Monday, November 29, 2010

Oh My God! You Have Five!?

I have a lot to say about this topic.  Tonight I am exhausted so I will have to save the "a lot" for another day.  Here is a glimpse into my outings with the kids.

I took Jadon to the doctor's office today to rule out pink eye.  Thank God, we ruled it out.  I walked into the office carrying Grace and holding Elia's hand.  Jadon followed right behind. 

A nice woman said, "Wow!  You have three children!  How close in age are they?" 

I replied, "I actually have five." 

Then, with the most shocking face I have ever seen (not true, I've seen worse) she spit out, "Oh my God!  You have five!" 

I answered her questions.  What were their ages?  How many in school?  How far apart are the girls?  Are you having anymore?  How do you do it? 

Many people react that way when they hear I have five.  I realize five may not be the normal number anymore, but it is not freakish.  Really, it's not.  Maybe people assume I am trying to be the next Mrs. Duggar.  Nope.  I do love that show, but we stop at five.  (Thank you, Joe for doing your duty.)  Part of my decision to stop at five was because the van only holds seven passengers and I refused to move into a cargo van.  People would certainly think I was a Duggar wannabe then.

We shuffled out of the doctor's office in the same order we came in.  Past all of the onlookers in the waiting room.  Elia said goodbye to them all.

But, that's nothing.  If you could only see the looks we get when the seven of us are out all together.  I remember being at Ruby Tuesday's recently.  They sat us around a huge round table, which we filled.  Every one of the surrounding tables stared at us. 

I'm alright with people saying, "Oh My God!  You have five!"  You should see their faces when I tell them I am pregnant with twins!

...that twins thing was a joke people.

I was going to put up the picture from the professionals.
But this is REAL life!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Yes, I Let My Baby Eat Rocks.

We were at the boys' football game over the summer.  This became our weekly Saturday routine.  It was always such a pain dragging Christian and the two girls there.  But watching my boys play football, was something I envisioned from the time the ultrasound technician declared, "It's a boy!"  As much of a pain as it was to pack up all the necessities I did not want to miss the games.  We lugged the stroller, the blanket, the cups, the snacks, the toys, the chairs (and my coffee of course).  Even if I managed to see only 2 plays, it was worth it. 

Christian and Elia would play with the other kids but Grace was harder to please.  Under the booth where the announcers worked, was an area filled with tons of rocks.  The rocks were about the size of a golf balls.  Maybe a little smaller.  I was standing at the sidelines cheering on the boys while Grace sat about 3 feet away in the rock pile.  She was perfectly content sitting in the rocks.  After one of the plays, I walked over to check on her. 

Grace had black drool pouring out of her mouth.  She was grinning from ear to ear.  I squeezed her cheeks and out plopped a rock.  I told her, "No."  She smiled.  I walked away closer to the sidelines again.  Sure enough, upon looking back, her cheeks were large and she was cracking somewhat of a smile.  Again, I squeezed those fat cheeks, and out fell the rock.  Once more, I told her, "No!  That's yucky!"  She smiled again and laughed a little.  I stood there a minute and walked away. 

Seconds later I looked back and yep, she was eating rocks again.  This time I didn't move.  I honestly did not care.  She wasn't going to die.  Really, there is no need to call Social Services.  She was quiet and happy, eating the rocks.  It was allowing me to focus on the boys.  Christian and Elia were playing Ring Around the Rosie and Grace was eating rocks. 

I was standing about a foot away from her at this point.  My "mom eyes" were carefully observing her, but definitely not stopping her.  Then, I noticed two women standing behind me watching in horror.  I could read their minds.  "Where is her mother?  How awful!  She could choke!  Oh, how disgusting!"  I remember smiling to myself.  I thought about saying something to them.  It was funnier to let them watch her.

I'm hoping some of you moms that are reading can relate.  When you get to the fifth child, your fears are not the same as when you brought home your first.  You sanitize the pacifier every time it falls to the ground.  You even keep the pacifier in the plastic holder between uses.  Bottles are always sterilized.  You carefully clean your hands with Purell a thousand times a day.  Strangers and even friends are not welcome to hold your precious child.  I'd say by the time I got to the third baby it was a different story.  And by the fifth, well, she eats rocks.  I am OK with that.  I think she's OK with it too.

If letting Grace eat rocks allows my boys to see me cheering them on; then fine by me.  I'll let you in on another secret.  Over the summer we were at a friend's house with a sandbox.  She ate sand.  We hung out with our friends.  Grace ate some sand.  It came out in her diaper the next day.  It was gross, but she was fine.  She has also happily munched on mulch at the playground, gummed some sticks in our backyard, and licked god knows what that she has found on the floor of my house.

Moms know best.  Whatever makes life a little easier for you, is OK.  Obviously, I am not advocating locking our kids in a closet.  But I did just tell my friend with a three week old that she could lock the door to her older son's room at nap time.  I did it.  Nap time is sacred and locking your child's door keeps him in the room and allows you to get a break.  My child fell asleep 95% of the time anyway.  And by the end of the week I didn't even need to lock the door.  We'll talk more about that at another point in time.

So, I let my baby eat rocks.  If I have offended you for it, I apologize.  Wait, no I don't.

Not the day she ate rocks, but at a football game.  She had another item in her sights.

On the move.  Making her getaway.

Score!  Gracie found a stick!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Every Mother's Nightmare

My sweet baby girl, Elia, has been a delight since the day she was born.  She was a very easy and content baby.  After having three boys it was such a joy to be blessed with a little girl.  Her name means, God has answered.  During my stay at the hospital I remember just holding her.  I didn't want to put her down.  I knew that when I went home I would have to share my time with her three big brothers.  So, I held her.  Of course I did send her to the nursery overnight...those two nights of uninterrupted sleep would be my last for a while.  I took advantage of that luxury in the hospital.  Each morning I woke up excited to go get my sweet baby.  I wheeled her back to my room and held her in my arms.  I was careful to admire every inch of this masterpiece.  She was an amazing baby.

The next three weeks were heaven.  She was quiet and happy.  So easy going.  Then she began to vomit every time that she ate.  My second son Jadon had terrible reflux problems, so I was not too concerned.  I remember going through tons of burp cloths because he would throw up so much.  But, as that first day of vomiting continued I remember thinking that something wasn't right.  When she vomited it was so forceful.  It would eject up to two feet.  The noises she made after eating were weird.  The amount that came out of her ever so small body were too large.  I decreased her feedings and waited until the next morning.  Maybe it was some sort of bug.  Three older brothers can do that to a girl.

After three days, she was not any better.  I called the doctor. and the nurse went through what I am sure was the scripted Q&A.  She had suggested all the things I had already tried; decrease the feedings, hold her upright during the feeding; and burp her longer.  I explained that I had done these and this was my fourth child (not that I know it all, but I think we moms have a sixth sense about our babies).  She told me there was an opening the following day.  I accepted the appointment as I began to cry.  I apologized and told the nurse I needed her to be seen today.  I did not want to wait that long. 

My husband already suggested it was Pyloric Stenosis.  I had never heard of it.  His father and brother had it, which is why it was familiar to him.  Pyloric Stenosis is the thickening of the pyloric sphincter that connects the stomach to the small intestines.  The thickening blocks the food from passing into the stomach.  Vigorous contractions of the stomach try to force the feedings down, but as it becomes tighter, the contractions result in projectile vomiting. 

At that point I was a wreck.  I began searching the Internet for all the information.  That is always a bad idea.  Studies consistently said that Pyloric Stenosis was rare in girls.  It is common in 1% of healthy babies.  Over 57% were first born.  Males were more common at a rate of 5 to 1.  So, Elia being a girl, and fourth born, had me thinking her odds were in her favor.  Surgery was the only way to correct this.  I did not want my three week old having surgery.

I got to the doctor and Elia had just had a bottle.  She vomited there so the doctor was able to see it first hand.  Elia's skin was wrinkly: a sign of dehydration.  The doctor said we needed to go to Children's Hospital immediately.  It was highly probable she had this condition.  At that point I was sobbing and she had me call Joe.

When we got to Children's Hospital they hooked her up to an IV right away.  Because of the statistics, the initial doctor did not think she had Pyloric Stenosis.  They needed to do an ultrasound.  The technician was gone so we had to wait until the morning.  They would not let Elia eat during that time.  She was on an IV receiving fluids, but they told me she may become fussy because her stomach would still feel hungry.  That was all I could think about the rest of the night.  My poor sweet girl felt hungry.  How many babies in this world are sharing that feeling around the world tonight? What a sad thought.

They came in to get her the next morning.  I was eager to get in there, but fearful of the answer.  As soon as they placed the wand on her belly it was confirmed.  I sobbed again.  All I pictured was my fragile baby with tubes in her mouth placed under anesthesia.  It didn't seem right.  The doctors reassured me this was an easy procedure that it would be done laproscopically.  Three tiny incisions would be made.  The procedure should take thirty minutes at most.

I remember holding her in a pink and brown leopard print blanket.  I loved this blanket.  I had to have when I saw it in the store.  It was the first thing I registered for, because I could picture holding her in it.  I could not stop crying. 

I kept reminding myself that this situation could be so much worse.  I thought about how many families faced things that were far more difficult.  There were parents  holding terminal children in that same hospital.  This was a simple procedure. 

The doctor who would perform her surgery had such big hands.  I kept thinking about those huge hands cutting her small little belly.  I will never forget handing her off to a nurse.  I gave my baby to a stranger that would put her to sleep and cut her open.  That was the scariest moment of my life up until that point. 

We sat in the cafeteria waiting for them to buzz us.  They literally gave us a buzzer.  It was like Red Lobster on a busy Saturday night.  The waitress gives the customer a buzzer, and when the table is ready it flashes and buzzes.  A buzzer?  Really?  When the surgery was over it would buzz.  So, like hungry customers we waited for them to buzz us.  I stared at it; waiting. 

It finally buzzed.  The surgery was over.  We hurried to the waiting room and waited for them to call us.  The doctor said the surgery was very successful and she should wake up within a half hour.  When she woke up and the tubes were removed we could go see her.  That was the one thing I did not want to see.  My sweet Elia, non-responsive with tubes down her throat.

I think an hour or so went by and nothing.  Some parts are such a blur.  Someone came out and told us she was slow to wake up, which happens.  "Of course!", I thought.  So, we kept waiting. 

I stared blankly at whatever crap was on the waiting room tv.  We paced up and down the halls staring at the same artwork over and over.  We watched as other people left because their children were ready.  Another hour went by and nothing.  Finally, a little while later they came back.  They explained that Elia was still not awake and she needed to be transferred to the PICU (Pediactric Intensive Care Unit).  They told us to come with them.  I was not prepared for what I would see.  This tiny being, on this regular sized hospital bed laid there with tubes down her throat.  The image is still in my head.  I completely lost it at that point.  We followed her to the unit.  The doctors up there explained what all the numbers on the monitors were.  We needed to wait until she was breathing on her own. 

In the PICU were about 12 other patients.  I remember one was a small child with Cystic Fibrosis that was constantly being pat on the back to help clear her lungs.  Another mother stood by her young son who was in a car accident.  He was wrapped up and also had tubes in place.  I felt so much pain for that woman.  Seeing her made me thankful that Elia's condition was so minor in comparison. 

Elia laid there covered in her pink, fuzzy, leopard print blanket.  Her eye lids would flutter as Joe talked to her.  I stood there and held her tiny hand.  Her surgery took place the day she turned one month old.  All I wanted was for her to wake up.  After five hours had passed I was getting so nervous.  Joe kept telling me she would be fine.  The doctors were positive.  But all I kept thinking about were the "what ifs"?

She woke up shortly after midnight.  Nearly seven hours after her surgery.  She had a bad reaction to the anesthesia.  My heart was at peace.  My baby girl was awake and now healthy.  I remember the doctors pushing her bed out to move her to recovery.  We walked past the other patients that were still in crisis.  I stared at the woman with the young boy and said a quiet prayer for her and her son.

The next day she began eating but was still vomiting.  This was normal.  The doctors said she needed to hold down five straight feeds before we could leave.  This took several days.  She was still hooked up to an IV and a bunch of wires.  It was awkward to hold her.  Five days later she was released.  She was 100% healthy.  It was like none of it ever happened. 

Today Elia danced around the kitchen singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star which concluded with the "Big Finish" that her dad taught her.  It consists of a drawn out ending and a raising of her hands.  She is a joyful, happy, amazing baby girl, with the cutest Buddha belly you've ever seen.  Three small scars serve as a reminder of that difficult time.  I rarely think about it.  What I remember more is the other children in the PICU.  I wonder how they turned out and if they got to leave.

I don't ever want to be back in that place.  It's scary.  It's every mom's nightmare.  For a while after, my mind was consumed with the possiblity of the worst happening in the future.  One day I realized that I have no control over it anyway.  We pray for protection for our children and believe for the best.

I am thankful that Elia is now a bouncing 2 year old.  It's my prayer that my children bury me when I am old.  I think it's every mom's prayer.  I still live with some fear of the burying one of them.  But life is too short to live with that fear.  Reflecting on Elia's time in the PICU helps me remember.

Elia, 3wks old; on her pink, fuzzy, leopard print blanket.
The leopard print is around the edges off picture :)
She is sleeping with it today.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Black Friday!

My phone vibrated under my armpit at 4:20AM.  I flung my feet over the side of the bed and crept quietly into the bathroom to get ready.  The house was quiet.  I maneuvered through the house by the light of my cellphone.  Crap, I dropped the phone.  I paused, hoping my clumsy hands didn't wake anyone.  It's 4:45 and I am out the door.  Many cars are on the road.  I pictured the crazy lady from the Target commercials behind the wheel of one of the passing cars.  Have you seen her? She wears a red jumpsuit and is hilarious.  Then I realized that crazy lady had probably been waiting in line since midnight.  I drove past Target and saw that the parking lot was completely packed.  Cars were even parked in the surrounding stores and restaurants. 

Those people are crazy!  Maybe.  I was not on my way to hit the sales. I do plan on going out one year just for the experience.  Maybe I will make a jersey for myself with some kind of "scary shopper" name on the back to intimidate people.  I will definitely put black lines under my eyes.  Ha, that will be fun.  I don't think I will plan on an actual list for which to shop.  From what I've heard I might be disappointed.  I'll also pack a lunch in my purse.  Black Friday is the thrill of the hunt, the opportunity to save a few bucks, and maybe to spend some time with friends.  Yes, I will attempt the madness one year on Black Friday.

Today though, I had the privilege to hang out with my girlfriends.  Yep, at 5am.  We range in age and stages in life but we have become trusted friends.  Some of us hang out during the day but that forces us to chat while our kids interrupt us every 5 minutes.  Night times don't usually work either.  When we have a babysitter, I want to spend time with my husband.  No offense friends.  We have been meeting for a few weeks now.  I'm pretty certain we'll be adding another early morning too.  A time when we can just hang out, laugh, and forget about any other burden for a bit.  Friendships change so much as we grow.  Trusted friends are hard to find.  Friends have been there during the worst times and cheered during the best.  My friends make me a better wife, a better mom, and a better friend.  Some of us may not talk all week.  But I can guarantee that if I had a problem, I could call them and they'd be there for me. 

7 o'clock comes and we all part ways.  I feel refreshed.  My spirit is rejuvenated.  I realize when I get home I am back on duty.  The kids will be awake and the house no longer quiet.  Joe will be on his way out the door for work.  Even though I have been up, I am not tired.  The time that I have spent with the girls has been well worth the lack of sleep.

I think about Black Friday and the sacrifices people make to get up early, stand in the cold, and wait in long lines.  They are doing it for the pay out.  They may be doing it for the rush, the tradition, or simply for fun.  That is why I got out of bed at 4:20AM today.  I want this to become a tradition.  I want to look back fondly on the time I have spent with friends.  It was a sacrifice at first.  Sleep is so good.  But I'm telling you, time spent with friends is so much sweeter.  The pay out is far greater.  Maybe next year, we will tackle Black Friday together.

Have any fun Black Friday stories to share?  Leave a comment!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Name is Amy, and I Am a Complainer.

One day I asked my husband if I was a good wife.  He said, "Yes, but you complain a lot."  I said, "No, I don't!"  He said, "Yes, you do."  I said it again, "No, I don't."  I went on for a few seconds like this and then asked for examples.  As soon as that sentence came out of my mouth I wished I hadn't asked. 

Here were some of his responses.
- You complain about how much housework you have to do.
- You complain about the kids being crazy.
- You complain about me being late from work some days.
- You complain about the people upstairs.
I won't continue.  I'm pretty sure there were quite a bit more, but you get the drift. 
It was all true.  Hearing him tell me was hard.  I knew I was this way.  Although, I wanted to think that it wasn't something I did all the time.  I mean, in the grand scheme of things my life is good.  What do I have to complain about?
- I chose to be a wife and to take care of the home.  That includes the housework.  I am lucky to have a husband and five children to take care of.
- Crazy kids equals happy, healthy, kids.  One day I will miss the craziness of it all.
- My husband has a job that provides for us all.  If he is late, it's for a good reason.
- The tenants upstairs basically pay our mortgage allowing us to live in our house for almost nothing.
I don't want to be a complainer.  How do I be a wife that doesn't complain all the time?  Most people spend Thanksgiving, giving thanks for what they have.  It's a day to count your blessings.  What if I thought of everyday as if it was Thanksgiving? (Without the food of course.  That would just lead to a much fatter me.)  If I had that attitude would I make it through the day appreciating it more?  Maybe I am on to something.  It seems so simple.
Since the day my husband told me I complain a lot, I have tried to pay more attention to my actions.  I don't always get it right.  It's hard to not complain when laundry is never ending, pee is always all over the place in the bathroom, dishes always need to be done, the kid upstairs turns his music up too loud, Joe is home late and I am juggling dinner and homework and baths, the kids are screaming through the house playing some weird game they just made up....I'm exhausted just typing it!  Instead of complaining I want to focus on the positives.  The things I complain about are the things I am most thankful for!  How weird is that? 
I am now going to watch Buddy the Elf and do some laughing.  Surely I can make it through the movie without reverting to my old ways.  I am even going to enjoy a piece of pie, happily munching the crust that Joe burned!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Someone Once Told Me...Time Flies.

How many times have you heard the phrase, "Time flies?"  Joey (my oldest child) told me the other day that he couldn't wait until he could drive.  I told him to enjoy being eight.  After the words came out of my mouth I realized what I had just said.  No longer was it me on the receiving end of those words.  I was telling my child.

Soon after having Joey, I remember going through quite a difficult time.  Joey was colicky and cried all the time.  I will save this story for another post.  We were invited to a friends house for dinner.  This well seasoned women had walked through this part of life already.  She was in the middle of her own battle and  had become an empty nester.  I will never forget when she told me, "Time flies."

At the time, I couldn't wait for Joey to grow out of this stage.  Many days I counted down the hours until bedtime.  Often I would think, "It will be easier when he starts sleeping, crawling, walking, etc."  She continued to tell me to find joy in being a mom every day.

As I looked at her, I felt her heart.  I could see how saddened she was that the season I was in, was gone for her.  She blinked, and her babies were now adults.  That amazing woman changed the way I did motherhood.

Throughout all stages of our lives we are constantly being reminded of the most precious of commodities.  The one thing that you can never get back...time.  Think of all the songs that are written about it.  You know the ones I'm talking about.  The ones that you hear when you are driving, and before you know it you're sobbing.

When Joey graduated Kindergarten, the teacher tortured us with a beautiful DVD of our children's pictures that had been taken throughout the year.  It showed them growing and enjoying all that school had to offer.  There were pictures of recess, field trips, class parties, new friends, and the all important first day of school shot.  We parents sat and watched while many of these sappy songs played.  The one I couldn't forget was called, "Let Them Be Little" by Billy Dean (a country song of course).  The lyrics included phrases like, "faster than a flower blooms, they grow up way to soon," and "so innocent, a precious soul, you turn around and it's time to let them go."  I sobbed all the way through. 

The image of Joey in his crisp new school clothes flashed through my mind.  I saw him standing with that brand new backpack proudly on his back.  He wore his bus tag around his neck, anticipating what the bus ride would be like.  We eagerly, and I fearfully, waited for the school bus to come.  I remember him running across the street and hopping on that bus.  I watched it drive down the road with tear filled eyes.  Joe hugged me and reassured me it would be alright.  In that moment I felt such sadness.  My firstborn son would now be spending time with another woman.  She would be the one to see many "firsts" that I would only hear about in stories. 

Then sadness began to slowly leave and I felt happiness.  I was happy that I sent off a confident boy.  A boy that felt safe to leave me and venture out on his own.  Even though I would not be there to see his "firsts", I would be the one to whom he came home to share the stories.  As that video ended those same emotions flooded my heart.  Sadness first; followed by such happiness and pride.

Here I am three years later.  Joey is in 3rd grade and 8 years old.  Every single day I picture that moment when the doctors first laid him on my chest.  All five of my senses captured that moment.  The smell of his skin; the sound of his cry; the sight of perfection; the way his skin felt on my lips as I kissed him; the way he fit so perfectly in my arms as I held him.  It is a memory that a mom will never forget.  It is the day our lives changed forever.

On a day when I am pulling out my hair and doing the bedtime countdown (which is more often than I'd like), I replay all the things the kids did that made me smile.  Today I can remember many things.  Elia bounced through the house holding Jadon and Joey's hands.  She called for Christian to join them.  They all bounced by me laughing together.  Grace is sick and would not settle down for bed.  We got her out of her crib and she watched some of the Colt's game with us (what a depressing loss).  I was able to spend some alone time with the boys at a birthday party.  During that time I watched them try new things, listened to their giggles, and burned memories into my brain.

When the time comes and my children become adults, I want to have so many memories stored in my head that I can live off of them until I die.  That will make me so happy. Time flies.

I am certain there will be many posts relating to this topic.  It's something I think of daily. 

Enjoy this song.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

My Journey begins on Saturday

On this particular Saturday, I decided to create this blog.  I love the weekends.  There are no crazy agendas.  My husband is home.  I don't have to wake up early and get the boys ready for school (no matter how much I prepare the night before, something always gets thrown in the mix and creates chaos).  We love Saturdays. 

As I began this journey, I spent most of the day in my bed.  Joe was installing a new exterior door so he was preoccupied.  The boys were happily playing with a new collection of Disney figures we received from a friend.  The girls were content to run around the house exploring.  So in my bed I sat.  I felt excited and inspired.  This was something I'd been thinking about for months and I was finally going to do it!  Maybe the kids subconsciously knew, and that's why they entertained themselves for so long? 

A few hours later, Joe actually came into our bedroom and said, "Haven't you done any mommy work today?" 

I hadn't.  Dinner time was approaching and nothing was prepared.  I ran for take-out and we all sat down for dinner.  Grace was squealing with delight.  She likes to eat.  Elia was screaming for ketchup.  She likes ketchup.  Joey was upset because he used too much ketchup.  Jadon took his chicken off of the roll because he doesn't like so much bread.  Christian ate everything.  I was taking it all in. 

In doing so I realized how dirty the girls were.  Elia's curly locks were filled with yogurt.  Their shirts were covered in everything they touched throughout the day.  The boys were equally nasty. 

Looking around, I discovered a dirty house.  Coats and socks were scattered around the floor.  The Disney figures were strategically placed in all of the rooms.  Cheerios were scattered under the highchair.  I guess that's what happens when I stay in bed all day. 

A bath for the girls and three showers later, the house is now quiet.  It is Saturday night, and all the kids are asleep.  Dishes are still sitting on the counter and the house is still a mess.  Tomorrow is another day.  Starting this blog is what I wanted to accomplish.  That is enough for me.  Everything else can wait until tomorrow.