"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

first week

These hands.
I'm memorizing every wrinkle and crease.

She sleeps with them up by her face. Don't bother trying to swaddle them down....she'll wriggle them right back up.

I'm in a kind of post-partum haze...a blissful haze. I am amazed by this baby. She sleeps. Unlike her brothers, Molly SLEEPS! During the day, when I can stand to put her down, in her swing or bouncy chair. At night, next to me in our bed (don't tell Wisconsin), nearly through the night. She'll wake to eat twice, usually, after we've gone to bed but never fusses or stays awake for long. 

During the day, after a several-hour long nap and a tummy-filling meal, she'll have a quiet, happy, alert time for an hour and a half or so before settling back down to sleep. Each time she's cried (so far, only during an occasional diaper change and baths), the boys come running to her rescue..."It'll be okay, Sweet Girl, your big brother's here."

And are they ever. These boys are smitten.

(And so is she.)

My five-day old baby is SMILING. Such a Happy Baby.

Evan is proudly occupying the Experienced Big Brother role. He has taught Max how to properly hold a baby ("You need to support her head, Max."). He eagerly runs to find burp cloths, baby toys, or a dropped binky. And he just can't get enough of her. He actually says, on an at-least daily basis: "I just can't get enough of that adorable baby." Or, "Just what are we going to do with our gorgeous girl?" 
He's in love.

And Max. 
Oh, sweet still-just-a-baby Max. He's having a more difficult adjustment period. There's still nothing but love for Molly, but he's sad. Really sad and pouty. He misses me, evidenced by his frequent requests for me to "Put Molly in the swing, Mommy, so you can play with two hands." (Which, of course, I do when I can....which, with this baby, is pretty often.) He'll ask that Sam feed Molly instead of me. (Sorry, buddy.) And when I read and snuggle with him before nap or bed, he holds my ear and just stares up at me...as if wondering how long he has me to himself. It's heart-breaking. But he'll be okay. I'm just glad there's never been a request to send the baby back or anything like that. He loves his baby.

This baby.

Lesson Learned:
She's a dream baby. I'm soaking in every minute of her newborn stage. Committing it all to permanent memory. Because nobody has to tell me this time how quickly it goes by...


Saturday, February 25, 2012

the dragon lady has arrived

It was Monday, February 20, 2012. Molly's Due Date. But instead of holding my baby or being in labor, I sat on the couch, with my two boys on either side of my big ol' belly, watching Beauty and the Beast.

My parents were on their way, to be here with the boys during The Induction that was to occur at 6:45 the next morning.

Induction. A labor and birth brought on by medical intervention. A chosen birth date. And possibly the hardest for me to reconcile with: I would miss that excitement, anticipation, and nervous-happy energy that comes with the onset of labor--the first contraction that makes you stop in your tracks and think "This is it! I'm going to meet my baby!" It didn't feel right. But, I knew why my OB wanted to schedule Molly's arrival....I had been measuring "small" for the past few weeks and there was a concern about growth restriction. It was the right call. I would be post-due (by a day). And all I really wanted, by whatever means necessary, was a healthy baby. So: Yes, please. Let me hold this girl. Bring on the pitocin. Induce me.


Nope. This Dragon Lady had other plans. About thirty minutes after my parents got to our house, I felt that first Real Contraction. I had been having Braxton Hicks for weeks (months?) but, if you've ever felt the onset of labor, you know the one I'm talking about....the contraction that doesn't just tighten but radiates. There's a warmth that feels both physical and emotional....and I noticed it and thought......maybe, just maybe....

The contractions continued, but with no real regularity or any increase in intensity. I continued to notice them all afternoon, but didn't feel compelled to start watching the clock until I was reading bedtime books to Evan. By 8pm they were coming every seven to ten minutes, but they were still relatively mild. I could walk, talk, and breathe through them. I was still waiting for that one to take my breath away.

But they continued: I tried to watch The Bachelor, but couldn't concentrate because, by 9, they were a predictable five minutes apart. For the next hour, I waited for the contractions to become more intense...to feel like they were doing something to get this labor really moving. But still, they seemed Real, but relatively ineffective. I turned off the TV (even before the ROSE CEREMONY!) and started walking. At 10:30, I noticed that the contractions had been coming every three to four minutes for half an hour. Time to call the doctor?

I figured I'd call at 11, but didn't make it that long. At 10:45, the contractions were every three minutes and I knew it was time to go. This labor was easy, but moving quickly. And as much as I didn't want medical intervention to START the labor, I sure wanted a team around me for the actual delivery. I mean...can you imagine? Sam and my mom are great labor coaches but.....

So we arrived at the hospital at 11:45, paid our $600 co-pay (!!!), and I was wheeled up to labor and delivery. I was checked into my room just after midnight, where the L&D nurse pronounced me to be SIX CENTIMETERS. To which I said, of course, "SHUT UP! SIX?! But the contractions haven't even been HARD!!" She smiled and said, "Third baby, honey." She let me labor for the next 30 minutes or so and then said, "Okay, well, I'm pretty sure that if Dr. T breaks your water you're going to have this baby in minutes. Are you ready?"

Ready? Must you ask?! I was ready.

A few minutes before midnight, Dr. T came in, broke my water and waited. How fast was this really going to be? She didn't even have time to make her notations on my chart. She took one look at my face and opened the door to the hallway, calling for the delivery team of nurses and the equipment cart. She hardly had her gown and gloves on when Molly decided that, regardless of who else was, SHE was ready. Just an hour and seventeen minutes after our arrival at the hospital...

Molly Margaret
Born 2/21/12 at 1:02 am
7 lbs. even
20 in. long
(With birth stats like those, this girl's going to be a numbers girl.)

And she's perfect. Just perfect.

EVERYbody thinks so.

She's a little bit Evan...

...her color, her hair (a tuft in the back that she just may love to twirl, just like her big brother), her delicate turtle lips and perfectly round chin, her long fingers and long, slender feet.

And a little bit Max...

...her sweet round cheeks, her double chin (LOVE!!), her eyes that have more than a hint of blue (for now), her round button nose, and her perfectly crinkly ears.

She's a perfect, beautiful blend of my two gorgeous boys.

And, man, is she ever a Third Baby. She eats well when she's hungry, sleeps well when she's sleepy, and in between is quiet and alert and comfortable. She fits in to this family so well. She's perfect.

Our Molly. We're so glad you're finally here.

Lesson Learned:
And then...there was this:

Right in the middle of what turned out to be my last contraction, I had a...well, at the risk of sounding corny...I had a moment of clarity. A fact entered my mind...not a decision that I had come to, not a thought I even consciously thought...but right at the peak of the contraction, I knew...this would be the last time I'd experience this.

We've always said we would want three or four kids. Neither of us ever really felt strongly one way or the other, we thought we'd just know when it was time for a decision to be made. And at that moment, right at the moment when I would have wanted and needed to know....I just did.

This is it. Commit this to permanent memory: this moment of intense Work and Anticipation and Love, this moment immediately before I meet my baby, never forget it because you'll never experience this again.

It wasn't a sad realization. It just felt true; right.

And later that morning, I realized why...


This is Complete. My family.

(But I still reserve the right to change my mind a few years from now....)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

I take it back: it wasn't THAT bad.

Thursday Afternoon.

Max is asleep and Evan is spending his Quiet Time on pbskids.org. I look at my hardwood floor (what "little" there is of it), obsessing over the opinion that they have been "improperly maintained." I figure I'll try to give them a quick shine before our 4:30 showing. It is a "Second Showing," after all, and I really want to impress the potential buyers.

I use a Swiffer wet cloth. It reacts poorly with whatever cleaning system the Cleaning Ladies had used the day before. Now the floors have a cloudy film over them. Oops. So I try to buff them with a dry microfiber cloth. On my hands and knees. At 37.5 weeks pregnant. They started to look better, so it's worth the significant uptick in Braxton Hicks.

I start to clean up the rest of the house.

The hardwood floors still aren't perfect. The afternoon sun shines beautifully through the front of my house. Bright and sunny and revealing all imperfections in the floor and...damn...also the storm door. That's a distinct Max Face Print right in the center of the glass.

Wash the front windows.

The phone rings. It's my realtor with the "Great News" that, in addition to the second showing at 4:30, another agent wants to bring back another second showing for...3:30. As in 38 minutes from now. I glance at the hardwood floor, glance at the monitor to see Max, still asleep, and feel another Braxton Hicks contraction come on. "Sounds great!" I say.

I give the floor yet another once-over, this time with a barely damp microfiber cloth. (I really don't know what I'm doing...I guess they really are "improperly maintained.")

I tell Evan to wrap up his game as I fly around the kitchen wiping down countertops and the faucet, and hiding phone cords and extraneous papers. I throw some snacks in my purse and bound upstairs to rouse the hibernating bear.

Max is up, changed back into jeans from his Comfy Nap Pants, and we're beginning the process of putting shoes on. Evan had, of course, taken off his socks to wear slippers all day, so the process begins with the repeated adjustment of the socks which are, at the same time, too tight, too high, and too bunchy. We get the socks right and we start on the shoes. Deep breath...I say to myself...we CAN get this right on the first try. Miraculously, we do.

Evan is putting on his coat and I enter the playroom to tell Max it's time to go. As soon as I open the door, though, Damn. First, SOMEbody needs a diaper change. And I hope that the room airs out in the next 16 minutes. [This is karmic balance though, for the funky bathroom we found after a showing last weekend. OMG.]

Fastest diaper change in the history of this house and we're out the door. I'm getting Max strapped into his seat and reassuring Evan, in the Way Back, that YES, you CAN get in your seat all by yourself! You're Buzz Lightyear, this is your Star Command! You CAN DO IT! But do it fast, we HAVE to leave.

He does a good job of adjusting his own shirt...no coat necessary today, thank goodness. I help him with the straps and jump in the driver's seat.

We pull out of the driveway. WITH 10 MINUTES TO SPARE. I pat myself on the back, thank the boys for their cooperation, and head to the library.

Which is closed. (?)

So we head to the Barnes and Noble Train Table.

Sam meets us there and, after killing an hour and a half reading books, playing with trains, and dancing on the stage, we head out to dinner. We get a call telling us that, at this very moment, an offer is being written up. I'm not impressed. We've had two offers already and they were laughable.

We finish dinner, head home, and get the kids ready for bed.

The boys are in bed. We're back downstairs. The phone rings. It's our realtors, with the offer details. We listen, we consider, we counter.

The prospective buyer responds. We ACCEPT THEIR CONTRACT.

We look at each other and say, "I can't believe we sold the house!"
I rub my belly and tell Molly that, NOW, she's welcome Anytime.

Lesson Learned:
We'll close the end of February and rent back through the end of June when, hopefully, our new house will be ready for us to move right in. It couldn't be more perfect.

We're not sharing the details with the boys yet, though, as any major change for them is still a long way off. And I don't want them to worry that we'll soon be living in this:

We'll wait until there are walls and windows, I think, before we start calling this "Home."

I think Evan's drawn his own conclusions about recent events, though, because when he asked to get out ALL of the GeoTrax this afternoon and I said, "Sure!" he looked at me a little suspiciously. "Because we don't have any more showings?" he asked. Just try to sneak something past this kid.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

preschool diaries: valentines

I've mentioned Evan's first school friend before. We've had her, a sweet little girl I'll call "A," over for a playdate (it went very well...so well that she is now Max's first school friend, too) and we, the parents in this friendship, have been in touch about setting up another.

He doesn't talk about her much, but will occasionally and casually say something like, "Listen to what A said today," or "A and I played on the playground." But he talks about other kids from the class, too, and has been invited to lots of birthday parties and has lots of ideas about the guest list for his own party coming up in a few months. So I'm listening to all of this "friend talk" thinking about how unbelievably proud I am of the growth in his social development in these past few months. Last year, at this time, Evan was just starting to engage with the TEACHERS and the CENTERS in his classroom. He didn't talk about the other kids at home and never interacted with them in the classroom. It's amazing how much he's grown.

And so, while thrilled to hear that Evan was interested in continuing to play with A at school (among other kids) and that he wanted to invite her over for future playdates, I didn't think their friendship was anything special or extraordinary.

And then, There Were Valentines.

Evan has worked really hard over the past week writing Valentines to his friends. Writing is not his favorite activity, nor his forte, so we have been just writing two or three a day. He's been doing a great job, though, and I'm beginning to see some real development in his fine motor skills, too. (Although, as an aside, he still switches between using his left and right hands. I feel as though this is part of the problem with his fine motor development....he's not using one hand consistently enough to strengthen it. I never hand him a pen. I let him pick it up in whatever he feels is his dominant hand, and regardless of the hand he uses to pick up the pen, his penmanship looks about the same and he says that writing is comfortable. I'm not sure what to do here....I think nothing, that experience will help him to determine his handedness, but I'm just really surprised that, at almost 5, he's still rather ambidextrous. Add that to the list of questions for his future kindergarten teacher.....)

So, it came time to put the heart stickers on the addressed envelopes. He added a sticker or two to each envelope kind of randomly until he happened to pick the biggest heart sticker from the sticker sheet. "Oh," he said, holding the sticker to the side and looking at his writing on all of the envelopes, "Hmmm...this is the biggest heart of all. I should give this one to A." And he scanned the table until he found her name that he had written. He put the sticker on her envelope and said, "There. Because, you know, my best friend should have the best heart."

And I melted.


Today, when I brought him to school, A was standing there holding a big foam heart with heart stickers all over it. On BOTH sides. It had clearly taken some time, and she was only holding one: "Here you go, Evan," she said, "I made this for you."

He promptly yawned and "fell asleep" on my shoulder. (Smooth, huh?) But I thanked A for making such a beautiful heart for my sweet boy. I exchanged a smile with her dad and told Evan how nice it was to have a friend make something so beautiful JUST for you.

Lesson Learned:
As I left the classroom, I felt complete knowing that Evan has a friend. A real friend. A best friend....and most importantly, that the feeling is mutual.