Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hooray for Grandparents!

Our kids are very fortunate to have 4 very special grandparents who love them all to bits ... and who make far too few appearances in this blog. So this post is to highlight them! We are glad that they all have been able to meet Chloe and spend some special time with our family in the past few weeks.

My parents live about 45 minutes away and were able to come and stay with Audrey & Carter while I was in the hospital with Chloe. They helped take care of the kids for 4 days! PHEW! (I think they were ready to go home by the end of the time ... the kids are a lot of fun but I can say - since they are mine, after all - they are also full of energy and can wear you out in no time.) :) Of course, a week later they were calling and asking if they could stop by to visit "us" ... although we know they really were coming to see the kids. Chad and I are now officially chopped liver. :)

Mom-mom with baby Chloe

Pop-pop holding her too.

About a week after Chloe & I came home from the hospital, Grandma & Grandpa came for a visit from Minnesota. Chad's sister Molly had a baby girl, Brooke, about 2 weeks before me, so they were able to spend time with both of their new granddaughters on this visit. I'm glad that Chloe has a little girl cousin to hang with for many years to come!

Audrey & Carter had a ton of fun playing with Grandma & Grandpa, and Chloe enjoyed all the extra arms to sleep in.

Grandma & Chloe

Grandpa with Audrey & Chloe - can Chloe look much more relaxed??

We are glad the kids have such loving grandparents! Thanks for all your help over the past month!

Doing v. Being

So ... this morning I had a little epiphany. In the shower, where I have most of my epiphanies. :) As I thought about the day ahead and looked around at my semi-scuzzy shower, I started thinking ... when am I going to get this shower cleaned? What will I do to keep the kids busy? How am I going to do this, that and the other, etc? Then I thought to myself ... Why am I trying to DO stuff right now?

Of course, I like to feel like my house is semi-neat, and that I have a shred of control over my surroundings. But as I gave my situation more thought, I almost started giggling with glee, because the truth is this: When you have a newborn, people expect nothing from you. NOTHING. When people see me, they don't expect my hair to be done, my clothes to be clean or my face to be made up. When people come to visit, they don't expect my house to be clean, or the toys to be put away, or the dishes to be clean and out of sight. When Chad comes home, he doesn't expect a nice hot meal on the table, or the bed to be made, or the house to be in order. (Not that he "expects" these things to be done but I usually try to have this much accomplished in a day.) On top of it, people don't expect my kids to be spit-shiny neat and clean either. They don't even expect my kids to have great behavior because they are, of course, "adjusting to all the changes."

So the beauty is that anything I actually do accomplish is icing on the cake right now. So I decided - why not seize this time and actually enjoy it rather than stressing out about what is NOT "done"... and just "be" with baby Chloe and the rest of the family? How about I just enjoy all the down time I spend sitting around nursing? How about I just play with the kids and not try to get massive amounts of laundry done?

So that's what I'm doing, or "accomplishing" today. I held my baby girl, the last baby I anticipate ever having, and looked her in the eye and cooed at her. I played tea party with Audrey. I cuddled Carter on the sofa while I fed Chloe and he watched a Baby Einstein show. Of course, I also "did" a few things like cleaning out some old food in the back of the fridge, making the kids lunch, and putting a load of laundry in. I have even thought about what's for dinner tonight. But overall, for now, I am choosing to embrace this precious time in my life where the love is high, and the expectations are low.

Here are my four reasons why I do what I do ...

... and in case you're wondering, my 4th reason is Chad, not Audrey's stuffed animal sitting on the end of the couch. :)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Chloe's Birth

Well, I didn't get into all this in my last post. I just was excited to put a little picture of our new cutie on the blog! But there was a little drama with Chloe's birth.

When Chloe was first born, they cleaned her up a little and brought her around the good ole c-section "curtain" so that I could see her up close and to take a couple first pictures. Everything seemed fine. As they usually do, they took her down to get checked out (with Chad following along) and I stayed to go to recovery for about an hour or so. I was anxious to get down to my room so I could see and hold her ... and of course check for 10 fingers and toes. :) But when they wheeled me to my room, Chad came out with a nurse and they said that Chloe was in the NICU. Not what I was expecting to hear. So I asked to see her and they wheeled my massive bed all the way into the NICU nursery so I could at least see her for a couple minutes. I was worried, but really, I didn't feel panicked. At all. All I can say is that MANY people were praying for us that day, and it really helped that the neonatalogist did not seem overy concerned. I suppose if a group of people were gathered around and working on her I would have felt more upset. But she was resting comfortably in a little oxygen tent, and the doctor explained that she had inhaled a large amount of amniotic fluid on her way out. This resulted in her having some difficulty breathing, having an elevated heart rate and needing some oxygen. I think their main concern was that she would have an infection in her lungs so they were being cautious and had begun giving her IV antibiotics.

Anyhow, they wheeled me back and I tried not to burst into tears ... basically I wasn't so much worried that something terrible was going to happen, but I was so sad to not be able to hold her and have her with me. As I said to Chad later that day - it doesn't feel like I just had a baby. I just felt like a patient in the hospital. Thankfully, later that evening they managed to get me and all my equipment (IV's and such) piled into a wheelchair and they took me down to see her. That was SO wonderful. Everything the staff had to say to me about Chloe was positive. The oxygen level in her tent was lowered from 50% to 21% (which is basically normal). Her heart rate was returning to a normal rate. And most importantly, they were happy that she just seemed content and not in any distress.

The next morning, the improvements just continued. Her chest x-ray was "like a totally different baby" - no more fluid in the lungs. And they told me that after lunch she could come be with me in my room! I spent a LOT of time just holding her. I felt so thankful and blessed ... they said that usually kids did not leave the NICU so quickly. She spent that night in the NICU again (at this point they were giving her antibiotics by IV every few hours in case of infection). By the next day, her blood work showed NO signs of infection, and she was officially discharged from the NICU. And best of all, they said that she would be able to come home with me!

In hindsight, I just praise God for watching over our family in those few days. Chad and I both felt a tremendous amount of peace throughout Chloe's time in the NICU and I know that was God's presence with us. And we are praising Him for His speedy and complete healing of her initial health issues. I took her for her first doctor appointment yesterday, and the doctor said she was perfectly healthy. This is God's kindness to us ... God would still be good if He had not healed her ... but we are so grateful for the happy ending He gave us. Thank you to all of you who prayed for Chloe and us through those first days ... we know your prayers were answered!

"How can I repay the Lord for all His goodness to me?" - Psalm 116:12

Chloe's first day ... in the oxygen tent

Chloe before going home

Monday, July 20, 2009

Little Miss Sunshine has arrived!

Announcing ...

Chloe Elizabeth Smith
Born July 16, 2009
6 lbs, 12 ozs.
20 inches long

We all are happy, healthy, and home. Praise the Lord!

Monday, July 13, 2009

we've decided ... finally

Chad and I have been debating ... over what to name the baby. Over the past couple weeks we decided on a first name. So at least that was solidified. And tonight, we finally decided on a middle name! Yay!

You'll have to stay tuned to find out what that name is, however.

Sorry! :) Don't you hate when people do that? I just like for something to be a surprise when the baby comes! At least you don't have too long to wait ...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Overheard ....

... in the bathroom this morning. Early. While Chad and I were trying to get a few more minutes of shut-eye ...

Audrey (in a hushed tone): "Carter, shh, let's tiptoe. Do you know how to tiptoe?"
Carter: [Feet going BOOM, BOOM, BOOM across the bathroom floor louder than usual ...]

Guess not!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

one more week ...

... till I bring our new little baby girl home. At least I'm told it's a baby girl - lately I keep having these thoughts like - what if the doctor was wrong and a BOY pops out? Well, whatever the Lord brings us will be great. But if it's a boy, he will have to do without a name for a few days or so ... anyhow, random thoughts ...

So this time next week it should all be over. Well, let me rephrase that, it will all have just begun! We're pretty excited about what's to come, and I'm looking forward to be through with this pregnancy, although it has been a very smooth one altogether.

Just a few pictures of what we've been doing to pass the time this past week ...

Taking Audrey to swim class

Visiting the Upper Schuylkill Valley Park (aka "the farm")
Carter LOVED these baby pigs - can you tell by the big smile?

Picnicking with friends

Making big sister/big brother shirts. I was looking for some and they were all so expensive ... so we made these with some plain t-shirts and iron-on decals. Under $5 each! :)

I'm also keeping busy trying to squeeze in all the last minute projects and visits (ALONE!) with friends while I still can. Also trying to savor one-on-one time with each of the kids and Chad too. I know that I will "get my life back" eventually but the next few months should be pretty busy ... Keep us in your prayers!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

July 4th festivities

We had a very busy but super fun 4th of July. I apologize in advance, there are MANY pictures in this post ... So many fun and special moments today.

Started out by getting the kids dressed in ... you guessed it - red, white & blue! Even Baa & Cupcake got decked out with red and blue ribbons. :)

Audrey spent about an hour out in the yard with Chad playing wiffle ball. She is actually really good. Must get that from Chad (who would be more than thrilled to have her enjoy baseball as much as he does!) :) I love this picture of her making contact with the ball (and concentrating quite hard on the task at hand).

Getting ready to whale another one across the yard. In a skort, I might add.

My parents and brother came over to have an early birthday celebration for Chad, and of course to celebrate our country's birthday too. We had a fun time hanging out on the deck, playing with the kids, and eating good food.

Audrey with Mom-Mom.

Chad with his birthday cake. And Audrey. We put a sparkler on top instead of ALL those candles!

After dinner, we headed over to the Martz's house for our 4th annual "4th of July dessert/fireworks" party. This year Audrey had the idea of decorating bikes and having a bike parade. And as usual, Audrey has a way of pulling off her bright ideas ...

Emma, Audrey & Kaitlyn getting ready to GO!

All the kids lined up on their bikes. {Sigh} I CANNOT believe how old all these kids are now. Weren't they all just born yesterday??

After copious amounts of cookies, ice cream sundaes, water ice, pie & rice krispie treats were consumed, the kids did sparklers. Chad gave them instructions on how to be careful with them, this is why the girls are holding the sparklers out so gingerly. They almost seemed afraid of them at first!

Blue lips are always evidence of some really good blue raspberry water ice from Petrucci's ...

For some reason, Carter decided that Kelly's brother was the perfect target for him to throw the ball at ... over and over again. He was a good sport and made Carter laugh hysterically.

Blurry shot here ... but this is Chad setting up the "fireworks display" ... he has become the unofficial fireworks guy on the block. Today Audrey went with him to help pick out all the fireworks. However, once the fireworks started she was petrified that he was going to get hurt ... I kept reassuring her that he was being careful, but it was the theme of the evening.

For Carter this was his first time watching fireworks. He loved it!

A little sampling of the fireworks!

Happy Birthday America! :) Although it's not a perfect place (and truly what place is?), I am so thankful to live in this great country!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mommy Guilt

I am having major 'mommy guilt'.

I am two weeks away from baby's birthday, and I sure am feeling it. I am tired. I am lacking energy. If I get down to clean a spill off the floor, it is hard to get back up. There are oh-so-many things that I simply cannot do these days. Or REALLY don't feel like doing.

Here is why, I am huge now!

Really, Audrey is the source of most of my guilt. It is not purposeful, it's just that she can articulate all her disappointments to me, and she likes to talk. So she reminds me that we bought a slip-n-slide a month ago, and have yet to get it out and use it (... because I don't want to blow it up OR get down on my hands and knees and stake it in the yard). Or she says - why don't you ever pick me up anymore ( ... umm, because you weigh 41 lbs ... although Carter weighs about 35 lbs. and I still pick him up, but don't tell her or I will feel more guilty ...) And she wants to stay after her swimming lesson and swim "for fun" ... but I really could do without a) putting on a bathing suit or b) trying to corral 2 kids who can't fully swim in the huge pool at the Y or c) trying to wrestle 2 kids and myself out of those swim suits and into dry clothing in a crowded locker room, where I am sure to flash my half-naked 9 month pregnant body at half the world and my son is more than likely to run away from me in the process. REALLY don't want to be running down the hall partially clothed ...

I was telling Chad about this all last night - how tired I felt, how the kids just wanted me to play with them when all I wanted to do was take a nap, how it took all my effort to take them out to play in the late afternoon ... and he said "well, they just have to understand that you can't do everything right now" ... to which I replied "I know, but I'm like a broken record, I say that all day long! Plus, they don't really care about that, they just want me to act like a normal mommy!"

Here is the fortunate part of all this. And for me it feels like a major victory, because it is a change for me - I have mostly been sane and not a major grouch through this time. Usually when I get really tired, I get really grumpy and then I feel bad because I end up making the kids feel bad for asking for more milk or something. Which of course adds to the guilt. But I have truly been praying hard that God would just help me to enjoy the days and the moments, and not get caught up in the little irritations. And I can feel Him speaking to me throughout the day, reminding me to choose to be joyful even when I don't feel great. Thank you God!

This attitude makes it so much easier to be pleasant when Carter pads into the room at 7 am and shoves a yogurt in my face, saying "Hi Mommy, I have wogutt?" (Yes, he gets up, heads to the kitchen, opens the fridge, gets out a yogurt, and brings it into our room every morning now ... ugh.) It's a good thing he is so darn cute about it ...

My 2 cuties!