Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Thoughts on Body Image

When you get pregnant you are expected to gain weight. 30-40 pounds is what my doctor told me, but gaining a bit more is okay. Forgivable, anyway. I did give birth to a nine pound baby. I'd lost nearly half the weight I'd gained by the time I left the hospital. I have to admit, it was the fastest weight loss plan if ever been on!

However, now it's been two months, and I'm getting anxious to get back to my prepregnancy weight. I have little time for exercise, let alone getting to the gym. I'm starting to take steps in watching what I eat. Because I'm breastfeeding, I can't cut back on calories. I'm still eating for two. But replacing some carbs with veggies and sugar with fruit are reasonable steps I can take for now. 

Why does it matter, though? Health, yes, but there's more to it. I'm concerned about how my clothes fit. I'm worried about the number on the tag of my jeans. I'm aware of the extra pounds on my hips that squeeze over my waistband.

My weight is appropriate. I know this. I tell myself this. My body will return mostly to normal. It still bothers me, though. I feel jealousy towards my friends and the women on blogs I read who only gained 25 pounds during their pregnancy and could fit into their normal jeans two weeks post partum.

Its a shame that society makes women feel like this about their bodies. It's a shame that I allow myself to feel this way about my body. Sometimes it doesn't bother me. Then I pull out a piece of clothing that used to be on the big side for me that is now tight. Sigh. 

It's a tough place to be, but I'm trying to have a healthy attitude about it.

And overall, it's a small price to pay for my healthy, growing, adorable son. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

World Prematurity Day

Today is World Prematurity Day, and I just wanted to take a moment to remember my little preemie.

Penny was born after 34 weeks of pregnancy, officially. My husband and I think she was further along, but mis-aged  because of her size and many other genetic issues. I'd developed HELLP, which meant the baby had to come out immediately. She was so tiny, I knew ahead of time that she would have to be a c-section baby. She lived for three days, and passed away in my arms surrounded by family. 

Today, I want to be thankful for the time I had with my daughter. I want to be thankful for the babies that got to go home and thrive. Especially I want to be thankful for my healthy, full term son, who was a c-section birth because of his little big sister.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Two Months with August

It has been two months since my son was born. How life has changed! I'm always busy with him, even if he's just napping on me after eating. Somehow at the same time I feel like I can never get anything done and more gets done around the house. I am home more now that I'm a SAHM and not a nanny. I need to keep developing balanced routines with him: playing when he's awake, cleaning and organizing while he's asleep, eating when he's entertaining himself. Hopefully we can set aside more time for me to excercise soon!

August is a great sleeper. We moved him into his own room when he was three weeks old. He was waking up both me an my husband with just his sleepy coos and rolls, and I'm sure we were waking him, too. As of now, he usually only gets up twice at night to eat, and wakes up after 6am. He's slept in past 7am before, and those are great mornings. I usually bring him into our bedroom while my husband gets ready for work. August just loves smiling at us in the morning! I'm surprised how well I've adjusted to less sleep! I hardly notice it now.

August is huge! He's all torso; his limbs haven't caught up yet. I guess that's a good thing, or he'd be in six month sizes instead of three month! He is nine weeks old today, and had his well checkup. He didn't like it so much (so many colors in his face - pale white to angry purple), but he really did okay. 

Our boy has the sweetest toothless grin, a head of crazy hair, and loves to kick his feet to bounce in his bouncy seat. The ceiling fan is a great source of entertainment - movement and contrast! He does well at church and restaurants and grocery shopping. He's such a pleasant, easygoing kid! 

I love my little man!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Realizations from a New Mom

First Month:
1. Recovering from a C-section is draining. Doing so while also feeding another person is more exhausting than I've ever experienced.

2. He and I need each other. There are times I feel nauseated because I need some skin to skin cuddle time with my little man. 

3. Sleep is a premium. If he sleeps on me I can't sleep for his safety. If he's stirring at all I can't sleep for fear he'll rouse and need comforting or feeding. If he is sleeping soundly, I wake up about half an hour or more before his next feeding, which is a waste of much needed mommy rest.

4. Breastfeeding hurts. For nearly the first week we had latching trouble which caused me a lot of pain every time he ate. It's better now that he's gotten practice eating the right way and I've gotten to know the difference between the feeling of a bad latch and old soreness. 

Second Month:
1. Growth spurts stink. All the great rest everyone was getting goes out the window. He's crabby and eating like mad and waking up every two hours. ...then he grins and it's all worth it.

2. Those grins! The first time I realized he was smiling responsively was amazing. He's a charmer; we'll have to keep an eye on him!

3. Breast milk has some force behind its flow. I need to keep a burp cloth nearby for all the spills we make. 

4. Mothers' love is different from other kinds of love. I always am aware of August, even in the back of my mind. I would face my fears for his benefit. It feels different, like wanting to celebrate his tiny achievements and feeling horrible anytime he's upset. It makes our bond all the more special.

Friday, September 5, 2014

August Amzi Stanley

He has arrived!

Tuesday September 2nd at 9:26am, August was born into this world. 

We woke early that morning, spending our last hours of non-parenthood sleepily preparing for surgery. I'd been hoping but gradually losing hope of going into labor naturally. The Braxton Hicks contractions I'd had throughout pregnancy seemed to be all for naught. Walking into the doors of Winnie Palmer, I'd pretty much accepted that. And it was okay. 

Filled with anxious nerves and epidural medication, I was wheeled into the operating room where I would soon meet my son. It only took a few minutes of tugging before the doctors pulled August from my womb and into the world - all nine pounds nine ounces of him!

Then I understood why we had to have a repeat C-section. How would I have ever been able to deliver a baby that size myself? We would have ended up with another emergency operation, or a ruptured uterine wall, or some other catastrophe. God is good in His planning. 

August is whole, and a great, strong baby. I love this little man! 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Eviction Notice to a Baby

August Amzi Stanley,

It has come to our attention that your nine month lease has come to an end. Thus, you must vacate the womb you have been occupying.

We understand that the space you have been living and growing in has been quite comfortable to you, and you may be sloth to leave it. However, please be reassured that you will be promptly furnished with many accommodations which are currently beyond what you can imagine in your fluid filled world. You will be loved and cared for, and given many opportunities to learn and grow that would be impossible should you remain in your current lodgings. You will get to see the faces of the people who you have been hearing (hereafter referred to as "Mama" and "Daddy"), as well as many others. As you continue to grow, you will experience food, crawling, walking, school, friends, and more. Just you wait. It'll be worth it.

You have until 9am on September 2nd to comply. Should you choose to remain, your eviction will be forcefully and medically necessitated. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Happy birthday.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

2 Weeks to Go

Today marks two weeks before the C-Section.

In my head I know he still has plenty of time to arrive before then, but having that deadline makes me anxious. I know it won't be the end of the world if August has to be a C-Section baby, but I would be disappointed. I keep feeling like he's just going to stay in there. I know - every pregnant woman says that. I'm just ready. There's nothing else to prepare. I'm ready to be a mom again, without the marring of grief. I'm ready to take him home and have him meet all of his family. All that's left is the waiting.

...Because Gilmore Girls quotes apply to everything.
At the last doctor visit they checked my fluid levels via ultrasound. It was very brief, so they didn't get a great picture, but here's his last photo op until he makes his debut!
37 weeks and 5 days down...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Back Again

Last night we went on the hospital tour. We'd scheduled one last time we were pregnant, but Penny was born before we could do it.

We got to hear about the check-in procedures, see a birthing room, and the nursery. Some was familiar, some was new. We really just wanted to see the "normal" side of the hospital. We are all too familiar with the NICU and the WICU. 

I've been thinking quite a bit about the last time we stayed at Winnie Palmer. In particular, something my dad said. We were giving our family each a chance to hold Penny and say goodbye before they removed the breathing machines and other cords maintaining her life. When my dad held her, he looked at me with a sad smile and said "Next time you're here, it'll be different."

So here I am, not-so-patiently awaiting August to make his appearance, anxious to see all the differences. This time has already been very different from the last pregnancy. All that's left is the wait. Waiting for labor to start. Waiting to see if we can progress naturally to the end or if we'll end up having to do a c-section anyway. 

One thing we know will be different will be the ride home. This time, there will be three of us in the car. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

35 Weeks

August is 35 weeks along now. 

It's weird to think, since Penny didn't officially make it this far. That's just based on the due date they gave her at an early sonogram, though. We're pretty sure she was much closer to term (I'd been keeping track when we were trying to get pregnant) and their estimate was wrong because she was always so small.

On a brighter note, we have pretty much all of the equipment we'll need for August. Thanks to generous friends and family, we didn't have to break the bank, either. The nursery isn't set up yet, but it's on its way.

I've started to take more time off at work. Last week I trained my replacement, and I think she'll be a great nanny for the boys. Her first day she patiently played five games of chess in a row with the oldest. He was in heaven, because I never learned how to play and he was tired of playing against his brother (who, to be fair, tends to walk away from games when he gets bored). She's patient, and flexible, and experienced, and has no qualms about stepping in to correct behavior gently. Just who we needed! God surely provides. I'll still be working two or three days a week for a while to help transition the boys from seeing me all the time. Besides, I'll miss them too!

One final thing: we have a c-section date. We're still hoping to have a VBAC, but that means the doctors won't induce my labor and they won't let me go too far past my official due date. It gets more risky the larger he grows. So, if he doesn't come before then, he'll arrive the morning of September 2nd. The day after Labor Day. Hmmm...

That's a perfect date in our eyes for two reasons. First, his name and birth month won't match. We love his name, but we do know kids can be cruel about that kind of thing. Second, he'll be the oldest in his school year instead of the youngest. Most school cutoff dates are on September 1st. Being the oldest means he has a whole extra year of life experience before starting school. If he is the youngest in his class (born in August) we're not too worried about him academically, based on my husband's and my own academic performance (she said so humbly). And, even if he is the youngest he probably won't be the shortest thanks to his six-foot-seven daddy. Even so, who wouldn't want to give their son every chance to succeed, even down to their birthdate? 

Five weeks left! 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

33 Weeks

Thirty-three and a half weeks down. Forty-five days left. In one and a half months we get to meet our son.

Looking back at this point when I was pregnant with Penny, I didn't know that I was about a week from giving birth. I was worrying, going to many, many doctor appointments, and preparing for the unplanable. I was painting a room she would never come home to, but where all of her things would lie for a year and a half, undisturbed but loved. I was longing for the faith to trust God in all circumstances, like Hannah.

This time is so different. I'm getting bigger with child, not with preeclampsia. August is now about twice the size Penny was when she was born. He's healthy. This pregnancy, so far, has been the normal, blah, vanilla ordeal that I wished for last time. So many blessings!

My only concern is being able to go into labor. We want to have a big family, so if we can avoid multiple C-sections, that would be awesome. Thus, we're on the VBAC track. For my OBGYN, that means they won't induce me. It would be too risky. Not that there aren't risks with VBAC, but if we can have one successful vaginal birth, the benefits greatly outweigh. They'll schedule a C-section date for me, in case I go past my due date, and if that ends up being how August comes into this world, so be it. However, if I hadn't taken the opportunity to try having a more natural birth I would have regretted it. In the end, we'll see what God has planned for us.

In a month and a half we get to meet our son. I can't wait to bring him home!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

August Amzi Stanley

We've finally settled on a name!

August Amzi Stanley.

Our son.

After months of thinking, scrolling through lists of names, eliminating, adding, changing our minds... we finally came up with one that stuck. My husband was never in a hurry to nail down his name. He had to keep reminding me that we don't have to decide until we fill out the birth certificate. I was more antsy about it, to say the least. I wanted to call him by his name! But that's one of the situations that works out in our marriage. If I'm getting ahead of myself, he's good at bringing me back to where we are.

We've known for a long time that we like the name Amzi. We got the name from the line of Stanley men my husband had memorized years ago. Its his great great great grandfather's name.

So we needed a first name that went with Amzi. Among other names, we considered Augustine, like the saint. My husband had read City of God a while back, and really enjoyed it. But Augustine seemed too out-of-date for a first name, and I knew I'd shorten it to August anyway. Not Auggie. We know some people who shorten their grandson's name to Auggie, but neither of us care for that. So we pondered some more, but the name August stuck around. He'll most likely be born in the month of August, but I figure that's just a good excuse for his friends to not forget his birthday. After some "beta testing" we made the decision.

Our son's name is August Amzi Stanley.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

22 Weeks

Our boy is 22 weeks today!

Earlier this week we had our final (YAY!!) ultrasound at the Maternal-Fetal Care office. We have loved the doctor and sonographers there, but it is wonderful to know that we no longer need the extra care. Everything looks normal, and I love it!

The halfway point - 20 weeks!
He's been kicking daily, though not on a particular schedule. Daddy hasn't been able to catch it at the right time yet, but it's sure strong enough to be felt. As he says, "When my son kicks you, you know it!" I saw my stomach moving last night, which was sure new! Penny was never big enough or strong enough to make herself known like that. It's so reassuring that this child is vital and active. 

Twenty-one and a half weeks here!

Four months to go!

Friday, March 28, 2014

17 Weeks

Baby Boy Stanley is growing! At his ultrasound on Wednesday, he weighed in around 8 ounces, about half a pound.

He didn't pose for a profile shot, but did get a lot of good anatomy information. He has long legs and a big head, like his daddy. He's measuring about four days ahead of his due date, and his head length is even about a week ahead. 

And he's definitely a boy! (Of course he showed this to us and not his face...) 

I love that we're getting so much reassurance that he's growing and healthy. His spina bifida test came back negative this week, too. 

Our last ultrasound with Maternal-Fetal Care is at twenty weeks, to check his heart and other organs when he's about a pound.

Eighteen weeks tomorrow (Saturday)! We're quickly approaching the halfway mark!  

Sunday, March 23, 2014

On Feeling Invalidated

I've been noticing in the last couple of weeks that there seems to be a culture of "you have no idea what you're doing until you're in it" among parents. No one's said anything directly to me to cause me to think this, so I may be reading into things, but if you look around in the media, books, and sometimes what people say, it's there. It bothers me.

It makes me feel like my opinions about my child and how I want to raise him don't matter until I've already done it. Like having a game plan is a bad thing.

I became a mom when I had Penny. She may have only been with us for a few days, and she may have spent most of her life in the care of nurses, but she made me a mom. This boy growing in my belly is my second child. I may not have any children at home, but I've been a mom since November of 2012.

I see lots of complaints about how people without kids have no idea how much their life will change when they become parents. Their lives are not their own, their time is not their own, and so on. I know this. I've been a full-time nanny since August of 2012. I'm quite familiar with the struggle of keeping a house clean, of having fair and effective discipline, of transitions, of safety, of spending all day on what THEY want and THEY need, of not being able to hardly use the bathroom without interruption, of feeding the gospel into them on a daily basis, and so on. In those situations, I feel like I've had enough experience to merit an opinion on those things.

I know I don't know everything. I don't pretend I do. I'm a nanny 9-5 on weekdays, so I don't know what it's like to have a bedtime routine. I don't know what it's like when your child wakes up sick in the middle of the night. I don't know how it changes and challenges a marriage. I don't know what the sleeplessness of midnight feedings is like. I don't know the financial burdens. I don't know what it's like to coordinate holidays between in-laws. There are so many things I don't know that I can't count them, or anticipate them all. I know that. So I don't comment on them, except to repeat what experienced mothers have told me. I do listen where wisdom is to be gained.

Having a plan isn't a bad thing. Having experience isn't a bad thing. When you start a new job, it's expected that you'll have experience as well as learn on the job. It feels like parenting is one of the few areas where previous experience can be totally negated. "Oh, but it won't be the same when it's your own kids. Just you wait." Maybe. I do expect it will be emotionally very different when I'm taking care of my own children. But that doesn't mean that I won't be drawing from my past experience of taking care of this other family of boys I love.

Maybe I am being naive. Maybe everything I know about taking care of children is wrong. Maybe my entire outlook on child-rearing and family life will change the moment that I change my baby's first diaper. But I doubt it. Yes, things will be different, and yes, I expect things to evolve as we go along. But that doesn't mean my opinions and experience now don't count.


Sorry for the rant. On the upside, I have my next ultrasound this Wednesday. Here are some stats:
He is now seventeen weeks along.
He is approximately the size of a turnip (about 5 inches long, crown to rump).
Mommy has been starting to go to the gym again. We want to gain healthy pounds!
Mommy and Daddy haven't decided on a name yet.
About twenty-three weeks to go, about 120 days down.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Comfy Cat

I've been crocheting a rug for Baby Boy Stanley's room for a while. I thought I'd share how Helo likes to help.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

My Baby Has Fingerprints

What can be more identifying as a person than fingerprints? At thirteen weeks pregnant, my baby already had them.

I read that little development tidbit the morning my child reached the 13-week mark. My reaction was to think about all the little ones who are being aborted at this stage. A bit morbid, yes, but that's where my mind went.

My baby, and all healthy babies at the cusp of the second trimester, have ten fingers and ten toes with fingernails attached. They have eyes, and eyelids, and mouths that practice breathing into their tiny lungs. They have growing, learning brains and beating hearts. Their organs are nearly all present, forming and moving into position. Their arms and legs move, and they have periods of wakefulness and sleepiness. And they have fingerprints.

When I told a good friend of mine I was pregnant again, I showed her the 9-week ultrasound image I had saved on my phone. Even she voiced surprise at how much my baby already looked like a person, at only two months gestation. 

That same morning my husband, along with many other members of our church, took part in the Walk for Life put on by Cornerstone Pregnancy Center. The center is for women experiencing an unplanned pregnancy. They offer pregnancy testing, counseling, and now ultrasounds. Statistically, seeing their own baby living and moving makes parents much more likely to carry their child to term. I think it shows them that a real person is growing in there.

As I found out in my last pregnancy, when abortion was offered as an option for "solving" the "problem" of Penny's abnormality, it is legal in Florida for a mother to abort her baby up to twenty four weeks of pregnancy. The average pregnancy is forty weeks. A woman can choose to destroy her child who is more than halfway finished developing in her womb. More than half. There are healthy, growing children who we're born as micro preemies around that gestational age. 

And they had fingerprints. 

My baby has fingerprints. My baby has an identity. My baby is more than a mass of cells which is less than human until labor or a c-section produces a person. My baby has always been a person. From blastocyst to birth and beyond, my baby is a loved person.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Coming in 2014

We're expecting a little addition on August 30th, 2014!
Nine weeks along!

We're so excited that God has blessed us with this little healthy bundle of joy!
Twelve weeks!

Because of the complications of our last pregnancy, we were lucky enough to have been offered early testing for our child, and fortunately everything looks normal and healthy. Specifically, they did a Panorama test for trisomy 13, 18, and 21, and monosomy X.

And since they were looking at the XY chromosomes anyway... they could tell what gender he is.

We're having a BOY!

Knowing this is such a blessing, because I do hope to continue my nannying job after my boy is born. Since I already take care of three boys, he'll fit right in! The two oldest boys will be in school (Kindergarten and Preschool) by then, so I'm praying God will continue to work it out. Also, the mom I work for has said that we're welcome to most of the clothes and some of the toys and swings that their baby will be done with by then. Score! I'm hoping my boy will get the experience of having three older "brothers" during the week and we can avoid some of the stereotypical oldest child tendencies. 

There's still tons to figure out, from names and nursery to parenting styles and more, but right now we're just excited that this little boy is growing and healthy!

Some stats:  He is fifteen weeks along today.
He should be about the size of an apple
I have been in maternity pants for about three weeks now... so I figure he'll be a big boy (like his dad). :)