Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Where we are

I write this blog mostly for myself. Clearly, based on my handful of readers-though I do appreciate the few of you. I like to write a bit to keep my mind working and to organize my thoughts. It's like an ongoing journal that I can look at to remember what I was doing in 2007 or last month.

I feel like I will remember everything, but am constantly surprised by how it slips from my memory. T and I ask each other, "Was it R who always stuck his tongue out when he smiled, or was that Q?" When you are living your life each day hour by hour you feel like your current situation will last forever. You get trapped in the daily chores of dirty diapers, loud baths, and interrupted nights and forget to appreciate the small moments.

I get mad at myself when I realize I am wishing away each day and each week. I look forward to when the kids will be asleep, to when the weekend arrives, or when a project is over. I fail to submerge myself in the experience.

The start of 2011 marks another chapter in our lives. I will go back to work full-time with three kids at home and with a new nanny. I will start my second semester of my MBA program. Q will start a new school, and we will begin the new year in our new home.

So where are we?

Q is four and a half and is in 4K. He is tall and skinny. He is curious and very observant. If anything is different when he comes down the stairs in the morning, he immediately realizes it. He found most of his Christmas presents long before Christmas morning. He likes learning Spanish words and enjoys coloring, riding his bike, playing with trains, and trucks, and cars. He adores his stuffed seal which is now threadbare and without stuffing. He calls it a puppet and snuggles up with it while he sucks his thumb. It seems to always smell sour and feel a little crunchy even with frequent washing. Q is extremely affectionate and always hugs his teachers and tells us he loves us. He comes into our room most nights and sleeps for a few hours on the ground next to me with his Bucky Badger snuggli. His stuttering comes and goes, and we hope that speech therapy through the school district will help him communicate clearly. Q still has tantrums and collapses to the ground in frustration if he doesn't get what he wants. He can definitely test our patience and frequently pushes or hits his brother. He waits way too long to go to the bathroom and still has regular accidents. He constantly chatters and has an amazing memory. When I stop for a moment, I am amazed that the 4 pound 14 ounce preemie turned into this little boy!

R is a little spitfire. He has big blue eyes and a great head of hair. He is a bit shorter and stockier than Q. He has a big vocabulary and likes to sing. Lately he has been singing Jingle Bells: "Jingle bells, jingle all the way!" He still sleeps in his crib, though he could easily climb out of it. In the morning when he wakes up, he starts kicking his feet together like he is doing the butterfly stroke. He sucks his left thumb just like Q and loves his sailboat pillow. It is also often dirty and sour-smelling. He loves juice, which he water down a lot so he doesn't get a mouthful of cavities. He shows his independence often, whether it is putting his own toothpaste on the toothbrush or holding the cup while we pour in the juice. Sometimes it is frustrating for us, but we remind ourselves that it is just a part of him growing up. He and Q are big buddies though they clash often and have started to tattle on each other. R made us laugh recently when he came upstairs to tell us, "Q said poopy pants." R loves to give Ruby treats. He likes to be picked up and says, "Uppy!" He is dangerously fearless and careens down the sidewalk with his feet off his Big Wheel pedals.

Lena is three months old now, and I think she is really a beauty. She is petite, just in the 25th percentile for height, weight, and head circumference. She has patchy brownish-red hair and so far her eyes are still blue. I hope they stay that way. She is a good girl and doesn't fuss much. She started sleeping through the night around two months. She doesn't even cry when we give her a bath. She smiles often and coos. When she poops, it is loud and boisterous and often embarrassing if we are in a public place. She loves to stretch. Anytime we pick her up, she tucks her legs up and stretches her arms overhead and turns her head side to side. She will do it several times over several minutes. It makes us laugh. I love to stretch too. Maybe it is genetic. Lena loves nursing, and I had the easiest time establishing breastfeeding with her. I think if I let her, she would nurse all night. Against my better judgment, I often fall asleep laying side by side with her nursing. As I type this, she is smiling at me and cooing as she is propped up on pillows. I can tell she is taking the first steps toward communicating. She is such a sweet little girl, and she really seems to charm people. I feel so lucky to finally have my little Lena.

The boys love talking to their baby sister. They often get awkwardly close to her and say, "Hi baby, hi baby, hi baby!" Though I quickly shoo them back and try to prevent them from roughly patting her, she smiles and coos at them. The three kids are always looking out for each other. Q will remind us to get something for R, and R will tell us when the baby is crying. I constantly question my expertise at motherhood (I am not teaching them sign language or taking them to music classes or banning television), but I am proud when I see how loving and compassionate they already are. We must be doing something right.

Truthfully, T and I spend many of our days tired, frustrated, and overwhelmed by family, work, and school responsibilities. We both operate with a constant level of nagging stress but in certain quiet moments, we are filled with love and pride for each other and our family when we stop and realize our many blessings. We need to do that more often.

So that's where we are. A snapshot of our children frozen in time, so I won't forget and will remember to appreciate.

--MM

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas hangover

When you are young, Christmas can't come soon enough and then is over far too quickly. When you are older Christmas comes way too quickly and can't be over soon enough. We are now surrounded by new toys and piles of clothes and books.

The boys were overwhelmed with presents this year and were in a state of Christmas mania. Their favorites were a remote-control helicopter (Q) and a tractor (R) and a zhu zhu pet for each of them.

We went back and forth to my parents a few times eating far too much and playing in the snow. The boys love seeing their cousins and posed in new sweaters from Grandma.


All in all, it was a beautiful Christmas with our three little ones this year. I hope yours was just as jolly, and here's to a prosperous 2011!

--MM

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas sloth

I couldn't have timed my maternity leave better. I get 12 weeks off during my first semester of grad school and during all the holidays. No stress for shopping, wrapping, and making cards. Supposedly. For the most part that has been true, but I find myself a bit more sluggish than in Christmases past. I have mentioned before my tendency to go at two speeds: either turbo-charged or in park. So, when I don't have constant tasks demanding my attention, I impersonate a sloth.

I was not very inspired to get the Christmas tree up this year. T wasn't either. Q made us feel like bad, laZy parents when he constantly asked for it. T finally picked out a tree during a snowstorm, and we slapped on the ornaments. I even managed to put the village under the tree, because I knew the boys would love it, but I didn't put out most of the little trinkets. Why get them all out just to put them away in a few weeks? I thought to my Grinch-self. We also hung up the stockings and put a lone garland on the stair banister, but the rest of the decorations stayed in the box this year. Though I am home every day right now, I just didn't feel like it. And I'm OK with that.

I did (in a clear moment of post-partum insanity) decide to make my Christmas cards this year. They were very simple, but still time-consuming. Our large families and stops in several states have swollen our list to 115 cards. Printed address labels made the job as easy as possible. Though I don't think I will be making my cards again next year.

We are even skimping on gift-giving this year. A few things for the boys, but nothing for Lena. She is a baby. She won't know the difference, though the boys might wonder why Santa stiffed her.

Thankfully my shopping is done. I was happy about this fact as I sped by the long line of cars turning into the mall parking lot today. I have kept calm, organized, and minimalistic this year. It is so much better this way.

I have just a week and a half left of maternity leave left. Man, has it gone fast. I am stressed about going back. The thought of resuming school, work, and breast-pumping gives me a pit in my stomach. I wish it were March, so I could be settled in and used to my new routine.

Just ten days left to spend with my little girl, napping when I want to and watching daytime TV. I will try to squeeze enjoyment out of every moment. It will be a wonderful Christmas this year with three little ones. And the best thing is, I won't have to take down many decorations.

(not our Christmas tree!)
--MM

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sick house

This house is full of germs and grossness. I am finally feeling a bit better today, but yesterday I was a mess. It felt like knives were scratching my throat, my ears hurt, my body ached, and I had a fever of 101.7. It seems like the flu, but I did get a flu shot.

I had R stay home because he seemed to feel sick as well and had diarrhea. So I barely felt like moving and yet had to care for a sick kid and a newborn baby. No fun. R mercifully slept in, but when I went in to get him, I found he had had poo smeared all over his bed and his clothes. He was screaming and crying as I tried to clean him, and I actually started crying because I was so exhausted and getting light-headed as I tried to clean him up. It was a disgusting mess. I had to sit down several times during the process of getting him ready.

I managed to get his clothes and sheets in the washer, feed him two Nutrigrain bars for breakfast, and put the Dora Christmas special on TV. Then I went upstairs, climbed back in bed, and begged family members for help. T came home for a couple hours and then my dad came over for the afternoon. He even changed three poopy diapers, which I think is a first for him. He'll probably never visit again.

It is horrible being sick when you are nursing a baby. I feel like it is inevitable that she will get sick. I feel like my breast milk is tainted. So far she has been OK, though she is sleeping a lot, which is all right by me.

After being a waste of space yesterday, I am catching up on some bills and other things today. My throat still feels like a raw wound, but things are turning around. Thank goodness for that. Being sick is no fun.

--MM

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Clothes-shrinking closet

I had a friend who used to say her closet kept shrinking her clothes. I love that. I have the same problem. None of my clothes fit, so it is clearly a closet problem.

During our last couple moves, I weeded out my clothes and got rid of all the bigger sizes. So now, two months after having a baby, nothing fits. It's frustrating. It sounds minor, but it really is a hassle trying on ten outfits to find something that looks nice to go out to dinner, or squeezing into jeans that rub my still-tender C-section incision.

I quickly lost 15 pounds after giving birth. I gained a total of about 30. I figured I was well on my way to getting back to normal. I'm breastfeeding after all. Isn't that supposed to make the weight melt off? Sure. In the past week or so, I have gained a couple pounds. Not good. This is not the direction I want to go.

I have been easing back into exercising. It is definitely not as easy as it was with the boys. I was running again just weeks after having them, but this time my belly is still sore. I have also been eating like I was still pregnant--cookies, ice cream, third helpings. So something has to change, and I think I found the right thing.

I was messing around with my iphone apps--only the free ones of course, and I came across My Fitness Pal. It is the coolest thing! You enter in what you eat and how much you exercise and it calculates the totals for you. It keeps you totally accountable! I do have to enter "breastfeeding" as cardio exercise, but it is still pretty slick. T is using it now as well. He gets a lot more calories than me, so I am jealous. You can also keep track online at www.myfitnesspal.com.

I would love to lose 15 pounds and get back to where I was a year ago. We'll see if this keeps me on track, and if I can get my closet to stop shrinking my clothes.

Thankful

This is from Thanksgiving. Lena was all fancy, even wearing tights. All of our nearby relatives went out of town, and we weren't exactly up for a lot of travel, so we went to a club we are members of. The boys were pretty bad and Lena was hungry the entire time, so it wasn't exactly a peaceful event.

We tried to get a nice picture of the kids together. They were squirmy and Lena kept falling over, but they still are pretty darn cute.

--MM

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sweet thing

I love my rambunctious boys. They have endless energy and love playing together. They make me laugh. But they are often exhausting. The pile up couch pillows and jump over them or on top of them. They ride their "bikes" down hills with their feet off the pedals. They run around the house at top speed, chasing each other and laughing deliriously. They are a wonderful pair. But I am so glad to have a sweet little girl for number three. Just look at this face:

She is a true sweetheart. She is full of huge smiles these days. She rarely cries unless she is hungry (and then she is pretty vociferous). The boys were good babies but not nearly as calm as this little girl. She doesn't even fuss when I wash the spit-up off her in the bathroom sink.

A third wild boy might have been the death of me, but instead I have a sweet little girl. I'm lucky. Until she turns 13 and is moody teen, and I am the source of all her angst. I don't look forward to that. For now I am just enjoying our present family dynamic. The two energetic boys and the precious little girl. I love it.

--MM

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wine bars and breastmilk

Babies aren't common in wine bars. Our first clue when we showed up for our reservation with our month-old-daughter in her car seat is that the restaurant didn't even have a high chair. The server who seated my parents, T, and I, was very gracious and assured us they could borrow one from Panera next door. He said that is what they usually did. At least we weren't the first.

So, we ordered wine flights (I got the sparkling wine offering) and tapas. Almost immediately Lena started crying. I decided I better feed her before I actually started drinking wine. I ended up breastfeeding her standing up in their bathroom stall in stilleto heels. Everyone does that, right?


As is her habit, that feeding only satisfied her for about ten minutes as she dozed in her car seat. Then she was fussing and looking for more. I decided to stay at the table this time, and self-consciously got my nursing cover in place. I nursed her as I nibbled at cheese and bruschetta (still holding off on my wine flight, which was getting warm at this point). When Lena finished her breastmilk flight, she slumped in my arms, cozy and full.


She slept for the rest of the dinner, and I finally got to relax and enjoy myself. We ordered several rounds of tapas and another glass of wine. We felt even more at ease when another couple walked in hauling a car seat. We aren't the only ones who still want to have a little fun!


--MM

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

My favorite milestone

The first smile. I have been coaxing them out of her for hours. Love it!

--MM

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Getting the words out

Poor little Q has trouble saying what he needs to. He has been stuttering for several months now, but it was something we thought he would outgrow. He was a preschooler after all, and often excited or frustrated. His words would get jumbled, and he would repeat one word or part of a word over and over and over. Like Mama. He would say, "Mama, mama, mama, mama...."

At first we would often rush him, or tell him to slow down. Finally, his stuttering was not going away and was even getting worse. His doctor referred him to a speech pathologist, and we went a couple weeks back. She determined he stuttered, had a slight lisp, and tongue thrust. She said he definitely needed speech therapy.

Then she said some scary things like, "We might not get rid of it completely, but we can help it a lot." Ugh. The last thing I want is for my little guy to struggle with this is whole life. So far he doesn't seem aware of it, other than sometimes being frustrated when he wants to tell us something and can't form the words as quickly as he wants to. I hate to think of him being teased or being extremely shy or afraid to speak. I really hope we didn't wait too long.

Neither T nor I ever stuttered, and speech problems often have a genetic component. The odd things is, R is now starting to stutter! We thought he was just copying his older brother, but the speech pathologist says it doesn't usually work that way.

Now I am paranoid that we are causing this in some way, though the therapist assured us we are not. Still there are things you can do to aggravate it or make it better. I am reading up on the materials the therapist gave us about how I can help him. I am trying to listen very patiently to Q and wait for him to say what he is trying to say. (He talks a lot so this can be time-consuming!) I repeat back what he said to me, and I am speaking and reading slowly to him.

We tend to fly around the house whenever we are going anywhere, and especially in the morning. We are endlessly telling the boys to hurry up. We are usually running late. That hectic atmosphere also can contribute apparently, because kids can feel pressure to get out what they want to say. So now T and I are trying to leave some more time and not be constantly rushing the kids. We don't want to operate in that emergency mode all the time. Since this is a pattern I have been following for 32 years, it's not going to be an easy one to change. But in the long run, it will probably be good for all of us.

--MM

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bugs!

Here are my little bugs getting ready to go trick-or-treating. Notice Q's manly monarch costume and R's one missing antenna. L just happily snoozed in her caterpillar costume.

It is dangerous having so much candy in the house. We are limiting the boys to two pieces a day (that means more for us).

--MM

Friday, October 29, 2010

Outnumbered

The first couple weeks of maternity leave were fantastic. T was off work. The boys went to school and the childcare provider. T and I got tasks done to settle into our new house, hung out with sweet little Lena, and went out for lunch.

This week everything changed. T went back to work, and the last two days the boys have been home the entire day. It's been exhausting. I am beginning to think having three little kids was not the best idea. Is it too late to reconsider?

The boys wake up around 6:00 a.m. I would like to sleep about four hours longer than that. T gives them breakfast while I feed Lena. Then I drag myself out of bed to chase them around the house. My utter exhaustion makes my patience a little thin.

The boys are there high-energy selves, piling up pillows and jumping off couches. Often when I am taking care of the baby, they are dismantling something in the next room. They are very sweet and loving toward Lena. They love to hold her and pat her head. I have to watch R very closely as he often tries to touch her eyes or push her in her swing. But so far I don't see any sibling rivalry with the baby. They are proud of their new little sister.

Life will be a lot easier and more enjoyable when Lena (and I) are sleeping through the night. In the meantime, I am looking forward to Monday when they go back to school and childcare.

--MM

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Body after baby

I was a little freaked out about weight gain in my first pregnancy. I actually was the thinnest before that pregnancy, but I was positive I would be one of those people who gained 80 pounds during pregnancy and then kept it on.

I was also still in TV news at that point which creates a constant focus on appearance. Before, during, and after my pregnancy, I fielded constant comments about my weight gain and how I looked. Who wouldn't feel a bit self-conscious?

I exercised very often during that pregnancy and was careful about what I ate. I gained 34 pounds and didn't even go full term. Right after I gave birth, I expected my stomach to magically shrink. I was alarmed when I still looked about eight months pregnant in the following days. It was a bit depressing when I was buying a snack and the checker asked when my baby was due. "He has already been born," I answered bitterly.

After a few months, things slowly returned to their former position and the pounds came off. During my second pregnancy, I gained about 35 pounds again and was less stressed about my body after I gave birth. Though I still felt like I was under scrutiny by viewers who would approach me to let me know if they thought I was huge during my pregnancy or if I looked good two months after R was born. I so appreciated their input.

Things were quite different during this pregnancy. I did exercise through most of my pregnancy, but I took it a heck of a lot easier. I didn't want my hips and back to hurt as they had in the past. I watched what I ate, didn't go crazy with cravings, but certainly didn't deny myself. I had ice cream almost every day and ate when I was hungry, but I never pigged out. It was a relief to not feel the intense scrutiny of being on air every single day. I ended up gaining just 30 pounds, though I exercised a lot less than I had in the past.

Right after birth, I knew to expect the big squishy belly. I didn't love it of course, but I wasn't shocked by it at least. It has been steadily shrinking and though it still looks like I am about four months pregnant, I am moving in the right direction.

I have lost 15 pounds in two weeks, with 15 more to go. I can't exercise much until I am completely recovered from my C-section. I am anxious to get moving again, mostly because I can tell I am much more breathless than usual when I go up a flight of stairs, but I am not obsessed with it. I feel like I have a much healthier attitude all around. It feels good, I have to say.

I do examine my belly often and look at the six-inch pink incision healing well on my lower belly. I feel far from attractive as my belly is still soft, and I am not as toned as I like to be. But I am much more comfortable in my own skin these days. I am more self-assured at 32 then I was at 26. I look at my beautiful little daughter and marvel that I grew her inside my belly. I did good work. I am proud of my children and in awe that T and I produced them! But I would like to fit into my old clothes again, see the scale drop back to where it used to be, and see a hint of an abdominal muscle.

All in good time.

-MM

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Best birthday present


I turned 32 on October 14th. It was a bit anticlimactic after the previous week's events. My parents came over with dinner and cake, which was lovely, and T got me a little "L" to add to my necklace that already sports a "Q" and "R."
But my favorite present was snuggled up on my chest.
--MM

L's Birth Story-Part 2

I woke up in an utter fog laying on my back with various lines and tubes coming out of me. My eyelids felt extremely heavy. I slowly blinked and tried to orient myself to my surroundings. I can't even remember all the details of that first 24 hours looking back now. I know T was near me, and I asked where I was. In the recovery room apparently. I asked where the baby was and if it was a girl. He told me she was in the NICU and showed me pictures on the camera.

A nurse talked to me and then the Ob-GYN did. She told me something about thinking the baby was face up but finding she was forehead up. The neonatalogist came to talk to me and told me how the baby's blood was shunted to her heart and brain during delivery so they were monitoring her breathing and digestive systems to make sure they were OK. As she was explaining this, I felt a pang of panic that sliced through my drowsy fog. What was she telling me? Was something permanently wrong with Lena? Was she brain-damaged? She explained that Lena was doing OK, but couldn't eat for 24 hours while they monitored her digestive systems.

I was still confused and exhausted. I would fall asleep during conversations. I didn't understand why they kept explaining things to me when I clearly was out of it. We moved into the room we would stay in for a few days, and as I cleared my head a bit, I examined all the things strapped to me. I had an IV for fluids with Oxycodone attached. I could punch a button every ten minutes to give myself a dose. I regularly did that of course, which added to my fogginess. I had a catheter in still and a bag of pee hanging off the side of the bed. I had these odd compression things strapped to my lower legs squeezing every few seconds to prevent blood clots.

After a long wait, I finally got to be wheeled down to the NICU to peer at my daughter inside her isolette. What a pair we made with our wires sticking out everywhere. I looked forward to the day we would both be wireless and heading home. I couldn't even hold her.

I was wheeled back, my vitals were taken, my pee measured, my bed cleaned up. Again I mostly drifted in and out of sleep for hours. When I woke up, I was alarmed by how much my throat hurt. A nurse explained that was from the tube put down my throat during surgery for I could breathe. My lower belly hurt from the incision, but in those first 24 hours, the worst pain was just an utter soreness in nearly every muscle in my body. My shoulders, lower arms, neck, calves, and thighs ached. The intense hours of labor and pushing before the actual c-section took a toll.

The doctors finally told me a bit more about what happened before birth and during the C-section. Lena was in a brow presentation which only happens in about one in 1500 births. It means she descended into the birth canal forehead first with her neck partially extended. It was impossible for me to push her out since that area of her head (from her chin to the crown of her head) was so large. So, I was pushing and pushing and pushing the poor thing and basically just smashing her head into my pelvis. Eventually it was too much for her and her heart rate slowed and she wasn't breathing at birth. They described it as "extremely depressed." It was a sickening thought.

It is apparently hard to know if a baby is in that presentation until you are actually doing the C-section, but I wish we would have moved to that step a lot sooner. I knew something wasn't working correctly.

A nurse also said my leg was hanging off the side during the surgery and they didn't realize it. They spent some time examining my leg and taking notes. It was a bit odd, but I never noticed any issues. One doctor said it was hard to remove the placenta. Another doctor said they actually completely remove your uterus during the surgery and then put it back in and that air is trapped in your abdomen. They told me to expect to be gassy. Great.

I wish I had a video of what happened throughout the birth. Neither T nor I got to witness it, which was pretty surreal. It's strange to just have hours of your life missing. I could feel the aftermath, but couldn't remember it.

I was desperate to get out of bed and get all the wires off of me so I could hold my daughter. Eventually, I got to shed my IV, compression stocking things, and catheter. T pushed me to the NICU in a giant wheelchair. We lifted Lena out of her isolette and though she was still tangled in an IV and various monitors, it was wonderful to hold her.

I nursed her for awhile, which went extremely well, and when she was limp and drowsy, I put her in her bed. The nurse came and told me to feed her a small portion of formula. I was reluctant, but I did.

In the NICU they feed the babies every three hours and are very strict about the exact number of milliliters they get. That is completely understandable for tiny one-pound babies, but for my full-term daughter, I wanted to skip the formula if at all possible.

The next time we came to the NICU for a feeding, I nursed Lena for half an hour. The nurse told me to then feed her an ounce of formula. If I didn't she said she would.

"But she's satisfied and sleeping," I said. "I don't understand why I have to wake her up and force her to drink formula."

She kept arguing with me. I told her how our first son had been premature and how the nurses and lactation consultants had worked with us, weighing him before and after feedings to determine just how much he got.

She seemed reluctant and said she would have the doctor talk to me. When he came over and basically said the same thing, I started to cry. I felt like I had no say in the NICU. I didn't feel like I was the mother. I wasn't asking to do some crazy thing to my baby. I just wanted to breastfeed her and not give her formula unless absolutely necessary. I didn't want to have her get used to a bottle and then struggle needlessly with nursing. I was emotional and frustrated. I didn't like how they were treating me, and I didn't know if I actually had any power to make decisions.

Of course the NICU has extremely tight quarters, so as I was blubbering away and arguing with the doctor, another mom was about two feet away with her baby. Everything I hated about Q's birth had returned. I am so glad NICUs exist, and I have now relied on them for two of my children, but I really, really hate being in them.

The nurse finally relented, and for the next feeding, a new much nicer nurse weighed Lena before she ate. She got 30 mL or just over an ounce so no formula necessary. The next time I saw the mean nurse, I wanted to say, "I told you so!"

My muscle soreness began to abate, but now my belly hurt quite a bit. I switched from Vicodin to Percocet, which helped. Every three hours day and night I would painfully walk across the hospital floor to be buzzed into the NICU. I would scrub my hands and then feed Lena. They would scoot screens around me for a small measure of privacy. I am much less self-conscious now than I ever was before. One dad was clearly within view, but I couldn't have cared less.

Lena was doing well. Her fluids were reduced and soon she was in a crib instead of an isolette. On Sunday morning, the nurse told me she was ready to be transferred to the regular nursery. Yes! I practically skipped back to the room.

Lena was now wireless, and we wheeled her to the nursery. She was checked over, given a Hepatitis B shot, a hearing screening, and then a test to make sure she could sit in her car seat for an hour an maintain her breathing.

After a rough weekend, things were back on track, and we were ready to go home the next day. On Monday, both of us got a final check, I got a prescription for painkillers, and then we were ready to check out.

It felt wonderful to be home with her. We settled her into her nursery and waited for my parents to bring the boys home. They arrived in new jack-o-lantern shirts full of curiosity. They gently patted her head and Q examined my still-swollen belly. They took turns holding her and kissing her. "That's my sisser!" R repeatedly declared.

And now we are a family of five. I can't wrap my mind around being a mother of three. It is wonderful though. I am not sure how I got so lucky, but I look forward to watching them all grow and change.

--MM

Saturday, October 16, 2010

L's Birth Story-Part 1

The last week or so before I gave birth were very awkward. Except for a few weeks of intense hip and back pain, my pregnancy had been very comfortable. Even well into the ninth month, I was feeling good and getting around without a problem. Then the 37th week came, and I was training a class alone in tight quarters. I had to constantly be on my feet and try to squeeze between rows to see trainees' computer screens. By the end of the week, I was crampy and achy. I wasn't sleeping well. I was stressed with last-minute projects and ready to be done with pregnancy.

I could tell the baby was low, because I was getting shooting pains in my bladder area. My Braxton-Hicks contractions were nearly constant. Still I assumed I would go till near my due date. Then on Thursday, October 7th, I am pretty sure I lost my mucus plug. It's hard to really know, but it seemed like that's what it was. Still that could mean a few more hours, days, or weeks. I kept chugging along.

I went to work as usual on Friday, October 8th, and attended a 9:00 a.m. team meeting. Soon I felt a different type of ache that was distinctive though not yet overly painful and it shot down the front of my legs. I recognized that squeezing ache and was pretty sure this was it. I glanced at the clock and noted the length and time between my contractions. I took notes in tiny numbers in the corner of my notepad.

The contractions were getting stronger and a bit more painful during a meeting I had at 10:00 a.m. in my office. A teammate was explaining a complicated process to set up a computer simulation. I was confused about what he was talking about, but I also was wrapped up in my escalating contractions. I tried to follow along as I kept my eye on the clock.

Shortly after he left, I called T, told him it was time to head home, and packed up. At home, I ate a small lunch and packed bags for myself and the boys. They were at the sitter's house, and the plan was for my parents to come retrieve them and take them home.

We sat in the living room and waited. T slept and I watched TV. Around 1:30, the contractions were close together and quite strong. We got in the car and headed for St. Mary's Hospital. On the way, they were getting closer together, and I was wishing we had left half an hour earlier.

We pulled up to the front of the hospital, and T spoke to the valet. I self-consciously leaned against a pillar and breathed through a contraction. I could feel people staring at me. I would be too I suppose.

It was a long, painful walk to the birth center. The receptionist mercifully was quick checking us in. They led me to a triage area, though I wished we could have just skipped that portion and headed for the delivery room. I was sure I was in labor! The nurse kept questioning how I was so calm. Especially after they found I was seven centimeters dilated and 80% effaced. It was my third time around after all. I knew the drill. And that's just how I operate. I am not a dramatic person. You won't hear me screaming and cursing during labor, even if I am struggling inside.

When they finally determined I was actually in labor, I walked to the delivery room. My contractions were extremely strong and about every minute or so. I flopped on my side on the hospital bed, and declared I was going to throw up. I did just that, twice, in blue bags they handed me. Then I was ready to push. The nurse told me I was nine and a half centimeters and should breathe through the next contraction and then I would be ten centimeters and ready to go.

The pain was intense of course. I would feel a beginning ache in my lower abdomen signaling and oncoming contraction. Then the squeezing would take over, I would be compelled to bear down, and the front of my thighs would seize up in pain. At the same time, I knew it was all downhill from where I was. The most painful part is the "transition phase" right before you push. I was past that. Now I just had to push her out. My doctor had now arrived and a few nurses and a resident were crowded around me. T hovered nervously in the background snapping pictures. "It won't be long now," my doctor said.

But it would be. I pushed and pushed and pushed. Nothing seemed to be changing. This was very different from giving birth to R when I could distinctly feel the slow but steady progress. This time I was pushing with all my might and nothing seemed to be happening. They weren't telling me they could see the top of her head. They weren't telling me anything really.

The nurse talked me into various positions. I was laying down and on my side and then half squatting. She tried to get me on all fours, but I collapsed on my face in pain. That wasn't working. An hour passed. I kept my eyes tightly closed for the most part but when I did crack them open, I noticed everyone was gone except one nurse. I felt very discouraged. Obviously they didn't feel like the birth was imminent.

During the contractions my hips and legs would cramp up in agonizing pain. I desperately wanted to stretch them out, but they told me to just keep pushing. My legs were shaking and hurt very much between contractions when I tried to straighten them. Something didn't feel right.

An hour and a half had passed. I was getting desperately tired, frustrated, and discouraged. I asked the nurse what my options were. "Something is not working," I said. She described other positions I could try. I told T I was ready to consider a c-section. My primary care physician came to my side and said surgery was a last resort.

Of course it was, I thought. I had not planned to have surgery, and wanted a natural, intervention-free birth. But something was wrong. I was a strong, fit person, and I had pushed out two babies before including R who was hefty and possessed a melon head. Why couldn't I push out this baby?

My doctor went to call the OB-GYN on duty. Being a primary care physician, she didn't perform surgery. The nurse started to monitor the baby more closely. She kept placing the monitor on my lower belly, but wasn't getting an accurate reading. "We need to put a forehead monitor on her," she explained and began the painful process of affixing that.

The loud tones of the baby's heart rate filled the room. They skipped along quickly at around 150 beats per minute. "Here comes one," I said as I felt a contraction beginning and got into position to push. The heart rate tones suddenly slowed to a sickening pace. They lagged to 40 beats per minute at most.

Things happened very quickly then. I was in an exhausted, painful fog, but the nurse hurriedly explained the baby was not tolerating the contractions, and I would need a c-section. Hallelujah! I thought. I was desperate for this to be over.

They strapped oxygen across my face, slid an IV into the veins in my hand to give me fluids, and gave me a shot in my leg to slow contractions. It did not seem to have any effect. The contractions marched on every other minute, stronger than ever. The nurse told me to try not to push. That was nearly impossible. She told me to try to breathe slowly and deeply. I laid on my side gripping the bars of the hospital bed and endured.

Soon the OB-GYN was on her way. The nurses helped me make the seemingly momentous move to another hospital bed so I could be wheeled to the operating room. My body at this point was shaking uncontrollably and violently. It was an odd sensation to not be able to control it. I kept my eyes tightly closed and anxiously awaited sedation. What a relief that would be!

T was told he couldn't be in the room and would have to wait in the recovery room. I was told I would have to go under general anesthesia. Once under the bright lights of the operating room, I opened my eyes a tiny slit and looked around. I saw several people in gowns and masks hurrying around me barking commands. It was surreal.

I was shaking every harder now and my contractions were still intense. I worried about the little girl struggling in my belly. What was taking so long? The anesthesiologist was working over my head and asking me questions to which I tried to whisper responses. Was I allergic to anything? Had I had bad reactions to anesthesia in the past?

They uncovered my belly and started cleaning it and swirling iodine around it. I was still wide awake. I had the brief flash of fear that they would start cutting in to me before I was under anesthesia. My legs were strapped down, and I couldn't curl up or bear down to find relief from my contractions. My body was shaking violently. I felt utterly out of control of my muscles.

"When you wake up, you'll have a baby," someone said.

"Time to go to sleep," the voice over my head added. Finally.

--
MM

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fast forward

Wow, it has been a crazy few weeks. I am sitting in my bedroom in my new house with my little daughter lying on our bed, born eight days before her due date. My lower belly is half numb and half aching from the puffy pink c-section incision sliced across it. My 32nd birthday was yesterday, and I barely noticed it. Life is a bit of a hurricane lately, and I am trying to calmly exist in the eye of it.

Today things are actually a bit calmer. I feel like I can take a breath. The past two weeks have been ridiculously stressful and busy. I felt some blissful highs and some devestating lows. I felt such joy and such agonizing pain all mixed up in the span of a few days.

The boys are at the sitter's house today, and T and I have some precious hours with our little girl. We are trying to enjoy every minute of our time with him off work.

I am absolutely in love with my daughter. She just consumes me. I want to constantly hold her and guarantee her every happiness and no pain in her life. She is my primary focus right now.

Later today, I will take some time to look back at the last two weeks. The grueling birth experience, the stress and tears, and the utter joy all wrapped up into October 2010.

--MM

Friday, September 24, 2010

Final frenzy

I am feeling that final pressure to get things done before the baby comes. I have a mid-term the week of her due date (excellent timing). I want the house to be in order and the nursery all set up. I have a list of tasks at work that I need to complete. This is such an odd feeling of limbo. Now that I am at 37 weeks, it could be any day, anywhere. You really have no control. I suppose that is why some women schedule their births, but I have no desire for a C-section or pitocin, so I am not going that route unless absolutely necessary.

I am loving our house. It is nothing extravagant by any means, but it is just so nice to have a basement to put the cat litter in and a pantry and a yard and no one sharing your wall listening to your children screaming like banshees and tall trees in the yard and an office and a playroom. Ahhhhh. I just love it.

I had some moments of utter tiredness this week. We had a conference going on at work, and I feel asleep in almost every session. I nodded off at my desk and woke up with the motion-sensor lights all off. Oops. The boys have been constantly waking up at night, and I feel like I am not getting any REM sleep. Today I was just spent, and opted to go in to work an hour late so I could have some peaceful rest. It was nice, and I only fell asleep at my desk for one brief period. It's an improvement at least.

--MM

Monday, September 20, 2010

Home again

I enjoyed a 13-minute, virtually traffic-free drive to work today. It is a beautiful thing. We closed on our house last Friday afternoon, and I slept there last night. T went back to the townhouse and slept on the pull-out couch. There is still a lot of moving to be done.
Of course I am now nine months pregnant with a giant watermelon belly. Not the best physique for heavy lifting. T and I used to be able to do it all ourselves, even hauling the treadmill and washing machine. Not this time. My parents came to help yesterday for a few hours, and T is hiring a guy for a couple hours today.

I am so happy to be in the new house. The situation is far from ideal. It is a very nice house, but we could have much nicer if we didn't still have another house on the other side of the country! Two mortgages stress me out immensely. The master bath is small (and so is my closet), but so much about it is great. Three bedrooms, a finished basement with a play room/den and office. A nice-sized yard. A great neighborhood. Close to my work. Did I mention I am glad to have a short drive? A few hour-long commutes last week almost put me over the edge.

It was a ridiculously exhausting weekend. T was battling a cold. The boys were running around like banshees, trying to "help." My hips and joints ached, as I attempted to lift things that were far too heavy. I squeezed in some homework at various times. But we got a lot done. And T will accomplish even more today.

It was so great to see the boys running around in their new yard and quickly making a mess of their play room. Ruby is going to love her piece of the outdoors. T and I will again be proud of where we live.

It's good to be home.

--MM

Monday, September 6, 2010

Late in the Game

I just passed 34 weeks pregnant this past weekend. That's when I gave birth to Q. It's pretty surreal to think about that now. Amniotic fluid started leaking, my ob-gyn induced labor, and a few hours later, Q arrived. It was pretty shocking at the time.

It's comforting now to know that if this baby comes at any time from here on out, things should be fine. Less than ideal of course. I have no desire to have another baby in the NICU for two weeks. The clock is winding down now. Just a few more weeks, and I will be caring for a newborn again.

For some reason, it is harder to wrap my mind around this time than even the first time. When I was pregnant with Q, that consumed all my attention. Pending motherhood was my entire focus. Now, I have so much to think about, it honestly slips my mind. I tried to flop on to my belly to watch TV yesterday, forgetting momentarily about the giant watermelon on my my stomach. It wasn't comfortable.

I read over my birth story with R and looked at some labor descriptions this weekend. A fear of the pain and the lack of control returned. It is scary to know it could start at any moment. Will I be in the car? Will I be at work? The hospital is a longer drive this time than it was in Oregon. My last labor progressed so quickly, and I assume this one will go even faster. I have this fear of giving birth in the car.

All that said, childbirth is unpredictable. I wouldn't be surprised if my labor took forever, and I ended up with a C-section or something. We shall see what comes.

I am starting to get uncomfortable. Shaving my legs and tying my shoes are daily challenges. It's hard to carry R with his legs wrapped around my middle. I quickly feel tired when I am standing for a long time or when I have to climb several flights of stairs. My patience is short these days, and I feel like I could always use a nap.

But so goes the third trimester, and it's all worth it in the end.

--MM

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Back to School

School is back in session. And I am a little terrified.

This week I had my orientation Monday night and a math review Thursday night. The math review was a three-hour whirlwind through algebra, summations, linear equations, and calculus. Yikes. I haven't taken math classes in more than ten years. I can't believe I ever actually had this knowledge. Derivatives? Huh?

There are some people in class who are financial and accounting majors who could probably do this in their sleep. Thankfully, there are other people like me; journalism, communications, and history majors who use a calculator to balance their checkbook. The professor also said the classes were designed for people who do not have a background in finance and accounting. That is slightly comforting, but I am still mostly terrified.

This weekend I will do my first chunk of homework. Two chapters (100 pages) are due for Thursday. It is crazy to be back in this world again. I also find it so invigorating. It's fun to learn. It really is, though I never would have believed that when I was 16 or even 21. Now it is completely my choice and my money. I have to really want to be there.

A few people seemed a little surprised that I was so heavily pregnant (33 weeks today). I felt a bit self-conscious. I am going to try to miss as little school as possible, but I can't predict what will happen with the delivery and aftermath. I have a midterm scheduled five days before my due date! The director of the program assured me they can schedule a make-up exam. They are very flexible and accepting of work and family schedules, much more so than undergraduate programs.

It is going to be a crazy few months, but it is all good things that are happening, and good stress. I'm going to make it, but it just won't be easy.

--MM

Sunday, August 22, 2010

7 years, 3 states, and almost 3 kids later...

T and I got married seven years ago. We tied the knot August 23, 2003, and then took a wonderful honeymoon trip to Barbados afterward. That was the best part.

Life has changed a lot since then. More than I ever could have imagined. We have built a nice little world for ourselves. We have moved cross-county more than once, acquired several pets, and seen two babies come into the world.

And now a new baby is on the way and a new house (hopefully). Life and marriage hasn't always been easy, but it has always been interesting.

I love you T and can't wait to see what happens next.

--
MM

Monday, August 16, 2010

In my dreams

I had a dream the other night. I woke up in my dream and saw a little baby sitting there. She had light brown eyes and dark curly hair. I said, "Are you my baby?" She nodded (strangely). I was thrilled of course, but angry.

In my dream, I went to find T. "Did I have the baby while I was asleep?"

"Yes," dream-state T answered.

"I can't believe this! Why didn't you wake me up?"

"Well, I didn't want to disturb you."

"You should disturb me for something like that."

"Sorry," he said sheepishly, as I walked back to the room to see my new baby.

If only.....

--MM

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Blessed nap

I just woke up from a wonderful three-hour nap. It didn't start out too wonderful as there were small children jumping over me and elbowing me in the swollen belly, but once those loud people went away, I slept. And I needed it.

It has been a long couple of weeks. We are overrun with new customers and new hires at work, so all the trainers are training constantly and many classes are large. Next week, I will be teaching 66 people in one room. Not an easy thing when you are trying to explain the intricacies of health care software. I will have a co-trainer though and that will take off some of the pressure.

I have been there almost six months now. It is tiring and stressful and very challenging. It is demanding and important work. And I really like it. There is always a new challenge to take on, and you are quickly given a lot of responsibility. And the company is just cool. We have amazing lunches and no dress code (except business casual when we are actually dealing with customers). People lounge outside in flip-flops and tank tops. Art is everywhere and the design of the buildings is quirky and impressive. The company has high standards and strict ethics. I am proud to work there. I like that.

My one conundrum of course has been that we live 33 miles away, and my commute is long and frustrating. T almost always drops off and picks up the kids. It's not a good balance. We looked into our alternatives, and if all goes as planned, we will be closing on a house at the beginning of next month! It is ten minutes from my work and about 15 from T's. It has a nice yard and the current owners did some nice updates. It's not big by any means with just three or possibly four bedrooms, but it is much better than our current townhouse.

Life will be a tight with two mortgages. Let's not forget our second home on the West Coast which I secretly dream of burning down. But if this all works out, if will be a great change. I won't even have to take that horrible highway here that is constantly congested. Country back roads will lead me to my destination.

We love our current childcare provider, so that will be a big change. But I do think it will be worth it. The home is in a nice part of town and even if we upgrade in five to ten years, we would want to live in the same area so the kids wouldn't have to change schools.

I am 31 weeks pregnant today. My belly seems to jump and jerk constantly. I feel like this little one must be more active, unless I am just not remembering the other pregnancies correctly. T and I were hoping for a sweet, calm little girl to balance our rambunctious boys, but so far she seems as wily as the rest of them!

I am feeling surprisingly good. My horrible back and hip pain just evaporated. I am still teaching two fitness classes a week for a few more weeks. My only complaint at this point is constant Braxton-Hicks contractions. My entire belly will clench up for thirty seconds at a time. Sometimes it is a mere tightening. Other times it is fairly painful. They are definitely worse if I am dehydrated or being very active, but they are pretty much always there. My sister agreed that hers got worse with each pregnancy. Mine are just ridiculous. Sometimes I will have them every minute or so.

The one upside is these "practice contractions" do tend to get your body in gear for labor. So with my last pregnancy, I was almost five centimeters dilated before I even went into full labor. Everything went very quickly once I recognized that I was having real contractions. The nurses were scrambling as I was ten centimeters and ready to push shortly after arriving. I swear I have to already be dilating right now. Maybe this labor will be an easy, short 15 minutes. It could happen.

I start MBA classes in a couple weeks. I am excited to be in that environment again and to meet new interesting people. I am intimidated however by the financial accounting book now sitting on my counter.

Life is full and life is busy which is definitely how I prefer it. It makes me cherish days like this when I can take a blessed nap and stay in my pajamas most of the day.

--MM

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Vacation aftermath

Clothes are swirling in the washing machine and dryer, T is at the grocery store replenishing our supplies, and I am catching up on email. We are back from a week-long vacation to Nantucket and Boston. It was filled with fun and memories, but in truth, it was tiring. Traveling cross-country with two little boys and a baby in utero is not for the weak of heart. They had a blast, and we got to spend a lot of quality time with our families so it was all worth it, but I love that feeling of returning home.

--MM

Monday, July 19, 2010

How time flies

I am in my third trimester. Today I am 27 weeks and two days pregnant. I can hardly believe it. This pregnancy has just flown by. Perhaps because I spent the first half positive something would go wrong and not wanting to get too attached. Then the last couple months have been filled with kids, work, home, and all the other things that make up your day.

When I was pregnant with Q, that fact pretty much consumed my reality. I couldn't wrap my mind around it. I spent my days reading week-by-week descriptions online and researching the best Pac n' Play.
This time we have everything (except for a wardrobe of pink things). I know what to expect for the most part, though you really don't ever know what will happen. I am just too busy to think much about it.

I do try to slow down and savor the inner drumming of tiny baby feet and the look of folded pink onesies in the dresser drawer. There is a good chance this will be our last baby, and I want to enjoy the good parts of pregnancy.

Right now the bad parts are the most prominent. I bought a maternity swimsuit yesterday for our upcoming beach vacation. That is a humbling experience. I tried to get one that was somewhat fitted because those billowy swim dress things are just too depressing. My maternity clothes that were still loose at the end of my first pregnancy are already getting tight with three months to go. And my Braxton-Hicks contractions are ridiculous. I have them every couple minutes. Though they are not usually painful, they turn my belly into a basketball-sized rock making it difficult to tie my shoes or even put on my seat belt.

I get these contractions early and often in every pregnancy. I guess it is within the realm of normalcy. They are considered "practice contractions," but why does my uterus have to practice so damn much? Haven't we been through this twice before?

So life continues at a frenetic pace. We are trying to decide whether we should buy a house (though we still own our old one unfortunately). If we do buy, when should we move? Should we stay in our crappy, rented townhouse longer though the neighbors are unbearable and the commute is about to drive me over the edge? Should we try to short sell our other house?

There's just too much too think about. But by this time next week we will be basking on the beach joined by 40 of my family members. I am picturing reading and relaxation, but the reality will probably be sand in diapers, sunburned bellies, and tantrums at the airport.

--MM

Monday, July 12, 2010

Weekend Work Trip

I am back at work after a tiring weekend work trip. Not the best time for a work trip obviously, but I actually wanted to squeeze one in before I am banned from the friendly skies for being too pregnant.

I flew south on Thursday to West Virginia, met up with a couple co-workers, and drove to Ashland, Kentucky. We were greeted outside of our hotel by two guys drinking beer from a cooler. The next day, I was up at 4:30 a.m. (3:30 a.m. Central) to get to the hospital for a 6-6 shift. I was assigned to the Labor & Delivery, NICU, Nursery, and Mother/Baby units. They had just "gone live" on some new parts of our software, and I was there to help and call in to the "Command Center" if we ran into problems.

Some nurses and doctors were a little grouchy with me if they thought the software made their jobs slower or more difficult. Most people were friendly, and I learned a lot. I got to see a lot of just-born babies, which never gets old and made me so excited to see my own new baby in three months.

By the end of that 12-hour shift, my pelvis was throbbing, and I craved my king-sized hotel bed. The next day was mercifully nine hours long, and I added the Heart & Vascular Surgery and Step Down Units to my rotation. The cardiologists there were unexcited with doing electronic charting. I certainly felt for them as they waded through dozens of prescriptions while doing Medication Reconciliation. I could not believe how many diagnoses and drugs some of those patients have! Craziness.

At 3 p.m., we were back in the car on our way to catch a plane. It was a quick trip, utterly exhausting, but very educational.

Sunday I was back with my boys and poopy diapers, spilled juice, and fights over toy tractors.

--MM

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Cars, cars everywhere

Traffic is the bane of my existence. If I could change one thing in my life, I would banish traffic jams. Granted I don't live in LA or India, but you would be amazed at the traffic I have to deal with in my small Midwest city.

I work 30 miles from where I live. I have to go on three highways and various side streets to get there. So does everyone else in a three-state area apparently.

Now if I actually left my house at 7:00 every morning, I would probably miss the bulk of the traffic, and still be 15 minutes early. That would definitely be nice. But it hardly ever happens. Little things like children, pets, and breakfast get in the way.

So, I inevitably am flying out the door at 7:20, tossing my bag into the passenger seat, and careening down the road. Only to run into a wall of traffic as soon as I hit the highway. It is endlessly frustrating as I watch the minutes tick up on my GPS and gnaw on my fingernails. I hate the lack of control. You are just stuck there, and there is nothing you can do. I do pound my steering wheel and say, "Come on!!" but surprisingly, it doesn't help.

Almost every day I see flashing lights in my rear-view mirror, not pulling me over of course, because I am creeping along at two miles an hour, but trying to squeeze through the rows of traffic to access the latest fender bender. Every day there seems to be an accident on the Beltline, as we call this horrible highway. Traffic is backed up for three miles because someone has a dent in their bumper. I hate these people. Why must they get in these annoying accidents and slow me down even more?

I am often in the car an hour before and after my nine-hour day. It is frustrating. I want to live closer. We are exploring our options to see if there is any way we can move to a decent place in between where T and I work. Of course this is complicated by the fact that we still own a home in another state.

So there is no immediate and easy solution. I can't plow my way through all the stopped cars. I can't drive over the top of them like a monster truck as much as I'd like to. I guess I am stuck with getting out of the house earlier. Sigh.

--
MM

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Higher Education

I graduated from college yen years ago with undergraduate degrees in Spanish and journalism. At first I promised I would never see the inside of a classroom again. But a few years later, I craved the challenge and enrichment of higher education.

I contemplated going back to grad school, even part time or online. But what would I study? Try for law school? Pursue a Masters in journalism? I took one online Masters in Media Management class. I learned a lot and felt invigorated, but the detachment of an online environment wasn't satisfying.

Then we moved to college town USA. Madison, Wisconsin: home of the University of Wisconsin. Higher education was at my fingertips. I scoured the grad school catalog, but found most of the programs required extensive prerequisites. Plus, I wanted to go back to work full time. Was it even practical?

Then in May, I took a closer look at UW's MBA program. It offered an evening program for working professionals. The deadline to apply for the fall semester was June 1st, just a few weeks away. What do I have to lose? I thought and plunged ahead.

I signed up for the GMAT, requested references, attended an informational session, compiled my resume, application, and transcript, and wrote the required essays. I showed up for the GMAT testing session utterly unprepared without so much as cracking a book or opening a website. I think I was scared to know what I was getting in to. The math was hard. I took math all the way up to Calculus in high school, then completed Statistics and Economics in college, but I honestly can't remember the simplest algebra.

Somehow, I figured out a fair amount of the math problems, did much better on the verbal, and squeaked out a passable 610. I breathed a sigh of relief over my high college GPA, felt confident in my varied professional experience, and believed I had a decent chance of acceptance.

It was a frantic few weeks, but the urgency made me productive. Then all I had to do was wait. At last, the email arrived in my inbox. I got in.

I was thrilled. I am thrilled. It is an incredible program including an international trip. But it will be a big commitment and a lot of work. I will have a new baby, two other kids, work, and school. But it is an opportunity I can't pass up. A great university is in my backyard, and an opportunity to improve myself and my career is right before me. We got through a stretched-thin two years when T earned his MBA. He was at school all day every Saturday and often at night during the week. Though it was tiring for us both, it honestly went quickly and was entirely worth it. He leaped forward in his career and learned a lot about how the business world works.

So another adventure begins.

--MM

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A place of my own

Last week I got my very own office. My very own. I have to say, I kind of love it.

I have never had my own office. For my first job, I even had to share a computer. Then I graduated to a computer of my own in a pod of desks in the center of a bustling newsroom. When I started this job, I shared an office and liked my office mate quite a bit. We laughed a lot together. But when I heard the offices were shuffling, and I was to have my very own space, I was elated.

Last Friday we carried our books, highlighters, file folders, and notebooks to our new offices. I put out my family pictures and plugged in my phone and settled in with a smile. It's not like I have any stature in my company. It is the company's philosophy that no one should be in a cubicle, and eventually everyone will have their own office. So I am definitely not special.

But it kind of feels like I am.

--MM

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Survival

I made it.

T was out of town for the second time in three weeks, and I survived again. There were some hectic moments when the boys were yelling at me out the window and the dog refused to poop in the morning as the minutes ticked by and I felt myself getting later for work. It is just difficult when you have to get your pregnant self, your squirmy two- and four-year-old boys, and your belligerent dachshund ready to go. It takes T about 15 minutes to get ready. It would take me 45 minutes to actually look nice, but I have had to settle for a bun composed of dirty hair and a wet ponytail this week. The fact that I have a 45-minute-plus drive to work complicates things as well. I should have the boys dropped off at childcare and be on the road by 7:15. This doesn't happen. Ever. So, I settled for an 8:30 arrival time. Good enough.

But we survived. Every time I am the only parent in the house, I develop new appreciation for single parents. I just can't imagine never having a break. It is nice to once in awhile say, "I am just wiped tonight, can you put them to bed?" If I were a single mom, I think my kids would sometimes be put to bed in their clothes with unbrushed teeth. Some nights are just hard.

But tonight, the boys are bathed and sleeping soundly. The kitchen is mostly clean. And I am ready for bed.

--MM

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Signs of improvement

My back is not quite as excruciating. It still constantly hurts, and my hips are crooked. (You can tell when you look at your back in the mirror. The divots right above your butt should be even, but my right divot is an inch or so higher)

I am feeling a bit more optimistic about it. I have a massage Tuesday afternoon, and have been trying to realign my lower back myself as often as possible.

Eighteen more weeks. I hope they are as painless as possible.

--MM

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hurting

I am in such pain.

The pain that I felt in my hips, pelvis, and lower back through my last two pregnancies has reared its ugly head again, only this time it is sooner and worse than before.

My back had been feeling pretty good lately after a few months of physical therapy at the end of last year. But this week, I could feel my hips starting to get crooked again. Before long my tailbone was throbbing, fingers of nerve pain were shooting down my thighs, and just rolling over in bed was agony.

I called the doctor and asked to get in ASAP. My pain relief options are limited of course, being 22 weeks pregnant, but she did give me a stronger Tylenol/Codeine prescription. She referred me to PT and told me to get a therapeutic massage. I had high hopes for PT since it helped me a lot before. But when I called to set up my appointment, they couldn't get me in for three weeks. Yesterday I was crying at my desk thinking, I can barely walk. How am I going to make it four more months?

Today I managed to get a chiropractor appointment, and he said my hips were crooked by a half inch. He adjusted and that helped slightly, but I have no doubt things have already slid out of place. My ligaments are so loose and stretched that by body is just not staying in place.

It truly is miserable. I am in constant pain. Some positions just hurt more than others. Sometimes a muscle spasm will make me gasp. I struggle to shave my legs or pick up something off the floor. T is going out of town for four days next week, and I have no idea how I am going to pick up my kids.

I am trying to tell myself this will be a character builder. At least there is an end to the pain in sight. Some people are in pain their whole lives. At least the pain is for a good reason. Still I read online about how women who suffer from this sacroiliac and symphysis pubis dysfunction often become depressed because they are in such agony and can't do much to ease the pain. I can completely understand that. I feel very defeated.

So, I am in a rough patch. I'm trying to make the best of it, but it is discouraging. Sometimes I wish the bad didn't have to come with the good.

--MM

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Three white lines

That's what the sonographer saw on the ultrasound and apparently that means it's a girl.

I can't quite believe it. I had myself completely prepared and believing it would be a boy. I didn't want to feel even a flicker of disappointment. Three boys would be wonderful of course, but I had really hoped to have both. I feel so lucky, but I am afraid to be excited.

My mind is still filled with worries about whether the baby is healthy and developing correctly. The sonographer didn't really tell us anything and just ushered us on our way after finishing her routine.

Once you have a miscarriage you know things are not always OK, and you are hesitant to be overjoyed.

Still a tiny corner of my mind is glowing with happiness. It's a girl! What a wonderful little family we will have.

--MM

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

End of an Era

It was the summer of 1998. I was a college sophomore preparing to return to school. And I was about to get my first new car. My dad and I trolled the car lots weighing the pros and cons of the Chevy Cavalier and the Pontiac Sunfire. I wanted red of course and a sunroof and CD player would be a nice bonus. After the requisite back-and-forth dealing, we finally drove away in my cute little Sunfire. I was most impressed with how the Sunfire logo glowed red in the back. Also as part of the promotion, I had a trunk full of two-liter diet Coke bottles. Life was good.

It was a stick shift and that caused me much stress and frustration in the beginning. I clearly remember my friend in the tiny backseat and my dad in the passenger seat as I stalled out over and over on the big uphill near my house. "I can't do it!" I cried.

My dad calmly reassured me, "Yes you can." And though I revved the engine obnoxiously and stalled a couple more times, I finally crested that beastly hill.

I think of that moment often when I feel like something is insurmountable.

A few weeks later, I drove the Sunfire 500 miles to Columbia, Missouri. That was the first of many journeys. It traveled to Iowa, Florida, Tennessee, New Orleans, El Paso, Oregon, California, Seattle, and all the states in between. I had a lot of fun in that car, but it recent years it had started to fail me.

The brakes started to crap out. Then the air conditioning. The clutch got loose and wobbly. The check engine light and ABS light started to blink on periodically. It got close to overheating a few times.

Still we clung to it, determined to squeeze a few more miles out of the vehicle before returning to the reality of car payments. Then I was stuck in traffic last week, staring at the warning lights on the dashboard, forced to turn on the heat to keep the car from overheating. I thought This is not going to be fun in August when I am seven months pregnant.

So this weekend, I parted with my beloved first car. We traded it in, and now I am driving a 2011 dark gray Toyota Camry. The air conditioning is blissful, and I am savoring the crisp new car smell and shiny perfection of it.


Still I will always have a soft spot for that trusty Sunfire. I hope it finds a good owner in its second life.

--MM

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sicky

I hate being sick. It used to be great...no school, laying in bed, watching cartoons. I used to wish I would get sick. Now it is just a huge pain.

When you are sick, you sometimes wish you were just really extremely sick, so you didn't have to worry about it. You'd be in the hospital, feeling miserable without any question of whether you should skip work. Well, that might not entirely be true, but it's close.

I was sick for most of last week. Our household was germ-infested complete with snotty noses and barking coughs. I felt like crap on Thursday, but I had a class I felt like I shouldn't miss. I consumed probably two dozen cough drops that day and constantly felt self-conscious as my hacking couch interrupted the lesson.

I had exercise classes Thursday morning and night. My voice was a pathetic croak, and I was just worn out. I mostly told them to do walking lunges, and then lounged against the wall.

Friday I was a wreck, but I had another class I felt like I couldn't miss. (See-if I was unconscious in the hospital I wouldn't have these quandaries!) So I dragged my carcass to work and probably disgusted everyone around me as I unwrapped cough drops and stacked my snot rags.

I often feel slightly annoyed at sick people at work. I think Why aren't you at home? Don't get me sick! But when I am in the same situation it always seems easier to just suck it up and head in to work. I have about one total sick day right now, and it would be better spent on an inevitable child sickness. And anything I miss at work will just make the next day harder. Plus I tend to think work will help distract me. When I stay home I lay in bed and concentrate on how miserable I feel.

The coughs are winding down now, and my voice is almost back to full strength. You don't realize how good it feels to be healthy until you aren't for awhile.

--MM

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Awkward

It is hard to learn new things, and I'm pretty sure I don't like it.

I had an uncomfortable week. For the first three days, I was co-teaching a customer class for the first time. It was awkward and humbling. The other trainer has been teaching this class for years and knows the material backward and forward. I just learned it two months ago. I didn't have the answers to most of their questions and constantly had to ask her to step in. I am used to being confident and comfortable in what I do, and I was far from that.

I realized it has been a long time since I have done something completely new. I have been an aerobics instructor for 12 years, and I was a journalist for almost 10. I knew those jobs so well they were easy and automatic. But this is a whole new ball of wax. I am teaching computer software! Everything about that sentence should be wrong, yet here I am, hired and trained.

I felt pretty discouraged early in the week, but by the end I was slightly uplifted. I know I need to go back and study the material until it is automatic. I know it can only get better. But that doesn't make it easy.

------------------------

An update from the sour Skittle saga: my office mate returned from the break room on Thursday and said, "Didn't you get screwed out of some sour Skittles the other day?"

"Yes," I said bitterly.

"Here you go," he said tossing the bright green bag of sour joy onto my desk. "They were just laying on top of the vending machine."

Ahhhh. Someone has a good heart. Or maybe they just don't like sour Skittles. But that would be downright crazy.

------------------------

I am now 18 weeks pregnant and at that still fairly cute stage. My belly is round but not gigantic. I am feeling movement I think, but I am never sure until I feel a decisive kick. I had a doctor's appointment on Friday and heard that comforting gallop sound of the baby's heartbeat. I always am slightly nervous as the doctor is putting that Doppler onto my belly. What if there was nothing? Ugh. I don't even want to think about it, and yet I can help it.

-MM

Sunday, May 9, 2010

To be a mother

Here I am, a mother of two-year-old and four-year-old boys with one on the way. Maybe not another boy, but probably. :) I could never have pictured myself in this position, yet here I am. There were many times in high school and college when I was almost positive I didn't want children. But then I fell in love and got married, and it just seemed natural. It was exactly what I wanted.

I heard a question this week on some news show, "Knowing what you know now, would you still have children?" There are some days when I would probably respond with a resounding "NO!" But for the most part, my answer is a heartfelt yes. That is why I am here watching my belly expand, preparing to go down this road again.

The surprising thing to me about parenthood was how horribly frustrating and difficult it can be. You just expect it to be blissful. Tiring maybe, but so happy. And the truth is, a lot of times it isn't happy. A lot of times it is exhausting, maddening, grueling, thankless. But other times it fills you with pride and love and adoration and you feel so proud to be a mother and so thankful to experience this joy.

Those moments are fleeting and seem to come most often when your child is under 18 months or sleeping, but they are unbeatable. There is absolutely nothing like that feeling of love for your child.

Motherhood is complicated, stressful, painful, and hard. But it is also a gift. I am so happy to be someone's mother. Even if I don't seem like it everyday.

--MM

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sour horrors

I have a small addiction to sour things. Sour Patch Kids, margaritas, sour Icebreakers. In fact I used to eat sour Icebreakers until my tongue was burning and my taste buds were inflamed. It's a problem, I know.

I have since banned myself from those fun little Icebreaker hockey-puck like packages. As for Sour Patch Kids, I only like the greens and yellows, so that keeps me mostly on the wagon. But wouldn't you know it, an obstacle crashed into the path of my sour sobriety this week. And it's name is Sour Skittles. (Find an idea for my birthday present here) They are extremely sour with just a hint of sweet. They are chewy but not gummy. They are the ideal sour thing.

I stumbled upon these sour bits of heaven while perusing the lone vending machine in our building. I quickly set about polishing off the supply. There were only a few bags. Lurking behind them were a row of Twix. I thoroughly enjoyed the couple bags until there was just one left in the row.

Yesterday afternoon, I had a craving for sourness, so I headed down the hall with one semi-smooth dollar bill. I fed it into the machine and selected D6, my mouth already watering in anticipation of the sour assault. And then....horror of horrors...the bag got stuck.

I began jostling the machine, shaking it, bumping my shoulder against it. Anything to get my sour fix! Then I realized this was a little sad and a lot embarrassing, so I slunk back to my office in defeat.

Today, my sour craving was back, and this time I decided I would buy a Twix to get my sweet sourness. But like salt in my wound, my Sour Skittles bag was gone and only Twix remained.
I imagine someone was quite delighted when they got a double dose of candy this morning. Jerk.
Sometimes life just isn't fair.

--MM

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Scary

Saw Green Zone last night. Very scary. Doesn't exactly make you proud to be an American.

--MM

Friday, April 23, 2010

In stitches

Thirteen hours after leaving the house Thursday morning, I was more than ready to get back home.

My phone vibrated, but I was talking to a class participant so I didn't answer. When I saw it was T, I knew something must be up, because he never calls at that time. Q had been barfing off and on all week, so I figured he was having another bout. But no. It was the little one.

First to rewind a bit, my day started at 4:45 a.m. when I dragged my carcass out of bed to quickly plan my 5:30 a.m. class (we had a business dinner of T's last night, so I didn't have time for prep). Class ran till 6:15. I tried not to sweat during class, then quickly changed into my "costume" for a work skit, and sped across town for the 7:00 a.m. call time. We had conference sessions for work Thursday and Friday and we kicked it off with a campy skit. I played a lifeguard trainee and performed my line to the best of my ability. There was also some awkward dancing, but we had fun. I then changed into business casual clothes, feeling sweaty and smelly, but a little perfume disguised that.

On to a full day of sessions and panels, for three of which I was room monitor. At 5:15 p.m, I headed out for my evening fitness class, utterly exahusted but with an end to the day in sight. I had to put my sweaty workout clothes back on (I assure you I usually have much better personal hygiene). Finally, the grueling day was done, and I checked my voicemail as I walked out to my car.

Bad news. Poor little R had fallen in the tub, slammed into the side, and split his chin. T said there was a lot of blood, and they were on the way to urgent care. I felt like I was going to throw up.

The receptionist led me to the room when I got there. Poor little R was sitting on his dad's lap, his white onesie stained with blood and much more gushing out of the one-inch gash on his chin.

Ugh.

An hour-long ordeal followed. First the struggle just to get numbing gel to stay on for ten minutes. Then he was strapped into this horrible baby strait jacket that they called a baby papoose (I guess that sounds a little less frightening, but less accurate). His cut was washed a few times then slooooowly stitched.

One nurse held his head firmly in place while T made sure he didn't wiggle his arms out. His face was covered most of the time by a sterile drape. He screamed bloody murder the whole time and repeatedly pleaded "All done!" It was not fun. I sat by Q most of the time who was entirely unfazed.

Finally, R was stitched and bandaged and sucking happily on a lollipop. I held him and squeezed him, relieved he was out of that baby bondage.

At home he was happy as a clam again enjoying ice cream and bouncing around. He ripped off his bandage almost immediately though. Now he is on antibiotics for five days, and he goes back to get his stitches out in about a week.

I decided to stay home today to make sure both boys were OK. They are doing fine, though R will have a nasty little scar.

Here are the gory details:


Post-procedure, bloodied but unbowed.


His Frankenstein scar (six stitches) and fuzz stuck in his sucker residue. It's going to be a challenge keeping that wound clean!

I welcome the weekend.

--MM

Friday, April 16, 2010

How did I get here?

It has been a wild few months.

Go back with me if you will to the start of 2010. Things were rosy. After a few months of trying, T and I were newly pregnant. We had shared the news with our parents because we saw both sets over Christmas. I was far along in the interview process for a job I really wanted. All was swell.

And then things came crashing down. On the day I was exactly eight weeks pregnant, I started bleeding and cramping. By that night I had miscarried. We were heartbroken. That Monday I was on my way to a doctor's appointment to follow up. As I gathered up my bags at the coffee shop where I was visiting with a friend, the phone rang. The job was moving on with other candidates. He wanted to tell me why. Something about some of my answers weren't specific enough. I had the small urge to make him feel like an asshole by saying, "I'm sorry. I have to go because I have a post-miscarriage doctor's appointment." But I was cheery and gracious. I kept my head up and continued on with my crappy day.

Of course that doctor's appointment was pointless. She said she would "take my word for it," and didn't do any tests or ultrasounds to even make sure the miscarriage was complete. Frustrated, T and I scheduled an appointment for me at another clinic. They seemed to have some sort of knowledge, though not a lot of compassion. After a blood test and a particularly uncomfortable trans-vaginal ultrasound (is there any other kind?), I had my answers. A complete miscarriage, which at least spared me from a D&C. I now suspect the pregnancy ended a week or two earlier, and it just took awhile to pass. Had I known a few weeks earlier, I might have had to do the D&C.

They instructed me to return in a month to get a follow up blood test to make sure my hCG levels were back to zero. I went on with my life. I moved along in a grueling interview process for a position with a health record software company to train customers. I had a phone interview, and a first interview, and then scheduled a second.

I went in for my blood test and kept getting shuffled around the hospital. I showed up in the lab, and they had no idea I was there. They sent me up two floors to get a little print out. I was annoyed and frustrated. I almost just wanted to leave because I knew I was back to normal. Why did I need to draw this out? Finally, the lab tech poked me, and I was on my way.

Back to the flurry of preschool, exercise classes, and applesauce spills. A few days later, I was blissfully laying on the couch when the phone rang. It was the OB clinic.

"I have your blood test results."

"Oh, yeah, OK," I said sleepily.

"Your levels were 42 last month. But they're not going down. They're going up. You're at 1500. So we were wondering if you were having symptoms of being five and a half weeks pregnant."

What? "Um, not that I know of," I said truthfully. I really almost fell off the couch. Suddenly I was wide awake.

"So you think I'm pregnant again?"

"Well, either pregnant again or still pregnant."

We scheduled another blood test. Meanwhile I surfed the Internet obsessively. Could you get pregnant two weeks after a miscarriage? I knew I couldn't still be pregnant because I had seen my tiny, empty uterus during that awkward ultrasound. I found a condition called molar pregnancy that I decided I must have. I stressed over my job prospect. What if I got the job? What if I didn't? What if I was pregnant? What if I wasn't?

T brought home a pregnancy test that turned out decisively positive. My next blood test showed the hCG levels were still doubling. We scheduled an ultrasound to confirm. T met me to corral the rowdy boys. I sat awkwardly on a waiting room chair in a gown, wondering if other people had sat there without their underwear on. (Mine were still in place)

We were called into the ultrasound room and my belly was lubed. They couldn't find anything that way because the pregnancy would still be so early. Back to the wonderful trans-vaginal option. And then once that horrible wand was in place, the screen came into focus and there was a tiny white smudge in a black circle complete with a tiny flickering heartbeat. I was about seven weeks along, so apparently you can get pregnant two weeks after a miscarriage.

It took awhile to wrap my mind around the idea again. I had just gotten used to being not pregnant. T couldn't even remember the conception. And we had that lingering fear of another miscarriage. Pregnancy suddenly seemed so fragile. We didn't embrace the idea for awhile, though it was firmly lodged in the back of my mind. Especially as I completed my second interview and was offered the job. And then as I accepted and started March 1st. And as I signed up for short-term disability.

This week I had my first actual doctor's appointment, though I am already 14 weeks and out of my first trimester. It took awhile to figure out my provider with new insurance and all of that. I wondered again if maybe I was mistaken about the pregnancy. It was perhaps one of those hysterical things that I had invented in the aftermath of my miscarriage. I pictured the doctor searching for a heartbeat and then looking at me in confusion. But no, the heartbeat was there thumping along with the sound of hoof beats at 160 beats per minute.

I told my boss this week, and she was easy. I was nervous that she would be annoyed (and maybe she is, but she didn't show it). In an attempt to be productive as soon as possible, I completed training yesterday, in what my boss says is record time.

So things are back to really good from a point of being really crappy. But something still seems unstable about it all. Once you lose a pregnancy, I don't think you are ever quite the same. I feel like everything could change in an instant. And really it could.

But for now, I am happy.

--MM