Sunday, November 1, 2015

Life with a Threenager and Newborn

Notice how I've been absent? that's because life with a threenager and a newborn (okay she's 2 months now) is a little busy. When one sleeps (the munchkin) the other is awake and wanting to play (the monkey),
and when the monkey sleeps the munchkin is then awake wanting to eat or play.
So time to get anything fun done (yeah, I consider this to be fun) is limited to the evenings - when I'm hanging out with Rusty and/ just too exhausted to do anything. And then we've had company for the majority of the time - not complaining at all because it's been fun to have people and our moms have both been helpful in entertaining and playing with the monkey giving me a break from 2...but having company changes the family dynamic - it just does...and it makes for a never dull/boring moment!

My mom was the 1st visitor - she was suppose to arrive prior to the munchkin being born but since that girl has a mind of her own mom arrived a few days after, which was actually perfect.
We took mom to a little zoo - which wasn't really a zoo, even though it called itself did have some animals.
He was moving FAST! Seriously this one might've been the one that raced the Hare and won!
We took her to the big park.
We took her to our village's festival...
We took her to the BIG park/amusement park
She and Owen went "consploring" around the village, to the park, around the neighborhood...
We took her to St. Neots - where we mainly played on the playground
We did a "Girl's Trip" to Cambridge where we went punting (boat ride) and a walking tour

Before having a cream tea...poor little munchkin didn't get to partake of the tea, but she was included...can we say that this was her 1st tea?
Mom was also around for all of our antics with the munchkin...
Of course the antics continued after she left (they'll probably continue the rest of her life), and then GG arrived and off to Cambridge we went!
She taught the monkey to how to use her camera
And he was surprisingly pretty good!
We took her to the gymnasium for open play time
We took her to St. Ives
The monkey tried on his Halloween costumes so she could see him in them (she brought them with her)
And she was able to have a few conversations and smiles with the munchkin before she left (she was getting more vocal)
But the time for GG to leave came as well because we had more visitors who would be on their way shortly.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

God Has a Sense of Humor

just a few hours after birth - yeah, we're ready for our picture to be taken!
Or some could say that "God answers prayers in his timing"...but I prefer "God has a sense of humor." You see, I have a daughter. My entire adult life when I thought about having kids I only wanted boys, partly because I have 3 brothers and I'm the only girl and partly because I know what a brat I was and I really didn't want to have to deal with a "me". But God has a sense of humor.
the little lady
Growing up every time my mom got pregnant after me - which was 4 times, as she had 2 miscarriages - I prayed for a sister. You know those little kid prayers, the "Dear Jesus, Please let this baby be a little girl so I can have a sister. I will clean my room every day and listen to my parents if you only give me a little sister." I said this prayer - or something similar - for the first 3 pregnancies, many times...but then the 2 miscarriages happened and then with the 3rd pregnancy when D-Day (delivery day) came the baby was a little boy. I was sad, but I loved my little brother and I was really happy I had a little sibling. So then when my mom got pregnant again (#4) I thought "Hmmm, maybe if I pray for a little brother I can trick God and he'll really give me a sister!" So I started saying my prayer but this time praying for a little brother - while hoping it would be a girl and I'd finally have a sister. Yeah, just in case you were wondering - you can't trick God...he gave me what I'd prayed for this time, just not what I had hoped for - because I got another brother. As I got older I was so thankful God didn't answer my prayers because I loved being the only girl and having brothers!
real life babydoll
So let's fast-forward 26 1/2 yrs to when I'm 36 1/2...I get pregnant and I refuse to find out what we're having. We found out with the Monkey because Rusty really wanted to know (he's a planner)...but I had made an agreement that if we found out for the 1st, we wouldn't find out for the 2nd. He agreed - hoping I'd change my mind I'm sure...but I didn't (have I ever mentioned how hard-headed and stubborn I am?!). The 2nd pregnancy was almost identical to the 1st, except this time when a small selection of food started to sound good again, I wanted to eat sweet things - not that they always sat well, but they just sounded good. With the 1st pregnancy I couldn't stand anything sweet...but other than that everything was the same (nausea, food aversions, smells, heartburn, the way I carried, etc...). I thought I was having a boy at first - no doubt in my mind, but as time went on I thought in my mind (but I didn't tell anyone my suspicion) "I bet it's a girl" if for no other reason than God has a sense of humor.
favorite spot to sleep
D-Day (delivery day) came - early...which then made me think even more - it's a girl (because let's face it, if I'm having a girl she's going to be a little like me, which means she's going to do things when she wants to and no one can force her to do anything else - you know, hard-headed and stubborn...) and then the baby was born and I looked down and said "It's a girl" and I immediately thought "I KNEW it!" God didn't give me a little sister that I begged for - but in reality it's a good thing I didn't get...he waited. He gave me 4 sister-in-laws first and then he decided to have a little more fun and he gave me a daughter.
sleeping peacefully
Oh yes, God has a sense of humor! The little girl who declared to her mom when she was 2 or 3 "I'm not going to be a mommy when I grow up!" and who then grew up and said "I don't want any girls only boys!" is now a mom...and she has a daughter...and that daughter is going to grow up to be one kick-ass woman, because that's how we roll.
a small smile
9 days early
6 lbs 3 oz
Somewhere around 18.5" long
Lots of hair - but mostly on the back of her head
She loves to eat..and is pretty good at it
She loves to sleep...mostly on mommy or at least within touching distance...and boy can she sleep (so much different than the monkey!)
Yeah, we've all decided we like her and we'll keep her.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

9 Days Early - Labor and Birth

1:38 am Monday August 31st 2015, I wake up because I'm experiencing some serious cramping contractions. If you've never experienced contractions before let me try to explain the feeling. It's as if an alien is breaking through your midsection - which is seizing in red hot pain, while an alligator is chomping away on your pelvis, and from the waist down you can't move because of the muscle spasms - so you're pretty much paralyzed EXCEPT you feel everything - you're just paralyzed in the sense that you can't move at all and no matter what you try to ease the pain - nothing works and the pain doesn't ease. (And that description isn't even accurate in the pain you experience but it's the closest that I can even compare it to...) So yeah, that's what I woke up times - except in this instance I was SO EXCITED because it meant that I would not have to be induced!! It felt so wrong being so happy to be in that much pain!

I started timing contractions - which is not something I'd had to do before - so I don't even know if I was timing them correctly or not...but they were about 9 minutes apart - which in my counting meant I had 9 minutes to rest between contractions...and I knew right when they were coming - which was really nice know Prepare for the pain! As time continued dwindling away I continued counting and thankfully the 9 minutes went down to 6 and then continued down to 5 and I thought "YAY! It's almost time to start the real counting!" and then it went back up to 9 minutes apart! During this time I was getting snacks and food together that the monkey could take with him when he went to my friend's house (since he has so many allergies I always pack food for him) and I was getting the last minute things together still - since I knew for sure we were going to be going to the hospital and having the baby!

But honestly people, do you know how disheartening it is to get those darn contractions down to 5 minutes apart only to have it go back up to 9?! It's VERY disheartening. Especially when the clock is working against you and it's now 4 am! But don't worry - from that point on the really bad contractions started - the ones where you can barely even focus on breathing because you are in so much pain...the ones where you have to press your head up against something hard just trying to focus on another part of your body...the ones where you have to yell at yourself internally "RELAX!! RELAX!! RELAX!!" because if you tense up it just makes it worse...yeah, those contractions - the real ones where you know that this baby is coming sooner than later but right now it's just a timing issue.

5 am and the contractions moved to 6-7 minutes apart and Rusty came downstairs to check and see how I was doing. Hell...I was in hell. (Now don't get all upset that he wasn't with me earlier, I told him to go to bed and I'd wake him up if I needed him. The one thing I didn't need was anyone else around while I was going through hell...or at least I didn't need him yet. Trust me, there comes a time where I did need him...or at least I needed his hands to squeeze all the blood out of his fingers, but that wasn't yet.)

6 am - guess who wakes up?! That's right the monkey! Bright-eyed and bushy tailed! We get him breakfast - and the contractions move to 4-5 minutes apart...still not close enough to call the labor ward and find out if we can come in...(remember it's 3 contractions within 10 min for 1 hr)...but these contractions are bad and as 7 am creeps closer they move to 3-4 minutes apart.

7 am I decide to call the hospital and let them know I'm now having contractions 3-4 minutes apart and ask if I should come in...they say "Not yet. You're scheduled to come in at 9 am, why don't you just wait until then unless you think you need to come in earlier." I hang up and tell Rusty "They said stay home till my appointment." And what does my not-so-laid-back husband say? He said "Call them up and be the rude American and tell them you are coming in!" I waited for 2 more contractions to come - because let's face it I wanted to make sure that they were going to stay closely spaced and not all of a sudden drop to 9 minutes apart again...after 2 in the space of 6 minutes I decide that Rusty is probably right and I need to call and beg/plead for them to let me come in. What do the midwives tell me when I call? They first ask "Have you had your breakfast yet?" Thinking that I can answer that question correctly I say "I had a few bites to eat about an hour ago but nothing since." To which the midwife responds with "You need to eat some breakfast first because you could be in for a long labor and you need to make sure you have enough energy and strength. After you eat your breakfast you can come on in." That's right - they told me to EAT, in the States eating is a BIG no-no. So I attempted to eat a banana as I dealt with contractions in the car on the way to the hospital (which was only about 5 minutes away - just over a mile) - where my friend was meeting us to pick up the monkey. Yeah, maybe 1/4 of the banana was eaten, because if you've ever tried to eat while in labor (aka your body being torn apart) it's not the easiest thing to do!

Rusty dropped me off at the front of the hospital and went to park the car and I thought I'd wait for him in the lobby...HA! HA! HA! I sat there through 2 contractions and then said "F this!" and started walking to the labor ward...that's right walking. You see, this is one area where I think the hospitals in the States might have it up on the hospitals in England - in the States you show up at the hospital in labor and there is someone to whisk you away in a wheelchair to labor and delivery. So basically you are a celebrity! In England (and really this is my only complaint) you show up at the hospital and you walk down the hall, up the stairs, and down a couple more halls to the labor ward...where you wait to be buzzed in and then they walk you down another hall to an empty room where you can then prepare to have a baby. (No "celebrity" status here.) I got to the top of the stairs when Rusty and the monkey joined me - because he wanted to make sure I got to the labor ward! Can I just say it was horrible! For instance if you think Hell is the worst place you can go, then where I was at was about 10 levels below Hell...and it might've felt this bad simply because I was walking to the labor ward - with contractions every 2 min. Yes, it is possible to walk through active labor contractions as you are transitioning...I don't recommend it because again - it's 10 levels below Hell, but it is possible.

We walked into the labor ward and there was no rush to greet the woman who walked in the door in extreme pain who was barely standing upright...the midwives just stayed where they were and said "Are you Melanie who just called?" To which I replied "uh-huh" because that was really all I could utter at that moment. One midwife took me down the hall to my room and she started to go through my papers as I struggled to breathe and take off my pants so that she could see how far along I was. Sometime during this Rusty was told the monkey couldn't stay in the room - which he (the monkey) was actually really sad about as he really wanted to see the birth and I think he thought he might get to since he went to the room with us - so Rusty took him downstairs to wait for my friend to arrive.

About 4 contractions later (so roughly 8 minutes) I looked at the midwife and said "I need to push!" And she said "Let's get you in the position you want to be in and you do what your body is telling you to do." So up onto the back of the bed I went and I squatted - because honestly if you're going to have a baby, and you have labor pains in your hips - the only position I have found to be the "least torturous" is to squat (TMI? Possibly but this is labor and birth so there is really no TMI in that case.) I was offered laughing gas - because that's one of the pain med's that is offered here - and before I was in the hospital I thought I would try it because as my midwife explained it to me "Laughing gas is like having a couple of glasses of wine - it relaxes you." and honestly that sounded GREAT! (I asked her if I could get some of it for during the pregnancy - because that would've been really helpful to deal with the food aversions and nausea...but she said no.) However at the point in which I got to the hospital the thought of having to breathe from a mask sounded horrible because it was taking everything in my to just take deep no to the gas.

So there I was, squatting up against the back of the bed, grabbing onto the metal parts of the bed that I could hold onto, and attempting to squeeze the metal so hard that it would bend or be crushed - it really didn't matter which...but the metal wasn't budging and Rusty and his breakable hands were not in the room. I thought at one point "I can do this on my own...if he doesn't make it back in time, I can..." and then I attempted to squeeze the metal again. I will say squeezing metal is not very satisfying, especially when it doesn't bend...and it doesn't really take your mind off the pain because you are not causing it any pain. "WHERE IS RUSTY?!?!" was what I was internally screaming because I needed his hands to squeeze every ounce of blood out of... You see where metal is not satisfying, human flesh is, especially when what you are squeezing are the hands of the person who got you in this position. (Yes, I know it takes 2...but when only 1 person goes through 9 months of hell - pregnancy - and then that same person has to push a child through a really small opening - all that person can think is: HE DID THIS TO ME AND HE NEEDS TO FEEL A FRACTION OF THE PAIN!)

At some point Rusty came back, and I know it wasn't that long because I wasn't pushing for that long...but when in pain, a minute can feel like an hour. All that mattered was that when he came into the room he brought his hands with him! Thankfully he has strong hands and so no bones were broken...I might've felt bad if I had broken any bones in his hands...but at that moment all I was trying to do was transfer my pain to his hands because when they say "Ring of Fire" they truly do mean "RING OF FIRE"...and I couldn't handle being on fire in addition to all the other "labor pain"...luckily though the "ring of fire" is the last part - because when you get to that part it means you are evicting the baby!
8:23 am, less than 1 hr from when I arrived at the labor ward, I successfully evicted the alien occupant - who turns out wasn't an alien after all but was a human being weighing in at 6 lbs 3 oz with a head full of hair (which I knew because heartburn anyone?!). This baby had the longest fingers, toes, and feet that I'd seen in awhile, and it also happened to be a girl - because God has a sense of humor!
Thankfully with this birth I had no complications or major blood loss, which was unlike the monkey's birth. I also was able to give birth without millions of people walking in and out of the room - it was just Rusty, the midwife, and myself...who knew that a birthing experience could be somewhat "relaxed" and calm? Who knew that the woman giving birth could truly be in control of the entire experience? If I were to ever have another baby, and I could choose where to have it - I would choose England any day of the year...BUT I am done having kids, so I'm glad that I was able to have this experience.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

11 Days Early - Water Breaks (might be a little TMI if you've never given birth)

So if you've been following along then you know that on Sat Aug 29th 2015 we went to Cambridge but what you didn't necessarily know was that that night my water broke! Yeah, why my water breaks prior to being in actual labor I'll never understand - because as "exciting" as it is it's really not fun at all! You see when your water breaks you just start seeping liquid (TMI?) and there's absolutely nothing you can do because it doesn't stop until your baby is born. Now in the States that means you immediately go to the hospital and within the next 24 hrs you WILL have a baby, but here in England it means that as long as you and baby are okay and there are no signs of infection, you get to stay home and leak away until you are in full blown labor - which is actually super nice! Now you might think "How do you know if there are signs of infection?" to which the answer is quite easy - you call the labor ward at the hospital and they interrogate you for 10 min to find out how you are and what exactly is happening (all while you are busy packing your hospital bag that you have put off packing because you still have 9 days till you're due). After the phone call you hang up and tell your husband "Hey! We get to stay home until labor starts (3 contractions within a 10 min time period for 1 hr), they're sending a midwife over in the morning to check on me, and in the meantime I need some heavy duty pads/diapers otherwise I have to sit on the toilet all night." (again, TMI?) So then your husband gets the fun job of running out to the only store open at 10:55 pm on Saturday night - while you get the BRILLIANT idea of using your 3 1/2 yr old's unused Thomas the Train pull-ups (unused because he is totally potty trained and we still had some) while you wait for your husband to come home. This was also the point at which I called a new friend - who had said "If you need anything before your mom comes let me know." and I basically said "My water broke, but I'm not in labor - could you possibly take Owen when that does happen? I'll keep you posted." And being an amazing person she said yes and was then "on-call" all weekend for us! (Seriously though, she is an amazingly wonderful person, who did this for someone she had just met a couple of weeks before.)

But really people - we are a comedy routine over here. So here I was - leaking fluids with Thomas the Train pull-ups on, when my husband comes home with the only pads that the store had - which were not heavy duty (they didn't have them) and I said "Oh Thank you! I'm sure I'll be able to use them sometime but for now I've got some pull-ups on."  And honestly he had nothing to say - because really, what can you say to that?! After about an hour and he knew I wasn't going to immediately have a child he decided to go to bed - with my encouragement - and I decided I'd try to sleep too, but on the couch in my pull-up on top of a "pee-pad" (crib protector pad with an additional towel on know so the couch wasn't going to get anything on it). But honestly, have you ever tried to sleep with liquid seeping out of you? Yeah, it's kinda I didn't sleep. I walked (which is supposed to be good for getting labor going), and I wrote a couple blog posts, and then I fell asleep at 5 am...

The Monkey woke up at 6 am so that's when we all were awake! It was now Sunday Aug 30th, so 10 days early - and I was expecting the midwife at some point that morning, but it wasn't like I was stuck at home because when you're wearing pull-ups for 3 1/2 yr olds and leaking you really don't feel like going to the park and playing or going to the store and getting groceries or going sightseeing...really you don't feel like doing ANYTHING. So we had a lazy Sunday...did some laundry - because I wanted to do something!

Around noon the midwife came by (yep, here in the UK midwives make house calls - it's so nice! Seriously if you're going to have a baby you should come to the UK - it's so much more laid back and relaxed than in the States...sure they might angle more towards no drugs - but they do give you the option of laughing gas when you're in labor! And you can get drugs). Everything checked out as okay, but she made an appointment for Monday Aug 31st at 9 am to be induced. At that point Dr's in the states would be freaking out - because it would be over 24 hrs from when my water broke that the induction would start - so not an American thing to do. Having been induced with Owen (after nothing really happening except my water breaking 12 hrs earlier) I had been down this road before and I really DID NOT want to be induced...but I was prepared that it could happen - I just prayed hard that it wouldn't.

The rest of the afternoon was spent walking around the downstairs trying to get labor started while also watching Finding Nemo with the Monkey for the 1st time - it was a HUGE deal! He never sits still long enough for a movie - but he did for this one...and he ate his bowl of popcorn (which he also LOVES) The evening came and nothing was really different except I had a few small contractions - which gave me hope that something would happen before 9 am. So all Sunday night I walked around our downstairs - literally (and somehow my fitbit didn't register all my walking!). But there does come a time when you are just too exhausted to walk, and you remember the midwife saying "Walk but also get rest!" - so you then decide at midnight to sleep and see what happens naturally...

Sunday, August 30, 2015


We decided we were going to go to Cambridge for the morning - it's not far from where we are living and I hadn't been there in years, besides it was a beautiful day and we wanted to make sure we got out! Sometimes if nothing is planned it takes us forever to get the monkey out the door (see previous post - sometimes it's not just me!) but if we tell him we're going somewhere he'll get up and go! However this morning when he woke up he said "I'm not in the mood to go to Cambridge." and it being a full moon tonight (which makes him evil usually) we knew that we were taking a huge risk to ignore what he said and go anyway!
But as soon as we got to the center and we saw a park - he wanted to go into the park and what did he find?! That's right - the playground! He was so excited he was yelling "MOMMY!! LOOK! DO you SEE it?! Do you see the playground?!" and I kept saying "No, I don't see anything besides trees/flowers/birds..." and then he'd run and drag me along (because we were holding hands) and he'd ask the questions again as we got closer...People walking through the park were thoroughly entertained with his level of excitement over the playground!
We continued walking and went to the market happening in the center - it was a disappointing market after coming from Belgium where there are tons of fruit and veggies stands along with other foods...this market (no picture) had 2 fruit/veggie stands, a handful of vendors selling other food items (nuts, cheese, etc.), some handmade crafts, souvenirs, and then food to eat right there...It wasn't what I remembered the market to be 14 yrs ago when I was there (man that was a long time ago!).
I really wanted to go punting on the river, however Owen had informed us on the drive to Cambridge that he did not want to go on a boat ride! I thought that if he saw the boat he might want to because it wasn't like any of the boats he's been on...and thankfully I was right! He saw a boat and said "I want to go on that boat!!"
So we did! And he did really good at sitting relatively still, not standing up (except when we went under the "willow type trees" where when he stood he could grabs leaves and vines)...
There are tons of colleges/universities in Cambridge besides Cambridge...and we learned about them all as we passed by them...however please don't ask me to tell you about them! I do remember that there was a prank at this university where one night a student climbed up the outside of the building and places a traffic cone on the top right (I think) spire and then climbed back down. When the dean (I think that's who it was at least) saw it he was quite upset and had scaffolding built so that they could take the traffic cone down. However it couldn't be done the same day, which meant that - that's right, the student climbed to the top that night and moved the traffic cone to the left spire  - which meant that the next morning the scaffolding had to be taken down and moved to the other side where the traffic cone had been moved! That just goes to show that college/university students are the same everywhere.
St. John's College - the front and back...absolutely beautiful! (It was where the movie "The Theory of Everything" was filmed...but it's not where Stephen Hawking actually went to school - he studied at Trinity Hall.) Around this part of our trip is also where we bumped into another boat with a 1st time punter...we actually t-boned the boat and the 1st time punter ended up in the river! What was odd was that no one in her boat was trying to help her get out of the water - it was our boat that was helping. Thankfully she wasn't injured...and hopefully she learned how to punt down the river rather than across (and in the way of traffic) because it was just starting to get crowded on the river.
After our boat ride someone was starving and getting to be a little cranky - and it wasn't the pregnant one because I'm never quite that hungry and I'm rarely cranky. So it was off to lunch and then back onto the double decker bus so it could take us to our car (we parked outside the center).
Now you might think "Oh you could've stayed longer and done more exploring and sightseeing" and sure we could have but it's also a place that we can go back to whenever we want because it's close...and it's not worth keeping an exhausted kid out and ruining the we went home so he could take a nap.
Unfortunately for all of us - he fell asleep the last 7 min of the car ride, which meant that when we got him inside he refused to take a nap because he already had! But he did run around, talk, sing, and stomp for about an hour before yelling that he was "Ready to get up!!"...the rest of the afternoon/evening was "fun times" with an extremely tired threenager, Thankfully when bedtime rolled around (30 min earlier than normal) he didn't throw a tantrum and he passed out - he was one tired kid!