Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Healing Power of Film

I love my youngest daughter but her birth was far from what I planned.  The loss of my midwife/water birth left me disappointed.  Her arrival ten weeks early filled me with fear and anxiety for her health.  The c-section left my body bruised and broken.  Her NICU stay was costly and prevented bonding in the way I dreamed.  The fact that her older siblings couldn't see her for months was heartbreaking.  Having her come home on an NG tube, unable to nurse just added insult to injury.  Don't get me wrong, there were many lessons to be learned and many miracles seen, and bringing my daughter home in good health did much to heal my wounds but even after I felt burdened and scarred.  I needed balm of gilead, but what could I do?

Last summer I made a friend at the pool.  She had four kids and I was on my way to four.  Her husband worked a lot like mine so she was often on her own as was I.  Our oldest daughters were the same age and shared the same name.  Peach was the same age as her twin daughters.  She was fun to talk to and so even though I was insanely jealous of the fact that she was pulling off a bikini just months after her son was born, her family were perfect play date type friends and I was so stoked to meet them.  Shortly after we met I found out she was a professional photographer, an excellent one, and I got a lot of joy out of following her photography blog, Jessica Vaughn Photography, especially her baby photos.  

I'm not your sort of average professional photography client.  An important fact about me is I'm a cheap little queen.  As an example of this, two years ago when I lost the diamond out of my ring and my husband asked me which one I'd like to replace it with, I actually downsized the size of my diamond because of price rather then go for the upgrade diamond at twice the price which my husband offered me.  So although I love professional photography my "frugal ways" make it something I could never afford.  But I just couldn't shake my hurt and so I e-mailed Jessica and asked her if she could come out and photograph my daughter, giving me the newborn pictures I missed getting, and photograph my family, capturing the joyous meeting we originally failed to have.  She agreed and so the Wednesday after Dr. J's kidney stone surgery we cleaned the tape off Cheetah's face and had some pictures taken.  It was amazing.  Watching Jessica lull my daughter to sleep was magic and the pictures she took pure perfection.  The lifestyle pictures of the family were so painless and comfortable that Dr. J thought there couldn't possibly be anything good there because after all family photos should be painful right?  Instead she took pictures that could grace the pages of Parent magazine, perhaps on a story of great ways to spend a rainy afternoon with the kids. I'm still a cheap, I still hate to spend money, but I feel eternally grateful for the opportunity I had to have these done.  They are a heirloom I will treasure and the soothing they brought to my soul a gift beyond price.  Thank you Jessica for so perfectly capturing the love and beauty of my family, moments I thought were lost to us forever.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


When we first moved here and knew we were going to be having a baby at the beginning of January Dr. J choose to work Christmas and take his week off in January.  Then little miss Cheetah hurried her way into our lives.  But that week came in handy when Dr. J found himself with stone.  The first night that he went to the ER they told him he had a stone 3mm by 8mm.  They hoped it would pass, but after a week it became obvious it wasn't moving.  He was stoned out of his mind on pain pills, vomiting from the pain and pills, sleeping or moaning in the tub, it was all getting to be too much.  Finally the urologist agreed to laser the thing out.  I dropped Dr. J off for the procedure and waited for his call.  A few hours later we picked him up.  He was heavily medicated and very groggy.  For the next two weeks he was peeing blood and dealing with pain, but by the end of his week off he was at least fit enough to go to work without narcotics.  These are the things we've learned about kidney stones.

1) Kidney stones are extremely painful.
2) Hot water makes it just a tiny bit less painful.
3) Pain meds can and will make you puke.
4) Ignore pain meds and pain can make you puke.
5) Having a kidney stone gives men a window into the world of womanhood.  The first night after the surgery Dr. J called me into the bathroom.  "Sweetie, sweetie, look at this!"  "What?" I asked.  "Um the toilet."  Well it turns out wives don't think blood in the toilet is that big of a deal.  Then there is the stent.  Having a stent apparently makes you feel like you have to pee all the time, even when there is nothing to pee.  And there you have pregnancy.  Also turns out that a stuck stone can actually mimic that waxing and waning pain of contractions.  The only the end of a pregnancy you have a beautiful little baby.  At the end of stone you have burning urination and a filter full of sand.

Word to the wise they have cool ultra sound technology that can break up stones now, but if you take ibuprofen they can't do it for seven days.  Do not take ibuprofen!!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Preemie Life - Week 2

Week 2.  Dr. J woke up with terrible back pain.  When it brought him to his knees he self diagnosed a kidney stone.  He tried to call in to work to tell them he needed to go to the emergency room.  No one answered the page so he decided to drive down to work at the Children's Hospital, tell them he wasn't coming in and then drive himself to an adult emergency room.  I decided to come along because I was worried he would pass out on the way.  Just a few miles from home he finally got a call back.  They told him to please take himself to the emergency room.  Once there he found out he had a stone 3mm by 8mm.  The thing was huge.  The plan was to have him flush it.  They doped him up and told him to drink lots of fluids.  Pain and drugs morphed into a miserable week laying in bed, vomiting, and rolling around in pain.  The stone managed to jam itself in his ureter and in the end he had to have a laser taken to it and a stent put it.  It was a horrible week for him.  There was a plus side though.  With dad home I was no longer responsible for the three o'clock feed.  Viva to parents!  I definitely needed the extra sleep.

Family many kids, no room for mama :)
I have a picture like this with daddy and all the kids.  I'm starting to think they all prefer sleeping next to dad.

This shirt says I LOVE Daddy...but it is to cute not to show.

Look at how much tape I have on my face.  Turns out it is really  difficult to keep that NG tube once the kids start moving.

Daddy catching up on some reading, baby catching up on some sleeping.  Notice the clean cheeks.  We tried a day without NG feeds.  It worked well the first day, but the second day she was so tired we had to put the tube back in.  Sad day.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

How to Make a Moby Wrap - Preemie Life at Home - Week 1

 This is not my first time at the Rodeo, so you think I would have been prepared for the first week but I wasn't.  It literally picked me up, chewed me up, and spit me out EXHAUSTED!!!!!    This little baby has to eat every three hours, but instead of just hooking her on and falling asleep I have to defrost milk, mix it with formula, warm it up, put it in the tube, wait for it to fill her belly by gravity (a task that takes somewhere between twenty minutes and forty minutes), burp her, change her, get her back in bed, and then pump milk so I keep up the supply hoping that some day she'll be nursing on her own. There were times when I felt like I'd just barely closed my eyes and the alarm was sounding again. Throw on the fact that Dr. J was working nights and I was all on my own and it was just a week of PAIN :)  At one point Dr. J and I turned to each other and said, "I think we're told old for this :)"  That being said, we are so grateful to have Cheetah home with us.  Looking over and seeing my baby being held by my husband, hearing her breathing near my bed at night, smelling her sweet little baby smell anytime I want, it has been great!  The kids have been so excited to get to see her and hold her  and we invented a game where each night after stories, scriptures, and being tucked in the Cheetah fairy flies around the house and lands right above there bed.  Then they get to give her a little kiss right on the bald spot she's getting on the back of her head.  They love it, and she tolerates a win/win :)
We got this fancy swing for Cheetah at the garage sale next door when the kids killed our little travel one.  It was so close to the ground they just couldn't resist swinging in it, stripping the motor.  This little beauty is much more fancy.  It goes multiple directions, plays music, heart sounds, my ipod, and is the perfect place to catch a meal up safely away from prying older sisters.  

 Little miss Cheetah turned two months old.  She weighed in at 7lbs 2 ounces on the day, more than double her birth weight!  Funny to think her two month birthday was a week and half before her due date!  I got these cute little tummy tickers to count up the months here on etsy.  I think they'll be fun, I'm just a little bummed I didn't get to do the zero days, 1 week, 2 weeks, 1 month....
No more pictures mom!

 So I'm a baby carrying fool.  I like having my babies close and I feel like they are more content with mama warmth.  Over the last seven years I've had several different wraps and slings.  With Captain E I started with a snuglie and ended up with a maya wrap.  With the girls I moved to a peanut sling for when they were smaller and then a  mei tai for when they got older.  I loved both of them and still have them, but with my last pregnancy my friend Liz had a moby like wrap that was so adorable and comfortable looking I wanted one just like it.  Unfortunately I could never find one similar and so I decided to make my own using instructions from here. I went to all the fabric stores in town but ended up buying my 100% cotton jersey at Hobby Lobby using a 40% off coupon.  I got six yard that ended up costing $25.  I then picked up a yard of the flower pattern, once again 100% cotton jersey for about $4 at Hobby Lobby.  I brought my white fabric home and because it was 60 inches across decided to make three wraps instead of two.  I cut the fabric into three long strips.  I then cut out three rectangles of the flower pattern.  The first wrap I did for a girl at mops.  I actually hemmed down the edges of the flower jersey before sewing it onto the middle of my long rectangle.  It was a huge pain...huge!  I was cursing not having a surger.  Then I decided why bother.  The edges aren't going to fray and hemming it under doesn't make it looking any better.  So when I made mine I actually just pinned it down and then went around the edges using black thread and my flower petal stitch.  It ended up looking pretty darn cool.  So much so that Dr J thought I'd bought it.  Just a tiny bit of work and I ended up with three wraps, $10 a piece.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Christmas 2011

 Do you like the tree?  Turns out I'm one of those people who covers it with all the crazy homemade ornaments my kids make.  Maybe it's tacky but I love it!  As for all those presents, I had to carry everyone down by myself.  There are some huge ones in the back.  It took me eleven trips to get everything from our closet downstairs.  This particular night shift is killing me slowly :)  Can't wait until Tuesday when we can say goodbye night shift for awhile.
 Kids waiting at the top of the stairs to be let down!
 Presents and paper oh my!

 Wait I don't remember buying that?
 Girls having a little fun.
 Meanwhile at the hospital Cheetah was rocking out this cute gymboree outfit Grandma Linda sent her.  She was in a mood because I made her take a bath.

Resting with the Christmas hat the nurses made her.  

Preemie Life - Day 68....Exhaustion

Exhaustion, I don't think I knew what it was to be truly tired until I entered the realm of mother to a new infant.  This time around is no exception.  I said to Dr. J recently, "Have we gotten to old for this?"  This was after a night where we went to sleep right after the nine o'clock feeding and didn't "get up" until well after the next nine o'clock feeding.  It makes me seriously question, "Have I gotten to old for this?"  Is it the extra years that make is so difficult?  The fact that I have three other kids at home that must be taken care of?  The extra time and preparation it takes for a feeding to be completed?  The exactness with which one must be enforced?  The fact that Dr. is working a 5pm-7am night shift? Or is it the combination of all these things?  Whatever the source I feel bare bones tired, worse then I ever have with any of my other children.  Today I spent the morning laying on the couch trying to accomplish as many activities as possible while not getting up.  I played poly pockets and read books.  I scheduled play dates via text.  I planned my weekly menu.  I directed a game of I Spy and a trampoline/counting game that ended in two girls bonking heads.  Finally I turned on a movie, but thanks to bad timing on the home care nurses part what I didn't get was a nap.  Turns out Miss Cheetah now weighs 7lbs 9 ounces which is 7 ounces more then she weighed at the hospital.  It is growth which is right on target.  A feat that would perhaps be a little more impressive if she didn't receive many of her meals in her sleep, on a regiment so tight it is driving her mother to exhaustion :)  I wonder if Dr. J would put on some weight if I could feed him this way....hmmm!  A tidbit to file.  The kids are exceptionally cute with Cheetah.  Last night, this night, whatever night we are in, they took turns holding her while we were reading stories.  Each of them was so gentle and when it was time for bed they each begged for just a few more minutes.  It adds just a little bit of gold into my exhaustion!


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