September 26, 2014

The Knowing: On Being a Second Time Mom

Have you ever seen The Day After Tomorrow? That's what becoming a mother for the first time felt like to me, a tornado wrapped up in a monsoon inside of a hurricane. It was kind of like the Turduken of weather battering my mind and my heart.
It's so completely overwhelming your first time. You think you are prepared, after all the books you've read you could not be anything other than prepared, right? And all at once this tiny human explodes into the universe and rocks your world, in a way you realize instantly you could never be prepared for. The tiredness creeps in and you think to yourself, "I never knew it would be like this. Will I ever shower again? Will I ever eat a hot meal/poop or pee in peace/get more than two hours of consecutive sleep/sleep late/have sex with my husband/move off this couch again?" You start thinking of all the things that you'll do when the baby is older. Every first and milestone is anticipated. The baby slept through the night! The baby rolled over! The baby is eating every four hours instead of every damn minute!
Until one day you look over and that tiny newborn that you've never actually noticed growing is blowing out the candle on her first birthday cake and you think back to this day one year ago when everything shattered, got knocked down, rearranged and put back together in not quite the same way. You think back and wonder where did 365 days go? And you wish with every fiber of your being that you could have that newborn back just for an instant, to remember how her head smelled and how her body melted into yours when you rocked her to sleep in the middle of the night.
Then one day you have your second child and more gently than the first she changes your world. Motherhood is not new to you, sleepless nights are less of a shock, the double edged sword of confusion and love is dulled slightly and you know.
You know that tiny toes grow into stinky toddler feet. You know that the baby will, in fact, sleep through the night one day. You know that you will not always feel confined to the house, afraid to leave lest your bundle of poop and joy squall at the top of her lungs in the middle of the cereal aisle in Kroger. You know that the newborn sleeping peacefully on your chest will eventually roll her eyes at you and say, "whatever, mom". You know of the succession of baby crap that slowly makes its way into the attic. First go the newborn clothes, then the bumbo seat, followed by the 0-3 month clothes and the baby bathtub until one day it's all gone and your baby is sleeping in a full sized bed. You know the ache that follows the pride when your child crawls for the first time, walks and talks for the first time.
The knowing causes you to savor your second child more than your first, love more, surely not, but savor, oh yes. You'll hold her longer because you know how short that time is. You won't worry about rocking your child to sleep because you know that has no bearing on her ability to sleep. You refuse beat yourself up over how you choose to feed your baby and how other people view it because you know it really doesn't matter. You won't love being up for midnight feedings, but they won't be as bad because you know how you creep into your babies' rooms to stare at them in their quiet sleep once they start sleeping all night. And even though it baffles you completely you know that you will want these overwhelmingly hard days back. You know, the same way the blue haired lady knew when she stopped you to tell you the day your baby was squalling in the middle of the cereal aisle in Kroger.
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September 19, 2014

New Directions

I stopped blogging for awhile. A long while.
Truth be told I was overwhelmed.
I was overwhelmed by all the crazy things going on in my life. Selling our first home, building a new house, new baby on the way, moving so many times, closing on the new house being pushed back, worrying about how Evie would adjust to a new home and a new baby, the list was endless.
Honestly, I didn't really have time to stop and think about what I wanted to be doing here.
Then came the baby and the inevitable crashing calm after a veritable storm of life events and with it the ability to really miss what I was doing here and to think about where I wanted to go with my tiny little piece of the interwebs. I knew I was not ready to give it up, after all I've been cultivating it for four years, but I also knew the direction I was heading in before was not the direction I wanted to go in.
Truth be told, I never aspired to be a review blogger. I don't want to debate (internally or externally) whether or not I'm selling myself short by doing a review of a product but not requiring to be paid. I want to be able to write about my family and share them with others and maybe pick up a few friends along the way. I've made some of my closest friends since I started up shop here, beautiful bright women who've picked me up and held me close when I needed it. Most of all I want to be able to look back and remember the times my daughters were funny, the times I questioned my sanity and the times I felt like I might burst from love of a man and the two girls we made together. Maybe I might occasionally throw in a recipe for that weeknight chicken that was toddler and husband approved. I might even help a friend launch a new business or do a review or giveaway here and there, but most of all I want this place to be what I started it out to be.
So I'm going a new direction, or rather I'm going an old direction starting from a different place. Welcome to Vol Family Life, the newest chapter in our story.
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September 17, 2014

Emma's Birth Story

Well, I suppose since she's almost ten weeks old I should write the story of my second child's birth. Sorry, sweet Emma you've already got second child syndrome.

I was worried that, among other things, Emma wouldn't have a birth story. She would have a birth, of course, but I worried about the story part. Evie's birth was dramatic, unexpected and in the end a little bit traumatizing. It was still a story though and completely entirely hers. As it turns out I needn't have worried as every baby's birth is a story, and more importantly just the beginning of a life long tale.

I was was scheduled for a repeat c-section on July 10th, 2014 at 12:00pm. The days leading up to the birth were busy as we unpacked our house, settled Evie in her new big girl room and built a fence. It was hectic and messy, but in the quiet times I'd sit and anxiously wonder about the child who was about to alter the course of our family forever. He or she would make me a mother again and Chris a father. A big sister would be born the moment our new baby entered the world and her life would be forever changed.

It was these thoughts I took to bed with me on July 9th. Luckily my OB prescribed me Lunesta to deal with severe restless legs so I was able to fall asleep. I woke up around 3:30 am and ate a chicken biscuit and chugged a huge glass of water since I knew it would be at least twelve more hours until I was able to eat or drink again. Thankfully, the Lunesta helped me fall back asleep and stay that way until my alarm went off. As soon as I woke up contractions started coming very fast. I knew enough of managing labor pain to be able to handle the contractions while Chris and I got showered and finished packing for the three of us. We loaded up the car and hit the road for Chris' parents house. Leaving Evie there with them was really hard for me. I knew her world was about to be rocked.

We arrived at Methodist Germantown a few minutes early and got checked in. Labor and Delivery were very busy that day and I there were at least two other women there waiting for either triage or an induction. I was worried that we would be sent home since I had no experience with a scheduled c-section or induction. Apparently though when an OR is reserved there's no turning back. I was quickly taken to triage and once I was changed into my gown the nurses got me hooked up to the contraction monitors (aka torture belts), inserted my IV and started fluids and a bag of antibiotics. The baby was super low though so I kept having to get out of bed to pee and at one point I thought my water broke. Eventually the nurses let me ditch the monitors because I could only manage the contractions sitting straight up and they would not stay on in that position.

My nurse asked if I had any special requests for the birth. I told her that the only thing I wanted was for the baby to not be taken from me unless it was an emergent situation. Then the anesthesiologist and the CRNA came and met with me. After they explained the spinal block to me I asked for something for anxiety as soon as the baby was born. I think at that point all of the stress from building our house, moving three times, trying to get the house unpacked and worrying about Evie was too much for me. I was also super stressed about the c-section. After 46 hours of labor with Evie I didn't have time to process what was happening before the surgery happened. It was just we need to get this baby out, immediately, and there was no time for anything else.

Dr. Martin came in and spoke briefly with Chris and me and after that things started to move quickly. Like last time, Chris was given his surgical get up and I was given a hair net. I was wheeled into the OR which was super bright white and very cold. At this point I started freaking out a little. Chris wasn't allowed into the OR until after they started surgery which meant the spinal and everything leading up to the incision had to be done without his support. Luckily my nurse was amazing. She and the anesthesiologist held my hand the entire time the CRNA inserted the spinal. After the spinal block was given they laid me down and the CRNA stayed right by my head until Chris came. He said he was my coach and that we would get through this together. True to his word he talked me through every aspect of the surgery, even after Chris got to come in the OR. He was a Godsend.

It felt like an eternity, but it wasn't long until Dr. Martin was telling me the baby's head was out. Seconds later I heard my baby scream and felt the world split. I immediately began to cry happy tears as the screams meant two things to me: healthy baby and no NICU. As Dr. Martin held the baby up Chris stood up to see if we had a boy or a girl. When he said "IT'S A GIRL!"  I started to cry even more. It was such a joyous moment. I'll never forget it.

After a few minutes a nurse brought my beautiful swaddled baby girl for me to meet. She held her down for me to kiss and then handed her to Chris. At this point I was given two different medications to relieve my anxiety. Dr. Martin came to my head and told me my baby was beautiful and congratulations. I spent the rest of the time in the OR staring dreamily at my new baby girl.

After the surgery was complete I was wheeled into recovery. After a brief discussion we decided our new little one would be named Emma Ann, and Chris went to the waiting room to tell our parents we had another beautiful baby girl. It was at this point we learned that in the past thirty minutes the staff delivered SEVEN (SEVEN!!!) babies. There were five vaginal deliveries and one other c-section. Normally you stay in recovery for an hour after a c-section and are allowed no visitors. Due to the high volume of babies though it would be hours before we were given a room in post-partum. After about thirty minutes the nurses said Chris could go get Evie to see me and meet her baby sister.

Evie was a little nervous and mostly wanted to be held by her Daddy. She did climb in bed with me briefly so I could hug my firstborn and she could get a look at her new little sister. Once Evie had some time with us and Emma our parents and my brother came in to meet their new granddaughter/niece. It was clear they were just as in love with Emma as they were with Evie.

The rest of that day is mostly a haze. The drugs are good, but they also make you very sleepy! I sent Chris home that night to get a good night's sleep and after kissing her nose about a million times I drifted to sleep with my sweet Emma's face in my mind.

That my friends is the story of how my Emma came into the world. Less dramatic than her sister, but just as life changing.
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