Things I Hate

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Breaking in new shoes – It doesn’t matter what kind of shoe it is, my feet will suffer for the first 10 times I wear them.

Untucked sheets – I despise a rat’s nest pile of sheets and blankets on my bed. In a perfect world, my Mom would drive to my house every night and securely tuck me into bed as tight as possible like she did when I was a child, and I would sleep so, so beautifully. I realize that this is not only impossible but would also be extremely unsettling for everyone involved, so I am only going to ask that the top sheet be tucked in at the bottom of the bed. Not even the side! (I would prefer a nice hospital corner, but I can live without it.) Just the bottom, just to keep it straight, just to keep it from wrapping itself around my legs and getting tangled all over. Just so I don’t wake up freezing with a tiny fraction of my body covered by a corner – A CORNER! A DIAGONAL! – piece of random sheet while the rest is shoved under and around my husband’s trunk and limbs. Is that so hard? Is it? Michael, I am asking you, is that so hard?

Being asked for advice and then the person does the exact opposite of what you advised. 

Snobbiness – Look, you are a human being. I don’t care how beautiful you are, how educated you are or how much money you have. You still eat, breathe, fart and poop. I bet you have picked your nose, and slipped on the ice, and fallen up a flight of stairs. You are not perfectly amazing all of the fucking time. Don’t try to pretend that you are above all of the rest of us “other” human beings. You may be privileged, but that only means that you should be MORE humble, more understanding, more grateful and a lot less assholey.

When people have strong opinions about issues that will never impact them and that they have no experience with.

Baseball on TV – I love going to games, hate watching them at home.

Air travel – Hello anxiety!

Reckless or risky driving – It just isn’t fun for me. Not in any vessel, car, boat, snowmobile… no. I do not want to slide around, spin in circles, jump things. No thank you.

Blind compliance – Ask questions. Research. Look at all sides. Don’t be a sheep.

Obnoxious drunks in public (in private settings I’m far more tolerant.)

Worrying – I am super good at this one. Especially at night, especially about unlikely health situations concerning my kids. Like my latest obsession over dry-drowning. Which brings me to…

The fact that my mind jumps immediately to worst case scenario – I cannot believe that Truman’s slight cough and low grade fever may just be a virus. Instead, I convince myself that he is absolutely dry drowning from his swimming experience 36 hours prior to the onset of symptoms and proceed to stay up all night watching him breathe and furiously Googling the likelihood that this is in fact the case.

Crying when I’m actually angry – I have done this for my whole life and have yet to figure out how to be pissed off without also being really sad.

Racism, sexism, inequality etc. – It all just sucks and if you are part of this problem, please stop.

When adults make fun of or dismiss kids’ feelings – They are brand new to this whole life thing. Can we give them a few years to figure shit out? I mean, I’m 35 and still can’t make heads or tails out of most of my emotions, why would a 5 year old be able to?

Know-it-alls and One uppers – Shut. Up.

Towels mixed with clothes in the washer – My husband can attest to the fact that this sends me into an absolute rage.

The “Pill for Everything” mindset – Medication has it’s place, but not everything calls for meds. Really. I promise.

Mommy War bullshit – Gross. Do you. I’ll do me.

Having to go to the store after you are already home for the night – This is the worst.

Bras – No, this is actually the worst.

Greed – Look, at some point enough should be enough. If you already own 1,000 luxury cars, do you really need 6,000 more? When you think about the fact that 1 Bentley costs around $300,000 which is about 6 times what the average American makes in an entire year, the mere idea of someone having 7,000 of them while people in the world literally die of starvation turns my stomach. Yes, it is your money, yes you can do with it what you want… but just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

People who refuse to apologize – You know you were a dick. Say you’re sorry.

A day of shopping when NOTHING fits – Or it fits but is horribly priced. Or it fits and is on sale but it is the last one and has a hole in it. Or it fits, is inexpensive, in perfect condition and you realize that you forgot all methods of payment at home.

Spilling shit on my shirt – and this happens almost every day.

Car trouble – The. Worst.

Things I Love

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I find that once in awhile it is necessary to write down all of the wonderful little things in life that make us happy. It should go without saying that I love my husband, children and family more than anything in the universe; they are the big loves of my life. But there are a lot of little things that have the power to make my day. Things that bring me joy, satisfaction, give me the warm fuzzies. I want to talk about those things! This is certainly an incomplete list and one that is ever changing, but for today, here a few things that I love.

Big Families – Seriously, if I could afford 8 kids (and had a willing husband) I would have them. I am so intrigued by the inner workings of big families. The relationships, the names, the personalities. Tell me all about it. How is there space? Time? Money? My mom had seven siblings and there are 19 cousins as a result. I love it. So fascinating!

Listening to my sons talk – to me, to each other, to themselves. Their little voices and thoughts on the world are so precious to me.

Watching my sons interact with each other – I am so curious to see what bonds form between them. Whom will be closer to whom, who will butt heads… I seriously can’t wait.

Movies with a ton of characters that all end up crossing paths or impacting each other in some way. (Crash is a favorite because of this very thing!)

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Real encounters with spirits or unexplained happenstances – Please tell me all about the creepy stuff!

Falling asleep in the arms of the person I love.

Cold sheets, cold pillow.

Waking up thinking it is later than it is and then finding out that I have way longer to sleep. (Yeeeesssss)

Road trips.

The ocean: the smell, the sound, the taste, swimming in it, watching the movement.

A really good cookie.

Milk drunk sleepy-smiles of my babies.

Watching my kids meet milestones and grasp a concept – I call it “The Light Bulb Moment” when something just clicks. Suddenly, they go from not being able to do something to doing it with ease.

My husband’s laugh – the honest, uncontrollable one. Makes me laugh along with him every time.

The look in Mike’s eyes when he genuinely admires something or someone.

Having zero balances on all of our bills.

Catching a fish.

Singing around a campfire with my Dad.

Making lists and then crossing things off of the lists. (Love! So satisfying!)

True crime stories – The gory details, back story and motive; just all of it. Recently I was introduced to My Favorite Murder by a friend and I am OBSESSED. I feel like these girls made this podcast just for me. (I know that sounds incredibly narcissistic.)

Birth and all of it’s surprises and intensity – I love everything about it and not only mine, but others’ birth stories as well. It is the most natural yet miraculous occurrence in this world.

Two lines on a pregnancy test –  It doesn’t even have to be mine! It is just so exciting! I think it is because I saw so many negative tests during our trying to conceive years that a positive is still new and unexpected in my mind. I am also a fan of welcome surprise pregnancies. (Unwelcome surprise pregnancies can be traumatic and I feel sad for everyone involved in that case.)

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This is my happiest day.

Blank paper – empty journals, new notebooks, sketch pads

An ink pen that writes smooth, bold, and dark – Pilot G2 0.7 point are my favorite.

Bags – Gift, paper, thick plastic (Love you Aldi!) I can find a ton of uses for a good bag.

The complexities of nature vs. nurture and how childhood shapes adulthood.

Personality tests and types, things that affect personality like trauma, culture, family and birth order. (I am an INFJ – Advocate. Take the test!)

Fresh contact lenses.

Wearing new clothes for the first time.

Looking at a situation from all sides and finding that my initial impression may be wrong.

Sharks and shark attack stories – I know that sounds awful, but God… I love ’em! I don’t want anyone to be eaten or attacked. I am just super interested in why this happens and it is simply thrilling how something so terrifying is lurking just below the surface of the most beautiful place on Earth.

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Thrilling!

When you like everything you bring into the dressing room and have a hard time deciding what to buy. (It’s a good problem to have.)

Piping hot coffee with the perfect cream to coffee ratio.

Being on time (Sadly, I rarely am.)

Soft, sweet baby-fat rolls.

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Seriously. I can’t.

Dressing up – Dresses, jewelry, make-up. Love the process from start to finish. Unfortunately, I do not have much reason to get dressed up often. I may start throwing galas in my living room though. You’re invited if you also live an unglamorous life and have the desire to get fancy with nowhere to go. Text me.

Lounge wear – Leggings and tanks are my life. (I’m all about the extremes in apparel. Give me pjs or give me ball gowns. Jeans are not exciting at all.)

Happy First Birthday Clark!

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Dear Clark James, Clarky Boo-Boo, Clarko, Clarka, Mischko-Bishko, Clarko-Busko-Cutey-Cuesko,

You are 1! I truly cannot believe how fast this year has gone by. It feels like a month ago that I was begging you to get out of my belly and into my arms. From that day on I have lived in awe of you my amazing little son. (How I ever became so blessed to have three perfect sons, I will never know.) As surprised as I was to know you were coming, I also feel like you’ve always been here. Like you have always been part of our family and always existed in my heart. When you joined our family, it was such a natural step in our lives. No one skipped a beat! It felt like welcoming home a missing piece!

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You have brought us such unimaginable joy this year Clark. You are sweet, good natured and funny. You make the best faces and your smile lights up the whole room. Your laughter is infectious, and you find the strangest things funny. Mainly, your big brothers! Truman and Grant love you so very much. They love to dote on you, they try anything to make you happy when you are crying and they love to make you giggle. You do have a temper though, and you like to yell and shout orders at all of us. (Must be that bright red hair!

Clark, you have a musical gift that I cannot wait to watch blossom. I have never seen a baby move and sing to music at such a young age before you. It can be the softest song mixed into background noise and your ears will find it. You move side to side, front to back, and raise your arms as if you are opening your heart to the sound. You “oooo aaaa” along with me when I sing to you and often times get snippets of the melody just right! By the time you were 7 or 8 months old, you would feel music so intensely at times it brought you to tears. It makes me so happy and so excited to know that you have a love for music and I hope it stays with you.

You are so smart and wise Clark. You study and watch so intently, as if you are searching every person’s soul and deciding for yourself how to interact with them. You are leery of some, flirty with others, shy with some and silly and outgoing with others still. Your big brown eyes are warm and knowing and staring into them makes me feel like you have a story to tell and wisdom to share. You repeat words readily and understand so many phrases already. I cannot wait to hear your thoughts on the world.

We love to watch you on the move. Your army crawl is absolutely amazing, probably the fastest I’ve seen a baby move on all fours. You can crawl the “right” way but it seems to slow you down so you prefer the army crawl method, pushing off of the floor with your toes and wiggling that fabulous chubby booty with lightening speed. Only this last week or two before your birthday are you showing interest in standing and honestly, that is fine with me. I know enough by now that once you can walk, you won’t want to snuggle as much, and I can stand to wait a little longer for that.

Clarko, you are a Momma’s Boy through and through. You cry when I walk out of a room, you want me to hold you and cuddle you every minute and you sleep snuggled up to me every night. This too will change as you get older so I am savoring it now, though not much work is getting done while you are awake!

You have never slept in a crib. You slept in your rock and play next to my bed or in my bed since day 1 and I have no idea how I will go about transferring you to a bed now. I can’t imagine not watching your back rise and fall as you soundly sleep or seeing your wide sleepy smile as soon as I open my eyes in the morning.

This year has also been tough since you spent so much of it coughing! It seems you have a little touch of asthma and a few food allergies working against you. We are working on treating and fixing the problem and it is my hope that you will outgrow all of this and grow strong and uninhibited by any condition or limitation. So far, none of it has slowed you down even when it has brought me to my knees with fear and worry. You have remained happy and smiling through coughs and breathing problems and allergy tests and medications. You are so strong and patient.

Clark, when I think of your future, I see only beauty. I am looking forward to watching you grow, listening as your thoughts become words and following along as your crawling turns to running. You are a cherished and treasured boy, Clark James Yeoman. Your family loves you beyond measure and we always will. On your first birthday my sweet baby, Mommy wishes you the best that life has to offer. I wish you love and good health, adventure and laughter, friendship and good fortune, and above all else, happiness. A lifetime of happiness.

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I love you more than words could ever describe,

Mommy

Go With Your Gut: Clark’s Never Ending Cough.

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Clark has a cough. Not a little cough. Like a seal barking, tight sounding, horrible cough that has made him wheezy and out of breath. He is raspy and congested and sometimes has runny eyes and a stuffy nose. Oh, and did I mention that Clark has had this cough since NOVEMBER? Yes, that’s right. Clark, my 10 month old, has had this horrible cough for 6 months. 60% of his life. Seems crazy right? Yes, I think so too.

Back in November, I thought he must be getting a cold. So did urgent care when they gave him steroids and gave me a list of things to do to help him get over it. We did steam and cool mist, we suctioned his nose and kept his head elevated while sleeping. I asked some of my natural parenting groups for advice and we rubbed on GOOT (Look that up, it does help some coughs!) I took mega doses of vitamin C in the hope that it would transfer through my milk and I tried some elderberry tincture. Everything seemed to help a little and then not really at all and the cough came back.

Clark coughed through the holidays and the doctor decided to try a round of antibiotics. Against my better judgement I allowed it, desperate for the cough to end. I asked her if it could be a reaction to something in his environment. She said, “No, it is just a viral thing, but this has been going on a long time so I want to make sure it doesn’t turn into a bacterial infection.” Ten days later, the cough was gone. Three days later it was back. I will never forget the morning I ran from the bedroom to the living room with my baby in my arms, frantically trying to help him catch his breath, unsure what to do or how to help but unable to just sit there while he coughed so hard he turned purple and shook. I tried to pat his back, suction his mouth… He finally gasped for air and then lay on my chest exhausted while I cried inconsolably.

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The first weekend the cough scared me.

So, we went back to the doctor in January. Mike took him since I had to work and they called me from the room so I could ask our doctor questions. He showed her a video of Clark’s belly and chest retracting while he wheezed the night before in the steamy bathroom. This time she tested him for RSV and whooping cough, influenza and the common cold. The common cold came back positive. More mist, more steam, more steroids. The cough stayed.

In February we saw another doctor in the practice because our regular doctor was off. I asked if she thought he could have an allergy to something. She kind of rolled her eyes and said, “No, no, no. He has a virus. Babies get tons of viruses. He puts his hands in his mouth all of the time! This is just having kids in daycare.” And I don’t completely disagree! My other two kids are in daycare. They get colds and viruses all of the time… but this was different. None of my babies had been this sick, ever. Besides, they weren’t coming down with this neverending virus and they can’t keep their hands off of Clark! We left that day with a prescription for “Give it time.”  More sleepless nights and missed work and so much fear. I began dreading the evenings. I was anxious and sick with worry and couldn’t stop staring at Clark even when he was sleeping peacefully. We would have good nights and bad nights, but the cough wasn’t going away. He had more scary fits where his whole body would stiffen and shake while he hacked and turned colors. I felt like no one was taking us seriously.

In March, tired of seeing us I am sure, our doctor decided to try breathing treatments every four hours and another dose of steroids until the cough went away. We did that for almost two weeks and his cough loosened and the treatments seemed to help the wheezing and raspy breathing at night! We moved into a different house and though he would cough once in awhile, it wasn’t horrible sounding like it had been for months. A record 18 days went by without a nerve wracking night of staring at my son as he worked to breathe, wondering if we’d end up in the ER. We celebrated, imagining that it was something in the other house and crossed our fingers that the cough was gone for good. And then… the cough came back.

I scheduled another appointment with our doctor to have her listen to his lungs but I also decided enough was enough and I called an allergist. I no longer believed, and hadn’t for awhile, that this was due to a virus. I really felt that there was an underlying issue. Either an environmental allergy or a anatomical issue with his throat or airways. It just seemed impossible that he could have a virus for six months straight with no fever and remain in wonderful spirits. I let her know at the appointment and she said she felt that that was an appropriate decision at this point.

We continued with the breathing treatments and waited for the allergist appointment. His cough followed the same pattern as always: Terrible and tight for 2-3 days. Terrible but looser for 2-3 days. Less frequent and looser for 2-3 days. Repeat. Two days before his appointment he woke up at 4:00 am with croup again and was congested, stuffy and watery eyed the next day. When we finally went into the allergist’s office, you could hear the mucous rattling in his chest. I explained all of the details to the allergist and he agreed that it sounded like a reaction to something. He decided to do allergy skin testing for 20 common allergens. I held Clark on my lap on the table while the nurse poked his back. He looked surprised and sad but only cried for a minute before his attention returned to the loud crinkly paper on the exam table.

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About 5 minutes after the pokes.

After 15 minutes there were 2 welts out of 20 showing a reaction on Clark’s back. It wasn’t dog, cat or grass like I would have bet my life on though. It was eggs. Egg white and egg yolk. It was like one of those cartoon lightbulbs flipped on in my head. I breastfeed. I eat eggs. In baked goods, on their own, and mostly on weekends… when Clark ends up restarting his entire cough and wheeze cycle. Sunday nights and Monday mornings have always been the worst. Probably because we go out to breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings and I enjoy eggs and bacon or an omelet! Clark had previously broken out in hives when I gave him scrambled egg so I stopped. I never imagined that he would react to eggs through me.

The doctor came back into the room and said, “Well, that will do it! Clark has a serious allergy to eggs.” I explained that I breastfeed and he smiled and said, “Yeah, no eggs for you either. He probably became sensitized through your milk and then reacted himself when you fed him eggs directly.” I was surprised to find that a food allergy would create the kind of respiratory symptoms that Clark has experienced and the Doctor said in children that it is definitely possible, though skin reactions for food allergies are more common. So, Clark is on a daily dose of Zyrtec and we are both on an egg-free diet. We will see the allergist again in a month and he hopes that Clark will be symptom free by that time as it takes a couple of weeks for the egg protein to be completely out of our bodies. We discussed a few other things such as Clark having enlarged tonsils and that he may end up with an asthma diagnosis later on. But for now, he is confident that we can get this cough under control and hopefully make my sweet baby feel better!

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Food allergies are dumb, but I’m super cute!

So, parents! Be an advocate for your child. If something doesn’t feel right, investigate it even if the doctor disagrees with you. I wish I would have gone with my gut months ago and had him see the allergist. I could have saved him so much suffering and myself a lot of worry!

Two Years Later

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This weekend marked two whole years since we made the big journey back to Michigan from Nevada. I remember being worried about regretting our decision and expressed the concern that I may never really feel “home.” Well, the verdict is in… Turns out, you really can’t go home again. You can only go back to the place you once called home and try to make it home once more.

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Two years ago we were on our way to Michigan!

That is what we’ve tried to do and what we are still trying to do. Our life in Michigan is completely different from our life in Nevada. It is also completely different from our previous life in Michigan. While we were away, everything changed. People changed, places changed… we changed. We were exposed to different people, different mindsets, different cultures and we became… different. We were also away for 8 years, which is a fairly significant blip on life’s timeline, and in that time we grew up a lot. We left at 25 and 26 years old, unmarried, carefree and adventurous. In the time we were away we got married and had children and our central focus shifted from the broad outside world and the people in it, to our intimate inside world; our largest priority became our children and our family unit. We returned to Michigan at 33 and 34 with two kids in tow. Of course things changed. I feel the two years I’ve spent back in the Midwest has changed me even more. Though, we all morph into new and different people bit by bit, every single day, don’t we?

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Our trip this year was to Northern Michigan to visit family

In two years, we’ve lost friends and we’ve gained friends. We’ve lost family, we’ve gained family. We created a beautiful third son. We’ve been incredibly blessed with stable jobs. We have had some really fantastic moments and some really devastating ones. If I said this journey has been horrible, I’d be lying. If I said it has been wonderful… I’d be lying. The question is; was it worth it? Was it worth leaving a place we loved to return to a place we had purposely left years before?

And my answer is… Yes. Because the good times have been so fantastically good. My children have gotten to play with their cousins much more often than they would have had we stayed in Las Vegas. To hear Truman name his cousins one by one (all 13 first cousins plus MY cousins’ children!) and tell me which ones he wants to play with next or which one is his “best friend” is priceless. Grant loves his aunts and uncles with a fierceness that I know he never would if he was to only see them once a year. Our nieces and nephews are amazing little people and we love watching them grow. Our parents have had the opportunity to watch their grandsons grow in person instead of only online. We have gotten to spend much more time with Ma (GG) who is our only remaining grandparent, my boys’ only great grandparent. We have traveled to Cleveland, Toronto, and Northern Michigan a number of times. None of those trips, or very few of those trips would have possible.

We still have moments of intense longing for our previous life. Moments where we desperately miss our friends. Moments that we wonder, “What if we hadn’t left?” When thinking about the things I dislike about living here, I have asked myself; “Have things changed that much, or is this how it has always been and I just never saw it before now?” I think we maybe expected to pick up right where we left off. We expected this place to stay the same while we had run off to change. We thought we could just “come home.” But we couldn’t. And that’s ok. Our relocation hasn’t been anything like we thought it would be. But you know what? This is life! This crazy, beautiful, confusing, surprising and maddening journey we call life. Regardless of the experience, we are in fact, “home.” Now we have to focus on making it “Ours.”

Clark’s Birth Story

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Clark James Yeoman is born! As many of you already know, he was born at 41 weeks 1 day. That was about 2 weeks after I began complaining about him not being born yet. The end of this pregnancy was rough. I was hot, huge and tired. Everything south of my belly button was achy and hurting, my feet and ankles were swollen and I had to pee every three minutes. I wasn’t sleeping well and the kids were too busy for me to keep up with. I was worried about what would happen with the kids when I did go into labor and until my Mom came to stay with us I was terrified that I’d have to bring the kids to the hospital or bother my friend, who generously offered to baby-sit in such a situation, in the middle of the night. I was also really emotional about this probably being my last baby and for what ever reason, had a little bit of crazy anxiety about dying in childbirth. So… yes, fun all around.

Three days after my 40 week appointment, I had to have an ultrasound and NST (Non-Stress Test) at the hospital. They wanted to check Clark’s status and make sure my fluid levels were still looking good. He sounded perfect on the monitor and was moving around a lot still. My amniotic fluid was fine and there was no reason to induce which was fine by me. After being induced with Truman and having a labor that did not go according to plan, I have never wanted to experience an induction again. I left the hospital confident that I would go into labor on my own in the next day or two. But an entire week went by and I was back at the doctor, six days after my due date and baby was no closer to joining us. One of my midwives swept my membranes and said that if baby didn’t come on his own, we should probably induce on Sunday. She also wanted me to go to the hospital on Friday for another ultrasound and another NST. I left the office near tears, uncomfortable and disappointed.

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The next morning, Mike and I went out to breakfast and discussed our options. Sunday was going to be a really terrible day to have our baby. Mike had already begun his two week parental leave since we had been so sure Clark was coming soon. If Clark was born on Sunday, I wouldn’t be out of the hospital until Tuesday and Mike would only have until Wednesday home with us. On top of that, my Mom had to leave by Sunday to return to work, so she wouldn’t be around to watch the kids or see the new baby. I really didn’t want to be induced at all but if it was going to happen anyway, I’d rather sooner than later. We decided to call the midwife and see if we could just come in and be induced the next day. I left a message with the nurse and waited. My midwife Hillary called me back and we discussed my feelings and concerns. She assured me that an induction this time around would not be traumatic like my first one was. I was already dilated, effaced and being my third baby, it should be much shorter and less stressful. We agreed to meet at the hospital the next morning but she offered to sweep membranes again that afternoon just to try one last time to get labor going. I saw her at 1:45 on Tuesday and she swept my membranes for the third time. I had contractions for the rest of the day and that entire evening but they did not get stronger and more regular. By midnight they stopped and I went to sleep.

The next morning, we took the boys to daycare and grabbed breakfast. I was a little nervous but still ready for our baby to join us. We checked in at St. John Hospital in Detroit and went through all of the paperwork with the intake nurse. I was shown to my room which was huge and very nice. At 9:15 am I changed, met the nurse and got an IV started. Hillary arrived and said she thought I may be able to avoid Pitocin. She wanted to break my water and just see how things went. Avoiding Pitocin sounded great to me and also meant I wouldn’t have to have continuous monitoring so I could move more freely.

At 12:48 Hillary broke my water. Not a whole lot came out but I started having contractions right away. I sat on the birthing ball through a few contractions and after the third one I felt a huge gush and the rest of the water spilled all over the floor, the ball, and my nurse’s shoes. We all had a laugh and Hillary recommended that I start walking. Mike and I took a lap around the labor and delivery floor. I had to stop for contractions that were getting more and more intense. After three laps I started getting very hot. The pain was getting difficult to manage quietly and I decided to go to my room. I stood and rocked. I moaned. I tried to breathe. I usually do not like anyone touching me during labor but Hillary squeezed my hips as I contracted and that pressure felt so good I wanted to hug her. She taught Mike how to do the same and he helped me through the next few contractions. I had to pee and while going, I realized that sitting on the toilet felt pretty comfortable, so I decided to hang out there for a little while. After laboring on the toilet for three or four contractions, Hillary appeared before me.

“Annie, you are starting to make sounds like you want to push.” I was shocked. It couldn’t be time to push yet! I hadn’t been in labor that long and things hadn’t gotten to a point where I was in unbearable pain.

“I am?” I asked.

Hillary smiled and nodded. In her quiet and oh-so-soothing voice, she replied, “Yes, you are definitely sounding like that. So. You can deliver in the bed, on your hands and knees, standing… you can even deliver right here in the bathroom. But you cannot deliver the baby on the toilet. So, if you are ready I want you to move off of the toilet.” It was the last thing I wanted to do but I didn’t want to deliver on the toilet either. I decided to move to the bed. I labored on my hands and knees. Contractions were barely a minute apart and I couldn’t get ahead of the pain. I growled. I yelled. I screamed. Hillary asked if I needed to push and I was so shocked that she asked instead of telling me that I could or telling me that I couldn’t, that for a second I wasn’t really sure if I had to push or not! By the next contraction I had my answer. I had to push.

It was like a switch flipped in my brain. I remember it with Grant’s birth, also un-medicated, also intense. It is as if I turn from woman to beast. There is no other time in my life that I have felt so other-worldly. Like I am in a zone where only I and this yet to be met child exist. Where my body, my soul and something deep and primal and… animalistic are working without the help of my conscious mind. I don’t know if all women feel it, but I really hope they do because it is such an incredible, super-human experience.

I pushed and pushed hard. I pushed correctly, effectively and unlike my last two babies who came out in less than 10 pushes. Clark didn’t feel like he was budging at all. I remember looking at my hands on the bed and seeing the veins bulging, wondering for a second if I was going to push the IV needle right out of the back of my hand. I felt like I was getting nowhere, despite all of the encouragement from Mike, Hillary and the nurse. I decided to switch positions and asked to go on my back. As soon as I rolled over, I knew I didn’t want to be there. Mike grabbed my leg and so did the nurse and I felt like they were going to pull me apart. The angle was weird, I couldn’t get any kind of counter pressure and I was angry about it. I asked them to let go and grabbed my own thighs, pushing as hard as I could. Clark’s heart rate started to drop. Hillary had me turn onto my side and keep pushing. She told me I needed to get him out and to push harder than I ever had before. I was so tired but I pushed again and again. I flipped back to my hands and knees and was so hot and sweaty, I ripped my gown off. Unbeknownst to me, completely naked and lost in labor-land, Clark’s heart rate had gone missing, they were placing an internal monitor and they weren’t completely sure if I could push his head out. Hillary had called in backup. Mike told me later about the whispering, the phone call, the rushing in of two doctors and three nurses, the talk of moving fast and making decisions. I heard whispers, but far off. Like whispering in a dream, not quite real and nothing I could concentrate on long enough to grasp what was really happening. And suddenly I knew he was coming. That intense pressure turned to intense burning and for the first time I was completely sure he would arrive. I know there were cheers and I know there was encouragement, but I swear I felt underwater. My body, my spirit, this baby… that was all.

It was 3:12 pm, only 2 hours and 24 minutes after my water broke that I felt his head leave my body, the rest of him following seconds later. Suddenly, his face appeared in front of mine. This big, beautiful, round and purple baby was looking up at me as I crouched over him, shaking and exhausted but more proud of myself than I have ever been. I brought him to my chest and sat back on my heels, Hillary and Mike and our nurse helping me turn over and sit back. The nurses were anxious to listen to him, to check and make sure he was breathing and healthy. He was crying and perfect. I held him until his cord stopped pulsing, Mike cut it and they took him to check him out. I had a few minor tears that needed stitches but felt great. By the time I looked around the room, all of the “extras” had cleared out. I never would have known about all of the scary drama had Mike not told me. Clark returned to my arms in minutes, his Apgar scores were 9, 9. He latched on and nursed. We spent over an hour skin to skin and Mike left to get my parents and the boys. While he was gone, the nurses measured Clark and told me this big round baby was 8 pounds 15 ounces and 21 inches long. I got cleaned up, Clark was swaddled and we were left alone. I snuggled my beautiful third son until his brothers and grandparents came to meet him. Birth. It never gets less miraculous.

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(And only 6 months after his arrival I found the time to complete his birth story!)

 

 

 

My Little G… As In Gangster

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My second child. My little middle. My Itty Bitty Bumpy Little Chumby Chumby, Big Red, baby boy. Grant… is a gangster. A thug. An OG. For real.

I’ve known for awhile now that he isn’t made of all sweetness and rainbows, but his big blue eyes and unruly red hair has had me blinded. His flawless milky skin with those fluffy rosy cheeks, his beautiful, pearly-toothed mischievous grin, his wrinkled up little nose, and overall angelic appearance has had me fooled for so long, that it was nearly impossible to admit it when I first saw the signs of evil unsavory behavior.

He picks fights with his older brother. His favorite instigation technique is running up to Truman and ripping the cell phone (undoubtedly playing Spiderman videos) right out of his hands. Then, he makes Truman ask nicely before he’ll give it back. Grant will also sneak up behind Truman and hurt him. Punching, smacking, pinching or pulling hair are the usual offenses. Grant tries to smooth the action over by yelling, “Sorry!”  (“Sah-De!”) immediately over his shoulder as he runs away. Truman always cries and Grant, well… doesn’t care. He seems very remorseful when he gets in trouble but turns around and does it again as soon as possible.

There are other things too. The way he asks questions over and over even though he knows the answer, he just likes to hear you say it a million times. The way he takes off at a dead run, completely naked when you try to change his clothes. How he stands up on the couch and stares you down as you beg for him to sit before he falls and breaks his neck. Oh, and who could forget the whimsical sound of him screaming “POTTY!” at the top of his lungs until you take him. Not nicely. Not asking. A deep, animalistic growling. Demanding. Screaming potty potty potty over and over. He accepts no excuses, he wants a bathroom now. Even if you are driving. Or ordering your meal at a restaurant. Or trying really hard to find a bathroom somewhere…anywhere. He isn’t crying or angry about it, he’s smiling and happy… and insanely loud.

Grant is a little brute on many occasions but the ultimate display of badassery happened on Thursday. It actually all began on Tuesday when Truman and Grant were picking on each other incessantly. We were trying to get out the door to go to a farm and the boys were just being horrendous. Truman refused to help Grant find socks and they both took off running down the hall toward their bedroom. As I asked myself for the 50th time why I was attempting an outing of this caliber on a day when my children were being complete jerks so difficult, I heard a blood curdling scream from the bedroom. I ran down the hall to the kids’ room and Grant was sobbing on the floor. Truman was also on the floor but in the process of getting to his feet and already apologizing. Grant was holding his stomach and when I pulled up his shirt I saw this…

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Yes. A really terrible bite mark. Truman has never bitten before, not even as a young toddler. Tuesday, he decided that biting was something he wanted to try. The farm trip was off the table, Truman was grounded to his bed until after nap time and Grant needed a lot of cuddling and a Spiderman Band-Aid before he stopped crying. (Mommy drank beer on Tuesday night.)

Wednesday was a whole new day with a new behavior chart, a new no-yelling policy, and a “let’s talk about our feelings instead of throwing a fit” policy. Wednesday was a smooth, good day.

Thursday we got up and cleaned the house. Grant is currently obsessed with the vacuum so he got it out, vacuumed the living room and hallway and then wanted to put the vacuum back in the guest bedroom. Truman, ever the helpful big brother, decided that he could put the vacuum away faster and attempted to take it from Grant. I was nursing the baby on the couch and heard the struggle in the hallway beginning. As I called to Truman to leave Grant alone and let him handle putting away the vacuum on his own, I was interrupted by another blood curdling scream, this time from my first born son. Truman came running into the living room holding his arm and screaming, “HE BIT ME!” Grant was hot on his heals, looking remorseless and determined.
I said, “Grant! Go sit in time out right now.” Grant ran to the mat by the front door and sat down.
I pulled up Truman’s sleeve and saw this…

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Yep. More teeth marks. I pulled Truman close to hug him and that’s when it happened. I looked toward the door where Grant was sitting, stone faced, watching his big brother cry.

Before I could open my mouth to scold him, Grant slowly and silently lifted his t-shirt. Staring at both his brother and I, with his tiny first finger, my-not-yet two-year old child pointed – POINTED!-  to the Spiderman bandaid covering his own bite wound.

Like a straight-up gangster.

Like this entire situation was a beautifully crafted act of revenge that had been in the works for two days. I couldn’t speak. I wanted to laugh but I obviously couldn’t do that either. Keeping my composure, I simply said; “We don’t bite, Grant.” And got Truman his own Spiderman Band-Aid.

Grant. My little middle. My sweet, red-haired, Itty Bitty Bumpy Little Chumby Chumby… AKA ThugLife.

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In Five Weeks

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I feel myself doing it again. With five weeks left until my due date, I feel myself frantically holding onto “normal” life with my boys before this new little one comes into our world and turns everything upside down. I remember these feelings before Grant was born. How would I love another baby as much as I loved my first? From the second I laid eyes on him I loved him just as much, so that is no longer a question for me. There are new questions though, new worries, new concerns. Mostly, just the realization that in five weeks from now, our lives will be something very different from what they are right now.

I’ve been picking up my insanely independent 18 month old and trying to hold him close, pressing my lips to his chubby cheeks while he giggles and squeals, pushing me away. I’m trying to savor what is left of his baby-ness but he seems to think he’s already too big for all that. He is sleeping in his own bed, asking to go potty every ten minutes, carrying on full conversations and answering my questions with, “Yeah! Sure!” My little Chumby, who has always looked tiny to me even though he’s tall and stout, maybe even a little larger than average; will look enormous compared to this newborn. He will be a big brother. In five weeks I’ll never see him as tiny again.

I pull my 3 year old close and ask him about his thoughts, his day, his friends. I look deep into his eyes and give him as much time as he needs to fill me in on the exciting happenings of Spiderman-Truman, daycare time-outs and his invisible owies. He is so excited to meet his new brother and has big plans to help out. He already fancies himself the boss, a grown up, the leader. This second brother may push his ego into a whole new realm, forever setting him apart from the “little guys.” He is three going on thirty as it is and in five weeks, he will act even more so.

I welcome them into our bed in the mornings, pulling them close and breathing in their sweet sleepiness even though my hip aches, someone’s feet are in my chest and I desperately need to change positions before my back breaks. My belly pushes against them creating distance, almost symbolic of the space that a new brother is going to demand. As I lay there, uncomfortable but happily tangled in sleeping toddler limbs, I can’t imagine how I’ll do this with a newborn. With a third child. Where will he lie? Are there beds bigger than king size?

I worry. How can I give each one special attention, especially in the early days when this teeny, new human will need so much from me. He deserves that much of me. After all, his brothers before him got my all in their time of new-ness and he should get no less. When he arrives I know that I will fall in love. I know that not having him will feel impossible. That it will be like he’s always been in our home, in our family, in our hearts. But life will never be what it is right now. With my two silly, rough and tumble boys, best friends and partners in crime. Never again will my husband and I each grab a kid and know that everyone in our family is accounted for. We will have an extra, a third! We will be outnumbered five weeks from now. One of us will have to account for two kids at all times while the other has one. Triple car seats, triple clothing changes, triple bedtime, triple bath time, triple tears and triple love. How will it all work? I mean, it will work because it has to but how? I dread the thought of someone falling through the cracks.

For now, I make couch beds past bedtime and allow just one more snack. I play catch for one more second before we have to leave the house and allow three more minutes of YouTube before screen time is over. I wrap my two arms around my two sons and hold on for dear life because I don’t know how I’ll fit them around three. In five weeks my life is going to change forever. And I know it is changing for the better, but it is changing none the less. Right now will never be again, and as excited and ready as I am to meet our precious baby Clark, a tiny part of me is sad that our two-child chapter is closing. In five weeks from now, we will be a whole new family… of five.

A Peculiar Word

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My husband likes to tease me. Well, he doesn’t just like to tease me, he likes to tease people in general. Most of our friends have silly nick-names that my husband has given them. Our friend “G-Unit” wore a G-Unit T-shirt to our house ONE time. Once! He isn’t even a big fan, it was probably just the only shirt lying around that happened to be clean that day so he wore it to play poker at our house. Little did he know, his life would be changed forever. Brandon has been known as G-Unit ever since. I forgot his real name for close to two years. Seriously. There have been others. T-Bone, Jer-Bear, Paul Wall and Quiet Guy. Mike has a knack for finding one little flaw, a weak spot or just a quirky habit and he pounces. It isn’t mean spirited or anything, his intentions are always light hearted and fun; but it can get annoying… especially to me. It is also hard to get him back. He is pretty unbothered by what anyone else says. Besides, it isn’t really my nature to relentlessly tease, so most often I let him have his fun without giving him the payback he so deserves.

But awhile ago, I found something.

There is a word that my husband cannot say. It isn’t that he doesn’t understand what it means, or can’t spell it. No, he actually, literally, physically cannot speak the word correctly. That word is: Peculiar. I don’t even know how it came to my attention that he couldn’t say it, but awhile ago he either brought it up or he tried to say it and couldn’t and I laughed at him. He openly admits that he can’t say it correctly and I really never thought too much about it. In fact, I had completely forgotten all about his peculiar disability until last night.

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We were watching Spy, a comedy action movie starring Melissa McCarthy. The kids had fallen asleep early and it was such a treat to sit on the couch and watch a silly movie without listening to someone cry, having to wipe someone’s butt or making endless amounts of food for ungrateful children who end up feeding it all to the dog. Mike and I were relaxing and content. At one point in the film, a character says, “Well, this is a peculiar theme…” It hit me like a speeding train. I turned my head and innocently asked my unassuming husband, “What did she say?”

“Huh?” Mike looked at me.

“What kind of theme was it?” He looked confused like he had maybe missed something, so he rewound the movie back a few seconds. “Well, this is a peculiar theme…” I asked again, “What kind of theme was it?”

Mike shook his head with a little chuckle and gathered his thoughts. He sat up straight and feigning confidence, said:

“A pecul-ul-liar theme…” And the laughter began.

“What kind?!?!?” I screamed though my giggles. I was becoming hysterical just by his first attempt.

Pecooolier. Pleckuuler. Pec – I can’t say it!” He was red-faced and we were laughing so hard it was actually silent. Every once in awhile a high pitched scream giggle escaped my mouth and thorough gasps for air, another failed attempt at pronouncing peculiar would escape his. “Peck…UUUU…uler. PeckOOOlaler…” We looked like lunatics. There were tears running down our cheeks, my stomach hurt, we couldn’t breathe. It went on for at least five minutes straight. Through my howls,  I kept saying it correctly and he kept attempting to repeat it but just, no. That word and my husband’s mouth are simply not compatible.

It was hands down the most fun I’ve had on a Sunday night in a long while. And now, I’ve got a definite stopper. The next time he teases me about my clumsiness, my constant worrying, my need to follow the rules or get to the airport three hours early. I’m bringing out the big guns.

Mike, repeat after me:

That was peculiar.

I bet it shuts him up. Or it will, at the very least, hand us a few minutes of pure glee!

 

 

The Joys of Pregnancy… Again!

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I am sure I’ve written about all of the fun stuff that accompanies baby-growing in a previous post, but this pregnancy is different so I’m going to do it again. This pregnancy is my THIRD. Three. Thrice. Triple. Three babies have lived in my body and each unique soul has come with it’s own bag of tricks. Truman was dramatic (hmm, some things don’t change.) and caused me constant worry. There was bleeding, progesterone supplements, a vanishing twin, heartburn, lazy movement requiring monitoring, induction and lots of post-labor stiches. I also got huge.

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Mike and Me, leaving for the hospital to have Truman at 39 weeks.

Grant was slightly less dramatic but gave me new symptoms like morning sickness to deal with. Early on he hid behind an anterior placenta which muffled his heart rate, and let me tell you, it is not fun to see your doctor run out of the room in full panic mode to get an ultrasound machine after a silent Doppler. Grant’s pregnancy caused heartburn so bad I was throwing up blood and had to go on medication. It was during this pregnancy that I began peeing my pants quite frequently, mostly when vomiting said blood or sneezing (or laughing, or driving over a bump, or…) Grant was born in a hurry, just one hour after arriving at the hospital. I had no drugs and only two stitches. His birth made me feel like Superwoman. The pregnancy did not. Looking back, I was moody, a little bit mean and oh yeah, I got huge.

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Grant belly at 40 weeks

This time around, things have been vastly different. I’m tired. Not just a little sleepy, I mean alternate reality, down to the bone, sick from exhaustion. All. Of. The. Time. I had morning sickness, real morning sickness with vomit and misery from week seven to week fifteen. My skin is disgusting, ranging from acne-laden to flaky and dry. I get headaches and I normally NEVER get headaches. My brain is so frazzled that I feel like a crazy person 90% of the time. My legs are restless while sleeping lying in bed awake all night, in the car, at work or anytime I’m not moving around. The round ligament pain started early and is unbearable at times. I swear it feels like someone is ripping into my lower belly with a dull knife! And that belly? Wow, does that come out a lot faster for number three. It is a good thing I don’t try to keep pregnancy a secret for long because it seems like as soon as I told everyone we were expecting, my baby bump showed up. I’m weepy; not just over sad stuff, but over pretty stuff, sweet stuff, happy stuff, stuff that reminds me of my kids growing up and the reality that this is probably my last baby.

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See this delightful red flaky patch? It is on both cheeks. Hot.

Baby Clark is active. He kicks and flips and drives tiny heels into my bladder all the live-long day. I don’t need to throw up or sneeze to pee my pants, a well placed baby kick can make it happen. Now I am contemplating buying incontinence underpants to wear for the remainder of this pregnancy. I’m only 25 weeks and my back is killing me already. I have outgrown most of my maternity clothes. Outgrown them. The clothes that are supposed to fit me until the end! My feet are bigger so my shoes all hurt, I am always out of breath, I want to eat constantly, I still have heartburn (though not Grant caliber heartburn) and I am trying so hard to cherish it all because my husband is refusing to make any more babies with me! (Can you imagine why? Don’t I sound like an absolute pregnancy Goddess?) Oh and you guessed it, I’m huge.

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I know I don’t look huge… but remember this is at 23 weeks. Yeah.

I know it sounds like I hate all of this, but I really don’t. I do love some things about being pregnant. I love the excuse to have a huge belly, I love the big rolling movements of a baby flipping around and the pointy knee and elbow lumps that jut out alien-style when baby stretches. I laugh every time the baby gets hiccups. I like how (most) people are excited for me and ask questions about my family and tell me all about their families. I like that (most) people are concerned for my safety, hold doors open and offer to pick up stuff that I drop. I love coming up with baby names. I LOVE the excitement of announcing a pregnancy, announcing the sex and announcing the birth. I love that Truman places his little chubby hand on my tummy to feel his brother kick even while watching TV or engrossed in a video. Call me crazy, but I actually love pushing and the incredible elation of birthing a tiny human. The tough stuff is such a small price to pay for the most amazing end result. I just feel like it is important to share the not-so-fun details too. That way all of you other pregnant Mommas know you aren’t alone in being a swollen, sweaty, pee-leaking, cry baby. You are not the only one burping and eating and heavy breathing your way through each day.

It is okay to not love being pregnant. So often we are made to feel ungrateful for not cheerfully embracing every detail of this stage in our lives. Is it all worth it? Of course. Is it always fun? Hell no. Hating vomiting, headaches, weight gain, hemorrhoids, or general pain and discomfort doesn’t make you less deserving of a baby. Don’t even get me started on the ladies who have severe, life threatening circumstances surrounding their pregnancies! Telling women they should just be happy to be pregnant really discounts the amount of work, sacrifice and love that goes into bringing life into the world. None of this is for the faint of heart. Not all of us do pregnant gracefully and beautifully with a perfectly shaped bump and a stunning glow. Some of us just barely get through it… hopefully without ripping the ass out of our pants or farting loudly in public.

What was your worst/grossest/weirdest pregnancy symptom?