Sunday, January 26, 2014

Handing over responsibility

Have I mentioned that Gunnar now goes to Preschool two days a week? In December we were fortunate to have a dear friend help us find a way to get Gunnar into the preschool where she works. I can't explain how amazing it has been to have two full days a week when I can focus on what needs to get done in my various jobs without having to pick up after G or make him a meal or police potty training or spend an hour trying to get him to nap. For two whole days I can focus on my needs without any interruption and it has been GLORIOUS!!!!

Up until last week I was too swamped with lesson plans, etsy sales and holiday business to ever deal with the disaster of our messy home. But finally last Wednesday I decided to put all other needs aside to deal with the house alone and get things back into working order while G was at school. It took me seven hours but I finally got rid of all of the paper piles, the mystery toy pieces, the scattered books and the mountainous heaps of laundry. I organized, organized, organized. I even vacuumed.

As I was organizing my sons toys (which took at least half of the time) I had an epiphany.  This shouldn't be my job. I have a smart son...he KNOWS where everything is supposed to go. How do I know this? Because if a toy goes to time out he has a hissy fit "THAT DOESN'T GO THERE MOMMY!!! IT GOES ON THAT SHELF OVER THERE!!" So I've decided to introduce Gunnar to the concept of responsibility for keeping his things nice and organized. When he came home from preschool to his organized toys (with all missing pieces finally recovered) we had a chat about keeping things nice. I explained that from now on he needs to be responsible for putting his toys away where they belong and in a timely manor. If mommy has to pick up any toys, or if she finds any toys out of place after play time, those toys will automatically be sent to the new "TOY TIME OUT BOX." All toys will remain in the box for one day. If a toy goes to the TIME OUT BOX more than twice it then goes to the CHARITY BOX (or as I say to Gunnar the box for toys we'll give to other boys and girls who are less privileged.) The only way he can recover a Toy from the Charity box is by choosing a chore.  I know he's a little young to be doing chores but its a great time to start introducing the concept. The chores he can choose from are: washing the windows and mirrors, taking out the trash (small bags at a time), washing the kitchen and bathroom floors and putting away and or washing his dishes.

I sat down with Gunnar and explained the new rules several times and asked him if he had any questions. Then later I asked him to explain the new rules to daddy and Auntie Kerry to ensure that he understood his responsibility. To my surprise he seemed to understand the concept fully.

So far we haven't gotten any where near the chores yet because, for the most part, he's taken his responsibility to his toys very seriously. I've seen instant results. He is more deliberate in his playing and stops to put away puzzles before starting to play with something new. It was only today that I had to put a few puzzles into time out after I had repeatedly asked him to put them away and he continued to play. But it was good, we needed to see some toys go to that Time Out box so that he understood it was real. He cried and apologized for not cleaning them up when I asked...he said "I'll do better next time mommy."

It's amazing to see that this three year old already is learning to make good choices. It's amazing that he understands that our actions have outcomes and consequences. I'm so proud to watch him grow and tackle new concepts with such attention and understanding.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Another's Mother

So let's catch up on something I've been timid to talk about for some reason...


Yes that's an image of my uterus about 5 weeks ago...

Yes. We're pregnant with #2. 

 I'm not sure why I've remained silent about it on the inter webs...Perhaps I just needed some time to figure out if this was really happening. Or maybe it's because I've frankly been quite scared of having a miscarriage. 

You see back in mid September John and I decided it was time to start trying for baby #2, and frankly our baby making genes are really quite good (1st try with #1)...because within days of making this decision: my boobs began to swell, I began to get extremely thirsty, my lower abdomen felt constantly warm and I felt extremely bloated (these are all things that could happen to a normal woman during ovulation but never with me...these were signs I experienced instantly with my first pregnancy, for the record I'm never thirsty and have to remind myself to drink).  I was absolutely convinced that I was pregnant...but of course all at home pregnancy tests only work within a few days of a missed I had to wait...As I waited my symptoms began to multiply, nausea and food aversions began to set in at a rapid pace. I was so convinced I was pregnant that I decided to take a test a day before my missed period. It came back negative.  But, I'd been through this before with my first pregnancy, I wasn't able to get a positive test until 4 days after my missed period and took about 7 tests before getting a I thought I'd wait a few days until my period was actually late.  Four days later, I still had no sign of a period...(and for a period that has come like clockwork since it returned 11 months after having Gunnar, I was convinced this was the real deal)...but I still couldn't get a positive test on an at home test.  

Meanwhile on this day my nausea had escalated and I found myself incredibly sick with horrible back pain on top of it all...and unfortunately I was teaching when the sickness set in. I ran to the bathroom 4 or 5 times during class that day (I wonder what my students were thinking). As I left school, I feared I wouldn't make it home and ran into Argo Tea where I knew I'd need to pay for a drink to use the restroom. But, because I felt so ill the only thing I wanted to drink was water and I was already carrying a large water bottle with me.  I noticed a pregnant homeless woman on the corner and decided I'd buy her a hot chocolate to earn my token to use the bathroom. 

By the time I got home I had the shakes and chills, a massive headache took over and then I started to see double...this was the scariest part for me.  I begged John to bring me to the ER, I didn't know what else to do, I felt awful.  But we had just put Gunnar to bed and John was reluctant only because what would we do with G? So I texted a friend who I knew would be at a bar near by and asked if he wouldn't mind coming and sitting at our house for a a great friend he came over within minutes no questions asked (with his first and only drink in a to-go container! It pays to know the bartenders well!).
At the ER they took a series of urine tests including a pregnancy test and everything came back negative. They drilled me with tests for stroke and anemia and the only thing they could determine was that I was extremely dehydrated. After a few IVs of fluid they sent me home. My symptoms continued into the next day accompanied by excruciating abdominal pain and eventually expelling large liver colored clots of blood in the toilet. That's when it dawned on me to look up the signs of miscarriage: headache, severe nausea, cramps, clotting blood, and occasional blurred vision...
Although I have no proof this is what happened to me, I'm positive this is what it was. Why else would my body act so violently without signs of virus from my family? What followed was the heaviest, darkest and most painful period I've ever had.  

Amazingly...(by luck?) we were pregnant by the very next month. The at home test showed positive three days after my missed period and symptoms progressed rapidly with the WORST morning (or should I say evening) sickness I could ever imagine. Like clockwork extreme nausea creeped into my body by early evening every night. I slowly learned the only way to combat this nausea was by eating (which was the LAST thing I ever wanted to do...but the ONLY thing that worked). I even had days where the nausea lasted for more than 48 hours...lying down and eating constantly was the only thing that could keep it away for a few minutes at a time. And I guess because these same symptoms were similar to those that I experienced the month before...I was quite scared. In fact I even had some spotting of blood around 5 weeks.  Since my OB doesn't do any prenatal visits before 8 weeks I opted to call the nurses line and left a message. 
A very kind and caring nurse called me back within five minutes and asked me some questions and armed me with some very helpful information. She said "bleeding is natural in some pregnancies and remember all pregnancies are different. There are many reasons you may be experiencing a little bit of bleeding. But,  I wouldn't be concerned unless:
1. You're bleeding through a pad in less than an hour
2. You're also experiencing sharp pains in your abdomen stronger than menstrual cramps."
This information gave me the confidence to soldier through the next 3 weeks before my first visit. 

At that first visit...I was drilled with the usual 10,000 questions. One of those questions was "have you personally experienced any history of miscarriage?" I explained my story...but the nurse brushed it off and said "oh we won't count that."  I'm not sure why...but that hurt quite a bit. I mean, I'm grateful that the pregnancy ended before I could even know for sure it was a pregnancy and that I didn't have to go through that heartbreak...I can't even imagine what that pain must feel like...but at the same time, I still grieved for that baby...despite the lack of confirmation that it even existed...I know it did.  And I'm sure I'm not the only one who has experienced a miscarriage in this way. I'm not asking for sympathy or empathy or counseling...but it'd be nice if someone, anyone could acknowledge that this happens, and that I'm not crazy! 

YES We're pregnant! At that first visit we got an ultrasound and saw our little bean and watched its flickering heart on the monitor...and then we were told that we'd need to find a new doctor! WHAT? Yes...our OB's entire practice was suddenly shutting down deliveries after June 2014. And with our baby due on our 10th wedding Anniversary July 17th, 2014...we'd need to find a new doctor. Surprisingly I wasn't terribly upset about it...but it was a shock! I loved my OB and I loved giving birth downtown overlooking lake Michigan and knowing I was in a hospital that delivered babies like it was its only business...but the truth is I secretly wanted a better labor experience once arriving at the hospital. My biggest issue...IV's. I have horrible veins and getting an IV is always the most painful and stressful part of going to the hospital. I would love to go to a hospital in labor and not have to be subjected to a 40 minute search for the best vein to insert an IV...and then have to cart around this ridiculous cart with me while I try to continue laboring without medication.  This is why I decided instantly to inquire with some of my friends and family about CNM's or Certified Nurse Midwives.  I didn't want a home birth...but would love more one on one time and access to birthing tubs (which generally are reserved for the midwife practice at most hospitals).  

So I contacted my cousin Jessica who gave birth to two babies with a Midwife at the Evanston Hospital and had rave reviews. We met with her midwife at our 12 week appointment last week, and I couldn't have been more impressed. I'm grateful that she works directly with doctors and has oversight by them in case any complications arise during labor.  She agreed that depending on how I test when I come in during labor to try to keep me off an IV for as long as possible, or entirely. But, if I test abnormally she would give me an IV with some fluids and cap it whenever possible to allow me the flexibility to move around during labor.  I like that. She seems cautious to make promises (only because of the unpredictability of child birth) but clearly wants to help me achieve my goals at the same time. I'm very happy with our choice to switch to a CNM...and I think this time we will also hire a doula. 

And the most exciting news of all (beyond being pregnant) is that we've learned the gender.  We didn't expect to...but after a few weeks of trying to explain things to Gunnar and him insisting he only wanted a sister...we decided it would be best to let him know for sure and get used to the idea (whatever gender it may be).  So, at 9 weeks,  we were offered a brand new test called Progenity which tests not only genetic disorders but also can reveal the gender...all this from a simple vile of blood from the mother.  So about 3 weeks ago we learned that we are having a baby GIRL!!!

We feel extremely blessed and are excited for all the crazy changes that are yet to come. Even though we strongly dislike the color pink...we are excited to exchange our 12 tubs of baby boy clothes for sweet (hopefully not pink) little girl clothes.

13 weeks 2 days...Baby likes to make herself known!