Monday, April 28, 2008

Highs and Lows

This week has gone by so quickly. Actually, every day since Melora's birth has gone by quickly. She's already a month old, and I feel as though I've only had her for a week. I'm still captivated by everything she does, her daddy is still hopelessly wrapped around her tiny slender finger, and we're still trying to figure out how to go grocery shopping with two kids. Any hints out there?

Last week was the first week alone with my kids during the day while Michael was at work. By Friday, I felt as though I had a large part of being a mother-of-two under control. At least under control enough not to be curled up in a ball, shaking and sweating on my living room rug. Both of my children survived a whole week without my mom or mother-in-law living with me to take care of them, and the pile of dishes is no taller than I am. Since I'm not particularly tall, I consider that a pretty successful week. I was worried before Melora was born because I just couldn't imagine how I would take care Isaiah's needs, Melora's needs, and my own needs all at the same time. Somehow during that fearful pregnancy time, I forgot that Isaiah is a really capable, easygoing two-year-old, and my husband is superman. Honestly, Michael has been amazing at helping me take care of household chores (including laundry, which is the chore I despise) as well as being a jungle-gym for Isaiah and a giant teddy-bear for Melora every night.

So, with that good week under my belt, I was feeling rather confidant and cocky, and I maaaay have developed a know-it-all-mom-swagger. I guess it was time for a downfall...enter the ear infection (and change the music to a minor key.) Isaiah was up all Monday night holding his head and telling me his ear hurt. We finally got some Motrin into him and he fell asleep around 7 in the morning. My poor baby. It doesn't matter how big he is compared to Melora, how well he enunciates his sentences, how hard he can kick a ball, or how independent he has become - Isaiah will always be my little baby. Tuesday was another rough day because he was lethargic and sad all day long, but he woke up the morning after a fresh, happy little boy again. We played inside and outside, and I just took the time to enjoy my Isaiah again. Melora has also had a stuffy nose the past few days, so Monday night was doubly tough because she didn't get to sleep until late, and at one point in the middle of the night, I had my sniffly little girl under one arm and my crying little boy under the other. Hopefully we've gotten through the tough part of the week and can now move onto the fun part. Needless to say, though, my house is pretty disheveled, as is my hair. That's alright, though, because my living room can be picked up in a flash, and my babies needed me.

Isaiah is still an adoring big brother, and it's fun to let him help us with the baby. He likes to open her new diapers for us when we're changing her, and he also likes to sweep the kitchen floor with the Swiffer. Sometimes he even likes to dump out a giant Costco container of 14,000 animal crackers onto the couch for me. (Oh well - at least he has a sweet heart, and two out of three really isn't bad.) For her part, Melora is extremely tolerant of her big brother, and as far as I can tell, a little fascinated by him. He comes up close to her face and almost kisses her but erupts into a fit of giggles instead and dances away, and she just stares at him with her giant, beautiful eyes. Although he really does love Melora and hasn't acted jealous, I can tell he really appreciates time focused on just him. It doesn't even matter what we do; as long as Michael or I (or both of us, every once in a while) are paying attention to him and only him, he's giddy. I'm trying to make sure I set aside some time every day to put Melora in her hammock and focus on Isaiah. It's so tempting to take that time instead and quickly vacuum or empty the dishwasher, but whenever I choose to pour extra love on Isaiah, it's so obvious I made the right choice.

Today he was sitting on the floor with no pants and his legs sticking out in front of him, and he began squeezing the skin on his knees.
"I'm angry - it's a angry face," he said to one of his squishy knees.
"It's angry too," he said to his other knee as he squeezed it.
I finally realized he thought the lines on his knees looked like an angry face. Oh Isaiah - how much I enjoy you every single day!

Monday, April 21, 2008

I get by with a little help from my friends

The past three weeks have been absolutely amazing. Melora is sweet and beautiful, and I've thoroughly enjoyed the mommy-privilege of cuddling with her for hours on end. Her skin feels like it's made of rose petals, and her hair feels like down. I can't help but stroke her cheeks and tiny fingers any time she's within reach or rub my face against her head whenever I hold her. I love to just stare at her when she nurses and marvel at her miniature, perfect ears or her impossibly small wrists. I had forgotten just how beautiful little baby sighs are - so breathy and light. When I hold her against me and she snuggles her little body into the crook of my arm and lets out a contented murmur, I feel like the best mom in the world.

She's such a mellow baby, which really surprised me. Isaiah was very easy too, and I thought my penance for having such an easy little boy would be a colicky baby the second time around. After all, I was very colicky as a baby, and everyone knows that what goes around comes around. Melora has actually managed to out-easy Isaiah, though, at least in these first three weeks. Isaiah nursed every hour for the first two months of his life, so I was prepared to again nurse for a half hour, rest for a half hour around the clock. Melora is content to eat every three to four hours, though, and then sleep peacefully or stare at the world quietly in between. I was pretty worried that she wasn't getting enough milk and that when I took her in to see the doctor, I would get yelled at for starving my baby. When I expressed my concern to the nurse practitioner, she assured me that most babies only eat every three or four hours, and Melora had already gained seven ounces since leaving the hospital, so I had nothing to fear.

She had already grown enough that I can see a major difference in her size. She fits into her newborn outfits perfectly when only two weeks ago she was so little her hands didn't reach the end of her sleeves. She has also begun to spend longer periods of time awake and interested in the world around her. Her facial expressions are so cute; she looks rather mystified as she stares at people with her big eyes and her mouth shaped into a little "O." I understand that for parents who have babies that wake several times during the night or cry for long stretches of time, it's a blessing that this newborn phase only lasts a few months, but for myself I wish it would go a little more slowly. I look at how quickly Isaiah has grown into a fun little boy, and I realize that I just don't have long to enjoy Melora as the small newborn she is. Luckily, I know from Isaiah that every day is more fun than the one before, and I have so much to look forward to.

Isaiah is still enjoying his new big brother status. He hasn't shown any signs of jealousy yet, which is wonderful, but then again he has been getting more attention than usual. Up until today, I have had someone else here to help me with the kids every single day. Michael's parents stayed with Isaiah while we were in the hospital as well as three days afterwards to help out and enjoy their grandkids. Then Michael was home for the rest of the week with me, and after that my mom was here for two weeks. As far as Isaiah's concerned, it has just been one giant party. He truly is a gracious little boy, though, and instead of wanting me to put down Melora if I have been holding her for a long period of time, he shows concern for her when she's not in my arms. He shares his toys with her, gives her soft blankets, and continues to speak for her, telling us in his high, squeaky baby voice "I want some milk," and "I burped, excuse me."

On the other hand, I miss being able to give Isaiah the time we had before. Two weeks ago in the evening, I was feeling as though I hadn't really spent any time with him for the entire day. Isaiah had happily played with Grandpa and Daddy, but I really missed my little boy. So Michael took Melora to bed and Isaiah and I stayed up late dancing and tickling. It's sweet to be me.

*Melora at one week old and Isaiah helping me blow out the candles on the birthday cake my mom baked me!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Melora's Birth

If you read the post "Bathtub of Horrors," you will recall that Saturday night we had company and then a gross experience where Isaiah pooped in the tub followed by Michael puking in the tub. Ah, what classy lives we lead. Anyway, Michael cleaned all the bodily refuse out of the tub and got it sweet and sparkling for me, and then he began to fill it while I ran upstairs to blog about the hilarious night. I was still having contractions, as I had been having all day, but I was convinced that they were only practice ones and that a warm bath would make them stop as usual. Unfortunately, after filling up the tub for Isaiah's bath, then draining it and using hot water to clean the tub for several minutes, we were out of hot water. So I sank down into a rather cool bath, and Michael again came to the rescue by boiling water on the stove to try to warm up the temperature. By that point, it was a rather hopeless cause, and since my contractions were getting stronger instead of weaker, we decided we should just try to go to bed and get some rest in case it really was the night.

We tried to sleep for a while and then timed contractions when it was obvious I couldn't sleep through them, and at 1:30 in the morning we decided to call our doula, Katie, and Michael's brother, James to watch Isaiah. We arrived at the emergency room at 2:30 and I was wheeled up to the maternity ward. The contractions were so mild and manageable compared to the pitocin-induced ones I had experienced with Isaiah, I wasn't even entirely convinced I was really in labor. I was really worried they were going to laugh at me for being so silly and send me home, but instead they saw I was dilated to 4 cm and admitted me right away. I desperately wanted a warm bath, so as soon as possible, I got into the tub and stayed there for about an hour before I decided to get out because my contractions were slowing down. I was so tired after a sleepless night, but I wasn't able to sleep because my contractions were coming every few minutes, so after several hours of walking, resting, rocking, and showering to try and get things going, I finally decided I needed an epidural to help me get some sleep.

The anesthesiologist came in for my epidural, and started loudly cracking one-liners and talking obnoxiously mostly to himself. When he put the tube in, I felt a powerful jolt of pain run down my spine through my hips and began to hear a ringing sensation in my ears as the room darkened and my head spun. I told him that I heard ringing in my ears, and he asked me if that was normal for me (as if I walked around all the time with ringing in my ears,) and then he wanted to know why I hadn't told him sooner. If I hadn't been woozy and semi-paralyzed I may have kicked him. I was pretty sure my doula was moments away from doing it herself. My blood pressure had dropped to 60/45 and I needed a shot of epinephrine to get it back up, which worked immediately. Luckily Michael, who has quite an aversion to needles, had stepped out of the room so we were both still conscious through the rest of the labor.

Once the epidural kicked in and I was reasonably certain Katie wasn't going to hunt downn the anesthesiologist and throttle him, I was able to sleep for a while, but my contractions slowed once again and I stalled at 7cm for about four hours until we decided I needed some pitocin. Within two hours I was ready to push, and I never had to push hard because she was already within an inch of being out into the world. I pushed gently for 25 minutes, and Michael was able to receive her instead of the doctor. He immediately put her onto my stomach, and she cried, and we cried, and we welcomed our precious daughter into the world! Michael said watching Melora come out and being the very first one to touch and hold her was one of the most powerful experiences of his life. The instant I saw her, my fatigue vanished and I fell desperately in love with my little girl.
"Melora, oh my little Melora," I remember saying to her, "I love you so much my baby girl."

I don't think I will ever be able to describe the moment I met my children for the first time. An entire lifetime of love came rushing into me, filling me up and overflowing so I could pour it onto them. Pain is forgotten, and the other people in the room are non-existent; only me, my husband, and my precious baby are there.

We have been enjoying every moment with her, and Isaiah is particularly sweet to watch. He has begun "speaking" on her behalf, using a squeaky high voice to tell us what she wants. He will come over to sleeping Melora with a toy and squeak "I want frog!" before placing the toy frog on her chest. He also squeakily informs us "I need a new diaper," or "I'm cold, need blanket," when he feels it's appropriate. He wants to hold her all the time and loves to rest his head next to hers and give her kisses. He often gets a cute, dopey grin when she's around and giggles for no reason, and it's so sweet to see that he's falling in love with her just as we are.

Watching Isaiah take care of Melora in his own way has added a whole new dimension to my love for him. It reminds me of when I watched Michael become a dad for the first time (and again with Melora) and realizing that his love for his child was the most beautiful thing I never knew about him. Isaiah is an amazing brother, and I am so blessed with both of my healthy, happy children. Thank you, God, for my Isaiah and Melora. I know I have done nothing to deserve the privilege of being a part of their lives, and I am awestruck at the beauty of your spirit I see through them every day.