Thursday, December 27, 2012

1 week old and our Christmas

Cupcakes one of my awesome sisters made for the hospital!
Charlotte is now 1 week and 1 day old.  I cannot believe a week has already passed.  It feels like just yesterday I was complaining about the extra weight, the heartburn and feeling her kick and twist in my belly, wondering how big she would be and what she would look like.

I still can't believe she was 8 lbs and 10 oz.  Look at those chubby thighs.  When we left the hospital.  She had dropped to under 8 lbs.  Despite nursing every hour and a half, she lost nearly 9% of her body weight.

She was born just absolutely perfect. 

Kaitlyn was absolutely in love with her from before she was born.  Samantha was more apprehensive.  Once we got home, Samantha was in love.  She hasn't stopped kissing her, wanting to rock her and getting so irritated with me for not letting her just carry her through the house that she screams and pouts.

From the moment she was born, she found the most perfect place on my chest to rest.  Thanks to an amazing husband, this is how we get to spend most of our days.  He handles everything else, letting me heal, Charlotte nurse and lots of cuddling.

Because she came home at such a lower birth rate, and with a higher bilirubin rate, we had to take her for a weight check and bilirubin check the day after we came home.

She gained some weight and was at an even 8 lbs.  Her bilirubin was still slightly elevated, but under 10, so we went back home.

Christmas Eve morning, I had to go to the OB's office to have my staples removed.  Not gonna lie, it didn't feel good.  I go back in 2 weeks, but so far my incision is healing really good.  I'm hoping when I go back, the scale shows a smaller number... We left the office, and showing Miss Charlotte off to the staff that worked so hard to get her here full term and healthy, and went down a floor to see our amazing pediatrician.  I love him.   

Charlotte was at 8 lbs still, but since she hadn't lost, there were no complaints.  According to their measurements, she was already at 21 inches long.  And her heart murmur was already difficult to hear.  He predicts that by the time we see the cardiologist it will be completely gone.  She goes back in 2 weeks for a well baby check.

We spent Christmas Eve with Dusty's side of the family.  The girls were ridiculously spoiled and I sadly didn't have the energy to take nearly as many pictures as I would have liked to.  I was pretty darn sore still and more than a little exhausted.

When we got home, we set up for Christmas.  Originally the gingerbread men were going to be going away presents from Jinx the Elf, but I was sore, exhausted and pretty much lost all motivation to write the letter, set it all up and make it look right.  All of the presents had been in a large box in the living room to keep Samantha out of opening them over and over again.  So, we took them out and piled them by kid.  The pretty paper in the back is mine from Dusty.  I was spoiled and got everything I had even mentioned wanting for the last few months: A new serger, an awesome bread machine and a bias tape maker.  I was not only surprised but am super excited to get healed and have a chance to play with it all.

Kaitlyn woke up around 7, ready to see if Santa came.  Or so she said, I knew and had already heard her walk out there to check.  We told her to wait it out.

By 9, she had us convinced that it was a good time to force Samantha awake.  It took some time, lots of talking and convincing her that it was time to get up.  It may have also taken the bribe of a candy cane.

Instead of running to her toys, she ran to Kaitlyn and sat next to her just smiling.  Until Kaitlyn started opening gifts.  Then, Samantha started wanting to rip into hers.  I didn't get many pictures because I took video.  A lot of video that I need to upload.

Kaitlyn got everything she asked for.  A ridiculous amount of Monster High Dolls, rain boots, clothes, new jacket, DVDs, an Adventure Time journal, books and stuff I didn't even remember buying.  She had asked Santa for the Abbey Bominable plush Monster High Doll, Monster High DVD and Toralei doll and Santa didn't disappoint.

Samantha got a new Barbie Doll (maybe she'll leave Kaitlyn's alone now), legos, Elmo Kinex, Bubble Guppies movie, Cailou doll, lots of clothes, puzzles and some Melissa and Doug toys.  Santa brought her a new Radio Flyer Tricycle which she is in love with.

Charlotte got clothes and Santa brought her a basket of things babies need like bottles, pacis, wipes, soft toys and things like that.  What else can you get a 6 day old baby?

Our morning was going perfect, we were going to even make it to my parent's house on time.  About 5 minutes before it was time to leave, Kaitlyn ran in to tell me that Samantha had gotten into a bottle of bubble bath.  She dumped the entire thing on herself, her pretty Christmas dress, the rug in the playroom, the floors near the rug, and the basket of Charlotte's presents.  Samantha needed a bath, the carpets had to be cleaned, the hardwood floor had to be cleaned and I had to clean the presents that could be saved.  So, we ended up running about an hour behind.

We arrived in time for the girls to be spoiled yet again. 

Kaitlyn's favorite gift was probably the box that announced we're all going to Disneyland. 

I was really excited about getting a picture of them all together in matching outfits.  This is the best Samantha would cooperate.  Shortly after, she had some dinner, and then fell asleep 15 seconds later and would not be woken up.

Since Christmas, we've been at home.  Resting.  Relaxing.  Dusty has been taking care of grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning and taking care of the older girls.  He's also been great at finding us great things to watch on Netflix. 

My only jobs have been to sit, rest, nurse, cuddle and change diapers.  I think it has really helped with the healing process.  Today, I actually went most of the day without any pain meds at all.  I gave in at 8:30 and took a Vicodin.  I also think that all of the resting and cuddling and nursing is helping me have a really healthy milk supply and Charlotte look like she's growing just fine and dandy. 

I think one of the biggest surprises coming home has been how big Samantha seems.  It feels like we went to the hospital with a larger baby at home and came home to a giant.  She's just so big in comparison.  Her head is ginormous and her legs are so heavy.   She's adjusting pretty well.  Only a couple times has she cried because I couldn't pick her up.  If only she would sleep at night, we would have things perfect around here.

Our pediatrician is a firm believer that babies shouldn't go out much for the first month.  He pushes it even more so during cold and flu season.  And I see absolutely nothing wrong with following that advice.  I feel a little bad about keeping Kaitlyn in for the majority of her break, but, I also know that she has so much new stuff, she is far from bored.  Not to mention the frequent visits from our wonderful family and friends to keep her occupied.

If we could only figure out how to slow down time, all would be well.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Charlotte's Arrival

On Wednesday, December 19th at 12:49 PM, Miss Charlotte cried her way into the world weighing in at 8 pounds and 10 ounces and 20 inches long.

We were scheduled to arrive at 10:00 am for a Noon cesarean.  We arrived at about 10:05.  They were beyond ready for us.  The triage bed was all set up and we were good to get all of the pre-op stuff in.  I wasn't even there for 5 minutes before the anesthesiologist came in to talk about pain relief, complications and all that good stuff.

At noon, I was ready to go.  I had my 2 bags of fluid in, my hair net on, camera set up for Dusty, antibiotics in and was just waiting for the doctor.  He arrived at about 12:10.  We said our good-byes to the girls and the rest of the family and I walked back while Dusty started getting himself prepped for surgery.

Last time, the spinal was fairly easy.  This time, it wasn't.  It took a few times to get numbed enough to do the spinal.  The spinal took 3 tries.  I was so upset.  I was almost ready to back out of a cesarean and beg for a VBAC.  An amazing nurse, deep breaths and relaxation later, it was in.  I was laid on the table, the rest of the prep was done and I started to have a panic attack.  The heartburn was awful.  I couldn't breath.  I wanted to sit up and felt like I had to sit up right that second.  I needed up, I needed to be free, I wanted Dusty and I thought I was going to pass out.  I felt like I was falling.  My blood pressure dropped and I was having a panic attack.  I was given some meds as well as oxygen and within a minute I felt a lot better.  I am sure that it helped that Dusty was able to come in about that time as well.  When he walked in, they had already made the first incision.

It felt as though it was taking forever to feel the familiar pushing and pulling to get her out.  Turns out, there was a lot of scar tissue.  It was taking forever to get her out.  Once it was time to get her out, moments after my doctor had said he wasn't expecting her to be that large (my last ultrasound estimated her birth arrival at about 8 lbs 2 oz, bigger than our biggest by 5 oz), he then said "whoa, this may be a world birth record for you.  This is a big baby."  I heard her little gurgles.  I saw her go to the baby nurse.  They started cleaning her up and kept saying how big she was.  They asked if I had a guess.  I could barely talk and wasn't comprehending a lot at this point and said I had no idea.  Then I heard them say "8 10" and couldn't understand what they meant.  That could not possibly be her weight.

So, I asked Dusty how big she was.  He repeated to me she was 8 lbs and 10 oz.  I was amazed.  I still am.  I remember thinking "Holy Crap, I hope those Christmas outfits fit her ok!"  Then, they told us she was 20 inches.  And her head circumference.  Which, I don't remember.  I felt as though my ears were completely full of fluid.  I was thankful Dusty was there.  He held her really close to me so I could smell her, kiss her face and rub her arm with my free finger. 

My doctor continued to joke and while the assisting physician asked for my consent (for like the 8th time in 2 hours) to continue with the tubal, he had already removed a lot from one.  He said when he does them, he does them right.  There will be no accidental pregnancies or stories of tubes growing back together.  I was finally out of surgery around 1:30 or so.  Once I was in recovery, Dusty was there with Charlotte and the girls were able to come back.  Charlotte was starving so we had started nursing.  Kaitlyn was so excited that she had blue eyes and Samantha was not at all interested in what we were doing or hard.  Slowly our family came through, one at a time, and we were able to get some rest.  I felt so tired and I couldn't figure out why.  I held her to my chest for a few more moments before Dusty followed her to get her first bath and got a mini nap in.  We ended up in recovery until about 4:30. 

We then got into our room.  I had already asked about a dozen times if we could please have a private room this time.  We ended up not getting a private room, it was a shared room, without a roommate.  But, they said they would do their best not to give me a roommate. 

We met our nurse, got our things set up (including a couple things- like her garland for her bassinet I never took pictures of) and welcomed more visitors.  The pain this time was so much worse than with Samantha.  I wasn't expecting it to be pain free, or easy at all, but I don't think I realized it would be so much more painful.

Charlotte was born grunting.  She was noisy.  As, not only all of our babies have been, but also as many cesarean born babies are.  This nurse began to give me a bit of a lecture about having repeat cesareans (which I ignored since she obviously had not seen my chart and had no idea what she was talking about as it pertained to me) and I began to grow frustrated for the first of many times.  After a couple hours, she decided that she really did not like the grunting and wanted to take her to the nursery to be observed by a pediatrician and get a pulse ox exam.  While I did not think it was necessary, I am a better safe than sorry person and allowed it.  She returned about 30 minutes later with a perfect reading.

We continued to share her with family and nurse her.  This baby caught on quick and hasn't stopped.  She nurses for quite a while through each hour. 

By 9, the last of our visitors left and they wanted her to have another round of testing in the nursery.  Just to confirm her pulse ox, be weighed and all that good stuff.

Our first night went well.  She nursed and slept, slept and nursed.  I was personally physically miserable.  I was just in a lot of pain.  Our night nurse seemed sweet enough, but I really wish we would have had another nurse.  She was really hesitant on giving pain medication until I could eat.  Wouldn't give me food until I could pass gas and did not understand that I already had passed gas, hours previously, regardless of how many times or different ways I explained it. 

At midnight, she wanted me to get up and walk, clean myself up and all that good stuff.  I obliged.  I was, however, frustrated that 12 hours post op I had yet to have pain meds, and she did not empty my catheter prior to us walking to the bathroom.  So, I had to carry my IV lines, a heavy bag of urine and waddle to the restroom.  Once there, she realized she had forgotten the things I needed, and had waited too long to check my bleeding so there was a mess everywhere, I was tired and just about to cry.  Eventually, everything and everyone was clean and I got 5 mg of Norco to hold me off until morning. 

At this point, I was so upset with my nurse.  There was a strong communication issue.  She did not want to give me pain meds until I could eat.  I couldn't eat until I could pass gas and she didn't understand me when I repeatedly told her I had passed gas plenty of times (classy, I know.)  She didn't seem to understand me when I answered questions, and in pain and out of breath, I didn't want to answer everything 2-3 times.  Or, she would ask questions that either didn't make sense or were not necessary.  An example was when she asked if this was my third cesarean.  I said yes.  She asked if it was my first baby.  I said no.  She asked how many of what we had.  I explained that we had 3 girls now and a son that passed away to SIDS.  She responded that she knew that from my chart while she chuckled.  I didn't want to chit chat anymore.

Charlotte nursed a lot through the night.  She would nurse at least 1/2 hour every hour.  When she wasn't nursing, she loved skin to skin and she would tolerate being in her bassinet for 10-15 minutes.  By 3, I was pretty darn tired and asked for a pacifier.  The nurse insisted it would harm our breastfeeding attempts, I assured her I wasn't concerned.  Charlotte loved the pacifier.  She slept for nearly 3 hours.  I slept inbetween vitals being checked, labs being drawn and housekeeping cleaning the room.

Thursday morning, my doctor came in and thought everything was healing nicely.  Charlotte's doctor came in and thought she was looking good, but noticed a heart murmur.  He wanted an echocardiogram to be on the safe side.  A couple of hours later, the nursery nurse came in to take Charlotte to do a couple of tests on her blood pressure and oxygen levels.  She was returned in about 1/2 hour and doing well. 

Most of the day was spent trying to walk, battling pain, taking a shower, visiting and nursing the baby.  By about 2:30, she was taken in for her echo.  Instead of taking the normal hour, it took two because the machine stopped working halfway through.

Thursday night went pretty good.  I napped in between feedings.  I slept for about a half hour while she was in the nursery for her well baby check.  We had the same night nurse.  She came in and said Charlotte had lost 8.4% of her body weight and if she lost more than 10%, there would be problems so we should supplement with formula.  I did not object and requested some.  I knew that otherwise it could mean we stay longer, we go home without her or other complications could arise.

A few hours later, we still hadn't received formula.  So, I asked for it again by calling the nurse.  She asked why and if I wanted to sabotage breastfeeding.  She came into the room.  I explained my reasoning, explained I was not concerned with nipple confusion and cared more about her gaining enough weight to go home.  We received the formula.  She ate some and spit nearly all of it up.  We slept on and off most of the night.  She had a few more really good poops and did give me a good 2 hour stretch around 4 which was really appreciated. 

At around 7:30, my nurse came in.  She asked if we would be ready to go home tomorrow.  I told her, I was and would even be happy to go home today.  She said ok, she'd talk to my doctor.  But, I beat her to the punch.  When my doctor came in, I told him I'd really like to go home.  He did an exam and felt confident I would have the same level of care at home.  He wrote orders that if the baby was discharged today, I could be too, or I could be discharged tomorrow if the baby would be ready then.  I just had to return to his office on Monday to have my staples removed.

When the baby's doctor came in an hour later, we went over the cardio results.  They found 3 "tiny" holes in different chambers of her heart.  But, both himself and the cardiologist feel they are benign.  He said if we agreed to return for a weight check tomorrow (Saturday) and Monday, we could go home today.  We would be following up throughout the year with the cardiologist and repeating the echo when she's a little older.

By 11:05, we were in the car on the way home.  I was discharged a little over 48 hours from when we first arrived to deliver and about 46 hours after delivery.

Being at home has been way more comfortable and I am absolutely looking forward to catching up on my sleep.  Starting now.  :)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Tragedy in the World * Labor Pains

It goes without saying that the events that took place today are beyond heart wrenching.  A young man made the choice to pick up guns and use them as a terrorist would.  He opened fire against those that worked every day to make our community a better place and innocent young children.  He selfishly took the lives of more than 2 dozen before taking his own life.  And we may never know why.

What we do know is he was obviously a sick individual.  We know that he was a complete and total monster.  I believe that he should absolutely rot in hell.  He should not be remembered as anything other than a complete and total piece of scum.

Innocent lives were lost.  Little ones will have Christmas presents under the tree they will never open, lists that never went to Santa and Elves that will never be found.  Little kids are going to miss their best friends.  Lives are forever changed.

This is not a time to discuss gun control.  This is not a time to react on emotions and assume that if all guns were off the street these things wouldn't happen.  And this is not a time to make up facts about gun rights.  These are things I feel very strongly about and I find it disgusting that people utilize tragedies to push their own personal agendas.

Some of the things I have read on facebook have disgusted me to the point I've had to "hide" people.  Really, I think it's best to just avoid facebook for a few days. 

My thoughts, my prayers, my good wishes are with those affected by this tragedy.  I pray for their peace, I hope for their healing and I wish for nothing more than for those poor little ones to reach a point of happiness in life, despite this tragedy.


At 2:30 this morning, I was up.  Cramping.  Having to use the restroom non-stop.  I was up every hour.  It was miserable.  At 5:30, I took a bath.  Followed by some tylenol.  It helped a little bit.  By 11, I was having some contractions.  Nothing too timeable.  Just irritating.  The cramping though was horrible.

At 3:00, I started having some sharp cervical pains.  Enough for me to cry out in pain just about every time it happened.  I told Dusty I wanted to go to the hospital.  My mom picked up Kaitlyn from school and Samantha from our house and Dusty took me to L&D.  Shortly before we left, I lost my mucous plug and the pain increased.  We got to L&D by 4:30.  I was on the monitors.  Contractions were showing up on the monitor, going off the charts every 5 minutes.  The nurse checked me, my amniotic sac was in place, and I was dilated to one.  I left my urine sample and it was decided that I would be monitored until 6:30 and checked again.

Well, the nurse got busy, by 7:00, I was checked again.  Still at a 1.  With a pretty bad urinary tract infection.  The thought is that perhaps the contractions are being caused by a UTI.  So, we're starting antibiotics with the hopes to get to Tuesday.  They are really not a fan of doing cesareans before 39 weeks, so that's where we need to get.

I must say, I think if you're going to have a cesarean and face that recovery, you shouldn't be forced to have labor too!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This time next Wednesday

We will be holding a sweet princess in our arms.  Not just any princess, our third princess.  A teeny tiny baby with 10 little fingers and 10 chubby toes.  She'll look up at us, snuggle into us and will know that we are her parents.

I had my 38 week appointment today.  My last OB appointment.  It was the last time I have to step on the scale and wonder where it will stop.  I gained an even 42 lbs overall this time around.  My blood pressure was good (which is amazing considering that I had both Kaitlyn and Samantha with me and they were setting bad examples for each other left and right and had me doing my best to keep my patience), my urine dip was clean, and my cervix is still in the back.  Because it was in the back, we didn't check for dilation.  Why risk irritating it and getting labor started when we don't need to.

We discussed the surgery.  I was hoping that I could be discharged a little under 72 hours instead of anything more.  Looks like that probably will not happen.  I feel very fortunate to have such a great relationship with my doctor.  I also feel very confident in knowing that he will take my care seriously.  And I am beyond glad that we can have honest discussions about my care.

Because of my increase in blood clots this time around, I ended up staying on baby aspirin longer than I did with Samantha.  I stopped it with her at 36 weeks and had my cesarean at 39w3d.  This time around, I stopped it yesterday, at exactly 38 weeks with surgery scheduled at 39w1d.  It is also looking increasingly likely that I will be on heparin after surgery to control any clotting as well as compression stockings.  And while surgery is on Wednesday, I'll likely stay until Sunday.  Boo.  Boo to that indeed.

To be honest, I'm not nervous at all about surgery, not nervous about how time will pass (I know it will be far too quickly), or recovery.  I'm nervous about having a newborn in the house.  For obvious reasons.  I have a great doctor, great support and despite losing a son whom we love so much, I know that we are incredibly blessed.

Soon, we'll be sharing Charlotte's first portrait.  I cannot wait to see what and who she looks like.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

38 weeks pregnant


Another week has passed and we are a completely normal (well, just about), full term, pregnant family.

I'm ready to go.  I'm beyond ready to go.  If I went to my appointment tomorrow and my doctor asked me if I wanted to go ahead and deliver right then, drug free, I would probably say yes.  As long as there was enough time for Dusty to get there.

I'm sore, I'm tired and I'm ready to see who she looks like.  I'm ready to see if Samantha "gets" it.  I'm ready to see what our routine will be like.  I'm ready to find out if she really is a lot bigger than her sisters were.  I had a dream last night that she had blue eyes.  Like, really, really, really blue eyes.  Bluer than Kaitlyn's.  It could have had a lot to do with watching Breaking Bad before bed and hearing a cashier describe one of the character's eye color...

But, we're on the 8 day countdown and I have no doubts that next Wednesday is going to be here before I know it.  Considering I haven't done much shopping or wrapping since last week, I really need to get to it.  I just really need to find time to go by myself, it's getting harder and harder to get Samantha in and out of the car, in and out of baskets and then entertain her while I try to even look at my list.  I end up exhausted and giving up an hour and 1-2 stores in.  I need a marathon shopping day!

Tomorrow I have my last doctor's appointment.  Tonight I take my last baby aspirin.  We are at the end.

This week, I've managed to get the girls pictures done, our Christmas cards finished and all ordered and sent.  Kaitlyn only took 3 pictures before she said she was done.  1 her eyes were closed and 1 she was being goofy and said that I had to never share it because it would ruin her life.  But, for the first time ever, Samantha was super excited about having her pictures taken.  That NEVER happens.  So, I took advantage of it.  It actually makes me want to drag the lights in and do her 2 year pictures that I haven't done yet...  But, I haven't...

 It's amazing what the promise of a candy cane can bring...

We're still doing Elf on a Shelf.  Kaitlyn goes back and forth still between believing and not believing.  When Samantha notices it, she giggles, but she doesn't really seem too interested.

As the photo suggests, some days I have more enthusiasm than others.  So far, the elf has read stories to Boots and Swipper, has dangled from Kaitlyn's Christmas chain and left a special North Pole Apple (it was a Fuji, but Kaitlyn swears it tastes like snow and candy canes), taken a nap in our glitter garland in the living room, hidden in the cherry candy canes, used snow to write on the bathroom window, left Kaitlyn a letter while bathing in marshmallows (which Kaitlyn snuck way too many of), dangled from the ceiling fan in the playroom after bringing back candy canes he made himself, hidden in the garland in the kitchen and finally wrote out a message in chocolate chips on the dining room table.  

So, we've managed to both stay busy and relax.  Since this is our last weekend before we had in a newborn, we have nothing planned.  I'm hoping it stays that way, I am exhausted!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

37 weeks - Full Term

This is what full term looks like.  On me at least.

I agree with the new train of thought that 38 weeks should be considered full term, and all babies deserve to get to 39 weeks.

That does not mean that I am not going to celebrate this amazing milestone.  I am just about a normal pregnant lady now.  It's about darned time!

Today, there are 2 weeks left until delivery date.  I have only one more prenatal appointment.  I will be having my third full term baby.  How awesome is that?  And terrifying.  I have absolutely no idea how time has gone by so fast or how I am going to accomplish everything I need to in the next 2 weeks.  And of course, there is the possibility she can tell me that she disagrees with the day we've scheduled and wants to be born sooner than that.  Which , I wouldn't really complain about.  ;)

I had my 37 week ultrasound this morning (at 37w1d) and my weight gain is at 38 lbs.  Not too shabby.  Let's see how long before I'm back to normal.

My exam showed that my cervix is still long, closed and baby's head is not engaged.  But, my contractions are on the stronger side and were fairly consistent, even in the office.  Since they are only every 12-15 minutes apart, it's possible it's the very early stages of labor, or it's just an irritated uterus that has been down this road before.  Either way, if I go into labor before the 19th, my doctor is ready to deliver.

I'm getting pretty uncomfortable.  I have cramping just about every day.  My thighs and pretty much from my neck down is super sore all the time.  I'm exhausted, but not tired.  If that makes sense.

We're almost ready for Christmas.  I need to get one more thing for Charlotte from Santa (I decided that there really isn't much you can get a one week old from Santa, especially when she has 2 older sisters, so I am doing a basket of baby necessities, pacis, new bath stuff and so on), a few things for Kaitlyn, a few things for Dusty and then just 6 more gifts and I'm done.

Despite Samantha's best effort for us to not have any presents wrapped, I've now re-rapped most of them at least once.  Instead of making the mistake of putting them under the tree, they are now boxed up until Christmas Eve.

My bag is packed, I even made Charlotte a gown for the hospital with a matching garland to put around the bassinet in the hospital:

I have the bag for the girls packed.  I have my tubal paperwork with me at all times.  I'm hoping that I can get Christmas cards out by Friday, and shopping finished up next week.  Then, all we have to do is have a baby!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Elf on a Shelf

This year, I'll be honest, it doesn't feel that much like Christmas time yet.  Even though the house is all decorated, the Christmas lights are up outside and shopping is a little over half done.  I told Dusty I think it has a lot to do with preparing for Charlotte's arrival.

But, with only 3 weeks left until my due date, and only 16 days left until my delivery date, and the knowledge that I could easily go sooner than that, I'm tired, sore and feel like a gross, waddling penguin most days with no desire to put on anything other than sweats 10 times too big.  My feet hurt, I'm swollen, I have heartburn and I just cannot battle the mall and craft fairs and so on right now.  I feel terrible for it, but I just do not have the physical energy.

To make up for it, I plan on doing twice as much next year (yeah, we'll see how that goes with a 1, 3 and 9 year old...) and introducing Elf on a Shelf to our family.  I figure it would be Christmas magic I could add without leaving the house and walking excessively.

Originally, I planned on bringing the elf in the day after Thanksgiving.  That's when we usually do our Christmas decorating.  But, Thanksgiving was so early this year, and Dusty thinks it's ridiculous to decorate before December.  So, I opted to wait it out a little.  We would decorate on Saturday the first and the Elf could arrive on the 2nd.  Sure, not a traditional day, but oh well.  It works for our family.

I had a long list scheduled of what the elf would do each morning.  It included a lot of cool photo ops and factored in the fact that it had to be left higher than Samantha can reach.

Yeah, what I didn't count on would be the fact that for the last several nights, I'm still fighting to get Samantha to sleep at midnight, even when naps are skipped and she is sufficiently tired.  She just hates to actually go to sleep.  I also didn't factor in the fact that she would take such an interest in ripping open the presents under the tree, or that Kaitlyn would be feeling so dramatic the last few days or how much decorating would wear me out.  Who would have thought that putting 90% of the ornaments on the tree before realizing you put on the wrong lights and having to then weave out those lights and put up the new ones, in addition to decorating the other "main" rooms of the house would be so freaking exhausting.

Luckily, I had already typed out the letter a few days in advance, the elf had already been delivered and all I had to do the first night was stick it in the tree, put out the letter, some paper, the book and some new jammies and I could go to bed.

This is day 1:

Our letter:

Which reads:

Dear Kaitlyn and Samantha,

Every year, I pick some of my favorite, although sometimes naughty elves to spend the holiday season with  different families.  These elves are just learning about Christmas and really need your help.  They help me by  keeping really good notes about your behavior, and you help them by teaching them about the magic of Christmas time.  You also help by setting good examples of how we should behave all year long.

Since the elves I send do not know a lot about people or about Christmas, they are not always that great about staying safe. I really need both of you to help me keep this little elf safe and sound!  One way to keep the elf safe is to make sure you never, ever even think about touching the elf.  Touching him will cause him to lose some of his magic and then he will not be able to fly around every night to make his reports about how you are doing.  This would make your elf very sad indeed.  Elves are very shy  little creatures  when he knows you’re awake.   His voice is so soft and he is just a young one at almost 475 years old!  Can you believe his birthday is December 10th? He will not talk to you, but he may leave
you notes if you make him feel at home enough.

I decided to send Jinx the elf down to be a part of your family.  I chose Jinx for a few very special reasons.  I’ve watched you both all year and have had so much fun watching the both of you grow and go on so many adventures.  Jinx loves reading and being read to.  His favorite foods are marshmallows and apples.  He really likes the Bubble Guppies and is known to get into some tight spaces in order to make sure he can see everything.

On Christmas Eve, Jinx will come back home with me after I leave your home.  If Jinx has a really good time, he  might be able to come back next year!  I can’t wait to see you both at the end of the month and to meet your new baby sister!  I sent down a book all about Jinx and some new pajamas for each of you!  I  hope you remember to mind your manners,keep your rooms clean and be nice to your mommy, daddy, each other and all of your family and friends so Jinx has a good report to give back!  I can’t wait to get your Christmas letters!  I sent some of my special stationary down with Jinx so you can get started on those letters!  Merry Christmas girls!

Our Elf this morning:

Kaitlyn has enjoyed looking for him.  But, she says she only believes it about 50%.  She says it just doesn't make any sense.  She wants to know why it doesn't blink, why it doesn't move throughout the day, and how it can go an entire day without eating.

I am probably going to have him write a letter saying he's embarassed but sleeps with his eyes open, like Kaitlyn and Samantha both do, he's nocturnal, as most elves are and see how that helps.  Samantha does not care at all about him.  Which, I figured.  Samantha did write all over the letter Kaitlyn started to Santa, which led to her bawling and explaining she was taking Samantha's paper so now Samantha can't write a letter.  Which means I'm going to print out more paper.

Kaitlyn is also having a hard time understanding why Santa cannot make Monster High Dolls.  I explained they are trademarked and Santa has building elves and shopping elves.  The shopping elves buy the things they aren't allowed to make.  This all started because she wants a particular Monster High Doll.  A doll that normally goes for $20 (which, I already think is excessive) that is hard to find anywhere (regardless of Target's website and App saying it's in stock, the store clerk saying they have it in their hands and getting there to discover they are lying bastards who do not care that your belly is ginormous and the last thing you want to do is drive to every one, get a 2 year old in and out of her car seat only to discover they do not have it) and therefore selling online for $100-200.  Um, no thanks.  This Santa is not spending that much on a doll.  A doll she may not even care about in 6 months.

So, here's hoping Samantha goes to sleep at a decent hour tonight so I can get caught up on my sleep and get the energy to do something a little more creative...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

36 weeks

Yesterday, I hit 36 weeks.  Up until Monday, it felt like time was going pretty quickly and I was handling it all pretty good.

On Monday, it all started to change.  By 3:30, my hips and thighs were hurting so bad.  All I wanted to do was take a bath.  With scorching hot water.  As soon as Dusty got home, that was what I went and did.  There was no way I could get the water hot enough.  And while it felt great when I was in there, as soon as I got out the pain was back.  Ugh.  All I wanted to do was try to go to sleep. 

Samantha didn't like that idea.  She didn't want to sleep in her bed.  On Sunday, I converted the crib back to the newborn settings and basically explained to Samantha that was she a big girl now and she was going to sleep in her big girl bed like a big girl.  At first, she seemed really excited about it.  Every once in a while, she would throw a fit about it.  Sunday, we skipped the nap for the day.  Which meant that she fell asleep on her way home from Sunday dinner at my parent's house, I was able to get her in the toddler bed by 8:30 and she stayed there until 8 am.

Monday, we skipped the nap again, hoping it would make it even easier to fall asleep that night.  I was wrong.  I ended up laying down with her so she would finally fall asleep around 11:30.  I was exhausted.  I was in pain.  I wanted to sleep.  She stayed asleep until Kaitlyn woke her up slamming the door at 9.

Tuesday was Dusty's birthday!  Happy Birthday!  (And my dad's!)  Samantha did take a nap around 3:30 and stayed asleep until 5:30.  I had to wake her up, it took about an hour to get her to wake up.

Around 3:30 on Tuesday, the pain was back.  Worse almost?  Tylenol was not touching the pain.  I could easily time contractions, but they were not consistent.  They went from every 20 minutes, to every 3.5 minutes to every 10 minutes to every 4.  I just wanted another bath.  Which, is what I did as soon as I got home.  Again, it couldn't get hot enough, it wouldn't stop the pain.  And now, add some cramps in.  And Samantha didn't want to go to sleep.  Eventually, she at least laid down and resting.

Most mornings, I feel pretty good.  If it wasn't for the belly and the urge to pee, it would be easy to pretend I wasn't pregnant.

This morning was not a good morning.  I woke up with cramping and pain.  I wanted a bath.  I started with tylenol, which didn't help.  A hot shower hasn't helped and what kept me going was the countdown to my appointment this morning.  Then, the doctor's office called and rescheduled for this afternoon since he was stuck in surgery.  Ugh. 

The only place that I feel any relief in pain is sitting on "my" end of our reclining couch.  And the relief is minimal at best.

As I was getting ready to leave for my appointment, it was rescheduled again.  One of the drawbacks about having a surgeon for an OB is the fact that there are times he's stuck in surgery.  Of course, the positives are an awesome scar and a lot of faith in knowing that there isn't anyone better to perform my surgery.

So, tomorrow, we will go in and see how 36 weeks is treating my body!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving! (A day late) - And 23 days of gratitude

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by the love and warmth of family, friends and a feast fit for royalty.

My goal was to wake up at 6:45, start the macaroni and cheese, get the dough for the rolls rising and make some fudge.  Then, shower, dress, get the girls ready and be in the car with all of our stuff by 10.  Seems easy right?  Unless you wake up tired, want to sleep and put off starting anything until 7:30. 

We left the house by 11:15 or so and arrived at my sisters at 11:45.  There, we celebrated Thanksgiving with my parents, my sisters, their husbands, my sister's step-son, my brother, his long time girlfriend and our little family.  There was WAY too much food.  Like, we could have all had 3-4 plates and still had left overs.  I'm glad that for the first time ever I didn't double the mac and cheese.

We ate, we joked, we talked, we planned, we took pictures, the girls ran around like crazy and eventually we had to leave.  Everything was beautiful, perfect and delicious.

Next, we headed to Dusty's parents house where we we joined his parents, his sister, husband, our niece, his aunt, uncle and uncle's mother.  Even though we were about to burst at the seams from all the food we'd already enjoyed, the food was too good to pass up.  I'm sure any weight I had lost has been gained back and then some.

The girls all got to facetime with their cousins in Alabama that they miss so much.  Kaitlyn and Camaryn played, fought and played some more.  Samantha played, got into markers and then decided she could not keep her eyes open for even a moment more and eventually fell asleep while the adults laughed, joked and went through Black Friday ads.  It was a great end to a great day.

When we got home, I was so exhausted that I could barely keep my eyes open.  The only thing that could have perfected the day would have been to have a certain "should be 5 year old" there with us, irritating the girls and sticking his fingers in the mashed potatoes.  Matthew is missed beyond what simple words could possibly explain.

I am grateful and thankful that we have all of that.  We have strong families on both sides.  We have been able to give our daughter's normalcy even when nothing feels normal.  We are preparing for the arrival of our 4th baby.  We have been blessed with three children, who have all been born crying, who nursed, who were hugged and kissed.  We continue to be blessed with two living children who laugh and play and giggle and scream.  I am incredibly thankful for our life and those that are in it.   I am grateful for the lack of drama in our lives, the peace within our families and the ability to have good times with those that surround us.

Normally, the day after Thanksgiving is a busy one in our house.  I love me some Black Friday shopping.  I also love spending the day after Thanksgiving  decorating for Christmas.  Having a fake tree makes that so easy.

This year is different.  I have been battling an evil cold, I'm 35 weeks and 3 days pregnant.  I'm tired. 

On Tuesday, I finished packing my labor bag (minus the cameras), I moved around the car seats to make room for Charlotte.  I washed all of the rest of the baby stuff and put it all away.

Today, instead of doing what we normally do, we decided to shake it up.  I did a little bit of Black Friday shopping, all online.  Which, actually worked out great.  I was able to get the same deals that are in the stores, minus the lines, the crazies, using gas and standing in line.  Then, I used ebates and saved way more than I would have if I went into the stores.  Yay for that!

I kicked Samantha out of her crib turned toddler bed last night and she slept the night in the toddler bed.  Today, I turned the crib back into a crib and raised it for a newborn.  I added the bumper and crib skirt back (don't worry, we don't even use the crib much until after 9 months), and started to put back together the mobile.  There is a piece of the mobile missing.  I need to look for a replacement part to screw it to the crib.

I cooked breakfast.  I cleaned and organized more. 

We've decided that this year, we're going to wait until the 1st of December to decorate for Christmas.  I see no need to rush the Christmas season upon us.  :)  My plan is to decorate on Saturday and then on Sunday we're going to introduce an Elf on the Shelf to the girls for the first year ever. 

I created all the labels for our Christmas Cards and birth announcements.  I have both created and awaiting pictures, and details in regards to the announcements.  I cleaned up my facebook friends list.  I've made sure Kaitlyn finally finished the last of her thank you cards.  I've rested.  I've listened to Kaitlyn whine because I haven't taken her anywhere yet today.

But, it's been a good day.  A good week.  A good Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Day 21 of gratitude

Today I am thankful for school holidays.  Granted, if I worked outside of the house, I would probably not be as grateful for as long as some of them are, or as frequent, but since I do have the privilege of not working outside the home, I love it.

Last week, Kaitlyn went to school Tuesday and Wednesday.  She was off Monday, Thursday, Friday and all of this week for one reason or another. 

Originally, I had grand plans.  We would go to John's Incredible Pizza, we would go to the mall and wander around, we would go to the park and do some 2 and 8 year old pictures, we would meet up with friends, we would just stay busy.  Well.  That simply just did not happen.  While I feel good for the most part, I also feel exhausted.  And I'm grateful that she is just as content hanging out at home with Samantha and I.

Monday of last week, I had finally finished cleaning up everything from Samantha's party, taken Samantha to her check up and came home by 11.  We had some lunch and later that afternoon headed to Dusty's parents (Nana and Papa's) for dinner.  Tuesday and Wednesday were school.  Thursday I needed to catch up on rest, Samantha's doctor appointment the day before totally wiped me out.  Friday, we had Kaitlyn's parent teacher conference (which went fantastically), and to do all the shopping and prepping for Kaitlyn's party the following day.  Saturday was the party, Sunday the girls all went home and I needed time to recover.  Monday, I was still recovering.  And cleaning.  I promised Kaitlyn I would take her shopping with her birthday money if she had her room cleaned by noon.  It was finally finished by 4, and we compromised and just went to Target.  Tuesday, we spent the day at home.  Today, I will run errands and she will go to the movies with Grandma.  Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and Friday is Black Friday.  Kaitlyn really wants to go shopping for Black Friday.  We will see.  On Monday, she'll be back at school.

And she will be missed.  She is so independent and Samantha just absolutely adores her 85% of the time. 

Fortunately for us, she will only have 4 weeks of school before she is off for another 2 weeks.  Then, another week off in February.  Nearly 2 weeks off in March, and their last day of school is May 31st.  When I put it like that, it feels like summer break is right around the corner...  And I am thankful.  I enjoy having her home with us.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

35 and 35

Today is one of the cool math days in pregnancy.

It's when I hit 35 weeks pregnant with 35 days to go until my due date. Kinda neat how that works out.

There are 29 days left until her scheduled delivery date. I need to get things ready to pack my bag. I need to set up the swing and bassinet. I need to finish Christmas shopping.

Today is the first Tuesday in nearly 5 months where I do not have to get a shot. I go in tomorrow for a 35 week appointment.

35 weeks is a huge deal to me. Our basic goals in this pregnancy were: healthy baby, reach viability, reach 90% survival rate, avoid NICU time, hit term. And that's it. At 35 weeks, most babies, especially girls, go home with mommy and avoid NICU time. The only goal left on our list is full term! 38 -39 weeks is ideal to me. And 38 weeks is only 3 weeks away!

Despite the worsening heartburn, the tummy aches, the sore back and hips and thighs, the swelling and utter exhaustion, I feel good. We've gotten through the birthday parties, Thanksgiving is right around the corner and Christmas shopping is halfway done.

29 days until Charlotte comes into the world...

Day 20 of gratitude

Today, I am grateful for our puppies.

Archie turned 9 in September. In October of 2003, I decided Dusty and I needed a puppy. He wasn't so sure we needed the responsibility. I thought, what are you talking about? It will be soooo easy.

I researched breeds and we decided a beagle would be great! I found someone selling them somewhat locally selling them. They bred their female dog before having her fixed. I told Dusty we would just look at him, wouldn't decide anything. But, if you can turn down a teeny, tiny, beagle puppy, you have a heart stronger than mine!

We brought Archie home on October 20th. At work, 3 days later, I had an accident at work and really hurt my knee. I was off work, not supposed to walk a lot, going to physical therapy and an orthopedic surgeon.

In March, we found out we were having Kaitlyn. Kaitlyn was born that November. Archie was one and spoiled rotten. He was curious and not exactly thrilled to have a baby in the house. Quickly, they became fast friends.

Archie had a lot of health problems as a puppy and young dog. He is accident prone, he can open medication bottles and eats them. He can get into medicine cabinets and high shelfs. His stomach has been pumped twice. He has chronic pancreatitis. He is allergic to chicken, beef and grains. Any "fat" in his diet and he vomits all night. He sunburns easily. He thinks he is starving. He is overweight. He is prone to ear and eye infections. We love him. He is our baby.

Given his health history, I understood Dusty's hesitation in 2009 when Kaitlyn asked for a puppy for Christmas. And by hesitation I mean nearly flat out refusal. The "what are you even thinking" look was given many times. And, rightfully so. I tend to make decisions more emotion based while Dusty is much more reasonable.

In 2009 I had 3 miscarriages. Kaitlyn was constantly asking for another sibling. Matthew had been gone for 2 years. Christmas has been such a hard time for me since he died. Because it was such a hard time, I tried to overcompensate with getting her everything she asked for and going way overboard for the other kids in our family. This is something I still struggle with. But, it makes me feel better, and what's wrong with that.

A couple days after Christmas, Dusty's uncle brought up this puppy he couldn't keep. Chico weighed under 5 lbs, soaking weight and fully clothed. He was a chihuahua pit bull mix. Oh my gosh he had the biggest ears and his head was so big for his body his feet when straight in the air when he ate. I was in love. Dusty thought I was crazy. His uncle was on Kaitlyn's side. We brought Chico home that night. Archie had started to age and I thought, what could keep him younger and better than a puppy?

Archie was not thrilled. Overtime, they have become great friends. Chico is far less cute and far more odd looking. The vet suggested braces for his severe underbite. But, he eats just fine and it would just be cosmetic. He wasn't as easy to train as Archie. He weighs about 12 pounds now and has never needed an emergency vet.

Both are work. Both are a huge responsibility. Both drive me insane at least once a day. Both have brought so much joy and happiness into our lives when it was needed. And they have taught our girls so much.

And I have learned to listen to Dusty a little more... Which is why they are our only pets.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Day 19 of gratitude and one month countdown

Today, I am thankful for the sunny days that follow rainy days.

I used to hate the rain. I hated the cold. I hated the gray skies. But, now I have found so much beauty in them. Gray skies and wet days make it easier to cuddle up under some blankets, watch some movies, eat some soup, drink some coco and force yourself to be lazy. There isn't any crazy running around. No insane errands to run and it's totally ok to wear sweats two sizes too big.

The best part is how much it makes me appreciate those sunny days even more. The rainbows, how much more green the grass is and the ease of running errands and getting rid of energy without getting wet.

I'm so grateful that our weather has been so mild (and finally cooled off) that I welcome both the sunny days and storms.


One month from today, by this time, we will be in our car driving o the hospital to have our last little girl. Unless she decides to come sooner.

Considering that in that month we still have Dusty's birthday, my dad's birthday, Thanksgiving and holiday festivities, I have a feeling time is going to fly by.

Samantha hasn't been sleeping at night. On Friday, she battled some pretty severe constipation, which I gave her a laxative for. Which helped her out quite a bit. But, it led to a tummy ache. Which led to not wanting to sleep. During the day, she had a very slight fever, but I attributed it to the flu vaccine on Monday and the belly issues. Saturday, she had a slight cough that got worse through the night and led to only sleeping if being held. That was the night of Kaitlyn's sleepover, so it also led to an early morning. As Sunday progressed so did the cough and the obvious "yuckiness" she was feeling. Last night was more "I will sleep for three hours, then, I have to be held feelings. So, she has been preparing me for the sleepiness nights we're headed towards.

We still have soooo much to do. I need Dusty to bring in the swing, bassinet and huge tub with the last of the baby stuff. All of it needs to be washed and put away. Car seats need to be shifted and installed. My goal is to have all of that ready by the end of the month. Dusty thinks we should wait until the first to decorate for Christmas. Considering I will probably not feel like putting it all away the day after Christmas like normal, it makes sense to wait so I don't get sick of it all.

One month to go.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Day 18 of gratitude

Today I am grateful for vacuum cleaners.  And as much hardwood floor as we do.  It makes clean-up so much easier.  Which makes me so much more rested.  Which makes for a much happier household.  I could not imagine having to pick up popcorn kernel by kernel, or nerds, nerd by nerd off of either floor surface.

I am even more thankful that Kaitlyn is skilled at operating a vacuum (and sometimes a broom) and works cheap. 

Day 17 of gratitude

On day 17, I am grateful for good friends, good family and good times.

We celebrated Kaitlyn's birthday on her birthday for the 17th of November.  It was a rainy day and still we had a house full of friends, family and rowdy little girls ready to par-tay!

I'm so thankful that we're able to give her the experiences, the celebrations, the fun and the memories.  I'm so thankful we're able to make her birthdays so special and make them exactly what she asks for.

Kaitlyn had a great birthday.  She is just beaming from side to side about every aspect of it.  For that, I am grateful.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Day 16 of gratitude

Today, I am incredibly grateful for the "village" surrounding us.

We live in the middle of both sets of families.  30 minutes in any direction and our kids are surrounded by grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.  I feel so fortunate to be able to give them the gift of family.  The bonds they are able to create will benefit them for the rest of their lives.  They have such a strong support system, a loving foundation with relationships that they will always hold on to.  For me, it is one of the most important things we can and do give our children. 

After the most recent election, if it wasn't for the close proximity to family, I would have absolutely no problem moving out of California.  The taxes are ridiculous, the cost of living is sky high and the traffic is getting more and more annoying each day.  I'm sure we can find the same beauty anywhere else in the country for a lot less, but we would leave these people behind.  And I could never do that.  I could not imagine taking away Sunday dinners with grandma and grandpa (and several aunts and uncles) or weekly dinners with nana and papa (with aunts, uncles and cousins).  It is beyond worth the payoff.

I also believe that because we have so many family members so close, it helps both girls create important relationships with family far away.  They get to hear stories about far away relatives and get so super excited about visiting with them.  And obviously, going back to yesterday's gratitude, facebook helps a lot with that too.

Near or far, I think I speak for the entire family when I say how grateful and thankful I am to have such amazing family surrounding, supporting and encouraging the health and well being of our little ones.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Day 15 of gratitude

I seriously have no idea how we're already 15 days deep into this month.  I had to check my blog list to be sure that I did the previous 14 days, for some reason, it feels like I've just slept through them or something.

Today, I am grateful for the internet.  It makes it so much easier to research anything I can possibly think of in seconds.  I have the ability to have a question about whether something is normal and get a pretty decent idea in a matter of moments.

The internet makes it far easier to stay connected to friends and family.  Be it through websites, facebook, emails or just storing photos to share.

I love that if there is a book or an article that I really want to read, I can download it to my iPad and read it whenever I want.  I love that when I'm stuck in the pick up line at Kaitlyn's school and Samantha is asleep, I can be easily entertained. 

I am incredibly thankful that we have the technology available to have advanced past dial-up, that nearly everyone we know and love is easily accessible, and I love to see how much it has grown, even in the past few years.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Pediatric GI

Samantha had her pediatric GI appointment this morning.

I was super stressed out.  She didn't sleep at all this morning, so I was less than eager about getting out of bed and showering.  Kaitlyn didn't want to wake up and I was trying to wait until the last possible moment to get Samantha dressed since I knew she had no desire to wake up and get out of bed, I mean, off the floor.

When I was still running on time, Kaitlyn hit a glass off the counter and it shattered.  Well.  That was fun.  Then, I was still arriving to the location 10 minutes before her appointment, and discovered that I parked in the wrong parking garage and had a 1/4 mile walk to get to the right office.  Samantha was asleep and I didn't bother using a stroller because I wanted her to wake up.  I was so sore.  And tired.  And ready to throw in the towel.  We got there about 8 minutes late.  We were seen 15 minutes after getting there, when I was on page 6 of 8 on the questionnaire.

We met with a really great nurse and then the Nurse Practitioner that we were scheduled with.  I totally understand that NPs can be just as amazing as doctor's.  And she has been in this particular type of medicine longer than I've been alive.  But, if I'm waiting 3+ months for an appointment, why not make it for the doctor?

Anywho, we went over all the same stuff.  Her diet.  They wanted to know her average diet for a week.  Down to ounces of each food she ate.  Well, had I of known that, I would have kept a list.  But, since I didn't, I guessed.  I mean, does anyone know the exact quantity of food their child eats on a daily basis going back a week?  If so, please tell me how you do it!

She has three possible explanations.  The first is she is just plain stubborn and is holding it because in her mind, it hurts to poo.  This is the explanation that I think makes the most sense. 

Possibility number 2 is that she has a protein allergy.  Possible, but I haven't noticed any difference when I omit dairy or meat for weeks at a time.  So, in my mind, I find it unlikely.

Possibility number 3 is she is experiencing a pre-cursor to Crohn's disease.  But, she doesn't have any other symptoms to indicate that as a possibility.  So, I think that was just a silly thing to throw out there that really shouldn't have been.  It served no purpose.

Rather than doing any testing at all to discover if either of those options are actual possibilities, she wants to increase the stool softener and add in a laxative for a few weeks.  We'll see how it goes.

Day 14 of gratitude

I am so incredibly grateful for the great school Kaitlyn attends.  In a perfect world, she would go to a private school, but there isn't one all that close to us.  And it seems silly to drive 20+ minutes each way, twice a day to take her to school when there is a good public school near us.

Finding Kaitlyn's school was not easy.  Before she started school, I really wanted her to have what I had.  I went to the same elementary school, then the same middle school and the same high school.  The only time I switched schools was to graduate to the next level.  I really didn't want her hopping from school to school.

We loved her kindergarten school.  Her teacher was great, I loved how close it was, her principal was amazing and the school size was fantastic.  It was just really perfect.  Then, the school lost a lot of funding and was one of the schools in our district closed. 

We debated a lot about what school to send her to.  I was tempted to send her to school "O", but I had to get permission from the school she was assigned to, "DC."  After talking to the principal to get permission, he convinced us that the small school size and teaching abilities would be a good fit for us.  Her first grade teacher was awesome.  Dusty said she reminded him of an aunt that had previously passed away.  Kaitlyn loved her and she learned SOO much.  First grade was great.

But, we had some issues with the school.  Little things that I didn't like.  The support staff was not very supportive of the families, school communication to parents was really poor and there was a lot of disorganization.  We talked a lot to the principal about all of our concerns.  We assumed that a lot of our concerns were "growing" pains from staff and students being mixed together from the closed schools and the already established school. 

Second grade started and I was so disappointed.  Kaitlyn finished her work quickly and spent a lot of time with her head on the desk, the teacher's solution for bored kids.  By back to school night, about three weeks in, their spelling words included the words "I" and "and."  Kaitlyn was bored out of her mind.  I was frustrated like crazy and I approached the teacher about it.  She had no idea when the class would be finished with "review" words and moving on to second grade material.  She said she wanted to keep the year as easy as possible for the kids because third grade is so hard.  I argued that it may be a better idea to make a priority of the year to properly prepare the kids...

Needless to say, we started looking a lot at other schools.  I didn't want to waste another week there.  All of the schools were full.  None had room for a second grader, so I began researching home school options.  I knew I could do a better job with her education than what was happening with the school.  I mean, if all she was going to do was review two letter words and have her head on the desk in between 1+1 type math problems, I could so do that.  In less time.  And not have to drive her all the way over there and battle the parking situation.

Luckily, the last school I talked to had an amazing secretary.  I told her I was so close to home schooling, we could not handle the school anymore and it made me so sad to see how bored she was going to school.  She made room for Kaitlyn at their school.  With a teacher that was amazing.  Kaitlyn still goes and talks to her at recess.  She said she was a lot like Kaitlyn in school.  She wanted to help, but she also wanted time by herself to read when she was done with her work.  She helped the other students, she helped younger kids and she absolutely excelled.  She earned two medals this year because of her work last year.  And she loved every second of it. 

This year, she is thriving again.  Her second grade teacher made sure that she had the kids she worked the best with in her class and put her in a class where the teacher is really good at helping kids work at their level.  So, Kaitlyn gets enough free time when she's done with her work to work on higher level learning.

She goes to one of the best schools in the area.  Out of 5500 elementary schools, hers is 2000, moving up 500 spaces since last year, and I have no doubt that it will continue to move up. 

I am incredibly thankful that she is able to get such a great education so close.


Kaitlyn has always been an easy sleeper.  She slept in our room until about 7 months and then we transitioned her into her own room and own crib.  It took less than a week for her to learn to fall asleep by herself.  Since then, she's been a solid sleeper.  Even today, she loves sleep and if she's tired, she'll go to bed.

Samantha has never been a good sleeper.  This is likely my fault.  Since she was little I checked on her breathing constantly.  Like, every 2 minutes around the clock constantly.  I watched her breathing, if she held her breath for too long I would touch her to ensure she was breathing ok.  She hates going to sleep.  I can put her in her crib now at 9 and she would stay awake, just laying there screaming, or reading a book, or playing with her toes until well after midnight.  When it's time to wake up, she cries to go back to bed.  She pleads with you.  She just absolutely hates going to sleep.

A few months ago, we bought Samantha a toddler bed.  We set it up her in her room so she could get used to the idea and to try and make the transition easy.  I figured there was no point in rushing a transition.  I wouldn't use the crib with Charlotte until she was at least 6 months old anyhow.  Samantha has never tried to climb out of the bed, not even when she would scream and fight to get out.  We literally still had bumpers on the crib until 2 weeks ago. 

Samantha's crib has a drawer under it.  Yesterday, she decided to try and climb into her crib.  She used her toys and the drawer to try and climb up and in.  The drawer snapped under the weight or acrobats of what she was doing and she screamed bloody murder that she had a boo boo on her foot.  I found the teeniest, tiniest scratch, gave her some purple juice (low calorie Gatorade, she loves the stuff) and she was running and playing and trying it again a few minutes later.

So, I took the side off.  It's a transitional crib, so without the side, it's a toddler bed.  I told her again and again this was like a big girl bed now.  My plan was to let her sleep without the side on it for a week and then move all of her stuff into the toddler bed, and situate the crib for baby.  Then, she would think she was too big for it.  I really did think this would work.  She was just so excited about the bed, and kept asking to take a nap and cuddling under her blankets with her pillow.

Then bedtime happened.

All she did for the first hour was cry.  I tried giving her milk.  I tried finding Kaitlyn's old Dora blanket for her to snuggle with.  I refused to go in her room and she would keep going back to the bed and just crying hysterically.  Every 15 minutes, she would be at the door.  I was staying up to finish washing laundry (which was not bright after staying up the night before to watch Mississippi Burning, and getting only 5-6 hours of sleep), but I was so tired.

Normally, I would be totally fine with letting her cry and soothing herself.  I know that she is fine, I know that she feels love, and I know that she knows that crying gets attention.  But, Kaitlyn has school today and their rooms share a wall.  It just simply isn't fair to her.

At 10, I figured, I would just lay down on the floor next to her.  This seemed to slow down the crying.  She would go 15-20 minutes between crying and the outbursts were much shorter.  On a few occasions she was almost asleep then would almost wake up just to be ornery and cry.  By 12:30 am, I couldn't lay on her floor anymore.  My back hurt.  My head hurt.  My body was tired and I desperately needed sleep.  I kissed her and went into my room.  By the time I was out of her room she was too tired to cry.  And likely, too tired to sleep.

She fussed on and off through the night though.  Not really waking up, just mad, in her sleep.  I checked on her when I got out of the shower at 6 and she was fast asleep, bottom in the air, on the floor, between two perfectly good toddler beds.

Oh my I am going to need a nap today!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Day 13 of gratitude - 34 weeks

Since this is the week of a thousand appointments all over the Sacramento area, I am grateful for reliable transportation.  It may not be the newest, the sportiest, or the prettiest thing on the block, but, it gets me to point A to point B.  And easily.  And without a massive, or any, car payment, with all of us fitting in one car.  And that is truly a blessing some days. I am incredibly thankful that we do not have to rely on public transportation or walk everywhere.  I seriously do not have any idea how people in cities where driving isn't really done do it.  I would go insane having to rely on a schedule of when I can get to from one place to another!

This week, Samantha had her 2 year check-up yesterday, I had my 34 week and LAST p17 injection today, Samantha has her Pediatric GI appointment tomorrow, Thursday is our free day (so I should spend it cleaning and party prepping!), Friday is parent/teacher conference for Kaitlyn and then Saturday is her birthday and party!

Today we hit 34 weeks!  A huge milestone.  I am done with getting p17 injections and I thought I would be done with weekly appointments, at least until I hit 36 weeks.  But, I was wrong.  I get to return next week for my Group B Strep test.  We had originally thought I would go in at 36 weeks to have the test done since I've never tested positive before.  But, I had a couple of contractions while I was there.  And, the last few nights I've had a couple of hours a night with steady contractions for 2-3 hours at a time.  They don't do anything, they don't get stronger and I did the same thing with Samantha, so it doesn't worry me.  Charlotte is also really low.  And since I have a history of preterm labor and delivery, he's worried I'll deliver earlier than my scheduled date, so I get to go back next week. 

My symptoms are pretty much the same.  Heartburn is horrific and every time I think it can't get any worse, it does.  I'm to the point where I almost dread eating.  A few times last week, I woke up in the middle of the night to get sick because of the reflux.  It's awful.  And she's already super low, so I cannot imagine her "dropping" is going to correct anything.  I am urinating more, which is to be expected when a 5-6 lb baby is doing handstands on your bladder all day.  From across a room you can now see my belly shift and feet poke out.  I much prefer that to when they decide to wedge in my ribs.  Dusty says to tickle them to move them out of the way.  But, I don't think she's ticklish, I think she's stubborn because it simply does not work.  I've gained a total of 39 lbs.  Not awful.  My blood pressure is perfect, my uterine growth is perfect and everything else is textbook.

Next week I am going to bring the rest of the baby stuff in from the storage room and start washing it.  It isn't much, the swing, the bassinet, some more burp cloths and swaddle blankets.  I took the side off the crib today once Samantha hurt herself trying to climb in.  She's never tried to climb out.  My goal is to give her a week with the side off to get used to it and then transition her into the big girl bed.  Once she's in the toddler bed, I'm raising the crib back up and getting it baby ready again.  And, I'll wash everything to pack in my "labor" bag. 

Only 36 more days until delivery!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Day 12 of gratitude - And Samantha's 2 year check-up

Today I am grateful that our children have such an amazing pediatrician.  He is patient, caring, gentle, flexible and really makes both girls feel comfortable.  I would recommend him to anyone I know.  Instead of just following how he thinks things should be, he's open to hearing other ideas, new trends in parenting and research them.  If you have a problem, he will give some suggestions, and if he thinks of more through the day, he will call with them.  I just cannot say enough good things about this doctor.

I am incredibly thankful that we have him as part of our "village" when it comes to our children.

Today, Samantha was super grumpy for her 2 year check up.  She hasn't slept well the last few nights since her birthday.  At all.  She typically stays asleep pretty good when she gets there, it's just a matter of not wanting to get there.  Then, in the morning, she has absolutely no desire to wake up.  This, has not been fun.

She started off the morning in a pretty good mood.  She had her blankie, new book and was excited to see the fishies at the doctor's office.

She was great for the nurse who took her vitals, height, weight and everything, but by the time the doctor came in, she was frustrated with toys, mad at the book selection, irritated with not being at home and just throwing one fit after another.

Fun times I tell you.  I was only grateful that Kaitlyn could stay home with Dusty, having her "help" when Samantha is in this kind of a mood is plain exhausting.

Samantha has gained some weight.  Woo-Hoo!  She's up to 25 lbs, which brings her to the 27%.  Considering she was under 25% when she was last weighed, I'll take it.  :)  She's tall.  Standing at a 35.75" she comes in at 91%.  So, she's our tall and skinny little one.  Her head is up to 49 cm, 86% larger than other girls her age.  She did not like having that measured and told the nurse she hurt her and gave her a boo-boo. 

Her health overall was good.  We have her assessment with the Pediatric GI on Wednesday, and we will finally, hopefully, get some answers about her bowels.  Her speech is advanced for her age.  She easily speaks several hundred words, puts them in 3-4 word sentences, knows all of her colors, numbers and letters.  She can count when she wants to and the only two things she cannot do that she should be able to do is: Eat well with a spoon or fork and answer what her name is.  She can eat with a spoon or a fork, but it would be quite a stretch to say she does it well.  And if you ask her what her name is, she will likely just look at you.

We ended it with the flu vaccine.  Ideally, we wanted to give her the nasal spray.  But anytime the nurse tried to get her to sniff, to practice, she threw a screaming fit, covered her face and yelled.  So, she got a shot.  Which caused a lot of kicking, screaming and tears.

Here is hoping she sleeps better tonight and is a tad less grumpy for her tired mommy tomorrow!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Day 11 of gratitude

Today I am grateful for the freedoms we have as American's.  The freedoms that I know we all take for granted far too often on each and every day.

I am particularly grateful on this day for those that have put their lives at risk so that we may maintain those freedoms. 

I am thankful to the families that live their day to day lives not knowing if their loved one is ok.  The children whose mother or father are gone for extended periods of time.  The families that move from state to state as duty calls and all the sacrifices they make so that we may have the freedoms we have.

The gratitude I have for those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for us to enjoy the lifestyles that we enjoy.

The bravery of the men and women that serve this country amazes me each and every day.  I hope and pray not only for their safety, but for strength and peace to their loved ones as well.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Samantha's 2nd, Very Hungry Caterpillar Birthday

Last year, we combined Kaitlyn and Samantha's party.  It made so much more sense at the time.  But, it also seemed unfair to make them share a theme each and every year.  So, this year I decided to let them have their own parties.  Since Samantha's birthday fell on a Friday and Kaitlyn's on a Saturday, I figured they could have them on their birthday "days."

At 2, Samantha has a short attention span.  It may be the last time I get a say in party themes, so I went with her favorite book as inspiration, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar."  It fits her perfectly.  Kaitlyn is having a Monster High (shocker) themed sleepover. 

Being that I'm closing in on 34 weeks pregnant, gigantic (in my opinion), and exhausted, I had to cut back the normal parties we do.  If we were to invite everyone we want, like we normally do, we have to have it outdoors.  Our house simply isn't big enough.  Last year, I was stressed leading up to the morning of the party because of the chance of rain.  Darn those November birthdays!  I really did not want to add anything to my stress level this year, so we decided to limit each party to 15 invitations, only what we could fit inside, mostly family, and for Kaitlyn's allow her to invite 5 additional girl friends to spend the night.  While we really wanted to invite all of our favorite people, we had to stick to family and the close friends we see on a regular basis.  Or build another room onto the house, which Dusty would not go for.

I started yesterday really confident that I could easily get everything done in time.  I was way ahead of schedule as I started the day, and the day started off well.

Of course, Kaitlyn was determined to try my patience, Samantha refused to take a nap, I misjudged how long it would take to pour brownie mix into cupcakes, and despite my best efforts and staying on my feet for 6+ hours prepping, I didn't quite finish everything I wanted to.  I didn't clean any additional chairs to bring in the house, I didn't get the coloring pages printed, I didn't change my clothes or do my hair and I didn't have everything out by my goal time of 5:45. Overall though, I think it went well.  While I didn't get nearly close to all the pictures I wanted, there was a ton of laughing, giggling, balloon fighting and a shy/happy/grumpy little girl to celebrate!  Next year, we may go back to same day and same time, different themes and hiring a photographer.  Only time will tell.

Now on to the pictures!

Samantha's invitation:

The main food table, off to the side, I had stuff for salad and sandwiches:

The awesome cake my sister made:

And one of the birthday girl with her cake:

I wish I would have gotten one of her blowing it out, this was the best I got, she's just too fast!

She's just too fast and anti-camera these days!