Monday, July 21, 2014

summertime....

...and the living is pretty easy.  :)  we are keeping busy this summer, but in a real "let's have fun and enjoy our time together" kinda way.  and in a "let's try to keep the kids entertained so they don't drive us crazy" kinda way.  working part time has really allowed me to appreciate and enjoy summer in a way i haven't been able to in a long time.  i remember in years past, i'd be out driving to a meeting or whatever, and see a mom out walking or playing with her kids, and HATING the fact that i had to work and didn't get to play with my kids during the day.  don't get me wrong, doing stuff during the day with three kids is exhausting, especially when it's at the cost of a good baby nap, but 30 years from now i won't look back on how well the baby napped, but on the fun times we had in the summer of 2014.

noah has already done tee ball, critter camp at the lincoln marsh and vacation bible school at grandma and grandpa's church.  today he started a two week long swim class, and the week after that he's doing a train camp at the dupage historical society.  we decided to keep him in activities for a lot of the summer because we know that in the past he has been a bear by the end of the summer when he hasn't had enough to do outside of the daily routine.  i think our plan worked out pretty well.  he loved tee ball.  he was on the red team (aka the Cubs) under Coach Jenny.  tee ball was kind of exhausting for this mama, since in the beginning we had weekly practices and then games sometimes twice a week, and always on days that daddy had to work.  doing dinner, getting ready, loading our crap, and getting there on time, especially when a lot of the evenings well into the season (which ended in late June) were pretty chilly.  but i'm so glad we did it, because he really enjoyed himself, despite the whole everyone gets to bat, nobody's out, and we only play three innings thing...

camp and bible school were fun, different activities than he's done before.  it was nice for him to have somewhat structured peer interactions with new kids.  i have had some worry about him going to kindergarten and not really knowing anyone.  total former painfully shy kid projection, i know for sure.  even though he has his moments of uncertainty and shyness, he really does engage well with other kids and loves making friends.

emily has been busy too.  she is my little helper.  she always wants to help with henry, the laundry, the dishes, cooking.  she took a short dance class at the winfield park district.  it's funny to see her with other kids because she does love kids, and is actually very outgoing, but does kind of clam up with strangers.  she will be going to parents morning out again in the fall, this time two days a week.

probably since the beginning of summer, emily has been napping in noah's bed, but recently, we have started letting her sleep in his bed at night.  the goal has been to get her crib transitioned to a toddler bed before vacation in mid-August.   she has done pretty well except for the general pattern of her getting out of bed at least 2-3 times after lights out, song, good night... the worst is when she peeks into henry's room when i'm in there, in the dark nursing him.  seeing a shadow moving in the hallway is pretty creepy, even when i know it's her.  she has only fallen out of his bed twice, once with a giant thud that made us go running, and the other time just the other night.  i'm not even really sure how it happened, but it was 12:30am and i'd been asleep, and i heard her wimping and calling daddyyyyyy.  we went in there to find her squeezed between the bed and side table, with her head stuck under the bed.  i had to pull pretty hard to get the poor thing out.  somehow, there wasn't a mark on her.

henry is "awesome" as emily would say with a little lisp.  at seven months old, he continues to be truly the best baby.  he is the dream for a third child.  along for the ride, happy as can be.  he is very predictable in when he is hungry or tired.  he's not a great napper, but then, we don't have the most consistent schedule.  i feel like if we were up and out at the same time every day, we could get him in a better nap schedule, but somedays he wakes for the day at 7:00 and other days he wakes, eats, and falls back asleep.  in any case, he is a great night time sleeper, very rarely waking at night.  he is a rock star breastfeeder, but he's in the super distracted phase, which can be really annoying, especially in public.

he has his first two teeth, which came in within days of each other the week he turned six months.  he also started solid foods the week he turned six months.  the first few days, he seemed to enjoy it but wouldn't open his mouth.  by day three, he had it figured out, and now eats so voraciously that i can't keep up!  he loves puffs and will eat table foods like eggs and bread.

like the other two, it took awhile but he is finally rolling all over town.  i'd say within the last week, week and a half, he's really mastered it, and it's funny to watch this giant child roll around his crib.  he is longer now than the crib is wide, and i'm afraid he's gonna get himself wedged in there.  even though he's rolling now, he's yet to start sleeping on his belly like noah & emily did.  he's like his mom, more of a side sleeper. 

he loves his exersaucer, and just today i noticed that he's tall enough that he can stand up flat footed in it.  he LOVES music and thinks it's hilarious when i dance.  his chuckle is incredible.  he babbles and coos and smiles all.the.time.  he truly is such a happy baby, and he ADORES his brother and sister, and they adore him too.  they are so gentle and kind to him.  it really makes me happy to see them giving him toys or feeding him puffs or even just talking or singing to him.

we have done a lot of fun family outings this summer too.  we went to the train museum in union, il, the airshow in rockford, the pool in west chicago, the beach in st joe, michigan, the lincoln park zoo, a cubs game, a cougars game, the memorial day parade, the 4th of july parade, the movie theater, the bowling alley.... and ben built the kids a swing set.  and it's only the middle of july!  :)

as for us grown ups, life is crazy busy.  my working part time since returning from leave in march has been working out well, with minimal need for child care.  i'm home on tuesdays, fridays, and wednesday afternoons.  a few weeks ago however, ben started a new job, dispatching for the addison police department.  the pay is slightly less for now, but the long term opportunity for growth is excellent.  plus it has great insurance!  for the next few months, he is training and his schedule will be shifting every few weeks.  the hope is that his permanent schedule starting in the fall will be 6:30pm to 2:30am, and i will be able to slightly adjust my schedule to working mon 9-5, wed 8-12, & thur 9-5.

we have tried to have a few mommy/daddy night outings too.  we we to see ray lamontage and the dave matthews band.  we went out for dinner for our anniversary.  maybe that was it.  lol.  but we're fine with that for now.  our focus is on our family, as it should be.  do i wish i had more time/money/energy to do stuff?  sure, but when i have to pay a baby sitter on top of whatever money i'm spending going out, the desire to go drops dramatically.  plus i'm just really friggin tired by the end of the week, and the idea of putting my pants back on and leaving the house is so unappealing!  i'm content to be a lame middle aged housewife and mother, living in a messy house, with dirty kids, because at least those dirty kids are happy and enjoying life. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

my 4th trimester body

i don't consider what i did today especially brave.  yes, i was photographed in my undies for all the world to see (at least, those who puruse facebook, instagram, and the internet), but in all honesty, that was the easy part.

i thought on it for a long time... would i?  could i?  what would ben think?  what would other people think?  i became OBSESSED with ashlee wells jackson's 4th trimester bodies project (http://4thtrimesterbodies.com/), a concept that started so small with just one picture, and has snowballed into sometime absolutely incredible that is being received worldwide.

at first i was like, wow this is cool.  these chicks are so confident, so *brave* (that word again) to get in their skivvies (or less, in some cases) and put it allllll out there.  but as time went on, i was pregnant with henry at the time, i started to realize the meaning of the project really hit home with me.

"dedicated to embracing the beauty inherent in the changes brought to our bodies by childbirth, motherhood, and breastfeeding."

my body is forever changed.  my life is forever changed.  i've said it before, i'll say it again, i KNOW how lucky i am.  i am grateful for the opportunity to be a mom.  that i was able to conceive, carry & deliver, albeit with quite a bit of intervention, but nonetheless.

i will take the stretch marks and scars.  the saggy boobs and "i need mom jeans" belly.  i look at my babies and i am grateful that they gave me this body.

so i reached out to ashlee.  i wanted to have my picture taken.  email was the first step.  but then she gave me a date and asked me to pay the donation fee to participate, and then it was confirmed.  and that was that.  i didn't give it a lot of thought.  i mean i thought about how i wanted to tell my story (which by the way, why do things NEVER come out as eloquently in real life as when you rehearse them in your mind?), i took time to find some nice new undergarments to wear, i prepped the kids for this silly thing we were gonna do in our undies, i got my mom to come along to help out, but i really never stressed about the image i would be putting out there.

am i 100% body confident?  is anybody?  no, you won't see me in a crop top or bikini because i a 35 year old mother of three who does not find the need to do so.  (but yes, i will pop my boob out just about anywhere to feed my kid, not for any sort of shock value, but because the bugger is hungry and that's what boobs are for, duh.)

i think for me i latch onto things i believe in.  i learn about them.  i become passionate about them, and i think that's important, and unfortunately somewhat lacking in our culture.  people pass the time talking about the stupid reality crap they watched on tv last night, but nobody ever wants to shoot the shit about politics, science and medicine, positive body image and breastfeeding, etc.

i think for me i became passionate about the idea of embracing my body and trying to inspire others to do the same.  i'm out there about so many things that are important to me because i truly hope the honesty of my words and experiences can help others.  and if by putting my 90% naked body out there and saying, "yeah i look pretty damn good for having three kids even with that belly and those stretch marks" helps one person look at them self in a more positive way, that i've succeeded.

**
our appointment today was at 10am in the city.  we left at 8am just to be safe.  there was NO traffic and we were early for once!  we walked around a bit and the kids colored with chalk in front of ashlee's house/studio.  when it was time, we climbed the steep stairs to the studio where photographer ashlee and hair/makeup artist laura greeted us.  ashlee gave us the low down and showed the kids where they could play, and i was immediately ushered into the other room to get my hair and makeup done.  i felt so calm and comfortable with these amazing gals.  we chatted about laura's roommate who doesn't do the dishes, ashlee's car getting tagged with spray paint last night and how stuff like that doesn't happen two blocks from the mayor, and about ashlee's daughter nova's early intervention services after i told them i was a service   coordinator.  i tried to nurse henry while laura did my hair, but mister man was so distracted, so interested in everything that was going on, it was a lost cause.

from there, i sat on a stool in front of a white photography backdrop in my black tank top, a small mic attached to my bra.  ashlee instructed me that she was going to ask me a few basic questions and then a few open ended question, all of which would be video recorded.  my name, where i'm from, my age, my kids names and ages.  tell me about your story, pregnancy, childbirth, motherhood.  in that moment, all the thoughts i wanted to convey were out of my head, and i just rambled.  the kids were getting kind of impatient and bored, so it probably didn't help that i kept getting distracted my them during my interview.  in any case, i was able to share my story, one i've told a million times, but this time in a way that will reach an infinitely wider audience.  i cried of course talking about IVF and how grateful i am for my kids, because that's what i do.  laura was quick to bring me tissue and then to touch up my make up when the interview was done.

ashlee took my picture, a head shot, first.  me, this moment in time.  looking far fancier than a girl in a black tank top should, but nonetheless, me.

 photo courtesy of ashlee wells jackson, 4th trimester bodies project

and then it was time.  noah and emily and henry and i, down to almost nothing.  but i felt fearless.  the interview was the hard part.  ashlee made it easy to feel comfortable and at ease, and let's be honest, my kids have seen me in my undies, my mom has seen me in far more compromising situations... this was easy.

ashlee put the kids in position, emily standing on a stool next to me, noah instructed to hug me.  the kids touching the baby, kissing one another, smiling at me.  they were a dream.  they listened to her instructions and were sweet as pie.  and henry... he was a giant ham.  just perfection.

and as soon as it started, it was done.  she repositioned the kids maybe twice, click, clicked away, for a few minutes, and that was it!  the kids and i got dressed, henry ate a bit more, and we waited for ashlee to upload the pictures, and pull out her favorites.

she narrowed the pictures down to about 12.  it was overwhelming in that moment to make a decision, but as we narrowed the list, i just went with my gut.  once we were down to the last few, i couldn't decide.  ashlee had a favorite but mom and i were leaning toward another.  we decided that this would be my official shot:

  photo courtesy of ashlee wells jackson, 4th trimester bodies project

this one struck me because i loved the way the kids were doting on their baby.  i wish noah's arm wasn't hiding his smile, but this is them.  they love henry, they love each other.  

ashlee was kind enough to give me a "bonus" photo since i had such a hard time choosing, and i think this one was her favorite from the day:

  photo courtesy of ashlee wells jackson, 4th trimester bodies project

**
i want to thank everyone who encouraged me and cheered for me for choosing to participate in this project.  doing so wasn't brave, it was real.  it was about embracing it and empowering other, but also about teaching my children that there is beauty in all people, regardless of shape, size, color, ability.  that "perfection" isn't real.  real is real.  love yourself as you are.

xo.

Here is the official 4th trimester bodies project post: 4thtrimesterbodies.com/mindy.koechling

Friday, January 17, 2014

One Month

Today my Henry is a month old.  Where did that month go?  I remembered that the early weeks would be a blur and fly by, but that went SO fast!  I'm sad that my little man isn't a newborn anymore! 

My little bug, little bear, Henry Hugaboo, Henny, Hank, Hankenstein, Hank and Beans (poor kid) -- he has become much more alert and awake in the past week or so.  He is still dealing with the symptoms of his (presumed) HS.  His blood work yesterday came back with his hemoglobin at 7, which is significantly low, but the hemotologist we saw at Lurie's doesn't feel it is necessary to transfuse him at this point.  We will recheck his counts next week, and hope they have improved.  He loves to sit up and face out, watches his brother and sister intently, and man, do they adore him!  His head control is unreal, and his eye contact is fantastic.  And then there's the occasional gas smile that shows off that phenomenal dimple!!

He is a powerhouse when it comes to eating.  I've been tracking when he nurses and for how long...  some days are better than others, but for the most part, he is nursing every 1.5 to 2 hours during the day, and 2 to 3 hours (sometimes a tad longer) at night.  We have an appointment with the pediatrician in a few days to check his weight and I am a little concerned.  At our last appointment (two weeks ago now), he was up to 8lb 15oz, but when I stepped on the scale with him a day or two ago, he was only up to 9lbs.  He still looks yellow to us, but he is eating a lot, peeing, and pooping fine, so I shouldn't be too worried, but you can never know with breastfeeding what he is actually getting.

And then there's his suspected lip tie (and possible tongue tie).  I have an appointment for Henry in a week and a half with the pediatric dentist that I took Emily too to have her lip tie revised.  He is nursing much better than either of the kids did, and I have had zero nipple damage (thankfully), but he has had a lot of issues with gassiness and seems to have some silent reflux.  Both are common symptoms of lip/tongue ties.  I'm hopeful that getting the revision(s) done with help elleviate his tummy issues and also help him gain weight more quickly, but I'm also nervous to have the revision done with his hemoglobin is still low. 

Noah and Emily are doing relatively well.  Noah has moments that I want to lock him in his room - we've had lots of issues with yelling, talking back, general naughtiness.  In the early weeks, I'm sure it was because he was bored.  Now that he's back to school, I think it's gotten better, but pops up as a manifestation of exhaustion.  Emily has similar moments, but it's the terrible twos.  Not getting her way, usually.  We (briefly) converted the crib to a toddler bed, and that didn't go well.  She wouldn't stay in bed, and in fact the other night climbed in bed and fell asleep with Noah.  Made for a cute pic, but the crib was reinstated the next day for my own sanity.

I so wanted to be super stay at home mom to three kids, and do it all right off the bat.  Then reality hit me - I'm only a few weeks in, and I have plenty of time to figure this out.  For now, I'm just trying to enjoy my time home with my kids.  :)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Henry's first few days: Birth story part two

I keep telling myself to write about our time in the hospital with Henry since last time, it took like a year to write part two of Emily's birth story.  So here's my attempt to remember something that already seems like a distant memory..

Henry was born on a Monday.  The afternoon he was born, I snuggled the hell out of him.  I'm pretty sure Ben held him a few times, but mostly I didn't want to share.  After the initial meeting, everyone went home, and Ben and I just enjoyed a few hours alone with him.  Mom came to visit, the kids came back, and Julie & Scott.  At some point in the evening, Ben and I discussed that he was looking a little yellow, and the nurse must have agreed. 

Shortly after he was born, I asked about testing his bilirubin levels, given our past experience with Noah & Em, and the correlation between the significant early onset of jaundice and hereditary spherocytosis (HS).  We were told there was some new way of testing bili levels, and it wouldn't be done until 24 hours old.  24 hours!?  Noah was in the lights by 18 or so hours!  Of course, it probably didn't help that by the time we got to our room, the peds had already rounded, so I couldn't even consult with him or her about my concerns.  Plus, I was too damn exahusted to fight it.

But anyway, that first night nurse must have seen the coloring in him that we did, and ordered the test early, at about 13 hours, I believe.  His counts were elevated, but not significantly enough that it was concerning. 

Tuesday morning was my first frustration.  The ped who was on that day was someone we had never seen.  I was so frustrated that it wasn't our primary guy, who would literally have seen our name and known our history.  The ped seemed to kind of brush of our concerns, even as I retold our experience with how sick Noah got, how fast, and how they instilled in us in the fear of NICU time and brain damange.  She wanted to give him more time, and ordered his bili levels be retested at 4pm.

That afternoon, Ben's parents and the kids visited.  And of course, that's when the test results came in.  It was like a blur.  The neonatologist and nurses and bili lights and a friggin NICU isolette.  The neonatologist was extremely concerned with his levels (yeah, no shit - I told them I was concerned yesterday) and said he needed to be in the lights and get his bili to stop rising or he was going to the NICU.  Of course, at that, I lost it.  I just fucking gave birth and now you are taking my baby from me.  Even without having him go to the NICU, the horror of our experience with Noah came rushing back.  Noah didn't breastfeed well, nor could he, since we could only have him out of the lights for 20 minutes at a time.  We couldn't hold him, snuggle him, love on him like most people could their newborn baby. 

And the neonatologist has the audacity to ask me what I'm concerned about.  I can't even talk.  I'm so upset, I just shake my head.  He says something to the effect of  "this is what it is, we have to just treat it", and I hear him calling me an idiot.  No shit, we have to treat it.  And by the way, I feel like fucking shit because my kid, my newborn baby, my freaking miracle child that I never even dreamed could be, is sick because of ME.  Because of a blood disorder that he has inherited from ME.  So don't tell me, you cocky son-of-a-bitch that it is what it is, because I know what it is.  I live it.  I have two kids who live it.  I have one kid who was seriously ill at birth and required a blood transfusion the day he turned a month old.  Jackass.

So anyway, I lose my shit.  Hysterical ugly crying while they turn the lights on, get little yellow Henry naked, put on his little superhero mask, and load him into his new bed.  And that thing was out of control.  We could open little doors to touch him and talk to him.  It was heated so at least he wasn't cold.  (Except for the couple times he was HOT because the isolette reset to like 95 degrees...)  The neonatologist ordered the bili levels retested at 9pm, I think, and said that it was over 13, he would have to go to the NICU.

The plan was that Ben was going home each night, in an attempt to keep life as normal as possible for Noah and Emily.  This night, he went home and did dinner and bed.  I called mom, hysterical, begging her to sit at the house with the kids so Ben could come back to the hospital, which of course she did, but in the meantime, Julie sat with me at the hospital til Ben came. 

Thank god, after his test that night, his level was at 12.8 so no NICU for Henry.  I don't know what I would have done.  I'm pretty sure I would have signed myself out of mother/baby and set up shop downstairs.

So Wednesday... I'm doing my best to only keep Henry out of the lights the allotted 20 minutes at a time.  Hard to do when you're trying to establish breastfeeding with a guy who initially wasn't super interested, and then that first day (before the lights) would kinda just hang out and nibble for an hour or so at a time.  I tried to stay on an ever three hour schedule, but sometimes it was closer to 1.5 - 2 hours if he started getting fussy.  So when the nurse comes in Weds morning (must've been early cuz I'm pretty sure it was my night nurse) and tells me the neonatologist wants me to supplement after feeds, I'm upset, annoyed, and frustrated.

**Now sidebar, the perks of being a third time mom, I know what I want and when and where to stand my ground.  Been around the block a few times....**

I know that this little guy needs to excrete to get the bilirubin out of his system, and supplementation is often recommended to get babies peeing and pooping more.  But the reality is, his stomach is the size of a grape (if that) at this point, so you're telling me to breastfeed for 15ish minutes and then supplement up to 45ml?  (45ml is an ounce and a half, FYI)  Yes, my milk isn't in yet at this point, but I have told every nurse that I only stopped nursing Emily four months ago, and every nurse has commented that my milk will come that much faster.

So when nurse tells me he wants me to supplement, I get weepy, but then the frustration takes over and I say no.  It doesn't feel right, you know?  They wanted me to supplement with Emily and I think I gave her formula once, and was so mad about it, and after that gave her pumped BM to supplement.  And with Noah, hell.  We didn't know any better and it was so hard to BF in such a short amount of time that I just pumped and we gave him formula.

Thankfully, the nurse had my back, and supported my right to make the decision that was right for me.  (I think she was the just about 40 wk pregnant nurse, who I'm sure was up on her shit.)  I think it was at that point we discussed pumping and supplementing with that, and the nurse brought me a pump.

It occurred to me a little later that I still had frozen BM from March in the freezer at home.  I asked the new nurse, my day nurse, her thoughts on supplementing with frozen BM and she said she'd check with lactation.  (I later found out that nurse didn't know much about dealing with BM....  hold that thought.)  She spoke to lactation, who spoke to the new neonatologist who was on, and go the order changed to supplementing with expressed or frozen BM.  Bam bitches, that's how it's done.

(So that thought you were holding... yeah, the nurse was all "we have a special thing for defrosting breast milk".  Awesome I think, cuz that usually takes forever.  But she took the biggest bag (6.5oz), defrosted it, and then heated it, effectively making whatever I didn't use in that first feeding garbage.  I took about 1oz out to feed Henry, and then was like, hm, now what do I do with the milk, so I called LC, who told me that it was garbage if it wasn't used within an hour or so.  But I kind of read her, and let her know that I was one to err on the side of "how long is it really good for?"...  she smiled and said something that let me know I was okay to put it back on ice and use it a few more times.)

So I pumped occasionally, and I supplemented with expressed and frozen milk when Henry would take it, but you can't MAKE a kid take a bottle, especially after 15 minutes on the boobs.  He would latch well, and I could keep him going, and get him to do about 10 min on each side.  I was a little lax with the 20 min thing, again, third time in this rodeo, and while yeah, I knew he NEEDED to be in the lights, I also knew an extra few minutes here and there was okay.  He pee and poopy diapers on Wed were very concerning.  Maybe two pees and one poop in 12 hours.

They checked his levels every 12 hours or so.  Usually 4pm and 4am.  Ben charted them so we could keep a visual on when he was at.  His bilirubin level showed that he was responding well to the lights.  I much preferred the ped that was on Weds (as well as Thurs).  We didn't know her well, but she was clearly very proactive and respectful of the fact that we knew what we were talking about.

On Thursday, we got a little bit of a break.  For several hours, Henry was only on half the lights and we could have him out of the bed for up to 40min at time.  (All along, I had been requesting getting a bili blanket and being allowed to have him out for more than 20 min, in part selfishly, but primarily because it seemed counter intuitive to say he needs to eat more so he can pee and poop more, but you are limited to 20 min feedings.)  After the afternoon bili check, they turned the top light back on and reduced us to 20 min again, since his level went back up.

On Thursday night, the ped called after hours and told me that she believed he would be discharged with me the next day and was looking into helping us obtain a bili blanket for home if it was needed.  The nurses said the social worker at the hospital would take care of getting that set up if needed.

Friday morning, discharge day.  Initially we were told he was well enough to take out of the lights, but later the ped decided he needed to stay in the lights until we went home.  They wanted to do sort of a baseline bili count right before we walked out the door, and then recheck it at the ped's office the next day to see where it rebounded to without the lights.

The managing nurse visited and told me that she had 16 moms being discharged that day - we'd heard that L&D had been crazy earlier in the week, as there was a snow storm and a full moon on Tuesday (not to mention our guess that some OBs probably scheduled inductions and c-sections to be done before Christmas).  The nurse told us that she was telling everyone else to plan on leaving by noon, but we were an exception and that we could leave when the doctors gave us the okay.  As much as I appreciated the "special treatment", I was jealous of the 15 other moms who were getting the boot.

Anyways, we finally got word that they were going to draw Henry's blood around 2pm, and then we could go.  We were home that day by 3pm! 

The next day (Saturday), we went to the ped for blood work (which took wayyyy longer than necessary and they didn't even have the previous day's "baseline" on file), and that afternoon, we waited for the call to let us know his bili level and what, if anything, we needed to do next.  They never freaking called!  We have never had issues with our ped at all, so we were pretty pissed when we called them and got the answering service.  So you'd better believe I told Ben to leave a message with the answering service because this was pretty friggin important...  When the doctor (different from the one we'd seen that day) called back, she said they wanted to see him back in two days to recheck.  I don't recall what the count was, but I remember feeling like it had gone up significantly from where it had been the morning before. 

Ben took Henry back to the ped two days later (Monday), again for blood work.  He made sure to let them know we were upset and disappointed that we never got a call on Saturday, and hoped that wouldn't happen again.  When the nurse called with the count later that day, it had gone down a bit, and she said they didn't need to retest it since we were going to the hematologist in another week. 

Of course, that appointment was two days ago, and they only checked his hemoglobin and reticulocyte count, and NOT his bilirubin.  UGH.  But I am taking him back to the ped tomorrow, and will ask them to check his bili again...  I will say though, his color is so much better and his awake and alert time seems to be increasing by the day.

SO, that is the crazy story of Mr Henry's first few days.  I guess it's good that all three of my kids have had similar paths and that I know enough to handle it and be able to stand my ground.  It doesn't make it easier, having to watch your baby be poked so many times, and not have all those first days snuggles, but at least it's our status quo.  We have nothing else to compare it to, and as I've said before, if this is the worst "illness" my children ever have to battle, I'll take it.

<3 br="">

Friday, December 20, 2013

Henry's birth story: part one

This is Henry.


Henry Charles Koechling was born on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 10:50am.  He was 8lb, 5oz and 21 inches.  This is the story of his birth and first few days thus far:

Julie came to the house to stay with the kids on Monday morning.  We were supposed to get to the hospital by 8:00, but as is our norm, we were running late.  It worked out well though, because we were able to see Noah and Emily in the morning and take a last "family of four" picture.  The kids were well prepared for the day, since we've been talking about the plan for over a week.  They were happy to see Julie and have her help them get ready for the day, and Emily was especially excited to show her our Elf on the Shelf, "Christmas".  "Wook, Juey!" she hollered.

We got to the hospital around 8:30, apologized for being late, and quickly signed consent forms.  My nurse Z (Zardeen, I think?) took us to our labor & delivery room to prep for surgery.  From there, things went pretty quickly.  The nurse who came in to do my IV was my L&D nurse from when Emily was born, Amanda.  I told her that, and she said she remembered me.  BS, but sweet girl, thanks for only poking me twice to get that line in...

Only about ten minutes behind schedule, we headed to the OR shortly after 10am.  Z & I dropped Ben and our stuff in the recovery room, and that's when I got emotional.  I had already warned Z I was a crier.

We walked to the freezing cold OR and, still crying, I sat on the table.  Another nurse tried to engage me, and she gave me a weird vibe, which Z must've recognized because she came over and put her hands on my knees while I was prepped for my spinal.  When it was time for the spinal and I was instructed to curl my back into a C, still crying, I leaned forward and Z put her forehead on mine and held my hands.  Love her.

Within seconds, the spinal made my legs feel warm and heavy and I remember laying on the table reminding myself not to even try to move my legs, because I knew that either the creepy tingly feeling or the complete lack of response would gross me out.  Once I laid down, I started shaking a little.  Not nearly as bad as after my epidural with Noah - that was teeth chattering to the point my jaw hurt.  This might have been slightly med related, but I think it was primarily nerves.  The wrapped my neck and arms in warm blankets, and after a while, I was able to calm myself and the shaking slowly stopped.

I lie on the table staring at the tile on the ceiling, trying to just breathe and relax.  The whole idea of being conscious for surgery is creepy, and add to that the emotion of knowing that your baby is about to be born... it's an overwhelming feeling.  Plus in the back of my mind, I'm trying to stay cognizant of how I am feeling physically.  The anesthesiologist said it was important to let him know if I felt light headed, dizzy, or nauseous.  What I mainly felt was nervous.

Before they started, what was making me the most uncomfortable was something that I did remember from my c-section with Emily, but I didn't really remember how bad the sensation was.  With a spinal, the numbness goes to your chest, and you get the sensation of feeling like you're having trouble breathing because you can't feel your chest rise.  I had a nasal canula in, and tried to inhale the oxygen and keep my breathes steady. The warm blankets on my neck were starting to feel heavy on my throat, and I felt claustraphobic.  Two or three times, I asked the nurses to moves them to a different position, but finally I just asked them to take them off completely.  I was no longer shaking or shivering, and had otherwise calmed down, so the literal weight off my chest helped me breathe more easily.

They brought Ben in and got started.  He grabbed my hand and I think I might have started crying again.  So many emotions, but finally the fear and nervousness were replaced, and I felt a sense of calm and comfort when I knew Ben was there.

From starting surgery to getting the baby out is pretty quick.  We knew it wouldn't be long before he would be here.  Casual talk amongst the doctors and nurses, pressure on my abdomen, the announcement that baby was almost here... and then pressure.  A LOT of pressure.  And then urgency.  Doctor asks for the vacuum, which of course instantly makes me nervous, because I guess I've never thought of the vacumm with a c-section, and a lot of women are fearful of needing a vacuum with a vaginal delivery.  When the vacuum wasn't readily available, I could hear the urgency and frustration in his voice - get the vacumm, why is it not out and ready to go, turn it on, turn it up.  And then an excrutiating amount of pressure, and the assisting OBs elbow literally in my face from the other side of the curtain.  He was pushing, pushing, PUSHING to get the baby out, and it felt like it was taking way too long.  I was scared.  Why was it taking so long and WHY was it so hard to get him out?  Is he okay, is he stuck, is there danger in the fact that I am cut open and they are pushing and pulling to get him out and he is NOT coming?

Finally, a wail.  My baby is out, and he is pissed.  I completely started bawling.  Ugly cry bawling.  He is screaming non-stop and in that moment, it is the greatest thing I think I have ever heard.

Briefly, the assisting OB pops him around the curtain to show him to us, and he is beautiful and loud.  I am happy.

A few minutes later, after inital vitals and APGARS, they bring him to me.  The nurse lays him on my left shoulder, with his head on my chest near my chin.  I reach my right arm across my body and rub his little forehead.  For the first time ever, I am holding my minutes old newborn.  He is so beautiful and perfect.  I am so lucky.

It felt like a brief time but I am grateful for that experience, and I'm pretty sure (at least I hope) there are some pictures.  Holding him for the first time in there was so sweet.  After probably several minutes, Z told me she was going to take Ben and the baby to recovery, and they'd see me soon.  Once they left, I felt tired, suddenly very emotionally exhausted.  I wanted to just close my eyes and rest, but then I thought maybe it wasn't normal to feel like I wanted to sleep in surgery.  I announced that I was tired, and they told me that was normal.  Okay, I thought, then I'll rest.  But then.... nausea.  Gross.  I let them know i feel nauseous - after all they have been pushing with a great deal of force on my abdomen and are currently repositioning my internal organs.... the anesthesiologist gives me a puke bucket and tells me he's giving me Zofran in my IV to help.  Dry heaves and then vomit.  I feel better.

Before I know it, surgery is done.  The nurses move me from the OR table to the bed, and wheel me in to recovery.  I am pretty sure I am crying or about to cry at this point.  I see Ben there with the baby, and I'm definitely crying. 

I felt good in recovery.  It didn't seem like we were there long, but in retrospect I feel like I might have been a little out of it cuz I kind of don't remember a ton now.  I did try to latch him on to nurse, but I don't think he did much in recovery.  (It took several hours before he really showed interest.)  I do know I held him and snuggled him and kissed him all over while Ben took pictures.  I made sure the nurse knew I didn't want him to go to the nursery for a bath because we wanted the kids to meet him right away.  I made sure Ben texted mom and Julie and his parents to let them know we were in recovery and when we were getting ready to go upstairs.  The nurse told us that she had talked to the nurse in Mother Baby and explained that we wanted a brief visit with our family before baby went to the nursery and she was agreeable.  I held Henry as I was wheeled to elevator and up to Mother Baby.

Once settled in our room, Ben texted his parents to see if they were in the unit, since they had been elsewhere at the hospital doing something work related.  Ben and I decided that rather than having just the kids come in, that we would just have everyone come it right away.

The kids came right over to the bed to see their new baby.  I told them (and everyone else) his name was Henry Charles, and they said hi to him and examined his little face.  (I'm looking forward to watching the video of their meeting.)  Poor Emily was clearly ready for nap, but she was a trooper and hung in there.


We asked if they wanted to hold him, and they both scrambled onto the little couch in the corner.  Emily held him first.  She was so sweet and so gentle.  When Ben asked her to give him a kiss, she rested her little cheek on his head.  She gazed at him so sweetly, and in that moment, I knew she understood that THIS was her baby brother, and not my tummy or belly button.



Next it was Noah's turn to hold Henry.  Emily was NOT happy about having to give him up and cried "no, mine".  Noah was equally sweet and gentle, but he's a pro at being a big brother.  Still, it was so sweet to see the way he looked at his new baby.



 

As the kids were finishing up holding him, the nurse came in and announced that she had to take him to the nursery.  Without so much as letting me take a breathe, she said he'd be back in 45 minutes and whisked him away.  I felt bad that gaga and grandma and grandpa had barely gotten more than a look let alone to hold him, but they all seemed to understand.  I offered for them to stay and wait, but insisted the kids get home to take a nap.  Everyone decided to leave, and I took the next half hour to update the world via text message and Facebook that the boy was here!




Monday, December 16, 2013

one last time as a family of four

there aren't really words that i have for how i'm feeling tonight.  it is 12:23 am.  we have to be at the hospital at 8:00, with my c-section scheduled for 10:00.  i will be 39 weeks, 4 days.

there are times when this pregnancy has flown by and others where i feel like it's gone on forever.  i honestly still think i'm in denial.  i'm clearly pregnant.  the "i didn't know i was pregnant" concept still blows my mind.  my cervix screams everytime this giant child moves, and unlike his big brother and sister, he makes my belly move in the most unreal ways.  tonight we thought for sure he'd punch a hole through my right side and come jumping out.

noah and emily are very excited.  i know noah remembers when emily was born, and i'm fairly certain that emily is only somewhat aware of what is actually happening.  in recent weeks, i do think it has started to make a little more sense to her.  she asked me a few days ago "baby brother is coming out soon?"  clearly we talk about it regularly, and tonight prepped them for how their day and week will go with mommy away.  noah is fine with it.  emily follows his lead.

when i stop to think about the gravity of how life is going to change......  i just paused for about 15 seconds, because i don't really know how to finish that.  infertility was always such a huge part of our story, and i feel like it always will be.  noah asked tonight (for like the 2nd or 3rd time recently) how the baby got in my belly, but quickly shifted to how did he get in my belly and did the doctor put him there.  that is a much easier one to answer, because yes my child, the doctor did put you in there....

i still have friends struggling with infertility and it breaks my heart all over again when someone shares another failed cycle.  but i am reminded that i have paid my dues, four years and four IVF cycles worth, to be exact, and i know that i would do it all again to wind up here, ten hours from having my miracle "freebie" that i never really dreamed possible.

i was so mad after emily was born that my body made the decision that we were done having kids.  did i want three because i really wanted three, or did i want three because i knew i couldn't have three?  but then when three became our new reality, the initial excited "oh shit!", quickly became a terrified "oh shit..." and i feel like i've waivered back and forth between the two in recent days, as i did in those first weeks of my pregnancy.

we've figured out a lot of the logistics- minivan, big kids sharing a bedroom, me going to part time in the spring (20 hours a week - working monday and thursday, and a half day on wednesday), and ben changing his schedule to acconmodate mine and eliminate the need for child care....  money is still going to be tight, and that's something ben and i will have to actively work on and adjust to.  we have the stuff- i kept everything for the big kids and feel so fortunate for that.

it's the physically, mentally and emotionally juggling parenting three kids under five that i'm most nervous about.  i hope my fuse grows longer over the next several months and that noah's recent bratiness and emily's recent two-year-old-ness improve.  i hope i am physically able to keep up with all of them and still have something left at the end of the day.  i hope my RA stays quiet.  i don't want to have to worry about that on top of everything else, especially since last time i saw the rheumatologist was AGES ago, and she encouraged me to wean emily from nursing by 12 months so i could go on some stronger meds.  (for the record, i got pregnant whilst breastfeeding when emily was 15 months old, and didn't wean until she was 20 months and i was 20 weeks pregnant...)

i hope that my emotional state and mine and ben's ability to co-parent, outnumbered, on our new schedule will be strong and healthy and that we won't want to kill each other (and the kids) at the end of each day.

three kids is scary to me in so many ways, but i remind myself that they won't be little forever and then i step back and try to take it all in.

noah's such a kind boy and he really is a good kid.  he is loving and funny and so smart and creative.  lately his thing is telling the story of  "noah's great day" movie.

emily is a fiesty little firecracker who says and does things to get a rise out of you, but then quickly turns on her cute face and pouty kissy lips.  she takes it all in and constantly surprises us with what she knows.  tonight, eating her crescent roll at dinner, she looks at me and say "mmm... licious!"  (delicious)

baby brother - you don't have a name just yet, but i know we'll figure it out in the next few hour or so help me - you aren't even here yet and you have already changed out lives so much.  i never ever dreamed we could have another baby, and even though i have had my fears, i know that you are meant to be a part of our family.  i have always said things happen for a reason, and we have the children we are meant to have.  i cannot wait to meet you and know you and fall even more in love with you than i already am.  you are currently torturing me from the inside - seriously, between the sciatica, the hemmorhoids, and the baby movement slash contractions, this has been my most painful pregnancy of the three.  you move into my right ribcage and i feel like my skin might rip open, and then you burrow down into my cervix and i fear like you're stabbing me with a knife.  i promise not to hold these things against you.  tomorrow, i will complain of the post c-section discomfort, and after that of the booby pain, and after that something else, because it's always something.

but inspite of all of that, you are truly a miracle, in a new sense of the word to me.  i am so grateful for the opportunity to have you in my life and to be your mom.  i'm scared that i won't be great, but i know i will do my best.  we will have good days and bad days, but at the end of each of them, you and your brother and sister will know that i love you all tremendously.  i want you to know that i love you all with my whole heart and that i would do anything for you.  i know you will be amazing and beautiful and smart and strong.

and now, after one last breakfast, one last nap, one last dinnertime, and one last bedtime cuddles as a family of four, it's time for one last sleep before we meet our baby brother.  my youngest child.  my new son. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Six weeks to go...

It's hard to believe this pregnancy is coming to an end. I am due in a little over six weeks, and my last day of work is five weeks from Friday. This little boy will be joining our family so soon, and it still feels like a dream. I sometimes catch my image in the mirror and stop to stare at my belly. I never dreamed I would be so lucky to be pregnant again, to have another child. I am trying to savor each painful moment (more on that...) because I am so grateful for this experience one final time.
The top questions I get right now...

Does he have a name? No, however i personally have a short list. Names are stressful, and that conversation still needs to be has once Ben flips through the name book.

What's my due date/when will I have him? I'm officially due Thursday December 19. The goal is to do a VBAC if by some miracle I go into labor naturally and on time. Now, past experience has been a) my children don't come out on their own and b) they don't come out before their due dates. Noah was induced at 41 weeks, and Emily was a c section at 40 wks, 3 days. Ben however made the valid point that if any of these kids comes out on their own, it'll be this one. Ya know, since he kinda came to be in a different manner... I am hopeful for labor and vbac, however i plan to schedule a c section for earlier in the week I'm due. I definitely have no intention of going past my due date OR spending Christmas in the hospital.

How am I feeling? Meh. This pregnancy has been tough. I'm older, my body is in worse shape in general and due to the fact this is my 3rd pregnancy. I'm completely exhausted because I work full time and then get home and keep going until the kids are in bed (sometimes later if I Get motivated to do dishes or laundry or something). My aches are worse this time. Zero remission of my RA so I'm taking 1000 mg of Tylenol 2-3 times a day. I have horrendous sciatic nerve pain, hemorrhoids, heart burn, and in the last two weeks or so, lots of Braxton-Hicks contractions and heaviness in my crotch.

Of course all that aside, there are good things too! This guy is a mover and a shaker, and I love love love feeling him move, even in the moments it makes me lose my breathe a bit. In the last week or so, he's been getting hiccups more consistently, which is just adorable and make him seem like more of a real kid. I appreciate the comments from people telling me how good I look, cuz I am trying hard to look cute, despite my exhaustion.

I'm smitten with the way the big kids (add I now call them) interact with my belly. I'm fairly certain Emily thinks my belly button is Baby Brother, but she talks to my tummy, and gives it his and kisses and puts her hand on it like she has seen others do. Noah knows it's a real baby, and asks regularly when he will come out. He also talks to the baby, kisses my belly, and has been patient enough to feel him move.

I worry about how Emily will do. I really don't thing she gets it. In recent months, she had thankfully started acknowledging babies. It will be a tough transition for her, but I do hope that if we remember to try to keep things as normal as possible and try to balance attention equally, she will be okay. Noah knows what's coming, and I know he will be a good helper and be okay with the baby, I just hope he doesn't feel lost in the shuffle with the obvious amount of attention the baby will need and the extra TLC Emily will be getting.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

potty training a girl

maybe it's emily.  maybe it's me.  maybe it's cuz she's a girl, second child, i'm motivated by the impending birth of number three, whatever, but my girl is awfully motivated to potty train!

today is sunday.  since last monday, emily has peed on the potty almost every day, including twice yesterday, three times today plus a poop!  she is motivated by going (alone, with the door closed), declaring victory, wiping, flushing, washing her hands, and getting a sticker.  the girl is 21 months.  and a half, i guess, but still!  in two weeks, she gets it.  now if only i had a few days to reallllly focus and do it for real, she's be in undies by baby brother's birth day. 

but i don't have the days or the drive right now.  at least i now that when i do, it should be a cinch.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

county fair

last night, we went to the fair with the bergers.  noah and grant rode on several rides, and i was so proud of noah for climbing up and sliding down the giant inflatable slide.  he was so motivated to do it because grant was so excited about it.  i was afraid he'd get halfway up or to the top and freak out, but my big boy did it without hesitation.

then they went on the kiddie roller... you know, the one that looks like a dragon?  after i mentioned it the night before, noah told me yesterday afternoon he wanted to do it.  i told him it would go up and down and be fast, but so much fun.  right before they got on, he gave me an uncertain look when i said it would be about a two minute ride, and then would end.  he nervously asked me how long the ride would be, and i said it would be fun and quick...  i waved at the boys from the other side of the track and hollered at them to hold on, and as they took off on that first turn, the sheer look of terror was apparent on their faces.  oh my god.  i laughed to myself, but inside felt bad for putting my scaredy cat on that ride that i knew might have been too much.  everytime they passed me, i waved and cheered, but i could see grant in tears and noah calling "mommy!"  when the ride ended, i ran over to help them off and praised them for being so brave and going on a big boy ride.  noah was literally shaking when he got off and needed help walking off the ride platform.  i asked him if the ride was fun or scary, and he replied "fun and scary".  i gave him a big hug and told him i was so happy and so proud that he went on the coaster.

from there, we tamed it down with the firetruck-going-around-in-a-circle ride.  then it was onto the kiddie ferris wheel.  noah had been talking about going on the BIG ferris wheel with mom or dad, but we were down to our last two tickets, so ben gave noah the option to ride the big ferris wheel or to ride the little ferris wheel AND the carousel.  of course, he chose the latter (but later wanted to go on the big one...  and of course we had no cash to oblige...)  anyway, he and grant went on the kids ferris wheel, and at first seemed nervous as it went up and rounded the top, but then started laughing and having fun.

it was emily's first trip to the fair and she loved seeing all the animals, and just kind of took it all in.  when we got home, we were talking about everything we saw, and she said "cows".  now, she's a chatty little monkey, and cow is nothing new, but last night was the first time she said the plural form of any word.  (she also said "toes")  she is definitely talking primarily in two and three word phrases now, and asks questions and makes requests.  at 19 months old, it just blows me away, since at this age, noah had maybe two words.  emily is also really coming into her little personality and sense of humor.  she plays off of noah, and makes jokes with him.  (ie. he'll ask "do you like me?" she'll say "no" and laugh)  she copies the funny faces he does or sounds he makes.  sometimes she just gives me a funny face or silly look for no reason at all, and then we both crack up.

Monday, July 1, 2013

the latest

from june 1st:

today marks 11 weeks, 2 days pregnant with baby #3.  the shock is starting to wear off, and reality is setting in.  i saw my OB three weeks ago and literally felt like i might barf on the way there.  i was so nervous!  with IVF, there are hormones, blood test, and early ultrasounds.  what if i needed the drugs to sustain this one?  what a huge relief it was to see the flicker of that little heart beat on the screen when the doctor did my that  ultrasound.  he said he saw it move.  i didn't.  i was focused on that flicker.  that was the thing i needed to feel like, phew.  this is the real deal, and the baby is fine.  it measured two days behind, which could have changed my due date, but doctor is sticking with december 19th.  we talked about scheduled c-section vs vbac.  he did say i am still a candidate for vbac if i go into labor.  i am leaning toward scheduling for early the week i'm due, and if by some miracle, i actually go into labor this time, we'll give it a go.

we told family, friends, and coworker, and went facebook official, so now all the world knows our big secret!  and it was in the nick of time, because my pants haven't fit since i was 7 weeks.  once we went public, i switched to maternity pants and that makes me happy.  :)  i've been feeling okay in general, but started having morning nausea probably around 7 weeks and heard the heartbeat on the doppler around 10 weeks.