Um, didn't I JUST update this blog with three months? How is this possible?
sweet little chub a lub.
You are really just so sweet and pleasant. You love a good snuggle and a good long nursing session. You're easy to take places (minus the car ride- you don't like those) and we just love your good nature. We love you Sweet Wolfie. Love you forever.
Well, this is defintely the crappiest part of the post partum experience in my opinion. Still hanging on to enough pounds that my pre-pregnancy clothing doesn't look right or fit right and my hair is all falling out. Just when I think I can't possibly lose any more - more comes out. It's pretty disturbing.
Knowing that we aren't having any more babies has, I think, made me feel like I need to be "old me" again. No more babies. You're done. Get back in shape. Be "you" again. Do everything you used to do before you had kids. Be sexy. Be spontaneous. Eat right. Wear cute clothes. And do it all with four kids under seven years old and oh, right, one of them is still an infant who needs you to feed him with your own body several times a day - and regularly spits up all over your cute clothes that are carefully chosen for their a) breastfeeding friendliness and b) slimming properties. That's like, four total outfits.
I'm not complaining. But I'm not going to pretend this time around hasn't been hard. I've been working through some mild post partum anxiety/depression what have you, for a bit now. I could feel it creeping on not long after Wolf came home. The shock of his hospitalization, being away from him during the time when I needed to be with him most. Those feelings still sneak up on me from time to time and choke me and sting my eyes unexpectedly before I can push them back. This all translated into a more anxious me. Where are the other kids? Why isn't Brandon home yet? Catherine where did you go?
The post partum experience is as varied as the women who experience it. It varies between pregnancies. Like snowflakes - no two are alike. And sometimes it's hard. I'm not going to pretend it isn't and I'm not going to "carefully curate" my blog to project an image that it is easy.
And yes, that might not be pretty, but it's the truth.
But there are bright things about now, to be sure. For one, well, Wolf is super bright.
And as the baby, I can tell he will be spoiled.
And Stelly has the cutest words for things. His sword he calls his "ssshhing" (like the sound a sword makes when you're wielding it. Ah-dorable) and he calls this pink rope that I've tied into a lasso for him his - wait for it - it's going to kill you - his "yee hah". Yes, his "yee hah".
"Momma? Where my Yee hah?"
Now if only I could get a good photo of him...
In an effort to nurture myself as much as possible, I am really pouring my creativity into photography and have been so happy to have had several families and babies and clients over the last couple months. I really love how there is always somewhere to go with photography. Something to aspire to. Something to create. That has definitely made me happy and having a supportive family has been critical to allow this to happen and continue to happen.
I created a new streamlined website that I am pleased with, so if you're bored, feel free to click on over to www.catrunyan.com and check it out. Critical feedback is always welcome.
I'm also happy that we'll be visiting my parents with the kids this summer and we're really looking forward those cool Ohio evenings. My dad has really been going all out creating wooden swords for the boys and a bow set for Isla. There's talks of maybe a backyard campout and of course lots of walks in the woods where I played as a child. Obviously I'll be bringing my camera and am excited for the vastly different scenic opportunities.
I will admit. I am not excited for the drive. Wolf is NOT a happy car baby. Hopefully the small fortune I've spent on car entertainment for him will pay off. Kicky piano thing, make him happy!!!!
But either way, we'll get there and it'll be good.
And don't worry about me. I'm taking care of myself. It's reminding myself that it's one step at a time and I'll get there and it'll be good.
kitty sparkles says " 'sup"?
Cannot believe this sweet baby is already three months old (and was last week, at that! I'm behind!). As of now, you have the sweetest disposition, the deepest gazes and all of our hearts.
please stop with the vinyl backdrop! but I can't we're three months in, we're going all the way!
kids are just growing up way too fast these days...
yes, he IS the most beautiful child ever.
getting slightly chunkier. he is the least chunky of my historically wafer thin babies. highlight of his three month check up? Hearing the doctor ask, "Who's the tiny person in your family?" Um...clearly it's not me I guess...
Recently I snapped some pretty shots of Isla on the beach to commemorate her fifth birthday.
How much has changed in the last five years. But you still want me to sing "The Sunshine Song" (you are my sunshine) to you every night. Baby Mousie, although you don't cuddle her as much, is still your technical favorite toy. You put your sunglasses up on top of your head like a headband (like I do) and ask, "do I look like a Mommy?" You love to play dress up and school and are excited to start homeschooling this coming fall. (I'm excited too!) You are funny and brave and even though you look so grown up in these photos, you're still my little baby girl. I love you.
Your nose and the unsettled grunts of the baby alert you to the fact that it is indeed time for another diaper change. Perhaps even another outfit change as your little one is blowing through clothes almost as fast as he blows through diapers. And you're tired and there are three other voices calling for you and six shiny eyes looking around for you the moment you disappear with the youngest to take care of that business.
Thoughts run through your mind like stampeding ponies, kicking up dust while you attend to the task you've done a thousand times before. What's for dinner, what laundry needs to be done next in order of importance, bills to pay, school, clean up the dishes, on and on it goes.
You're almost finished, snapping that diaper back on and zipping that outfit back up and you finally look at the person you've been cleaning so absent mindedly. And he's smiling up at you. He's simply happy that you are there. He doesn't care about the house or bills or paleo-ness of dinner and he certainly doesn't care about what the scale says you still weigh or that your hair is falling out in huge handfulls. He's simply thrilled that you are there, caring for him. And you almost missed it.
Sweet little Wolf, today you are two months old! Your newborn curliness and sleepiness is giving way to longer limbs and longer stretches of wakefullness. Of course you do nap a lot...but mostly only when you're in the wrap being held by me. With a fourth baby, I suppose they need to find some tricks to get enough attention. You've begun socially smiling and it's ADORABLE. It's as if a light bulb turns on and you are HAPPY, OMG SO HAPPY HUGE SMILE. And that is truly one of the most wonderful things about a new little person; watching the personality unfold. We look forward to each little moment watching you develop, Wolfie. Keep smiling.
And - I didn't blog it, but here's Wolfie at one month.
and I'm not really sure why I'm keeping with this silly little backdrop, but I guess it's a thing now... so whatever. I will admit, it's not as spectacular as Stellan's awesome Rainbow Quilt monthly photos, but there was no quilt making this time around. Sorry Wolf, fourth kid always gets the weird, random vinyl backdrop.
You'll be seven weeks old tomorrow and I've been processing your birth and how I want to talk about it for weeks. This has been such a difficult post to write, and I'm not sure why. I suppose it's because I don't want to come across as sounding too dramatic about the past when you're snug and snoozing in your bassinet next to me. But I don't want to dismiss that time as if nothing happened at all. Such conflict.
You were born on Monday, March 17, 2014. As usual, I had a c-section with you. You were breech, just like your oldest brother, not that I would have had a normal delivery anyway, it just was never meant to be, I guess. There will always be strong feelings surrounding birth for me, but that is not what this is about.
My surgery was long. I had two OB's working on getting you and getting me back together. You didn't cry right away, I noticed that, but then you did and they eventually took you to the nursery with your dad and finished on me. They did sort of lay you across my neck for a few seconds before wrapping you up and taking you away, but after that I don't remember much and I eventually fell asleep, I think. Those first few hours are all very murky.
Right away things just didn't feel "right". We were told you were born with a two vessel umbilical cord. Notable only in that it is unusual, but fortunately you were fine. Thank God we did not know this before hand because I would have probably become hysterical with worry. Sometimes Google just isn't your friend. I will admit, before you were even born, I was tipped off that things might not go as planned. I kept running into all sorts of stories of sick babies, still births, unexpected complications. I don't know why I seemed to be attracting this kind of news, but maybe I was preparing myself for some kind of stress.
When we were brought back together again in recovery, you were very lethargic and not interested in nursing. At this time, we just assumed you were sleepy, it had been a difficult delivery requiring a classical incision on my uterus to pull you out, so high up you were. We didn't really know at the time, but apparently you had inhaled a lot of amniotic fluid.
As the day went on, you were increasingly lethargic. Your hands and feet were blue and your breathing was obviously labored. Finally, your dad and I looked at each other and said that we didn't think things were right and he carried you down to the nursery. Turns out your oxygen levels were in the low 80s. And you were breathing around 150 breaths a minute. Not good.
After that, I didn't get to see you again until just before you taken to the NICU. At this time we had no idea what to expect. Maybe you just needed a little oxygen and you'd be fine? Then they said NICU, which would have been somewhat okay, except that the NICU you would be going to was in Orlando. More than an hour away. At this time, there was a lot of deep misery and weeping. How could this happen to my full term baby?
That night was stormy and they couldn't send the helicoptor so we had to wait for the ambulance. Eventually your dad went home to be with your siblings for the night and your grandmother came to stay over with me. Around midnight the ambulance team brought you in on a gurney outfitted for newborns; a large plastic isolette sat on it. Two men and one woman in blue jump suits pressed themselves silently up against the wall of my hospital room as close to the door as possible and the cheerful NICU nurse from Orlando brought in the super breast pump and told me to have at it. They rolled your isolette over to me and I was able to put my hand through the little round portal to say good bye to you. That part was so surreal. You were covered in wires and sensors and had a nasal canula giving you oxygen. I tried to hold it together as I was surrounded by strangers. Strangers I had to trust with my newborn who would be barreling down I-4 in a storm too dangerous to fly through. Those were the hardest moments of my life. I couldn't go with you.
That night I hardly slept. I was awake buying adorable onesies on Etsy as buying things for you would mean that you would be okay. They said you would be okay, that you just needed help. What was wrong with you? What happened, when would you be okay? No one really had an answer for that. By 3 am, the neonatologist in Orlando called to let me know you had arrived and were settling in to the NICU. You needed oxygen and were being given antibiotics for Sepsis.
At some point I was being helped up to walk. Eventually I lost the catheter, the IV and the oxygen monitor. Yay me! I began to feel like the pariah of the birth floor. The woman with no baby. The things you notice. The remains outside of someone's door of the "celebration dinner". The one I didn't get because my baby was gone and my husband was gone with him and I spent the night alone. The nurses brought me a little teddy bear wrapped up like a newborn. Sweet. But weird. They wanted me gone.
Your dad went early to Orlando to be with you. You were okay, he could hold you! Then you slipped back, and the nasal cannula wasn't enough and you were put on CPAP. You were being fed a bag of nutrients because you couldn't tolerate feeds. Your surfactant in your lungs had dissolved due to the inhalation of amniotic fluid and your heart was mixing your venus and arterial blood. I can't even go there in my head wondering how much longer you would have lived if your dad and I hadn't "figured out" there was something just not right.
Wednesday morning I was released from the hospital. March 19th. Of course as they were wheeling me downstairs to be released, I was right behind another new mom, except she was carrying her new baby. Awkward...Jealous feelings. It was also your brother, Stellan's, birthday. I didn't get to even see him that day. More guilt. We drove directly to the hospital in Orlando. I will not forget how nervous I felt going in to see you for the first time. I was only two days out from surgery, so eventually I tired going from the parking garage to the NICU. The hospital you were at is, in a word, huge. A city complex. Incredible. Your dad found me a wheel chair so I could be wheeled in to see you.
The level three NICU is a large, dark room with isolettes and cribs set much nearer to each other than I would have thought. Other parents loomed over their babies. I noted the other moms like me. Swollen ankles and swollen bellies. Some other obvious c-sections. We didn't really talk to each other. Everyone just looked stressed out, in pain, and worried. But I have to say, the nurses and doctors who were taking care of you were amazing. There were babies there for all sorts of reasons. Cleft pallette, no anus, respiratory distress (you). Too small. Too early. We saw a tiny 23 week baby come in and they put her isolette right next to yours. I will never forget seeing her tiny little legs kicking. Tragic. Amazing.
Our time in Orlando was interesting. We felt guilty being there, away from your brothers and sister. We felt guilty when we drove home to be with them. Leaving you behind was terrible. I had never felt pulled in so many directions before. When we stayed in Orlando, we were lucky to have a room at the Ronald McDonald house. What an AMAZING charity. It was very simple and clean and sweet, right near the hospital. What a gift to parents who have babies and children in the hospital. Say what you will about McDonalds, the RMD House is a wonderful charity.
On Thursday your dad and I went to Target to pick up a few toiletries and things while we were at the RMD House. Funny how it seemed that all of Orlando happened to be at that Target that morning with newborn baby boys. They were everywhere and I was weepy and three days post surgery. I still looked pregnant. My abdomen was too swollen due to the extra trauma of my c-section, so I couldn't even get on my usual post-surgical abdominal binder. As we were checking out the cashier asked me cheerfully when the baby was due. "Um, I had the baby three days ago". She smiled, "Congratulations!". Then, she paused and I felt my face heat up. Please no follow up questions! She looked around, and slowly asked, "Is everything okay"? (Because, why the hell wouldn't a new mother be with her baby?) All I could blurt out as I began crying was, "My baby's sick, he's at the hospital". To which she began crying and the line of shoppers behind us were immediately rendered extremely uncomfortable. I ended up consoling her and telling her you'd be okay. You were going to be okay. You were. You were.
After that awkward experience things sort of mellowed out. Orlando is a pretty fun little city and we enjoyed the fun hipster Cuban restaurants, the antique store/bar at night from which we purchased some new bar stools and a bed, The Ravenous Pig, and, of course, "Wolfie's Pizzaria" right by the hospital. Well, and OF COURSE we went to Ikea. Because, one always needs something from Ikea. Nothing like personal stress to make you go shopping. And when we could finally hold you for longer periods of time, we simply sat in your room (for you were eventually moved to a private room after about five days) and snuggled you.
But for you, all 7 pounds 5 ounces 21 inches - they called you "the big baby" - you improved. Slowly you began to tolerate feedings and were digesting the milk I was bringing you. 36 hours under the Bili Light.
The TPN bag was eventually removed. The unbilical vein line was closed. We could finally hold you for longer than a few minutes and without a thousand cords connected to you. Your heart was pumping blood correctly. Your oxygen needs became less and less. At around 8 days you took a bottle and right after that I was allowed to try to feed you. Such a normal thing. Such a little thing- nursing you. But I was as nervous as I'd ever been. Would you be able to do it? Was this experience going to sabotage our nursing relationship forever? Of course, I cried with relief when you finally latched. And that, that was the first time it felt like I had a baby. I had told your dad that I still felt pregnant - mentally at least. I barely held you the day you were born. I hadn't been able to bond. I didn't see you at all the second day of your life. You were barely real to me. But being able to hold you and feed you was the beginning of our relationship. Seeing your face without a tube going down your throat and finally without the oxygen tube was very momentous to me. You were being unwrapped slowly from the confines of the cords that saved your life and being given to us. Your rebirth.
I know this sounds so disjointed and wonky. It's so hard to talk about something hard that happens to you when there is a happy outcome. It's similar to the feelings surrounding multiple c-sections. I hated having them. I feel a tremendous loss fo something integral to the whole pregnancy and birth experience, but society tells me to shut up because I have healthy children. It wasn't "worse".
I feel similarly about your time in the NICU. We only spent ten days. You didn't need surgery. You're home now. You didn't die. It could have been worse and it is IS worse for SO many people. Sweep those negative experiences away! It's all good now! Right?
We are moving on now. You are in our life and you are so loved and so precious. And yes, I am extremely paranoid about something happening to you. I am extremely paranoid about something happening to one of your siblings. Things seem a little more fragile to me these days and while I move away from the hormonal extremes of the post partum experience (even though I know that takes a while) I'm working hard not to let it overwhelm me. So thanks for reading. :)
And, if you've gotten this far, I wanted to share the story of our friends, our in real life friends whom also have a NICU baby. Except their baby was born at 26 weeks, about three weeks before Wolfie and is still there. He's doing well and getting stronger every day. But, like our family, little baby Carter's family lives near us and the NICU is in Orlando. It's hard my friends. It's hard and it's REALLY expensive. Like, blow your mind expensive. So, if you have the time, check out the wonderful blog his parents have created. And if you have the means, consider donating a little to help them out.
In all the excitement and activity and confusion and drama that surrounded the birth of our newest baby, Wolf (who will get his own post soon, I promise), our little Stellan turned two on March 19. We celebrated with cake on the Saturday before because I knew I'd be in the hospital on his birthday. I'm glad we did, little did we know we'd be heading straight from my hospital discharge on Wednesday morning to Orlando. I'm glad we got to have a little home party for him with my parents before all the craziness began! The only photos I got of his little celebration are these.
A bit of cake. And snuggles with Papa.
And, because they are cute, here's a few pics of Stellan getting a haircut. Since it's always quite the production, we have to do it ourselves. Sadly, it also looks like we do it ourselves. We're eventually going to have to take this kid to a real barber/stylist soon.
Can't you just hear him saying, "noooooooooo". :)
We love you Stelly. At two, you are incredibly funny and inquisitive and always willing to lend a hand. You are strong and tall and I can easily imagine you being the biggest of your siblings when you are all grown. You love to play with your kitchen, tools and cleaning supplies. Such a doer. You're not much of a talker yet, but you understand everything we say, in English and in Spanish, so I am looking forward to hearing you when you are ready to bust out speaking.
We love you so much beautiful Stelly. Happy second birthday. xo