Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Our First 100: Meeting Thomas Samuel

Somehow, my little baby is 100 hours old already (2:39 pm on Tuesday).  Ever since arriving at the hospital on Friday morning, the hours of Thomas's new life have flown by!  I need to find some way to slow it down.  Here are some of the key events:

Friday, Aug 21
8:00:  Check in at the hospital, a little later actually.  Since it's my third, I wasn't so stressed that we were a few minutes late.  It was a little different doing things in a new hospital, but through registration and surgery prep, the next hour passed quickly.  Then, I swear I stared at the clock from about 9:30-10:00 just waiting for the surgery to start.  It's hard to be excited for a major surgery, but knowing what is waiting for me on the other side of the knife and needles kept me from being too anxious about the whole thing.  Brian did his best to help comfort me in a situation where there is not much for him to do.  He did a great job supporting both me and the baby through our first hours.

10:30:  After enduring a few dreaded minutes of placing the spinal and the nausea that always accompanies it for me, I finally get Brian in the room and we get started.  We passed the time by trying to narrow down our couple of choices of boy names, and at one point I finally throw out that I'll agree to Thomas Samuel.  Brian thinks I was under too much anesthesia at this point, because I had hesitated on the name Thomas for so long (just because there are so many "Thomas's" in our life already) but was finally agreeing to it.  We did not make a final decision yet, and a few minutes later our doctor announces, "It's a boy," and I have to admit I was a little teary at hearing his first cries, but not surprised as I fully expected another son.  I got a quick glimpse of him, but then spent the next 19 minutes waiting on them to bring him closer to my side.  Brian went back while they scored his Apgar and did all the new baby work and I waited anxiously to hear if everything checked out on him.  Despite being a few gestational days younger than his brothers, his weight was the exact median of their two weights at 8 lbs 12 oz and he was a good 21 inches tall (which did not surprise me at all, after how much pain my ribs had been in).

10:58 First Photo with Mama

11:45-2:00:  The next two hours were spent in recovery.  It was so quiet at this hospital, and we just marveled in our tiny new one, texting and calling family so they would know that everything went as planned.  I actually did not shake continually after this c-section, as I did with the other two, and baby was not interested in nursing yet, so we just snuggled quietly for a while.  The nurses and Brian eventually took our little boy to the nursery, and I anxiously started counting the minutes of our separation again.  I just couldn't wait to introduce Theodore and Elijah to their little brother.

 11:45 Mama can finally hold baby after surgery is over! (66 minutes old)

 12:30 With his proud daddy (2 hours old)

2:30:  By this point, I was finally wheeled to our room and Brian arrived back with baby.  We called back my mother and boys almost as soon as possible, and introduced the boys to their brother.  I will always treasure how sweetly the reacted to him, and how excited they were to see me as well.  Theodore was sad about me having to have a c-section due to his initial birth experience, and Elijah didn't understand why we couldn't all go home immediately (and wondered what every button in the entire room did).  Theodore suggested a few more silly names, and Elijah incorrectly identified baby's umbilical cord as the feature making him a boy, both providing some laughs for us to remember.

 Meeting his big brothers (4.5 hours old)

After this, we spent the next 48 hours in the hospital kissing and snuggling and photographing our tiny one.  The baby slept most of the time, and required some work to get to wake up enough to try eating. 

 Meeting cousin Maci...
 Aunt Megan...
and Grandma and Natalie.

And even though this was our third time around, we managed to record some "firsts" like his first sneezes and hiccoughs (both occurring at about 8:30 that night).  The nurses took great care of me, and had me out of bed before midnight on baby's birthday.  Registration kept attempting to fill out paperwork with us, and we had to keep explaining that we still weren't set on a name.

Saturday, Aug 22
After a pretty good night mostly rooming in (other than when the benadryl I took for the itchy reaction to the medicines set in and I had the nurse take the baby for a bit) morning came along, and we began celebrating Brian's 33rd birthday with his 3rd son.  I got up and around, moving as much as possible, and was very surprised with how good I felt.  The baby did not feel as good considering he had to get his circumcision (and introduction to binky) that morning.  Later, when the boys arrived, we checked with them as to whether it would be okay to call the baby Thomas, and they both agreed to liking the name, so Thomas Samuel was officially named.  The boys, grandma, Aunt Megan, cousins Natalie and Maci, and I all got a piece of daddy's cake (I was off liquids by this point) and the boys opened their big brother gifts "from" the baby.  The kids then spent some time watching Word World while grandma and Aunt Megan got some snuggles in with the baby.

 First morning, 23 hours old.
26 hours old.

First family photo of 5, 29 hours old

Our hospital in Delaware did not have any kind of celebration meal, so I was very excited to sit down with Brian for our celebration meal later on his birthday night.  Knowing it was one of the last time's we'll have a quiet, uninterrupted meal together made it pretty special, and watching the tiny one sleeping in the bassinet beside us made it perfect.

Sunday, Aug. 23
After a pretty good night, where I had to force the baby to wake up and eat, I woke up with a hymn in my head.  I just couldn't get the tune out of my mind, and it started a day of thankfulness for me.  Since we'd had another pretty good night with the baby, the nurses and doctors started rounds and talked about being dismissed all ready.  I assumed we'd stay another day since we were a c-section, but we had just about everything checked off the dismissal check-list and were all doing so well.  Thomas was down about 9 oz, but his bili-rubin levels weren't too high and he had filled plenty of wet and dirty diapers by this point that they weren't worried about him, and I was doing surprisingly good as well, so we started prepping to leave.  I really had to push Brian to start packing and getting ready, as I think he really wanted to spend more time in the hospital bubble before facing the work of going home to the boys.  I had a chance to grab a shower finally, and it was amazing to feel all the refreshing hot water on my traumatized body.  Nothing feels better than a hot shower after a c-section.  Around lunch time our pastor came by and visited, and prayed a very touching blessing over our newest son and family.  The whole day was just filled with a special spirit.  Our favorite nurse got us through the dismissal process, and we headed home.
Not a fan of the car seat, in his going home outfit, 53 hours old

Probably my most stressful/anxious moments were in the car on the way home, as I suddenly felt very vulnerable to be out of the hospital, and terrified of all the crazy weekend drivers.  We arrived safely though, and had fun introducing Thomas to his dog Cori and welcoming him home with a lot of fanfare.  Elijah even read Thomas his first story.  (Elijah did struggle quite a bit with us being gone at the hospital, so he was most excited to have us all home together.  As was I.)

Monday, Aug. 24
Much of this day was spent by me getting the house in order, taking a few minutes nap, and trying not to over-due it.  I found the stairs surprisingly easy, and was able to take another shower (two days in a row!) and organize some of our new things.  I found the rest of the boy clothes I hadn't unpacked, and spent some time finding all my favorite newborn boy outfits.  Thomas slept, and slept, but did spend a bit of time awake, playing "peek-a-boo" with Theo, watching his brothers and cousins playing in the splash pool in the backyard, and even trying to lift up his little head while in the bassinet.  About 85 hours after my c-section, I suspected my milk was starting to come in, and I was surprised I had managed to keep Thomas pretty satisfied until then.

79 hours old
Tuesday, Aug 25
As we approached the 100 hour mark, I wrote this from my recliner in the silence of the night at 4am.  I woke Thomas for his feeding, and couldn't seem to get back to sleep, though he did easily.  I still seem to have all this adrenaline and energy going, but I know I am going to crash soon.  Having three boys under six is going to take a lot of care to balance, and I'm already trying to figure out how to give each one their own special time with me.  Luckily, they like being together and don't mind sharing it a bit.  We'll take Thomas to his first pediatrician appointment later this afternoon right at 100 hours of age, and hopefully continue to be blessed with his good health and signs of a great little boy in the making.

98 hours old

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Summer/Before Baby Bucket List Update: Burke Lake Park

I'm feeling a bit of mommy guilt lately.  I had big plans for this summer.  Big.  But, I have really been falling off for the last few weeks and didn't end up getting a lot done.  With this being Theodore's last summer before he starts school full-time (why can't kindergarten be half-day like it used to!) and the possibility of this being our last summer in the DC area since Brian is only on a three year contract, it makes me feel even worse we didn't get to explore more.  But I know I shouldn't feel that badly since my boys really don't expect that much out of summer.  The sandbox, sprinkler, and tiny pool are enough for them at this age.  And throw in the cardboard rocket ship and castle that daddy made to play inside when it's too hot or rainy out and they are all set.  But I still like to get us out and about and make memories with them that extend past our house.  When I wrote a bucket list at the beginning of the summer their requests were as follows:

"Stay at playground all day."
And when pressed for more ideas, "Go to another playground."
He is awfully easy to please.  Luckily we had a bunch of play dates with MOPS and our outdoor art playgroup.  And as long as I had some shade or we went early enough, I was able to handle the heat and we got in a lot of playground time.
"Ride the subway into DC and go to the plane and rocket museum.
Look for rocks to add to my rock collection.
Visit Indiana."
Not sure we rode the subway recently, but otherwise I did get his requests accomplished as well.  He also amassed a large stick collection.
My list was a little longer, with new museums and beaches and library programs and picking fresh fruit and splash parks and zoo visits... and in the end we did get a little bit done off my list (especially eating lots of corn-on-the-cob and strawberry shortcake), but not nearly as much as I would have liked.  One thing we did accomplish yesterday, while celebrating Elijah's-last-week-as-the-youngest was a visit to Burke Lake Park in Fairfax County.

I can't believe it has taken us this long to visit Burke Lake Park.  This county park is located fairly close to us and packed with activities, from mini-golf to riding a miniature train.  And as much as my boys have been obsessed with trains (side note-you can get the Caldecott award winning book "Locomotive" on DVD once you are over reading the very long story nightly), I can't believe we haven't been here before!  And I've got a feeling we're going to end up here again on Elijah's birthday in just a few weeks.

Admission:  $10 per car for out-of-county on summer weekends, free on weekdays
Train ride:  $2.75 each for anyone 2 and over.  The ride lasted a good 10 minutes and was worth it.

 They stayed around and asked the conductor all sorts of questions afterwards.  The engine was aptly named the same as my home county, the Huntington.

Carousel:  $2.00 each for anyone 2 and over.
*I could have saved $2 and let them ride the carousel by themselves.  Elijah chose one of the stationary tiny horses and did not need my help staying on.  And Theodore climbed up his horse all on his own.  First carousel they haven't needed help on.

Ice Cream Parlor:  check website for hours, about $3 for a large one-scoop cone of Hershey ice cream (I could have just grabbed another cone from home and had the boys share, it was a lot of ice cream!)

Other activities:  disk golf, trail walking, miniature golf, camping, playgrounds, boat rentals, fishing orienteering, and a 4.7 mile fitness course (my goal is to be able to run it in a few months)

And, of course we played on one of the three playgrounds as well.  A pretty perfect morning for my two little guys.  I wished they would stay this easy to please forever!

Pregnancy Craving: Cherries! (Tree-mendous Fruit Farms in MI)

While I've been pregnant this time, one of my favorite flavors has been cherry.  Whether it's in pie, soda, or fruit form, I've not been able to pass on it for anything.  I rewarded myself for running a 5k at 21 weeks pregnant with a cherry pie from Mom's Apple Pie Shop, found some delicious cherry soda in the Pop Shop at Frederick, MD, and enjoyed sweet cherries as soon as they came into the grocery.

So when my husband was reminiscing about cherry picking in his childhood, and I found out the farm they visited had an industrial PITTER you could use, I immediately jumped at the chance to try it out for ourselves.  I hate pitting cherries, especially when I have to do it for not just myself but my children also (tried giving one to Eli to just eat around, and he ate the entire pit!).  And I've never even attempted making my own fresh cherry pie since it would require so much pitting (and I prefer my hands not be stained purple).  Even though that has long been my favorite type of pie.  But I am happy to report that this has been rectified, as we were able to visit the Tree-Mendus Fruit Farm while in Indiana for July 4th, and now happily have a freezer full of pitted, ready-to-pie, cherries.

There's a bit of paperwork to be done to pick fruit at Tree-mendous Fruit Farm.  Your first stop is in the store to pick up a permit and see what is available for the day.

Then you drive out to the orchard and find the rows of trees and pick up your buckets.  There are two very different types of cherries to choose between.  We chose some of the darker, sweet cherries to eat raw (left the stems on thinking it may keep them fresher), and then mainly filled up on bright red tart cherries to be used in pies and other cooking endeavors (they will be pitted, so you don't need to leave stems on).  I think my boys like carrying buckets more than they like actually picking.

 Tart on the left, best for baking while the sweet cherries on the right are great raw.
 You would think Elijah did all the work!

After this you head to the pitter station, where they will pit all your tart cherries for you ($0.30/lb).  There are several steps in getting the cherries ready, and the boys really liked getting to help and observe the process.

I want one of these!  (and a few dozen trees)

Then, you finally head back to the store to pay for your fruit (and anything else you can't resist picking up).  (Of course there is still more work to be done once you get home.  We decided to portion all the berries into 2 lb packages each, using zip-lock freezer bags, that would be ready to thaw and use in pies.)

 There are plenty of areas around the farm for photo ops, picnics at tables, and playground type areas for the kids.  They can also check out some goats as well.  And there are nice clean bathrooms in the store (or port-a-potties around the farm).  Pretty much everything you would need or want for spending some time out with little ones.

After we had picked (raspberries also, which the boys love), and picnicked on the grounds, we headed to a nearby beach.  Despite growing up in Indiana I rarely spent any time in Michigan, and I think this was actually the first time I've set food in Lake Michigan, and was the boys first time into any of the Great Lakes.  We just waded in and let the boys play in the sand for a while, and walked out on the pier.  Made for a beautiful day.