Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Baby in a Basket Take 2

When Dallas offered to take newborn pictures of Jonah, I jumped at the chance. The only newborn pictures I've attempted with any of my kids was when my friend Leslie and I once crammed one-month-old-not-really-a-newborn-anymore Eli into an undersized basket and convinced ourselves we were skilled photographers:
That picture is what prompted me to blurt out first thing upon arriving at the Golden's house, "Okay, I don't know much about newborn photography, but I do know babies and baskets don't mix."

Dallas then pointed to a basket he had intended to put my new baby into. I was skeptical, but let him do his thing. 
Leave it to the professionals, folks. 

Here are the highlights of the pictures Dallas took for us. I'm kind of obsessed with all of them!

Get to Know Ya Jonah

We've known Jonah for just over a week now and so far all we know about him is he's as sweet as can be!
He sleeps. So that's good.
He frequently interlocks his fingers completely on his own. So that's cute.
He has hair which is my favorite newborn feature.
 That and their tiny toes.
He had a very stinky umbilical cord, but it fell off after only 5 days so we forgave him for that.
He loves the bath and fits oh so perfectly in the bathroom sink.
He's been a dream baby. Hardly cries. Mostly just squeaks if necessary. He's chill. He's happy. He loves being held but doesn't mind not being held. He's nursing great. He's just everything you'd want in a 4th kid! We've loved getting to know him and are eager to learn more about the little guy.

Jeff Gets Mommy Boot Camped

A few days before I had Jonah, Jeff sat me down for a heart to heart. "I'm just really stressed out." He confessed. "What's stressing you out?" I asked. "Well, I'm in the middle of busy season. The new baby is coming any day. The boys' birthdays are coming up." He said the last stresser as if it was the most overwhelming.

"Why are you stressed about the boys' birthdays? I usually do everything for the boys' birthdays. I'm not even stressed about it." I tried to reason with him. 

"I don't know!" He shot back. "It's just a lot going on!"

And then I had Jonah 3 days before Carson's birthday, and all Jeff's stresses were overwhelmingly justified. Without either of our parents to fall back on in the weeks following Jonah's birth, Jeff and I were tasked to pull ourselves together on our own. My top priority was to recover as quickly as possible which meant doing as little as possible for as long as possible. 

Jeff's top priority was to take over the mom jobs to make it easy for me to relax and recover. First task hit him hours after arriving home from the hospital when it was time to put the kids to bed and get the house snazzed up for Carson's birthday the next day. 

As soon as the kids were asleep, Jeff jumped right into action. He got balloons filled up, he hung the birthday sign, and he made sure the presents were all wrapped just so, so everything was ready for the birthday boy first thing in the morning. 
Not only was it Carson's birthday, it was also Easter. Jeff wanted to do an Easter egg hunt for the kids in the morning, so not only did he prepare for birthday festivities, he had a whole Easter party going on. (All while I was peacefully sleeping and recovering and unaware any of this was going on while I was locked up in my room with baby.)
And not only was it Carson's birthday AND Easter, it was also Sunday which meant Jeff was tasked with taking 3 little boys to church all by himself. And not only did he have to take them to church all by himself, Carson had the scripture and Eli had the talk in primary. Jeff got thrown straight into the fire, but handled it all with ease!

When Jonah and I finally emerged, the boys fought over turns holding their new brother. 
 Carson is generally the most trustworthy with Jonah, though this picture may leave you questioning his abilities. He has to hold Jonah as soon as I bring him downstairs every day. While the other boys like to hold Jonah too, they usually only have about 2 minutes worth of baby-holding patience. Carson, on the other hand, will sit and hold Jonah for a good 10-15 minutes before giving him up, oooohhhhing and aaaahhhhhing his teensiness and cuteness all the while.
Eli loves to check in on Jonah throughout the day and always makes sure he's taken care of. He has also started teaching Jonah lessons to help him learn about life. He spent an afternoon finding objects and holding them up to Jonah, explaining how they were the same and how they were different. It's cute to see how each kid bonds with their new little bro.
Lincoln's bonding has come in the form of walking a mile in Jonah's shoes by trying out all his binkies, sitting in his bouncer, and he's even started referring to himself as Jonah. He's having a bit of an identity crisis with a new baby in the house, but he's slowly warming up to the tiny intruder. 
 While Jeff took the boys to church, Jonah and I napped and photo-shooted. I enjoyed a nice, quiet afternoon, especially when I considered the chaos Jeff was dealing with at church.

Jeff came home to report the boys did awesome through sacrament meeting and did their talk and scripture to perfection. He cooked us up a nice Easter/Birthday dinner and then boiled up some eggs so the boys wouldn't miss out on Easter egg dying. 
Then we sang to our 5-year-old who had requested a Minecraft TNT cake for his birthday. In anticipation of potentially having a baby interfere with Carson's birthday, I had already baked the cake and had it in the freezer. I had great plans to get the cake frosted on the Thursday before Carson's birthday...but something else came up that day. Jeff got everything out for me in the morning and I decorated it in a safe, seated position.

Carson is such a fun boy! He's always one to crack a joke and try to make people laugh. He's so clever and energetic. He blows everyone away with his reading. He taught himself how to read by diligently watching Eli work on his homework for the last two years. He loves playing Minecraft with Eli. He loves Legos and trains and tractors and spending half of his life flipped upside down on the couch. He's spunky, he's not one to cave to peer pressure, he just does what he wants no matter what other people are doing. We love having this sweet boy in our family!
Jeff got the kids tucked in bed grateful the great test of his homemaking skills was now behind him, but feeling the need to rest up for a week of packing school lunches, carpool, park trips, nap battles, diaper changes, house cleaning and meal planning that lay ahead of him.

Meanwhile, the only thing that laid ahead of me was this sweet baby and our double naps every afternoon.

Jonah has been my first baby who (at least so far) doesn't appear to have his days and nights mixed up. He has been so good to go right back to sleep when I feed him at night. Between his awesome sleeping and our daily naps, I've felt quite chipper through this recovery. 
 Mandatory morning snuggles.

I feel like I had an unofficial baby shower for Jonah. People have spoiled us with gifts and treats and meals. We've been feeling the love from friends and family who have helped welcome Jonah into our family.

We survived week 1 as a family of 6 thanks to Jeff's dutiful care of all of us. Here's to hoping I can pull it off as well as he did when he returns back to work this week. (Eeek!)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

How to Induce Labor

Ever since we had Lincoln-the-Preemie, I've been so nervous to have another baby because I didn't want to endure the NICU process again, and I no longer trusted my body to hang on to a baby full term. 

From the moment we found out we were pregnant with #4, our prayers were filled with constant requests to keep baby put long enough so that he wouldn't have any complications at birth. 

My midwife knew of my nervousness about having another early baby and I frequently mentioned to her we were trying to keep this baby in until 40 weeks. Then she would wink at me and say things like, "Well, 38 weeks would be alright too." I felt like she was giving me permission to let baby slide a couple weeks early and not have to endure the last miserable weeks of pregnancy. 

With that, making it to 38 weeks became my new goal. As the final month approached, I cautioned my sister to sleep with her phone close. "You still have 3 more weeks!" She'd shout at me in denial, but I was growing anxious in my pregnancy, and intended to take matters into my own hands as soon as week 38 was upon us. 

I was exhausted. I was tired. Everything hurt. I couldn't make it through the day without spending the hours of 3:30 - 6:00 collapsed on the couch with my swollen feet elevated. I spent mornings stocking my freezer with baked goods as a way to expend my anxious energy about when baby would arrive. I was crabby. I felt huge. I was D-O-N-E! 
I spent every evening groaning in bed, reading pregnancy forums of all these other ladies who had successfully made it through the delivery process and were now posting pictures of their newborns, throwing me into fits of jealousy and rage. 

One lady posted a picture of her mowing the lawn with the caption, "Mowing the lawn got me my baby!" Explaining she went into labor the day after she mowed her lawn. 

Once the seed was planted, it couldn't be un-thought. With spring in full bloom, our lawn was ripe for a mow. I was a couple days shy of my 38-week goal, and I found myself with a free, sunny afternoon while Carson was at school and Lincoln was down for his nap. I decided to test the theory that mowing the lawn is an effective way to induce labor. 

I slowly chugged the lawn mower around the yard, heaving with each turn. I huffed as I hoisted the grass clippings into the trash. I kept my head down as cars drove by and undoubtedly stared. I graciously refused the offer from a concerned neighbor to assist with my yard work. I completed the task with stubborn pride, and got mildly scolded from Jeff when he got home from work. 

"Are you TRYING to put yourself into labor?" He questioned. "No." I lied. 
"Do you realize it's still my busy season?" He asked. "Yes." I didn't care.
"HAVE YOU SEEN HOW UNCOMFORTABLE I AM?!?!" I wanted to scream, but I played it cool and innocent. 
"I just wanted to help. I know how busy you've been at work and didn't want you to have to worry about the yard work." And with that I had him fooled.

That night my body hurt everywhere. I was so tired. Even while resting, I was having consistent contractions. Jeff insisted we time them, and for about an hour they were coming every 8 minutes on the dot. I sent a warning text to my sister, but then fell asleep and made it through another pregnant night. 

A couple days later, in another effort to get baby moving, I decided to go walking up the hills. I was slow. I was uncomfortable. Neighbors who saw me make the trek later told me I was visibly miserable. But I was DETERMINED to get this baby out. 

I went to bed without contractions, with my water still intact, and with my I'm-still-pregnant rage growing every day. 

But then it happened. I woke up to a pop. And I knew immediately what it was. I squealed in delight and shouted, "Jeff! Jeff! My water just broke!" I stood up and guuuuuuuuuuuusssshhhhhh. My other water breaks have always been a slow trickle, but this one was much more abundant. I checked the time, 5:00 AM on the nose. Much more reasonable than the 2:00 AM water leaks of my previous offspring. This baby was already being so accommodating. Coming 1 day past my 38-week mark, not completely in the middle of the night, broke my water just how I like. We were off to a great start. 

I called my sister who immediately answered with, "I was having such a good dream." Dream's over. It's go time!

Jeff and I frantically packed things for the hospital, things for the boys, attempted planning carpools and car seat arrangements and snacks and outfits and remembered at the last minute Carson's preschool was celebrating his birthday that day which involved Carson bringing a poster to school all about him. I was planning to finish it up Thursday morning, but I hadn't planned to finish it so early in the morning, in labor, and without Carson like what ended up happening. 
 My sister arrived and we were on our way!
They had barely gotten us settled in the room before the torture began. They gave me NO TIME to psych myself out about the impending needles before I was attacked with an IV. While the IV was being inserted through panicked giggles and squirms, the epidural arrived. It was just the worst. Well everyone else seemed to be enjoying themselves at my expense, but for me THE WORST!
Life was good after everyone left me the heck alone and my legs were nice and numb. I arrived at a 5 and then once everything was in place, we waited. 

I wasn't progressing very quickly, so they ended up giving me some pitocin which really got things going. I was complete at 1:30 which my midwife thanked me for because she had joked with the nurses that it would be great if I could have the baby between 1:30-2:30 because that's when her lunch was. Well we did just that!

I started pushing around 1:30. Baby was out in 5 or so pushes, born at 1:47, and we were all cleaned up and saying our goodbyes to the midwife just before 2:30. See how convenient our little guy is?!?
Jeff and I kept joking that it was the most uneventful eventful day of our lives. Yes we had a baby, but it all went smoothly and without any issue or really anything of note (other than my expected overreaction to all things threatening to attack my veins). It was a dreamy delivery!
Introducing: Jonah Jeffery Excell, 7 pounds, 3 ounces, 21" long. 
 He didn't even cry for the first 2-3 days of life. He just kind of constantly squeaked which everyone was amused by.

Ignore my numb feet in the picture below. Ha. 

Things were looking good for us until we hit a blood sugar issue. About 12 hours after he was born, the nurses tested his blood sugar and it was low. Panic ensued. I heard words like brain damage and formula and IV and YOU HAVE TO FEED HIM NOW! 

Well problem was, I had been trying to feed him for several hours but he would not wake up to eat. No matter what I tried, he was konked out. And then there were problems like if he got too cold his blood sugar would drop lower, so you have to wake him up but keep him warm. And I have to nurse him, but if he's not getting enough milk, he's burning more calories trying to nurse than what he needs to actually get his blood sugar levels normalized. It was this weird balancing act and I had no idea what to do. 

The nurses seemed to think the issue was I didn't know how to breastfeed, so I spent the whole first night with different breastfeeding specialists cycling through my room giving me pointers and tips on how to breastfeed my baby, but we all had the same problem: WE COULDN'T WAKE HIM UP!

It was less a breastfeeding issue and more a my-baby-won't-wake-up-because-he's-so-tired-because-his-blood-sugar-is-low problem but no one was effectively addressing the low blood sugar problem. 
One of the nurses finally decided to take Jonah to see the NICU team for pointers on getting his blood sugar up. They gave him a feeding tube and pumped one feeding's worth of milk straight into his belly. They brought him back to me and he was a different boy!

His eyes were open, he was actually rooting, he began indicating he was actually hungry, and much to all the lactation specialists' surprise, I know how to nurse so long as my baby is capable of waking up long enough to feed. Bleh. It was a frustrating day. 
What magnified the frustration is I was hoping to get discharged from the hospital 24 hours after birth to relieve my sister from some extra hours of babysitting, and to relieve myself from having to attempt to sleep in a hospital bed again, but with the low blood sugar issues, the pediatrician wanted Jonah monitored another night.

Jeff softened the blow of the family being split up for one more night by bringing the boys to the hospital for a visit.

The boys were instantly in love with their new brother.
 Eli was the protective older brother.
 Carson was the adoring older brother.
And Lincoln was the skeptical older brother.
Night 2 in the hospital was much better with baby's levels up and much improvement in the nursing department. I anticipated another full day in the hospital, but Jeff and I were both surprised to see the pediatrician first thing in the morning which led to a speedy morning discharge. Wahoo!
 Jeff got Jonah dressed in his going home outfit.
And all buckled in a we-know-the-straps-aren't-tight-enough-but-couldn't-figure-out-how-to-tighten-them car seat.
 We offered to pick the older boys up from Becky's house on the way home, but she was generous enough to grant us a couple hours of peace at home before throwing us into the fire.
We let Becky hold Jonah for payment for all her hard work watching our boys. 
 The boys were very excited to find "Poppy" was at our house upon their return. They repeatedly fought Becky for turns holding the new baby.

With a sigh of relief, Becky passed the reigns over to Jeff who became Mr. Mom for the next week. Stay tuned to see how he did!