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
Looks like I'm really only able to update this about once a month. Sorry kids. Brandon has to remind me to update and for a while I was thinking maybe I shouldn't write about my family so much because, well, just becuase. But then he convinced me that this is all a part of their narrative, and he's right, I suppose. I wish I had more written down about what my life was like as a child. I have my memories, sure, but it would be nice to read what my parents remember about the little things in our lives. I would like for him to be a bit more involved in the blog. He takes some mean iPhone photos. Better than me. He's got an eye.
Since it's February, it means that we'll be having a baby soon, no later than March 17th. Since I'm not really one known to actually "go into labor" it'll more than likely be on that day, but who knows. This kid already feels like a giant. Crazy how we forget the aches and pains and discomfort of late pregnancy. I admit, I'm not looking forward to another c-section and I've had some really terrible dreams about dying from complications, but hopefully those dreams mean nothing. I mean, when I was pregnant with Ronan I dreamt he was a marmoset, and he's not... so, yeah. Probably just normal hormones mixed with my usual anxiety level stuff. And on that note...
We are doing some exciting stuff around the house. I mean, what's late pregnancy for me without some sort of major change/renovation taking place? Ronan was really the only one to come home to a relaxed atmosphere. We literally moved from Florida to Wisconsin when Isla was 10 days old, I drove away from Jacksonville straight from her 10 day pediatrician check up. Crazy. I can't imagine accomplishing that now. I was moving boxes into a storage unit 5 days after a c-section. STUPID. When Stellan was born, we were finishing his room and building a deck. This time, we just finished renovating the kids bathroom (FINALLY! I've had the sink sitting in my garage since before Stellan was born). It came out great, I think. I had been wistfully gazing at a Pinterest inspiration photo Here for years and here's our finished kids bath!
The sink is pretty much my favorite-est thing ever. It's a Kohler utility sink in case you're interested. The tub is the original from 1930, which I painted the bottom to match the paint used above the beadboard (as well as to paint the bottom of the sink. We had to retile, and I originally was going to just use while square tile, but once we pulled up the old gross linoleum, we saw that it was originally the 1" hex tile (the same as is in our master bath) so I found some sheets of that on Overstock and I'm really happy we did. The color does not match exactly to the inspiration photo, but I like this bolder blue a bit more. It just pops the ultra white of everything else. In all, it's my new favorite room in the house.
Now, as for other renovations, our finished room off of the garage is getting a make over. And after that, we have to gut the downstairs bathroom because I'm pretty sure there's mold in there. Then... we have to paint a few rooms and the staircase and redo the wood floors downstairs and up the stairway... Ah old house, it's always something... It's not all happening at once, but it's on the list.
I took the plunge and ordered a large wall canvas from Artsy Couture of this photo of Isla.
I had a sweet coupon code to use for gallery wraps, so let's see if it's as good as they're touted. If so, then I plan on ordering two more of Stelly and Ro (once I can get a photo of them I love as much, they're a bit trickier...) and put them up. Sadly, for as many photos as I take, I don't really have that many around my house, and the ones I do have aren't very large. Go big or go home is my new motto. Ha.
Annnnnd... I'm in a major cleaning/decluttering motivation stage right now. Probably feeling a little nesty. I still need to buy a new co-sleeper for #4, as well as a new swing. "need"? might be a strong word, but our old one has really been through the ropes with three other kiddos and is a weird creaking, squeaky disaster. Besides, since I don't really have to get much for #4, I figure I'll splurge on a new swing.
And I'll leave you with a few more phots just because they're fun.
My friend, Carri, turned me onto a new app today called "waterlogue" and it's soo pretty. It really made this somewhat blah Instagram photo pop. I love it! I'm looking forward to playing around with it more.
And... I've been craving the usual peanut butter m&m's and salt and vinegar chips and icees (that I won't allow myself too often because they are pure poison). Brandon and I aren't much for watching television, but for lately we have gotten into watching Orange is the New Black (highly recommend) and True Detective (on HBO - REALLY highly recommend). Of course, I am super excited for Game of Thrones to start up again. Woot! And... that's about it. I think we're just hunkering down waiting for the perfect storm of baby #4. I hope wherever you are, you're staying warm. xo Cat
Well, another year ending. It's days like this I get nostalgic. I think to myself all sorts of weird thoughts such as:
Maybe it's weird to think like this. I'm not really perseverating on it, but 2012 seems like it was yesterday and now 2014 is tomorrow. Literally.
I know I haven't blogged in a while. I frequently have all sorts of things I want to write about, but then when I have a moment to do it, I find something else that needs to be done, or that I'd rather do instead.
I've some lofty goals for upcoming year. I'm signed up for some more e-learning courses for photography, which is a huge outlet and source of inspiration for me (and is usually what I'd rather be doing than blogging). Baby #4 is on the way. We've decided to homeschool again for Fall 2014, adding Isla for Kindy and Ronan will be starting second grade.
In case you're interested to hear how homeschooling has been going, well, for the most part, it's going great! Ronan is a really, ridiculously good reader. Interestingly, he doesn't really know it. Not really one to read by himself (as in, pick up a book and curl up on the sofa - he'd rather build or ride his bike -sans training wheels y'all! Woot!) he is constantly reading things out loud to me. Signage, his school work, things on boxes and bags we bring in, etc. But he doesn't even realize it. It's just as if a light bulb went off and he's entered the magical world of literacy. Pretty darn satisfying, I must say. I'm going to chalk it up to him being a smart cookie, and the fact that "Teach your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons" is totally the bomb. Isla now wants to start her own reading lessons and I'm interested to see how she does for she IS one to sit around and "read" a book, even though she doesn't know really how to read anything yet (gasp, I know! She's four and can't read yet, I'm a horrible parent! LOL!). Ronan has been showing himself to be more and more empathetic, gentle with his siblings and more confident in himself and what he values. He knows who he is right now and it's really wonderful to see him come into his own without social pressures that seem to start earlier and earlier these days.
And, now Isla, she's enjoying preschool even though she says she doesn't. She loves her teacher and every morning when I drop her off, at least three to five little kids run up to her and squeal, "ISLA!!!!" and hug her. Boys AND girls. She must be doing something right. And she's so blase about it all, I can only wonder about how she acts at school versus the wonderfully emotional toronado she can be at home. That girl, what can I say? She's the girliest girl who ever girled. And she's tough and sneaky and smart and can handle herself around boys.
And little Stellan. Not the youngest for very much longer. Stellan, our little blond angel, is equally as naughty as he is adorable. He's all things outdoors and play and running and getting dirty and energy energy ENERGY! He understands Spanish as well as he does English but doesn't say too many words yet (of course he does have some, he's not in the least bit silent!). I'm kind of hoping he'll bust out bi-lingual one of these days. I am snuggling him a little closer lately though, as I know, come March, he's going to seem like a teenager.
And speaking of March, our little St. Patrick's day baby. Interestingly, a story I've not really told many people, but about two weeks before I found out I was pregnant, I found a four leaf clover in my parent's back yard. I just happened to look down and there it was. This was also about the time we were deciding whether or not we wanted to try for a fourth. Of course, I have yet another c-section scheduled, but 39 weeks happens to be St. Patrick's Day, so, it seems a bit like fate.
And... Brandon is enjoying his job, I started a small photography business (www.catrunyan.com), our dogs are doing well. Sake is almost 15 (this February!) Ginger is a spunky little three year old, we adopted a wonky tailed Maine Coon cat we call Kitty Sparkles (she's outdoors only due to allergies) and we recently acquired an adorable hedgehog named Humphrey.
So with that, I'll leave you with some of my favorite images from 2013. All the best to you in the upcoming year.
So, as 2014 rings itself in in a few hours in my time zone, I'm hoping for simplicity, clarity, peace, acceptance, a greater ability to enjoy the now, peace for the world and health for my loved ones as well as for everyone else.
And one final goal for 2014 - get in a few photographs of myself before I'm an old lady and my kids don't remember what I looked like when they were little.
Wow, almost halfway through November now... let's see. The kids are gearing up for the upcoming holidays already. I'm trying not to skip over Thanksgiving, but really, Christmas, when you are a child is just about 150 times more fun. I took some photos...
has been at an all time low lately. I have still have photos to take of Ronan and a discussion about how awesome he is, and what we did for his birthday (two weeks ago) - as well as a discussion of whether or not I even want (or should) be discussing my kids online anymore (I kind of don't, especially as they get older). I don't know. I suppose I'm just rambling.
Here's a photo from last night. An impromptu beach visit resulting in the inevitable clothes on dip in the ocean - always a source of good fun.
as usual, nature puts on quite a show at sunset.
Tomorrow marks the first day of homeschool for us! Excited, nervous, motivated? We'll be using Oak Meadow for first grade. For a while I worried that it wouldn't be "rigorous" enough for us, but now I laugh at that. It's looking just right for us.
I will be discussing homeschool some more in the coming weeks/months. Why we chose homeschool, how I created a schedule. Why we chose the curriculum we did and how the first weeks of said curriculum are working out. This? This I feel motivated to blog about. Until next time.