February was a fun month. Seems like everyone around us was sick at some point. We weren’t spared—two weeks of colds. We are all in the clear now, though!
The biggest change in Abigail since last month is the fact that she’s reading now! She read her first full book (8 page BOB book) on February 8, and now she wants to try to sound out the words in every book we read to her. It’s making me acutely away of how confusing the English language is. We have so many vowel sounds!
She’s still hanging on to her nap 4 days a week (Tues, Thurs, Sat, Sun) and will sleep 2+ hours. No issue with her going to bed at night afterward either. Honestly, she would probably nap most every day if we let her. With kindergarten rapidly approaching, however, we’re trying to slowly wean her of that need.
Our little Madilyn is now three whole years old. Whoa. Her check up went well–34 pounds, 36 inches tall, vision and hearing screened (she passed). She’s really far behind on gross motor skills (as was Abigail between 2-3 years old), so we’re working on that. Our kids develop the brains far earlier than the muscles and agility!
She’s gotten pretty good at memorizing books and likes to “read” them to anyone who will listen. She’s got the kindest heart and throughout the day will randomly hug any one of us (Naomi included) or say, “I have a kiss for you!” or “I love you THIS much!” (while stretching out her arms). She’s still got the drama going on if she’s unhappy with something, but it’s endearing.
This wee one is now three and a half months old. She’s incredibly alert and has started truly laughing at us or laughing when tickled. Precious!
Nighttime sleep: it’s been a consistent week now that Naomi has gone to bed around 6:45pm and slept until we wake her up at 6:30am. She first did that on 2/7 (12 weeks old), but wasn’t consistent until this past week. All that sleep is making mommy and daddy so happy!
Nursing: She still nurses every 3 hours, but only because I make her…heh. She’s showing signs of wanting to space out her nursing sessions, and we’re going to let her start doing that this coming weekend. Can’t wait! She may follow in Madilyn’s footsteps and be down to 4 nursings a day by 4 months of age. That would be so cool!
Waketime: she’s awake on average for 1.5 hours but is having more spans of 1.75-2.0 hours. Once she’s up for consistent 2-2.5 hour stretches, she will hopefully drop a nap.
Naps: she’s been taking 4 naps a day, but is starting to show signs of wanting only 3. Her last nap of the day is rarely longer than 20-30 minutes, so we are hopeful that within the next month, she’ll be ready to drop it. Her long nap of the day coincides with Madilyn’s (and Abigail’s on nap days for her) which gives David and me a nice chunk of quiet time—2.25 hours, usually.
Growing: she’s now officially in a size 3 diaper. We are likely switching to cloth after we run out of our 3′s.
Just a list for this month. I’ve got a master’s paper to write!
-Madilyn’s princess bday party
-Snowpacalypse on 2/12—we got around 7-8″
-Girls to Greenville
-7 year anniversary of marriage—11 year anniversary since we started dating!
-Working on my master’s paper (turning it in on Thursday of this week!)
-Starting the job search
-Girls night out to downtown Asheville
January was wrought with frigid temperatures with incredibly cold wind chills! By the end of the month, though, we finally got a decent snow to go along with those cold temps, and the girls loved it.
Abigail is loving ”school” time and asks me to pretend to be a teacher while we are together. I just change my voice a bit, and I’m good as gold in her eyes. As soon as I started back to classes and clinic, David’s been doing this time with Abigail, and she continues to thrive. She’s doing really well with handwriting (just targeting capital letters and numbers, but will move to lowercase soon). She can read the time on a digital clock pretty accurately and will do so randomly in the van. She looks forward to reading Charlotte’s web, but I’m not sure how much of the story she absorbs and how much goes over her head. She remembers the basic gist from day to day and gets excited when a page happens to have a picture. There is so much great vocabulary in that book! We also started two sound segmenting. So I say the word “moo” and she says “mm….oo….Moo!” Just some fun pre reading stuff. Also, we started working through “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.” We are only on lesson 6, but Abigail has really taken to it, and thankfully, it only takes 10-15 minutes each day to do. She so desperately wants to know how to read, and that motivation makes it fun to teach her.
In late December, we started a schedule at home. It’s hung up on the wall with a clothespin on the side for the girls to move as we move through our day. After breakfast, we have 30-45 minutes of book time where we read a storybook Bible story first and discuss, then read 4-6 books that the girls pick out before heading to preschool. Their favorite afternoon schedule item is “Pick an Activity” time. I cut out strips of paper and wrote 30+ ideas of activities on the papers, folded them, and put them in a jar for the girls to pick (e.g. decorate a magnet, paint with water, draw with stencils, play Kerplunk with Daddy, watch a video, etc). So fun! Abigail really thrives under a schedule, so she has eaten this up.
Madilyn is still really enjoying her one-on-one “school” time with me and David. She got really good with lacing cards at the beginning of January, and with that newfound fine motor ability, she’s now nearly mastered the 3-point grip on crayons, pencils, markers, etc and loves showing it off. “Look at me, Mommy. I grabbed the pencil this way all by myself!” She’s nearly 100% on capital letter recognition and is starting to learn the sounds that each letter makes. Abigail was 3 when I started working with her on making the “th” sound instead of using an “f” or a “d” in its place, so I just started working with Madilyn. I have to rein in my desire to be her SLP and instead be her mom, but I’m at least modeling the right “th” production. Ha! She’s stimulable for it in single words, so with practice, I’m sure she’ll get it soon. K’s and G’s are still coming out as T’s and D’s or as omissions. I might start informally working on that soon because I don’t think we can do therapy through the schools with just k/g until she’s 4 years old.
We’ve also been working on getting her more independent with daily activities. She’s doing a really good job getting herself dressed and undressed and only has little struggles with her shirts. She gets frustrated pretty easily with some activities, but she’s getting more and more confident and persistent as the days go by. She’ll be 3 years old next Tuesday, and we’ll be celebrating with three of her buddies tomorrow with a princess party!
As will continue to be the case, the notes I took through the month of January on this one are all out of date now.
Nighttime sleep: On average, she sleeps at night from 7:15pm until 4:30am, nurses, then goes back down until 6:30am. UPDATE: On January 30, Naomi went to bed at 6:50pm and didn’t wake up until 5:40am; instead of nursing her, I asked David to see if he could get her back to sleep on him. She fell back asleep and didn’t wake until we woke her up at 6:30am. Woo hoo! At the beginning of the month, Naomi was incredibly difficult to settle down at night, often having to nurse her to sleep. Just a few days ago, I nursed her at 6:30pm, put her down at 6:50pm or so, and she was asleep by 7:15pm. Woo hoo! She’s kept that streak alive, and I hope it continues. No more 1-2 hours of rocking and shh-ing and swaying! And she is officially in the girls’ bedroom in her crib for night sleep and all 4 naps (as of 1/17)!
Nursing: She’s nursing at 6:45am, 9:30am, 12:30pm, 4:00pm, 6:30pm, then at 4-5am.
Wake time: She’s currently awake for 60-75 minutes at a time before going back to sleep. She’s smiling a lot now and starting to giggle. She coos at our faces and at stuffed animals or hanging toys on her play gym. She’s rolled from tummy to back multiple times and really enjoys tummy time.
Naps: She’s still taking 4 naps a day. The last nap is around 4:45 and usually only lasts 30-45 minutes, but that’s ok. It’s long enough for us to eat dinner and clean up the kitchen. The other naps vary in length depending on the day, but she usually has one or two good naps lasting 1.5-2.25 hours.
Growing: Naomi had her 8-week appointment on January 10. She was 13lb, 12oz, 23″ long, and had a 16″ head. Another milestone? Naomi got her first cold. Not sure there’s any way to avoid it when she’s got two older sisters in preschool who love all over her and share their germs all day every day. Ah well. She’s nearly outgrown size 2 diapers now, too. Once we finish off the ones we have, we’ll be shifting to cloth diapers, I do believe!
The first half of January, I was still at home, so we just had a ton of family time—what a blessing! We took down our decorations the first weekend in January, and our Christmas tree was still green and hadn’t started shedding needles yet. It felt like a crime to get rid of it! We cut it down at Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm more than a month before, but it was still drinking up water and smelling amazing.
We—with the rest of the country—went through the deep freeze that blew through. Whew. When it came through our area, I was still sleeping downstairs at night on the couch since Naomi was in our room and making all kinds of noise. Our downstairs got extremely cold at night, so I ended up sleeping in David’s sleeping bag rated for 30F. I felt like I was in a sunbathed car (you know that perfect napping temperature?). Fabulous!
My classes started back on January 14—or should I say class, singular. I’m taking my final course: infant/toddler communication. Haha! I feel like I’m living that class on a daily basis. Thankful that I have a pretty strong base knowledge going into the course! I’m also working on my master’s project and starting to look for jobs. I cannot believe that it’s already been two years since I was accepted into this program. Wow!
On January 13, I started my new clinic placement too—at Park Ridge Hospital. I am absolutely loving this placement and am learning so much each day. It’s a pretty fast-paced environment with all kinds of neat medical SLP experiences. I’m not sure if I definitely want to work in an acute setting yet, but I definitely want to be in a more medical environment—as opposed to a school or private practice. That said, I’ll take a job wherever I can find one!
It seems as though each year moves by even faster than the previous. David and I cannot believe that it’s already 2014! This is the year I finish graduate school and start working as an SLP! In this year, we will move into new territory with birthdays—I’ll turn 30, and our girls will be 5, 3, and 1 by the years end. Wow. That means we will have a kindergartner! David and I will celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary (11th anniversary since we started dating), and he will likely re-enter the paid workforce. What an exciting year we have in store!
Here’s a little recap of our December:
Oh our darling Abigail. She has had the hardest time adjusting to a new baby sister but seems to be over the hump. It seems a large part of it had to do with sleep, honestly. She’s back to napping every other day for 2ish hours, and that seems to have nipped any remaining issues in the bud. That discovery was made after she had to move her clip down at preschool for the first time and complained to her teachers about being tired that day. Problem solved for now. Woo hoo! On the days she’s not napping, I’m doing a quiet time with her so that she has a large block of uninterrupted mommy time. That also seems to be helping. We’re working on handwriting, number recognition, and pre-reading skills amongst other things. As much as this girl loves books, it will be awesome to teach her to read so she can read whenever she wants! We’ve actually started reading on a higher level to help with vocabulary and learning to pay attention to a story that doesn’t have pictures all over the place. Right now, I’m reading her, “Charlotte’s Web.” She’s so proud that she gets to read chapter books with me. It’s cute.
She’s now a whiz with scissors and can color in the lines. She loves to dance around the den and thrives off of words of affirmation and physical touch (for those of you who’ve read “The 5 Love Languages”). She received a build a bear coupon from David’s brother and his wife for Christmas and has exploded with her pretend play abilities with “Cynthia.” She adores Fancy Nancy books and loves playing with Madilyn. She’s also gotten quite involved with Naomi’s daily bath and playtime on the floor mat. She’s a great big sister.
David and I came to the decision last Christmas that we wouldn’t be participating in the tradition of Santa Claus. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Santa, but we just felt like for our family, it would be easy to get carried away and miss the true spirit of the season. Last year and this year were awesome for our girls with activities of giving (detailed later). It’s been so fun! That said, Abigail’s preschool teachers went around the class early in December asking what each kid wanted Santa to bring him/her. When they asked Abigail, she didn’t answer. Then they asked again, and she said, “Santa isn’t real.” Oops. She didn’t announce it loudly or anything, but the teachers heard it. We coached her more specifically after that so there will be no more slips. Heh. We have that kid. Definitely don’t want to ruin any other kids’ Christmases, but come on, guys, let’s not make the only Christmas conversation with kids be about what they want to get.
The week before Christmas, Abigail’s class acted out “The Night Before Christmas” for their program. It was adorable! Abigail was initially “cast” as a sugar plum fairy but for some reason got switched to a kid (from “the children were nestled all snug in their beds”). We didn’t realize how bummed she was about this until closer to time, and during the program, she refused to smile or sit still in the bed on stage. As a parent, it was really hard to watch. At least she didn’t run off the stage crying or anything! Heh. After the show she told us how badly she wanted to be a sugar plum fairy or a reindeer. We had a talk about how she needs to advocate for herself in those situations because her teachers probably had no idea!
We had a touch of the terrible 2′s with Abigail, but whoa nelly. Madilyn has stepped it up a notch—or two! She’s been resorting to tears or, “NO MA’AM” when asked to do something she doesn’t want to do, or more recently just “NOOOO!!!!!” She says that everything is too tight or twisted (i.e. buckle in the car seat, every single item of clothing…and no, they’re not tight…and anything I do to her hair). Whew. She’ll be 3 (!) next month, so perhaps she’s squeezing it all in before then. Ha!
She’s a ball of energy just like Abigail and loves to goof off and play. She’s incredibly loving, though, especially toward Naomi. She talks to Naomi whenever she can and loves to brush her hair and shake baby toys in her line of sight. Madilyn will come up to me or David randomly almost every day and give hugs or tell us she loves us. It’s so sweet!
She’s still not super coordinated (what almost 3-year-old is?) and actually fell into the toilet a couple of weeks ago while easing herself onto it. It’s funny now but wasn’t then for sure! And when I say she fell in, I mean completely in touching the bottom of the toilet with her bottom. I just remember hearing her crying out “Mommy, I fell! Help!” Poor thing…but kind of hilarious too.
I’m not sure how other parents of multiple kiddos feel, but David and I have had a hard time staying on top of what we should be expecting from Madilyn. Since she and Abigail are so close in age, we often expect her to be capable of behaving like Abigail even though she’s 18 months younger. And oddly enough, we assume the opposite at times for her academic abilities. I started school with her every other day so she gets 1-on-1 time with mommy regularly, and I keep getting surprised by her abilities. Then I realize, oh yeah, she’s supposed to be able to that. I feel so bad for underestimating her! It’s like I forget her age sometimes. She and I are working on fine motor skills so she can master the 3-point grasp on a pencil and start working on handwriting and controlled drawing/coloring. We are also doing upper and lowercase letter recognition (she’s about 50% there) and counting. And the SLP in me will be targeting some of her speech sounds once she turns 3. For now, it’s just helping her learn to slow down when she’s talking so that folks can understand her.
Madilyn is still our comedian and loves throwing “guys!” in most of what she says. “Come on, guys. Look what I’m doing, guys.” She’s fully involved in imaginary play and also got a build a bear for Christmas. She named it, “Kate” and loves to bring it with her throughout the day. She’s also got a baby doll that she refers to as “my baby” and cares for. Today, her baby learned to walk. Precious!
We were in the very back of the room for Madilyn’s Christmas program, so we have no pictures, unfortunately. A few videos, but I haven’t uploaded them yet. Her class did Charlie Brown’s Christmas, and it was adorable. Madilyn caught sight of David, Abigail, and I in the back of the church and waved to us. Later, it was, “Hi Mommy!!” Precious. She really lit up on the stage and did all she was supposed to. She had been singing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” on loop for several weeks prior, so it was nice to see her practice pay off. So fun!
This growing girl changes so quickly that the notes I took throughout the month of December to include in this post are mostly obsolete at this point. Ha! I’ll include them anyway to share just how much has changed in a month. Naomi had her 3-week well visit on December 6, and she was up over 2 pounds since leaving the hospital (8lb 1oz when we left, 10lb 2oz at the appointment). She also gained 2″ in length and nearly an inch around her head. The way our girls grow makes me wonder what would happen if we had a boy. Would he grow even faster? It’s kind of ridiculous!
She took her first bottle on December 8, and did great. Since then, we’ve tried to do a bottle nearly every day for the 9:30am feeding since that’s the one I’ll definitely be missing when I start back to school. I’m not a fan of pumping, but I’m glad it’s an option at least! She currently drinks 5oz for that feeding!
On the sleep-front, she’s doing really well. During the day, she’s up for around 60-75 minutes before taking a nap lasting between 1.5-2 hours. Not all naps are that long, but at least 1 or 2 a day are out of four total naps. At night time, she goes to bed by around 7:30/8pm, wakes to nurse between 2-4am, then is down until we wake her up for the day at 6:30am. Woo hoo! It’s been a challenge to get her to go to sleep in the evenings (she’s often awake and sometimes unhappy for up to 2 hours before we can settle her for sleep), but at least she sleeps for a long stretch. She usually nurses around 6:15pm, so going until 2-4am without eating is awesome for 6.5-weeks old!! We will likely move her into the girls room in another week or two so that I can move back into the bed with David. I’ve been sleeping on the couch downstairs because I cannot sleep through all her baby sounds (even with ear plugs and a fan running beside my head!). When she wakes to nurse, David comes and wakes me up, then I nurse in our bed upstairs, then head back downstairs to sleep.
Naomi started smiling intentionally between 3-4 weeks of age which is insane; Abigail and Madilyn were closer to 6 weeks. She’s holding her head up really well, enjoys tummy time for 5-10 minutes at a stretch, and will “play” on the floor mat contentedly for longer stretches of time than 4 weeks ago. And keeping in step with her big sisters, she’s a tummy sleeper. I know all the stuff the pediatrician’s throw at you about tummy sleeping, but my word, our kids prefer it. Naomi hated the swaddle after 3-weeks of doing it for every nap and nighttime sleep. She was incredibly strong at that point and able to lift her head high when on her tummy and move it side to side. That’s our criteria for flipping to the tummy, and she’s been great since.
We aren’t sure if she loves the pacifier yet or not, but we are trying. I like to have that as an option—especially when out and about!
David’s been doing an incredible job with Naomi and is vocal about how much he enjoys her. He didn’t get to be around much at all with Abigail and Madilyn when they were infants—often leaving for work before they woke up and getting home after they were already in bed for the night. This time around, he’s been the near primary caregiver for Naomi. We both figured it would be essential for his success as a stay at home dad to three kiddos—1 being an infant—that he learn Naomi inside and out: all her quirks, preferences, cries, noises, etc. I’m learning alongside him, but he’s doing a lot on his own to become an expert on her. I’m so proud of him!
For my records, I’m going to list some of the things we did in December but will only expand on a few.
-We got our Christmas tree as a family of 5 from Boyd Mountain Christmas Tree Farm
-I took my final exams from home
-I started back to my elementary school clinic placement on December 9 and worked two weeks of half days. Even led an IEP meeting!
-We tried 2 weeks to go to church as a family of 5, but it was just a bit too early. We are now taking turns taking the big girls to church while the other parent stays home with Naomi and watches the service online.
-Abigail went to a Christmas play date to make gingerbread houses with some girlfriends. She loved it!
-David’s parents and brother and his wife were all in town the weekend before Christmas. It was fun to watch the big girls play with them all!
-New Years Eve was spent going to bed at 8:45pm, then waking up from 12-2am to fireworks. David and I loved fireworks…until we had kids. Heh.
The 25 giving days of Christmas: David and I ran across an idea online to do one giving activity every day in December leading up to Christmas. The website had a suggested list of activities, and I printed out the ones that made the most sense for the girls. Each morning at breakfast, Abigail and Madilyn would pick a paper out of a box with that day’s activity printed on it. Some activities took us a few days, but we were working on something every single day. The girls really got into it and seemed to enjoy all of the giving. Some of our favorites were making cards for children in the hospital (sent to St. Jude), choose at least one toy and one book to donate (we did a huge purge with the help of the girls), write a note to your teacher telling them what you like best about his/her class, and more. It was so nice to have our daily focus on giving instead of getting.
Our Family Christmas: Each year, we have a Christmas Eve dinner at home (cheeseburgers, fries, salad) followed by a birthday party for Jesus complete with a chocolate cake. Then we read the Christmas story from Luke 2. This year, we read the version from the Storybook Bible as well, and the girls really got into it! Last Christmas, we started a new family tradition. On Christmas morning before gifts, we head out in our PJs to do something for others; the girls pick what to do. Last year, we delivered chocolate chip cookies to friends. This year, Abigail suggested decorating sugar cookies and taking them to people who had to work on Christmas. We loved that idea! Christmas Eve, we made the cookies, decorated them, and bagged them up. First thing on Christmas morning after a cinnamon roll breakfast, I loaded up the big girls and went out scouting for businesses that were open. In the end, we stopped by four gas stations, Starbucks, and a few Walgreens. The response the girls got was incredible, and they had a ball. I remember Abigail saying, “I wonder how happy the next person will be!” and “I wish we had more cookies to deliver…” One cashier at Walgreens told us she had never received cookies at Christmas before. One gas station attendant ran out of the station to us when she saw what we were holding while getting out of the van–”Are those cookies for me?” So fun! By the time we got home, the excitement for receiving gifts paled in comparison to the enthusiasm behind spreading joy to others. Praise God for that!
After Abigail and Madilyn opened their presents from us (something they want, something they need, and something to read), we loaded up Naomi and headed down to Greenville to see my family. We ultimately spent the night there, and while Naomi slept rather poorly (girl loves her crib at home!), it was awesome to have so much time with everyone. Usually, we just make it a day trip. Since we spent the night, I got to take Abigail and Madilyn–along with my brother, Greg, and his girlfriend, Chelsey to the Roper Mountain Science Center Christmas lights. The girls ate it up! We drove through twice, and they were bug-eyed the whole time. We came back the next morning and got organized at home with all of the gifts family and friends had given to us.
Here’s to 2014 and all God has in store for us. Can’t wait to see!
This month was rather monumental for us—becoming a family of 5! Naomi Hope joined our brood on November 15; you can check out her birth story here. Now to our regularly scheduled monthly update!
Abigail has had the hardest time adjusting to Naomi of the four of us, but she’s getting better day by day. She’s been acting out mainly through sassy comments and being moody. I think the bottom line is that she doesn’t want to share mommy. I’ve been gone SO much since starting graduate school 18 months ago, and now that I’m home a bunch, splitting time is not what Abigail wants to do. She’s even wanted to stay home from preschool which NEVER would have happened pre-Naomi. We are finding ways to make her feel special and seen, though, and that’s helping a ton. She also loves helping with Naomi—whether it’s getting a clean diaper, scrubbing or brushing Naomi’s hair, talking to her in the bouncy seat, etc. So sweet.
This little lady had absolutely no issue adjusting to her big sister role. She seems to love it and is constantly trying to help—even if that means offering to pat Naomi’s back to help her burp or give me a new nursing pad. Madilyn is still doing great in preschool and is learning her letters and numbers. She’s also really been favoring her left hand as of late—a leftie, perhaps?
The hospital seems to add stuff with each kid we have. On the good side, they provided a celebratory dinner for us at the same rate of typical hospital food. Yay for that! On the not so great side, there was yet another screening (congenital heart defect screen) that I ended up refusing after hearing Naomi screaming outside my hospital door for far too many minutes. It’s not an invasive screening—just a pulse ox reading of a finger as compared with a toe. A large difference between the two could suggest a heart defect. The nurse couldn’t get the monitor to stay on Naomi’s finger, and when she got it on, Naomi was so upset that the readings were waaay off. I pulled a mama bear and went into the hall and took her away. Heh. It didn’t help that it was 1am. Anyhow, we got home from the hospital with Naomi on Sunday, November 17. While in the hospital, she dropped 6oz (down to 8lb, 1oz), but at her 3-day-old check up, she was back up to 8lb, 4oz, 20.5″ long, with a 14.5″ head. I wonder if she will plump up like both of her big sisters did!
After getting home, we hit the ground running by going grocery shopping, nursing bra shopping, and Target shopping because, well, we fit Target into most every day. Haha!
The girls had been staying with my parents since Naomi was born, but they brought them back on Monday afternoon. It was a pretty intense reunion. It’s funny how quickly David and I got adjusted to the relative “quiet” of a newborn; Naomi didn’t ask us questions, narrate the whole day, whine, complain, etc, and Naomi didn’t weigh 30+ pounds! So yeah, a rude awakening when the girls got back. We are settling into more of a routine now, so the days go a bit smoother.
When Naomi was 5 days old, Mary Frances Cochran came over to take newborn photos, and she did an incredible job! She transformed our bedroom into a photo studio and was in there for four hours or so. The results are awesome!
At the risk of jinxing it, we’ll just say that Naomi is sleeping better than Madilyn at this age, and for that, we are extremely grateful! No more sleeping details until we know a pattern is in place!
Oh, and hiccups stink. I forgot how annoying infant hiccups are, but with Naomi acting as a hiccuping queen or something, David and I are acutely aware of how poorly timed these interrupting body spasms are!
I was extremely blessed by my faculty at WCU and was given permission to stay at home from my due date until the beginning of spring semester in mid-January. I also was able to take a break from my clinic placement at the elementary school. November 6 was my last day at both, and it has been incredible having the extra family time!
On November 9, David turned 30! As you may remember, he celebrated in October by going camping with some of his close friends. On his actual birthday, though, we went out to breakfast at Bruegger’s Bagels. I then took the girls to a double baby shower for two pals having girls while David went hiking. That afternoon, the girls and I made a cake and icing for David, but I let them go wild with decorating. See the pictures below for proof of their creative endeavor. Instead of eating cake, though, David requested roasting marshmallows over a fire in our grill and making s’mores. After the girls finished dinner, outside we went to make birthday s’mores. The girls LOVED it; David and I had a good time as well, of course.
We have been incredibly blessed with a strong support network here in Asheville, and via that network, we have received and will continue to receive meals every other day clear through December. So thankful!
When Naomi was 1-week old, we made our first family-of-5 trip to see the Biltmore Park Christmas lighting event. Getting there and enjoying the lights and hot chocolate was great. The trip home was a little insane with Naomi screaming from fatigue and hunger, but we survived!
The following Monday, my mom and her sisters, Carol and Sarah, came up to Asheville to see Naomi and the big girls. It’s always so much nicer to introduce Naomi to folks when they come to us. Whew. I just feel so much more relaxed—not to mention, it’s nice to not have to pack up all the infant gear. How does someone so little require so much stuff?!
We celebrated thanksgiving as a family of 5 at our house with snow on the ground. We even made a tiny snow man! David, the girls, and I all made some portion of our thanksgiving meal…all from scratch! Rosemary-lemon turkey breast, yeast rolls, sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, chile pepper green beans, and pumpkin pie. So delicious! We have so much to be thankful for this year—topping the list is the fact that we get another 6 weeks of family time with me at home before spring semester gets cranked up. Praise God for that!
Unlike her sisters, Naomi opted for a speedy arrival once it was truly show time. She did take a full week or so to get into position, but she flew onto the scene. Here’s the gist of the week leading up to her arrival.
On November 6, my due date, I had my 40-week appointment where the midwife determined I was measuring too small for her comfort (35cm instead of 40cm fundal height). That can mean a few things: baby is small, baby has dropped down into the pelvis, or fluid levels are getting low. She ordered an ultrasound and had me sit for a non-stress test (NST). For those who don’t know, during an NST, you sit reclined in a chair with monitors strapped to your tummy: one to monitor baby’s heart rate, the other to monitor any contractions or baby movements. Then you just sit…and sit…and sit until the OB or midwife sees that the baby’s heart rate is reacting appropriately when baby is moving or mom has a contraction. For me, that meant sitting for 30+ minutes, drinking juice and eating crackers to encourage movement and even poke around on my tummy. Finally, the midwife was pleased.
On November 7, I headed to the hospital for my ultrasound to look at amniotic fluid levels. Anything over 5-6cm is considered safe, and I was at 8.3cm. Hurray! The ultrasound tech estimated baby’s weight to be 8.5 pounds at that point. Upon leaving the hospital, contractions started—around 1:40pm and stayed 15-17 minutes apart until 2am. They weren’t horribly painful, but they were lasting 30-45 seconds and were more uncomfortable and more regular than any Braxton Hicks contractions (the body’s practice contractions) I’d had. Contractions were on and off through the weekend, but nothing consistent.
On November 9, David turned 30 years old. I’ll go into more detail about his birthday in our November post, but we had a good time. I attended a double baby shower that morning with the girls for a couple of my pals. There were 7 pregnant mamas in our Sunday School class in July, and as of that shower, we were down to 4.
On November 11, I had another appointment complete with another NST and my first cervical check. I was deemed to be 1cm dilated, with a posterior cervix (must move to anterior to deliver) and a baby who had not dropped. The midwife offered to stretch my cervix in an effort to encourage contractions, and I consented. Ouch! She encouraged me to do a ton of walking and squatting to help baby drop. I made plans to do just that. The NST that day was closer to 40 minutes, and of course, I had David and the girls with me. Madilyn missed her nap for the appointment, so she cuddled up with me in the NST recliner. The nurse working with me came in to check and commented in amazement that the baby must have known his/her sister was close because the heart rate went way up when Madilyn snuggled and then regulated after a few minutes. So sweet!
On November 12, I had more on and off contractions at the same intensity level of the previous days but nothing consistent. It was one of the coldest days we’d had to date and was ridiculously windy. My plans to walk all day seemed foiled, but I did the best I could. David, Madilyn, and I power walked at the park while Abigail was at preschool until our hands went numb; then we went to Target to continue the walking before picking Abigail up. After naps, we bundled up and power walked the hills at the Arboretum—in the snow, mind you—while I stopped to squat whenever I could.
On November 13, I had my 41-week appointment. The midwife checked me and found me to be 2cm dilated with a more anterior cervix and a baby who had dropped a bit lower since Monday. David and I were so encouraged! The midwife then stretched my cervix again and swept my membranes—double ouch! She then scheduled my induction for Saturday, November 16 at 9am but assured me she felt I would go into labor in the next day or two. The remainder of the day, I had some contractions and bloody show. Our family of four all traveled out to the mall for some more power walking, and I started getting pretty sharp pains—not contractions—in the front of my pelvis making me fear PSD, where the joint at the pubis synthesis pulls apart. Yikes! Still not sure if that’s what it was, but when it happened, I couldn’t move. That night, I stood while watching the Matrix movie with David swiveling my hips and squatting. I had contractions that were more painful than previous ones and lasted up to a minute. They were around 10-15 minutes apart, so at 8:30, I texted our on-call folks to give them a heads up. I woke up with contractions on and off until 12:30am, then they stopped again.
On November 14, I decided to take castor oil which I had never done before, ever. It’s been used historically to start labor dating back to the Egyptians and essentially causes strong intestinal cramping which can encourage uterine contractions. It also causes vomiting and diarrhea in a lot of folks. So, I planned to take it at 1:30pm, but just before I did (literally, I was in the kitchen looking for the bottle), I had a contraction. These contractions stayed 5-10 minutes apart and were fairly painful. I called/texted our on-call people again around 9pm, then I took a bath and went to bed. Contractions spaced to 30 min apart, then 45, then nothing.
On November 15, Friday, Naomi’s birthday, I got ready in the morning and said a prayer about whether or not to actually try the castor oil. I was feeling incredibly anxious about the impending induction and wanted to exhaust all options beforehand. I ended up taking 2TBSP (first of 2 doses) at 9:25am mixed in orange juice (thanks for the tip, Emily!). With the girls in preschool, David and I spent the morning walking at Lowes, Target, and the park but no contractions—or any other nasty castor oil side effects. Back at home after preschool, I took my second dose at 12:15pm.
Madilyn picked out a book to read before her nap: “Just in Time” a Beauty and the Beast book about patience. Ha! During the middle of the book at 12:45, I had a contraction, and it was intense. I put Madilyn to bed, got Abigail set up for her quiet time and had another 2 contractions in that 6-minute span. Then diarrhea (yee-haw) started—didn’t get out of the castor oil without experiencing that symptom. Contractions were never more than 3-4 minutes apart and were at an incredibly high intensity, very painful and lasting a minute or longer.
At 1:45pm, I called my midwife office to see if I could get in ASAP for a cervical check. Since I was 41 weeks, 2 days, I knew that if I stepped into the hospital, I wouldn’t be able to leave without a fight. The on-call nurse said that based on my description of what was happening, I should probably just go to the hospital. I assured her that my labors were marathons and that I’d prefer to just come to the office. She set up the appointment for 2:45pm, but during the course of our 7 minute phone call, I had 3 contractions—the last two I couldn’t even try to talk during.
Our childcare on-call person was sick with flu-like symptoms (get better soon, Jessica!) so I called the next group on our list—the Williamson’s. They were free and willing to keep our girls in addition to their 4 kiddos! What a blessing! Madilyn had only been asleep for about 45 minutes and was NOT happy about getting woken up. I tried to explain to Abigail that I thought the baby was coming now but she couldn’t get past the fact that her quiet time was getting cut short. Heh. David got the girls loaded up in the van and drove them over to the Williamson’s. During the 10 minutes he was gone, my contractions were 2-3 minutes apart and incredibly painful, sending me to the floor on all fours to try and cope. I managed to get the girls’ overnight bags downstairs and leave instructions for my parents with the bags but that was about it.
David got back to pick me up at 2:10, and we were off to the doctor’s office. Except in my gut, I knew that we needed to go straight to the hospital. I told David, in between contractions from the back seat of the Sonata, that the pain was unreal and that he needed to get to the hospital as fast as he could. He sped up a bit, then my water broke. Then I started feeling a pushing urge. I was moaning loud through each contraction, and they were lasting nearly 2 minutes each. That sent David into high gear. He drove in the median and ran two red lights in order to shorten the 20+ min drive as much as possible.
He first parked in a parking lot but we quickly realized my 1-2 min apart contractions wouldn’t allow me to walk. David jumped back in the car and pulled into the ER, got a wheelchair, and rolled me in. I had two contractions in the commute from the ER to labor/delivery triage, and for some reason I felt self conscious making noise. I coped quietly somehow, but it was so hard! I got into a triage bed at 2:50pm and was checked—6cm. The triage nurse didn’t bother monitoring contractions, just got a quick read on baby’s heart rate and wheeled me to a labor/delivery room right at 3pm. I quickly stripped down and got into a gown, pausing to cope with the pain by facing David, gripping his shirt, and standing on my tip toes. So bizarre, but I didn’t have much control over it.
I then had to sign paperwork! I didn’t read anything, just scrawled before another contraction came. Little did we know that there were 3 other deliveries happening right then in other rooms stripping the labor/delivery unit of staff and supplies. An OB resident, Dr. Freeman, came in and asked to check me—just an anterior lip of cervix left (I was basically at 10cm). I said that I needed to push, but the room wasn’t ready at all for that. There was no time for an IV (thank goodness!), no time to break down the bed, and almost no time for any kind of equipment to be brought in.
I asked David to say a quick prayer, and then I was given permission to push. With my first push, the attending OB (observing the resident), Dr. Macnaham said she could see the head and that she would likely ask me to slow down my pushes soon. She told David to go wash his hands for delivery. With the next push, the baby was crowning. I asked David to get the camera and give it to a nurse, then he ran back to stand at my side. At my other side was Rhonda, my labor/delivery nurse; she was awesome!
Dr. Machnaham asked me to do short grunt-like pushes through one contraction, and during that, she massaged and stretched me to help avoid tears. Then the head was out. One more push, shoulders. Then David got to reach down and pull the baby out and up onto my chest. Dr. Machnaham asked David, “Ok, dad, what have we got?” To which David replied, “Another girl!!”
It was 3:15. Only 2.5 hours since my first contraction, only 25 minutes after we arrived at the hospital, only 15 minutes after getting into the delivery room. Wow. Naomi Hope was here! She weighed 8lb, 7oz and was 20″ long. Due to the speedy delivery, she still had a lot of mucus in her throat, so her cries were small, but she was perfectly healthy and alert!
During recovery, the labor/delivery nurse I had when Madilyn was born came in—Chelsea. It was so neat to see her and catch up a bit! Also, since labor went so fast and I didn’t have an IV, I had to get a shot of pitocin in my thigh—yowsers! It helps to stop the bleeding afterward and prevent hemorrhage. I then delivered the placenta which, according to the docs, looked great. I also had a slight tear which the resident stitched up swiftly. Nursing came next, and even though it had been nearly 2 years since I last nursed, it came back to me fairly quickly.
Then we started the phone calls. Imagine the surprise from our parents and brothers! David had only called them an hour or so prior to give them the heads up that labor was starting. Those phone calls were fun! We got into our mother/baby room by about 5:45pm, and my parents brought the girls by at 6:30pm to meet their new baby sister. Such a sweet time of reunion!
I’ve been asked more than a few times if I would do a fast labor again, given the choice. My answer is “absolutely!!” I just want to make it to the hospital before the baby comes or plan a home birth. No delivering on the side of the road!
Welcome to the family, Naomi Hope. We are so glad you’re here!