty using the bathroom, so when I got up—assisted—to use it, I actually passed out. Jess came running back in and ran some smelling salts under my nose. That part was kind of funny…I kept telling her, “Ok, enough, I’m awake now, no more of that…seriously, you can stop now,” and she said, with a very patient and kind expression on her face, “Uh-huh, ok, sure, absolutely, I hear you” and kept running the salts under my nose (because regardless of what I was saying, I was going to pass out again.) But after that fun little episode, our new nurse, Jen, was awesome about making sure our needs were met…and then leaving us alone. She told me she would only check my vitals if I wasn’t sleeping, because she had read ahead of time in my birth preferences sheet that I have horrible insomnia. So I was to buzz her when I was awake so she could take my vitals. I was so impressed that not only do they seriously read those birth preferences sheets, but the also think of ways to make your stay better and more comfortable. She made sure we had the room service menu and told us what time we could order meals through room service, took my vitals, arranged for us to have TV, and left us alone. Once I felt strong enough, I took a shower and ordered some lunch. The windows were open, it was a very nice, springy kind of day, and we just sat and relaxed and watched football (well, Tom did), and admired our new little baby girl.

Did HypnoBirthing work for me? At first, I thought no, because I didn’t have that “quiet” birth that is shown on the videos in the classes. But Jess talked to my husband afterwards and said her birth was a lot like mine, where the breathing techniques and visualization came into play a lot, but a lot of women have births like mine. I do think I could have practiced the visualization a lot more, and I could have focused more on the scripts with Tom, but I also feel that the breathing techniques saved me. I felt a lot more in control of my birthing with that kind of breathing than I did while birthing my first baby in a hospital. I also felt a lot less tired during pushing/breathing down than I did with my medicated birth with Liesl. The breathing techniques alone were a fantastic part of my experience, and without my HypnoBirthing classes, I don’t think I’d have had the guts to say, “No, I will NOT ride in that wheelchair, hospital policy or not,” and I don’t think I would ever have believed myself capable of taking a nap—however short—during the last and most difficult phases of labor. Lastly, I don’t think I would ever have made it drug-free without my HypnoBirthing experiences, because I think I would have tried to give up a lot sooner than I actually did…and at that point, they might have had to let me, because I can be pretty persistent.

If we decide to have any more children, I wouldn’t even hesitate to go this same route again. Even with the hard parts, I look back and almost want to cry that the birthing part is over, as Ava gets a little older each day, I feel a little bit sad that the birthing experience is taking a further backseat to the wonderful experience of raising this beautiful new little baby. I would ask Kristen to assist in this birth as soon as the pregnancy test came back positive…and I’d ask Jess to keep me posted of when she would be on call when the time got nearer. Between Kristen, Jess, and of course my wonderful husband, and going to the birth center, I had so much support and encouragement that I had absolutely no choice but to succeed at a natural birth—even when I myself didn’t think it was possible. I would try a few things differently—I would take a pillow of some sort or a large towel bunched up into a ball and curl around it in the Jacuzzi tub during surges. I would definitely listen to my HypnoBirthing Cd's on my iPod instead of on the birth center’s CD player so I could hear it better. I would ask for more relaxation help by way of physical contact: massage, foot rubs, or the light touch massage technique that is taught in HypnoBirthing.

I am so very happy to have my beautiful Ava!

Three Tired People!

Grammie holding Ava for the first time
Meeting my best friend Amy

Papa C. and Amy introducing Liesl to AvaJess, our midwife...absolutely awesome lady

But Papa C. had to give her a hard time about her choice of sweatshirt
(We're Michigan State fans)

Jess was amazing for our whole family

Papa C., Ava, and Liesl waiting for Mommy to check out of the Birth Center

Grammie, Liesl, and Ava waiting for Mommy to check out

Kristen, our wonderful doula, who took most of the birth pictures.
Kristen's support and friendship has made me think seriously about what I want to do
with my life once my children are older and in school.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Just some pics

Big Sister lovies!

Meeting Oma & Opa for the first time

Flirted for Uncle Robert's camera

Homegirl's just hangin' in the crib with her peeps

At Tyler's first birthday party. Mommy is just starting to get the hang of this sling.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Ava is 1 month old today!

I don't know if I should laugh with pride because my little girl has gotten so big, or cry because my precious little baby is growing so fast. It's just going by way too quickly.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Ava's first tub bath

Ava had her first tub bath last Saturday evening. Unlike her big sister, who also had her first tub bath at this age, she didn't scream bloody murder...she actually seemed to like it. Who knew?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

SOMEONE has to clean up this pigsty

I don't know where she got the idea that vacuuming is fun. I know there are some people out there who really enjoy housework (Julieann...this means you!) However, I am not one of them--my mother can attest to that. Not that I'm complaining, by any means. The phrase, "Liesl, if you help me pick up your toys, I'll give you a treat and let you vacuum" has left my mouth more than once this week. (The kid is so gullible.)
Oh, Martha...your protege is living in my house.

Not to be outdone by Big Sister, here are some pictures of Ava as well.

First time holding the baby

I'll remind both of them of this sisterly love when they're 14 and 16.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Liesl Meets Ava

I plan to post Ava's birth story soon, it is in the final stages of writing. (I don't remember a lot of it because I had mentally "checked out" and didn't pay attention to the clock. So I have to rely a lot on my doula's and husband's accounts of the event.)

But anyway, I thought this video was too cute not to show. My dad brought Liesl to the birth center about an hour and a half after Ava was born. Liesl's reaction was puzzled but curious (and we were relieved!) Truthfully, she was more interested in the cameras--and later, my breakfast--than the baby. Oh well.

Try not to look at me--the kid is the cute portion of this video. Mind you, I had just given birth, drug-free, been in labor for 11 hours, and last but most importantly, had no makeup on. (Woof.)

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Tickling Grammie

Never EVER teach a toddler that tickling adults can be fun. :-)
Taken on 11-3-07, during the Michigan/Michigan Stage football game. (Hey, at least SOMETHING was fun that weekend....)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Ava's Newborn Portrait

Taken at the Birthing Center on October 28, 2007.
Just 24 hours old.
"Live long and prosper...."

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Welcome Ava Grace

Ava Grace
October 27, 2007, 7:05 a.m.
8 pounds, 9 ounces, 20-1/2 inches
Born natural, drug free!
Alternative Birthing Center, Southfield, Michigan

Friday, October 26, 2007

Nothing exciting, just pictures and video :-)

No real news going on here. We have had some practice labor (i.e., "false labor") going on most of the week, but my midwife says this is normal for women who've had babies before, it could go on for weeks. (GREAT.) I've had plenty of uterine surges (i.e., "contractions"), but nothing regular or strong enough to be actual labor. My doula has been by twice this week to chat and work on some relaxation techniques; she's been wonderful about learning the HypnoBirthing lingo and using this terminology instead of mainstream medical birthing vocabulary. It's been extremely helpful! We have been hitting it off very well, too, I may have a new friend when all this birthing stuff is said and done. :-)

So other than that, nothing exciting, no trips, no big events...just pics of my cute kid. :-)

Watching "The Wiggles" on a DVD I borrowed from the library.
I SO want to take her to see them in concert now....

In her "new, big-girl room." Papa C. made the table and chairs for her a long time ago. She really, really loves them. The room is quite bare, there will be a dresser, nightstand, and hutch delivered for her new room on Wednesday. Also a headboard for when she gets her "big girl bed," which we are not in a rush for. For now, Squidgie will sleep in a borrowed bassinet while Liesl keeps the crib.

Just smiling. :-) 10-24-07

Signing "toast." (Note the extremely intelligent look on her face, too.)

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Squidgie won't be naked

My 36-week appointment with the midwife was yesterday. While she'd like me to hold onto the baby for another week to be considered full-term, I am now 100% eligible for the Birth Center and can labor and birth there when the time comes. Based on Liesl's birth and my exam yesterday, she thinks I could go into labor at any minute. So, the bag's packed and the outfits are purchased. I splurged and bought a boy's ensemble and a girl's ensemble; each complete with a matching sleeper, hat, bib, and booties. Both are now packed in my Birth Center suitcase; Grammie has the assignment of taking the unused outfit back to Carter's.

For Liesl's birth, I didn't really pay attention to the all-important going-home outfit, and packed a simple green sleeper. So when Liesl arrived quite a bit early, 3 days before Christmas, Tom made an offhand comment that she needed a Santa hat to go home in. Never say these things within my mother's hearing. She was out and about in every store you can think of to buy baby clothing, TWO DAYS before Christmas, searching for a "Baby's first Christmas" outfit and a Santa hat. I am forever grateful that she took the time and energy to do that; especially since she had been up from 6:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. the night before, attending Liesl's birth. Liesl's newborn portrait is very much treasured, as is the story behind the outfit.

Not to be outdone by news of Squidgie, here is a cute picture of Liesl in the bath. She LOVES water --be it a bath, a swim in Torch Lake, sticking her head in a wheelbarrow full of dirty name it. The child should have been born with gills.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Happy Halloween to my fellow Moms!

I just had to post these pictures. I'm a member of the Farmington Area Mom's Club. Farmington/Farmington Hills always has tons of festivals, competitions, and other family-friendly events to celebrate the current times of the year. Over the summer, the FAMC's float won second prize in the Founder's Festival parade. This is the FAMC's contribution to the town scarecrow display and competition. And yes, there really is a baby scarecrow in that sling. (That "scarecrow-ess" is one BUSY but happy Mom!)
I am sad to say I could not participate in building this lovely scarecrow family due to time and body constraints. However, once Squidgie is out and about, I will get to do more of these fun activities. The Mom's Club has been a great source of friendship and activities for both Liesl and I, we have met so many wonderful (and colorful!) moms and kids through this amazing group of ladies.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Hitting the sauce...HARD

The herbs and veggies are in full swing, so it was time to make and freeze homemade spaghetti sauce for the year. We wound up with approximately 12 quarts to go into the freezer. Whenever I make sauce, even with my best efforts to clean as I go, I end up with a disastrous kitchen. This time was worse than usual--it has become hard to lean over Squidgie to reach the counters and sink to scrub, peal, dice, chop, and wash. However, the extra work for the fresh home-grown herbs is definitely worth the taste, not to mention dried herbs are terribly expensive at the grocery.

My darling Mom came out to help take care of Liesl, and even made me a double batch of meatballs for Tom to keep in the freezer. For dinner tonight, we had 4-cheese ravioli with the fresh sauce, and Tom had fresh meatballs. It was delicious! The rest will be put in the freezer for quick, tasty, healthy meals for the rest of the winter. This will be especially helpful when Squidgie is born. The house smells heavenly today!
With any Italian meal comes the requisite baby-eating-tomato-sauce photos. Cleaning up the kid and the high chair (and a 40-foot radius around the high chair) is always a source for discussion. Tom wants to bring out the power washer; I usually suggest renting a convertible and going through the nearest car wash. We opt for a bath instead...and getting her upstairs and into it without covering our stairs, furniture, walls, bedspreads, and clothes with tomato sauce is the next problem to be solved. But at least she had a good healthy meal.