Thursday, August 26, 2010

2 Weeks of O

Eli told me it's time to update the blog. Lucky for him, it's 2 weeks ALREADY! So, today, rather than writing any long paragraphs, I'm just going to post captioned pictures. Anyone dislike this idea? Too bad. :)

This pic is for M, who wanted a belly pic. Excuse the hair. I just showered and we were about to leave for the hospital when I realized I hadn't had any belly pics with this baby. So, later when I see other pregnant women and think, I wasn't that big, I can come back to this picture--the biggest I got with Oscar.

Cheesy baby head.

Going home day, before they cut the tags off.

Coming home--Daddy's eating pizza?

Guy time.

More guy time...only Timmy is AWOL.

On Sunday, A & J came over for a playdate. Stacey left two sheets of foam core here when they went back to Texas, and the kids had the greatest time with it. :)

Mimi got Elsie a toddler-sized couch that unfolds into a nap cot. This is Elsie, yesterday, chilling and licking the crumbs from the bottom of the bowl that held her animal crackers.

This morning, I was holding Oscar, so Elsie went and got her baby doll. Then she put her baby doll in Oscar's carseat.

And then climbed in on top of the doll (had this been Oscar, she would have done the same).

Oscar, this morning, stretched out in the bassinet.

This morning, Elsie climbed up into the chair and decided to eat chips like a big monkey, er...girl.

And that's two weeks at Casa Castor.


Thursday, August 19, 2010

1 week -- Oscar's Story

The last week has flown by--a whirlwind of family, curls, and a juggling act. Early tomorrow, my family leaves, Eli goes to work, and I am left alone for the first time as a mother of two. Prayers please!

I figure it's as good a time as any to share Oscar's story, a story that is really about my depravity and conflicted obedience. I have tried to limit the "TMI" factor, but in the end, the subplot includes childbirth, and someone is going to be disgusted or offended. This is the pre-apology.

To begin this story, I must go back in time 15 months to when Elsie was born. I had a plan, you know. I was going to have a natural, drug-free birth. Everything was going to go the way I wanted it to. But it didn't. And rather than praying and accepting, I fought and fought. My water broke before I even started having contractions, and I was barely dilated. After being at the hospital for several hours with no noticeable progress, the doctor wanted start Pitocin to augment my labor. I begged to wait 2 more hours to see what would happen. Nothing did, and the Pit was introduced. The doctor started talking C-section around midnight; I poo-pooed it, and gave in and got an epidural to ease my pain and let my body do the work while I rested. I woke up and was ready. After two hours of pushing, the doctor brought up C-sections again. I begged for two more hours. Finally, 27 hours into the ordeal, I delivered Elsie via C-section, and I was devastated. Damn it--I had worked so hard, I had tried so long to avoid that outcome and it just wasn't fair!

The road to understanding my own depravity, my own sinfulness, my own need to control, was a road well-trodden in my 30 years. The Lord knew how Elsie was going to make her way into the world, but I had my own idea, and when I didn't get my way (selfish child) I kicked and screamed and cried and tried to place blame everywhere except on myself. Eventually, I came around and knew that I was at fault, that I didn't let God work through me, that my need to control kept me from being happy and content with God's plan for Elsie's arrival, a plan that greatly differed from my own.

Back to the present, I wanted to try a VBAC, but was wary of hoping for it. Would that be me trying to control the situation again? Still, I did my research, and all signs pointed to a very low success rate. And yet, the doctor was still willing to entertain the option, so I wasn't actually being controlling, right? Just inquisitive...

As my due date drew nearer, I got stupider and stupider. I, somewhere along the way, had decided that no matter what, I wasn't going to start school. That if baby hadn't come by August 9, that I would just have an elective C-section on that day. The fear was palpable--fear of VBAC failure, fear of breaking my OCD tendencies, fear of this child not fitting the mold. At my 38 week appointment, I had already advanced further than I had before my water broke with Elsie. I dared to hope. I asked the doctor some pointed questions about what to expect and at what point we would start talking C-section. His answers made me sit up and take stock. I had previously told Eli that I didn't want to go through a long labor again only to end up with another incision. The doc said that anyone who would be devasted by that outcome needed to just schedule a repeat C. Would I be devastated this time, too? What was most important to me? I realized that my plan to have a C-section by August 9 was again, me trying to control the situation. How had I gotten back to this?? As much as I wanted to not have to go back to school and have a baby born on 8.9.10, I truly desired more to be obedient, as difficult as that was for me.

So, what did I do? I decided that should baby not be here by 8.13.1o that I would have a repeat C. Do I ever learn? Ugh. Suddenly, this new desire sprung up from the wells of my sinfulness to have a baby on Friday the 13th (not as bad as you might think--13 is an important number in my family's prime!). The doctor scheduled my 40 week appointment for 39 weeks and 5 days, so that we could talk about our options, and as I sat in his office on 8.10.10, he asked me what I wanted to do. Going into the appointment, I was ready to schedule for Friday, if it meant that I could have this baby on that special day. But as I sat there waiting for him, I started praying and singing hymns--just out of nowhere. So when he asked, my response was that of a girl who was deeply confused and sincerely longing to follow God's will--"I don't know." I just didn't want to play God, I told him. Ah, reasoning had returned.

I will add that that day I got a sweet note in the mail from JT telling me that she was praying for me and reminding me that God had already written this baby's arrival. This truth coupled with the sermon from the previous Sunday about God being sovereign (a church service that I knew was tailored specifically to me that day, if I would just listen) brought a peace over me. We would wait.

There's a little bit more to the story here (but not much) but I know that you're wanting me to get on with it already, and since those details are minor, I'm going to gloss over them for now.

At 3:30 in the morning, I really had to pee. So I jumped out of bed and went. I came back and laid down, and a few minutes later, really had to pee again. Weird. Being extremely pregnant, I got up and went again, because honestly, you never know. When I got back in bed, I tried to go to sleep again, but couldn't get comfortable. There was this uncomfortable pain in my side and belly when I tried to lay on my side. Eventually, I put two and two together (remember, I never had early labor with Elsie) and realized that I was having contractions. They weren't bad--just annoying. So, I lay in bed for a little while trying to see if I could sleep through them. I could not.

At 4:30, I sent a text to my team leader and maternity sub letting them know that I woke up having contractions and that I hadn't decided whether or not I was going to come to work, but that I would let them know. I thought about waking up Eli and telling him what was going on, but decided against it. I went downstairs, instead, and worked on lesson plans.

At 5:30, I woke Eli up. I was concerned, but not overly so, that my contractions were closer than five minutes, but that they weren't lasting for a minute each. After we had Elsie up and dressed (by 7:00), we decided that we would call the L&D floor at the hospital and get an opinion. I was a little afraid that this would be a false alarm and that they would send me home if I showed up, but if it wasn't, I wanted to be in the care of physicians as soon as possible. When I explained about my morning, the nurse on the phone advised me to take a shower (already done), eat a light breakfast, and then come on in. I grabbed a yogurt and left Mom with instructions for keeping Elsie, and we were on our way.

7:30-ish, we got to the hospital. I walked myself up to L&D with the ER nurse (she offered me a ride, but I declined). Eli sat out in the waiting room while I was put in an observation room. The nurse who came in learned that I was a previous c-section and things changed. I had eaten breakfast. The doctor (from the same practice, who I had met while pregnant with Elsie) came in to check me, confirmed that I did not want to go ahead and have a C-section this time, too, and asked me about Elsie's birth. After hearing the Reader's Digest version, he flat out told me that things did not look good for a VBAC. That though every delivery was different, based on everything I had just told him, that it just seemed like an unlikely outcome for me to have a regular birth. He finally checked me, after a couple of mild-ish contractions, and imagine my surprise that I was already at an 8! What? What?!? I had only been having minor discomfort up until ths point (with Elsie, I consented to the epidural at 7, after making no progress for hours). He also said that the baby was "floating" and I had to ask what that meant--not engaged yet. Great. My water broke as he was checking me, and I was pretty much automatically taken to a delivery suite, after confirming that I wanted an epidural and the IV narcotic until I got the epidurla (I didn't see why not, as both helped me get to 10 last time around...such a copout). Now that my water was broken, my contractions were getting to be a little more intense, and Eli was still in the waiting room. They brought him in just as the nurses were running around crazy. Evidently I was contracting as if I was on Pitocin--the nurse's words, not mine--(2 minutes apart at this point) and they were about to give me some IV meds to slow it down when the doctor came in. I had an intense contraction, and he said, "Are you feeling the urge to push?" Yes, I said. So he checked me (this is at about 8:15) and I was ready. Dang, that was fast. And I wasn't getting my epidural (really, not a problem for me--praise the Lord!).

And so it went. The nurses continued to treat me like I was going to have a C-section any minute. There were several times when everyone in the room seemed very tense. The doctor would explain what was going on--the contractions were too close together and the baby didn't like it, heart rate dropping at times. The baby might be OP (in the wrong position). Yada yada. All were false alarms.

In that hour or so before my baby was born, I had a lot of random thoughts. I would pray, meditate, think about JT's note, self-talk about my peace with whatever the outcome was going to be, think about my sister bragging about being a good pusher, trying to remember back to my Bradley method class since I had been meaning to reread that book and never got around to it--what did it say about expulsive contractions? Something about working with the contractions and visualizing? The nurse's voice was annoying in her chant--"harder harder" and I wish the counting would have been a little more...urgent, I guess? I kept my eyes closed for the majority of the time, and then something changed and suddenly they were calling for the doctor. "Get him in here." Instead of pushing, I was being told to pant through the contractions. Yeah, right. "Page him overhead, stat." I opened my eyes and concentrated on the bridge of the nurses nose and the glare off the lenses on her glasses and focused on a steady, rhythmic pant that any overheated canine would be proud of.

The baby was ready. The doctor was not. But in the end, he came in, was apprised of the situation, and delivered my baby boy. VBAC. No drugs. No complications or supplemental procedures. By the grace of God, and God alone. I was not in control. I did not try to control. I did not want to control. And it was an amazing moment of spiritual growth and revelation. How much more peaceful would my life be if I just "let go and let God" in other areas as well?

And so, Oscar came into the world, a child of God and the result of one woman's struggle with depravity and obedience. God's grace, indeed.

On an ending note, the delivery nurse told me that she hadn't attended many successful VBACs, and she'd seen even fewer women deliver babies without drugs. I asked, "So that makes me a rock star, right?" She said, "Yes."


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Big Sister

Before I write on and on about the newest Beaver, I just want to dote on his big sister. Though she is getting a lot of attention from the family, she is still really confused about this squirmy one that we brought home. Tentative. Not completely sold. When she came to visit us in the hospital, she was more interested in playing with the bed, the buttons, and everything she could get her hands on--all without giving Oscar a second glance. Ah, to be a 15-month-old girl.

Elsie was my baby when I went to the hospital. I was still carrying her to and from the car most days (hot pavement) and sometimes up and down the stairs at the house. But now I realize just how NOT a baby she is. She's a big girl (big hands, big feet, muscular legs, etc.), but I didn't really have anything to compare her to. Now I have an actual baby, and it is now clear that Elsie is a little girl, a toddler (oh, my!). She is a ball of energy, and boy am I ever thankful to have my mom, sister, nephew, and niece here to help me keep her occupied while Oscar gets acclimated to the family, and the family gets acclimated to Oscar. And since in the last few weeks I have had a dearth of pictures of my curly girl, I will now make up for it--or at least try. In chronological order since the end of June:

When D was here, we traveled to Atlanta to see JT and Miss M. Elsie loved her alligator truck.

The two girls played independently of each other for the most part. I understand social skills don't really start developing until around 24 months. I liked this picture because it cast both girls in shadow and showed their independence.

The weekend after, we went to the library for a playdate with A & J. Elsie had started climbing into chairs by herself. She was so proud that she got into this rocking chair. And there's something about this bib that must be photogenic...purely coincidence, people.

One day I was sitting on the stairs and Elsie was running around being silly, so I got the camera. This is her, interested in my electronics (as she is with everything technological--she is a definitely a "digital native"), and yes, that is my now former baby bump that she's tugging on.

Speaking of bump, this is Elsie's first trip to the hospital to meet Oscar. My mom was holding him, and she was still more interested in the camera...go figure. :)

And this is our first family picture with my silly daughter and my silly husband.

And she's still unsure about this new addition. I have a picture just like this one where it looks like she's trying to kiss him, but I looked closely and I'm holding her arm back, which means she was trying to hit him. It begins early...

Clothing optional Sunday brunch at the Beaver house.

Yesterday, she found the empty milk cartons, and they were more fun than any of her toys.

And we got out our old bouncy seat yesterday to put Oscar in the sunshine (he was looking a little yellow), and Elsie decided to reclaim her seat. Fun, bouncy times. I'd say that it's fortuitous that Oscar didn't want to sit in the seat, anyhow.

And then this morning, Elsie and her cousin read a book together. It was one of those moments I couldn't NOT take a picture of.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the latest on Hurricane Elsie. Soon an update on Tropical Storm Oscar.

Cheers. :)

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Welcome, Oscar!

Eli here, commandeering the blog because Erin's still in the hospital with no Wi-Fi access. I think she'll approve.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is Oscar! He was born at around 9:20 this morning, weighing 7 pounds 15 ounces. Mother and son are healthy and happy, and big sister hasn't quite realized that she's been usurped as the baby yet. Daddy is simply ecstatic to have two healthy, beautiful kiddos!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

15 months

Our little Elsie Jane is 15 months today. 15 months! The time is flying by and I'm amazed at how quickly she is absorbing everything around her. Again, we still are without words (officially) but I feel like she says "hot". For instance, when we open the back door to go out onto the concrete patio, she stops in the doorway, foot poised to step out, and says, "hah." Or if I'm blowing on her food to cool it off, she says "hah." Unfortunately, she says "hah" other times, too, that are not contextually correct. But she understands so much! I am amazed. And she's remembering a lot more than I expect. And she's got random concepts down: She'll dig through the bottom drawer in the kitchen and bring out the wooden fork and spoon salad servers from everything else, because she knows they go together. She'll walk around with the two plastic mugs that we have that say "Erin" and "Elijah" on them, because they obviously go together since they are alike. Something fun that she's started this week is playing with the toy vacuum that J got her for her birthday, but not just making it play music, actually moving it back and forth like a vacuum! It's too cute.

She is a water baby. She loves the pool, she loves the hose, she loves the tub, she tolerates the sprinkler. She's going to be a sad girl when the weather changes.

And, she's eating table food like a pro. She loves fruits and vegetables and is willing to try different textures. So, pretty much, whatever we eat, she can have so long as it doesn't contain nuts. She's drinking whole milk at home, and we still give her stage 2 formula on the go.

She's silly, and she's passionate. How did we get so blessed?

And in other somewhat related news...

Yet another prime number day goes by without 2.0 making a move. Oh, well.
Now for Baby Watch 2010: Friends due in the next week (or so)--JSC, PD, AE, MN, JF. Yes, all of us. MM already had hers, so that's one off of the list. Still five more to go, six if you include me. It's going to be a baby boom. :)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Still with child, still eating home-cooked meals

I'm still here. Still pregnant. I'm not worried, though, as Elsie came only 6 days early. That gives me two days to be on par, blow for blow. I guess Elsie would have been a week early had I not fought it so much and delayed the outcome. The plan this time is to make it to forty weeks, and if BB2.0 isn't here, then schedule a c-section since I can't be induced (pitocin compromises the cesarean scar and can lead to rupture). Anyway, everyone at work is getting nervous.

That's right. Work. I went back to work this week, and I'm glad for it. I love being in the routine of school, and the challenge of thinking about lesson plans ahead of time is good for me. I also desperately needed to get some professional development hours in, so I'm doing well; so far I have 8.5, and if I make it through tomorrow morning, then I will have 2.5 more. We are required to get 24 per year, so I will be almost halfway there and won't have missed any of the available hours. That's a relief, indeed. M, who did in fact have her baby Saturday morning (at about the same time I posted about not having heard anything), will have to find some way to get those 11 hours--I do not envy her that.

Now, I posted before about how my goal right now, and perhaps forevermore, is to maintain, maintain, maintain, when it comes to domestic duties--at least until the kids are old enough to help out, haha. I know this is a small victory, but every night for a WHOLE WEEK (yes, I know, I'm some sort of super woman), the living room has been picked up with toys put away, the table cleared, the sink empty, the dishes done. I've been fighting through the fatigue to make this a priority. I don't think it's the nesting instinct so much as the desire to wake up to a clutter-free main area. I've also had to fight the "Why do I have to do this?" mentality, as in, "Why can't Eli do this?" It's a partnership that got a wrench thrown in it (named Elsie), and is being tweaked as we prepare for another wrench (as of yet unnamed). We haven't explicitly discussed the division of responsibility (though we should probably formalize some important things, such as who gets to sleep in when), but things have pretty much fallen into a fairly even division of labor.

I pretty much have been taking care of the inside of the house (or trying), which includes the tidying, maintaining, quick-cleaning, laundry, dishes, most of the cooking, etc. Eli has been taking care of the outside of the house, the cat litter, the cars, etc. Since I've been back to work this week and leaving earlier than Eli even thinks about getting up and ready, he's been getting Elsie up and ready while I get all my junk together. And then when I'm tidying/maintaining on the nights that he's here (and not at Coast Guard Auxiliary or LSAT tutoring), he puts Elsie to bed. We're both tired. We make it work.

As for dinner, we are in the middle of week 4 of our E-Mealz plan, and it has been really good. For the most part, the menus have been varied and there were maybe one or two recipes that could have been better. Eli's only real complaint is that there isn't a green vegetable every meal (I, however, do not have a problem with this). We haven't regularly eaten home-cooked meals as a couple in...years, if ever. Prep time has been anywhere from 10-20 minutes, and we talk and play during up to an hour of cook time, so it's really not a strain on my energy or brain capacity at the end of a long day, because, again, all the ingredients are in the house (thanks to our weekly Wal-Mart run with pre-assembled shopping list in hand), and the instructions are hanging on the fridge, right next to the stove. Too easy. No excuses. And the plan for 2-3 is enough to supply us with lunch leftovers, so we're not spending too much extra money on other foods, aside from snacks and breakfast foods. It has definitely been nice.


Let me know if you decide to try it. I'd like to see how that works out for other people. And I'll let you know how we hold up while we're both working.

Okay, time to go maintain.