Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Finally, Time Flies

For years people have said to us, "time flies, doesn't it?" And we'd always say no.

The day we got married didn't fly by - it was an amazing day, but it felt about as long as it was. After Obie died, every day felt like eternity. Even when Everett was a little baby, the days were long. It felt like Elizabeth was away from work for ages, when in reality it was four months.

But now that Immy is here, all of a sudden it feels like time is flying.

Our family celebrating Obie's Bee Day - 11/24/17

Imogen has been on the outside for nearly a month. And that feels a little crazy. She's still very much a newborn, wanting to be held and fed and held and fed. Like her brother, she's a good baby. Don't tell Everett, but so far she might even be a better sleeper and eater. Things can change on a dime, but so far it's been pretty great. She's starting to get the milk drunk, sleepy smiles. She's making more noises and having more alert open-eye time. We are reminded how rewarding it is to see little babies start to learn and understand the world around them, bit by bit (or bitty by bitty).

Imogen - 11/19/17

Everett is also learning by leaps and bounds. It's taken us aback more than once. Because he's in day care, he learns words we don't use much and songs we don't sing. Yesterday, he started signing "Rain, Rain, Go Away", which we did not know he knew (and it WAS a rainy day!). Speaking of singing along, he does that now! It's adorable, and he'll sing along with quite a few songs - ABCs, Wheels on the Bus, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, Thomas and Friends, and Edelweiss. (To hear Everett's rendition of Edelweiss - click here - the crescendo really hits starting around 45 seconds.)

He'll even request songs by name, which can be a challenge. "Things" is "My Favorite Things", "Letters" is "Apple Apple A-A-A", and so on.

He can count to twenty with very little assistance. He LOVES counting books, and one day started reading the numbers to us and eventually counting without seeing the numbers. Shortly after, he started pointing out letters as well. He also starts singing his A-B-Cs to try to distract us from an impending diaper change he is none too keen on. Now when we go out Everett is liable to point out numbers, letters, and shapes that he sees (including octagon, oval, and arch).

Evie's first pumpkin pie (not a fan, but Cool Whip is OK) - 11/23/17

It didn't, but it feels like it came out of nowhere. He repeats phrases immediately and repeats them days and weeks later. He still speaks his own little Everett language that takes a little translating, but Mom and Dad are pretty good at it.

With all this stuff going on (plus the holiday season starting), it was a challenge to find the time and head space to focus on Oberon on his third birthday. We tried, and that has to be enough. We tried to allow each other some time to focus on making things for Obie or posting to social media (#ObiesBeeDay). We did manage to take a family hike at Henry Cowell State Park. This is the first one of Oberon's birthdays where we weren't able to go to Uvas Canyon County Park, where his ashes are scattered. The park is closed due to repairs on the only access road. It may have been a blessing in disguise though, since we haven't hiked in months and Elizabeth hasn't technically been cleared for exercise yet. So instead of a moderate hike to Obie's bench, we had a pretty easy two miles among the redwoods.

Hiking at Henry Cowell State Park - 11/24/17

Evie loved hiking. We showed him the big trees and talked about a river and how the water moves. He wanted to walk around and use a hiking pole like Mommy. While he took to hiking right away, he wasn't exactly great at going in a straight line, so Mommy and Immy went ahead to find a bench for a mid-afternoon snack.  After a couple minutes of meandering side to side along the trail and loudly saying "morning!" to every passing hiker, Evie decided he wasn't going to be left behind, started calling out "catch-up, catch-up" repeatedly, and taking off on an all-out toddler sprint down the path.  After catching up, he was nearly in tears leaving the redwood grove, emphatically asking to continue hiking.

"I go hiking." - Everett - 11/24/17

Speaking of nursing on the go, we have to re-learn how to hike with a small baby. Nursing breaks, diaper changes, the whole bit. There's been a lot of remembering with a newborn in the house. Elizabeth has even started pumping again so Immy can get used to the bottle. All in all, taking care of Immy has been much less triggering than taking care of Evie was at this stage. That's a good thing, but like so many things theses days, it does carry with it the guilt of being further away from Oberon.

Just look at this blog post! The section on Oberon's birthday circled quickly back to our living children. In some ways, we have to accept that's how things are right now. We have to set realistic expectations and be gentle with ourselves. For Obie's third birthday, we feel pretty good about it. And there's still leftover beehive-shaped birthday cake to keep the conversation on Oberon. Hearing Everett say "Oberon birthday cake" is pretty amazing.

Happy Birthday, Obie. We love and miss you dearly. Photo from 12/10/14

Friday, November 10, 2017

Imogen's Birth Story

She's here! She's home!

In the yard at our house - November 5, 2017

Those really are the most important things. In a lot of ways, it feels strange to think back and relive the delivery and the hospital stay. It still felt weird to fill out a birth plan and set expectations. We told everyone who asked - we want the medically appropriate things to be done. That's the end of our birth plan.

Just like with Everett, Elizabeth was induced at around 38 and a half weeks. In this case, we scheduled it so that bitty would most likely be born in October, leaving the November birthday for Oberon.

Elizabeth's parents came to watch Everett, which was a huge help. It was very nice to be able to relax and not worry about Evie while we were in the hospital.

Elizabeth was admitted on a Saturday around 11 a.m. We got put in a room right away, but then there was a big lull (like, over an hour) with no one coming by. Eventually, Chris started roaming the halls to find out what was going on. Long story short, a bunch of people had just come in and were moving along very quickly, so we were simply at the bottom of the priority list.

We watched football and waited. The doctor came in and explained to us the things that might happen. Elizabeth was already dilated 3cm, so no cervical balloon this time (yay!). They started pitocin at about 4 p.m. Grandma and Grandpa F. brought Evie for a quick visit before dinner and bed. He was enamored with the hallways at the hospital and all the things in the room to explore! Not at all out of sorts from Mommy and Daddy being away.

Later in the evening, about 9 p.m. or so, the doctor talked about breaking Elizabeth's water to speed things up. The pitocin wasn't really getting things moving - still at 3 cm. We talked about it, but opted to get some sleep and break her water in the morning, rather than break it late at night and then get zero sleep. Plus, Elizabeth's OB was on the schedule for Sunday morning, so if she delivered after 8 a.m. there was a good chance her doctor would be there.

So we slept. And no one had to get up to console a whiny toddler. Intermittent checks of Elizabeth's vitals did wake us from time to time, but all things considered a pretty good night's sleep for everyone, including bitty who was doing great.

In the morning, the doctor again brought up breaking the water and also an epidural. Since Elizabeth's labors were very fast with Oberon and Everett (once things got going), they didn't want to miss the window for pain relief. It felt extremely odd to get an epidural before the pain set in, but that's what we did. Elizabeth was having contractions (and had been for hours), but she could only feel them when bitty was in a certain position.

Elizabeth's water was broken in the morning, maybe around 7 a.m. Things did not move quickly. Elizabeth's doctor did come by to check on us when she arrived, but soon after was in an emergency C-section and wouldn't be available for some time. Finally, at around noon, things picked up. Again, they told Elizabeth not to push while her doctor got out of surgery and down to the room. This was the most difficult pushing of the three deliveries (who knew that working out really does make a difference?), but still not too bad. Four contractions worth of pushes, and there she was!

Welcome to the world, Imogen Ruby Fiorani Thoma - Born 10/29/17 at 1:23 p.m.

Just like with Everett, Imogen was put right onto Mama's chest for skin-to-skin. She opened one eye, but it took her a while to get the other one open. No one was in any rush to do checks or measurements, and we got a good couple hours of snuggle time.

Bitty was the biggest beastie at birth - 7 lbs 12.9 oz

We were moved to Mother/Baby and again spent a lot of time waiting for doctors and other people to come by. It felt so different than our stay with Everett where there were constantly people coming and doing checks. It was somewhat unsettling - is this what a typical birth experience is like?

Grandma and Grandpa F. brought Evie to meet his little sister the night she was born. He wasn't very interested and preferred to play on the computer and push around the bassinet - but who could blame him? We would have preferred more snuggles, but toddlers have things to do and we get it.

 Troublemaker - October 29, 2017

Grandpa and Grandma F. meet Immy - 10/29/2017

Thoma family - 10/29/2017

Slowly, we began ticking off the required things before discharge. Things like a hearing test, lactation consultant, wet diaper, poopy diaper, and a brain ultrasound. The ultrasound technician remarked that usually she did ultrasounds like this for babies in the NICU, and we felt like responding, "us too."

We didn't see any NICU nurses or neonatologists, a first. The social worker said she remembered us, and Chris recognized one of the pediatricians, but we didn't recognize any other doctors, nurses, or medical personnel in Mother/Baby.

It was bittersweet checking off the boxes on the discharge board. With both the boys the section for the baby was crossed out with the note "NICU" next to it. And there we were, one by one ticking off the must-dos before discharge. Barely 24 hours after Imogen was born, we were being wheeled out to drive her home.

Mommy and Bitty Beastie - ready to go! - 10/30/2017

Everett's delivery was so different from Oberon's, but we still had a NICU experience that was triggering and difficult. With Imogen, it was even more different. So much so that it was in some ways unsettling. Elizabeth had a baby, and then we went home. And no one was worried about her.

She even got to dress up for Halloween and trick or treat at two days old.

Halloween 2017, Yoda, Luke, Ewok, and Leia - May the force be with you.

So far, Immy is doing great. Evie seems to be adjusting well, Elizabeth is feeling pretty good, and Chris is taking care of everyone. We're sure there will be challenges and triggers ahead, but right now we're enjoying this time.