Well, today we had a glimpse of the future--Elsie graduated from Pre-K, cap and gown and all.
Oh, and should I mention cheesy smiles and cutesy hand gestures. She was definitely the personality of the group. Am I surprised? Noooooooo. Not by a long shot. :)
The students paraded out to Pomp and Circumstance. After words of welcome and introduction, the two classes sang songs for us--Elsie really got into that. And then each class came forward and received their "diplomas" and special awards. Elsie received the Outstanding Music Student award, which is timely since she had just told us that she wants to grow up to be a singer--she's on the right track. (Or so I thought, until she mentioned that when she becomes a singer, she's only going to sing Let It Go from the Frozen soundtrack. Yikes.)
Gladys came with us (obviously), but we left Oscar at daycare for this. I was waffling about bringing him, but the final tie-breaker was that they were going to be serving cupcakes for the graduates only, not siblings. I decided not to even present the probability of a drama-filled situation for Oscar (a la the "Fruit Snack Incident" at Missions Friends when Elsie's teacher gave out fruit snacks to take with them and Oscar's didn't, so we had a total meltdown starting in the church building and lasting all. the. way. home because Elsie wouldn't share).
I'm not really sure of the point of the ceremony, except that the Pre-K didn't do a program this year, so maybe this was it? Elsie, who is a word nerd like her parents, did not even know what the word "graduation" meant, and it was not made clear that they didn't get to keep the cap and gown, so there was a bit of frustration there trying to explain that fact to her.
And her final commemorative gift had her name spelled wrong, but she didn't notice, so it's not a big deal, right, Elise? ;)
So next year we embark to Kindergarten. It will be an adventure, indeed.
I've been a trooper for three weeks. Now I'm starting to feel really tired. I need to take more naps.
I kinda' forget what you're supposed to do when baby starts being awake more. Gladys hasn't started being awake more, yet, but it will come, and I'm a little terrified. :) She's still sleeping a lot, and she's still sleeping well. This is a blessing, indeed.
I also want to add that Gladys' cord stump seems to be coming out in layers. Last week was the large external cord stump that left an interior disc. This week, the top of that disc came off, leaving a small scab. So maybe next week we'll see that cute bellybutton?
We went to the hospital and did a weight check this week. 10.05 pounds!! The girl loves to eat (and overeat). She's had spells of major spit-up, but she's putting on weight like a champ, so I'm not worried. As one of the parenting sites I read said, "It's more of a laundry issue." Love that, haha.
Also, Gladys took newborn pictures with my friend Sherina. (If you got the Christmas card from us two years ago with the kids in green shirts--this was the last Christmas card we did--then you saw what an amazing job Sherina does!) I'm still trying to beat the curse of the pictureless third child, haha.
This week Sherina edited one of those old photos to make it "timeless."
We had an amazing morning catching up with Sherina. Her two youngest kids stair-step my first two as far as ages go, so she was very encouraging and uplifting as we talked about parenting and mothering stuff. We also made some tentative sanity-saving play dates for the summer. :)
So, week three was good. Can't wait to get the pictures back!
You may have heard me talk about it before, particularly if I see you in person, but we've had some money issues with Elsie this spring. Particularly, we have had money issues with the school cafeteria and their lunch number (i.e. debit) program.
In August, I added up how much it would cost Elsie to get milk each day and ice cream on Fridays for the whole school year, and then I put that money (~$98) into her school lunch account. I checked her account online when I got out for Christmas break, and she had about $60 left. I was so tickled, and I was thinking that she would end the year with money left over for next year.
I became suspicious that something was amiss at the end of February, when Elsie mentioned off-handedly that they had a substitute teacher on the morning Eli was going to pick her up to take her to the dentist (and so, we didn't send a lunch with her), and that when Eli came to pick her up, she had already put her name in for the lunch count. Wait. What? So, I went online, and after only six weeks of school after Christmas, Elsie had $15 left in her account. She wouldn't tell me what she had been doing/spending money on, so I called the school and asked for an account audit. (The online system is perfunctory at best -- I can see my child's lunch account balance, but I can't see how the money is being spent.) I e-mailed her teacher before getting the audit to see if she knew anything, and she mentioned that Elsie had bought breakfast "once or twice." When I got the printout, I was floored. Elsie has bought breakfast (for $1.00) 22 times since Christmas!
The first problem here is that she eats breakfast at home every single day. Why was she buying a second breakfast at school? And why were they letting her? I mean, once she enters the school building, I can't control anything she does. But when a child who has never bought breakfast before shows up 22 times in 30 days...wouldn't that seem weird?? When we asked Elsie about it, she just said that she was still hungry when she got to school.
The second--and biggest--problem here was that Elsie did not equate entering her lunch number into the little machine by the cash register with spending her money. I mean, she's four-years-old at this point. Why should it seem like spending money? Several of her classmates put in their number and they're not actually spending their own money, since they are eating federally subsidized meals. So that was a hard conversation to have. We explained to her that she could eat breakfast, but that once the money was gone, there would be no more. No more milk, no more ice cream. Nothing.
I admit, that felt like a hard stance to take with a preschooler, but the situation definitely presented itself as a teachable moment that we couldn't let pass. Elsie continued to eat breakfast until she got down to about six dollars, and we would remind her that when the money was gone, it was gone.
Then, miraculously, she stopped spending her money. She had exactly enough money to make it to the end of the year eating ice cream only on Fridays (which is the only day they are allowed to buy ice cream at her school) and to purchase a school sack lunch on field trip day (required). Enough money except for one Friday--today. And that's how it panned out. This week she did not get ice cream, and she told me that the reason she didn't get ice cream was because she bought breakfast one day this week and that that was her choice. She made the decision, and that was the end of it. Wow.
We still have a long road to financial responsibility, but what a start!
In trying to find some activities for the kids to do this summer, I saw that our local parks and rec department has a ceramics class for 4-5 year-olds on Thursdays this summer, so I signed E & O up. For the record, O is not yet 4, but once Elsie has a birthday, his age automatically gets bumped up in my head. The registration people didn't seem to have a problem with it, so they are both signed up.
Today was the first day of the class. I wasn't sure what to expect (though I had an idea), so I went ahead and brought a couple of Eli's old shirts so that I could use them as painting smocks. Good thing I did, because they sure didn't have painting smocks for the kids.
(Elsie turned her head at the last moment to sabotage my photo! See that mischievous expression?)
I think that the kids are going to have a good time painting every Thursday, and I also think that you may be seeing some of these things as Christmas presents this year. Mwahahahaha.
Gladys' second week with us was very quiet. Elsie and Oscar left last Saturday to spend the week with the Beaver grandparents. It was nice to have someone else watching after the kids for the week so that I could continue to recover from my major abdominal surgery that ushered Gladys into the world. Though, as the week was drawing to a close, I really wanted my children all in one place, no matter how crazy they make me. They came home today and were full of stories of zoos, parks, aquariums, grocery stores, beaches...it was a busy week for them.
While they were gone, Gladys slept most of the time. When she was awake, she practiced burping--and she's getting better at it (though today I spent a lot of the day covered in milk that came back up with those burps, and I think that's because she's an overeater).
This is a picture of her from today, wearing a onesie that Grandma bought her--a beaver dressed up as a bunny. My mother-in-law has the craziest knack for finding children's clothes with beavers on them, haha. Oscar and Elsie each had beaver outfits that she found.
Early this week (Monday?), the outer part of her cord stump separated from the inner part, so she has a crispy disc where her belly button will be once it all heals. This was a surprise because Elsie's cord stayed on forever. Hyperbole. It actually took her stump 34 days to detach and leave a little crispy disc, which didn't last long after that. So, Gladys is ahead of the game, having her outer part detach at 9 days.
I went out to the breastfeeding support group at the hospital on Thursday. The main reason for going is to weigh her. The supplementary reasons are to meet people and sometimes get free stuff--plus it's an excuse to buy my lunch (hello, Chicken Salad Chick).
Gladys, 12 days old: 9.09 pounds.
Yowza! I'm starting to appreciate that babies over 8 pounds are actually big babies. There was another baby there that was 16 weeks old who just now is 10 pounds. Seriously. 12 days vs. 16 weeks. (That baby started at a little over 5 lbs.)
She's wearing newborn sleepers for now (though, I predict she will only fit them for another week), and size 0-3 month onesies. She's in size 1 diapers, and honestly, she never would have fit into newborn sizes...big baby.
So, this concludes two weeks of Gladys. Next thing you know it will be two years. Time will fly.
This is the story of Gladys' arrival. Before I begin the narrative, I just want to say that I have once again experienced God's sovereignty through the birth of a child. I have once again been reminded that I am not in control, and when I look back at the details, I am humbled and awed by God's greatness, His plan, His mercy, His grace.
On Thursday, May 1, I had my 39 week + 2 day appointment at LeeOB. I had had to reschedule from Tuesday with my regular doctor due to cheerleading conflicts and then bad weather. The only doctor available with an after-school slot was Dr. Harris, a doctor I saw once when I was pregnant with Elsie, but I hadn't seen him in almost five years (that I can recall). After waiting almost an hour to see him, he checked me, told me that this baby wasn't coming this week. I told him that didn't mean anything, and we laughed. I asked him to remind me how I would know that I needed to head to the hospital, since I didn't want to be that girl who lives less than two miles (four minutes) from the hospital who accidentally has the baby at home. Armed with this knowledge, I went to Chick-Fil-A to join the family.
On Friday, May 2, I took the kids home from school, and once Eli got home, I turned around and went right back up to work to finish getting my maternity sub plans ready, a task I had been putting off and off and off. I stayed for about two hours, working feverishly, knowing that though the baby wasn't due until Tuesday, realistically, this child could be born any day now. While I was sitting at my computer, I started having contractions, but they weren't reminiscent of the ones that I had had with Oscar. They were definitely different, though, so I made sure that when I left, I left things as ready as I could, but still thinking I would be back at work on Monday. (For memory's sake, my belly just kept getting tight and holding for a long time--it wasn't the belt of contractions that I felt with O.) I stopped at the gas station on the way home, and a passerby commented, "Not long left, huh?" and I told him that my due date was Tuesday, but muttered under my breath while I pumped gas that he could be very right.
I was stopping for gas because Eli was supposed to take the car in the wee hours of morning and leave for Anniston, for Army duty, before gas stations opened. About a month before, he had been asked to be on duty this particular weekend, and he agreed, knowing that our due date was near. We had discussed what that would look like if baby decided to come quickly. Ordinarily, Eli would leave on a Friday night for weekend duty with the National Guard, but it just so happened that it was Talladega NASCAR Racing weekend, and that meant that there were no hotel rooms to be had anywhere near Fort McClellan, so Eli was home for the night, but was planning to be on the road by 4 a.m.
When I got home, I told Eli that I had been having contractions, but there was something about these contractions that wasn't like the contractions that brought Oscar into the world, so I wasn't sure. We discussed what the weekend would look like and how long it would take Eli to get back here from Anniston, etc. He told me that should we go to the hospital in the middle of the night, he was going to wear his Army gear just in case it was a false alarm. I took a shower, and things didn't get better or worse, so we went to bed. I had a hard time sleeping at first (it's really like being a beach whale, trying to roll over on a soft bed at 39 weeks pregnant while there's a dance party going on in my belly) and then I finally fell asleep. Finally.
It was short-lived.
About 1:15 a.m., I was awakened by the unmistakable feeling of my water breaking. It's funny, because in the shower the night before, I had been thinking about how we hadn't taken a childbirth class in five years--was it like riding a bike?--and that I had just been assuming that this baby would come the way Oscar did (that is, I was 8 cm when we got to the hospital, before my water broke). I had never considered what if this went the way Elsie's birth went, where my water broke first. So, I started thinking about all the possible scenarios, and then this happened. So, I quickly woke Eli up and ran to stand in the bathtub--Eli's idea (sorry, I know it's graphic), and then transferred to the shower when I could.
And we started calling down our pre-planned list of people to watch the kids, should the baby come in the middle of the night. I had sent a text to my Plan A around 10:45 to let her know that I was having contractions, and that I would keep her apprised. She hadn't texted back, but I wasn't worried. So when I called at 1:30 a.m., Plan A answered the phone--she was already at the hospital--doing a sleep study--and I had just awakened her. She couldn't leave. Ack! So, we called my Plan B. And the phone rang and rang, and then went to voicemail. So, we called Plan C. There also wasn't an answer. Seriously. It was almost a comedy of errors. Almost. So, while Eli was on the phone with Plan D, Plan C called back, and we made arrangements for the kids.
Eli started to get the kids up. Since Oscar is the easiest to wake up (he's a "morning person"), Eli got him up first, and sent him to potty. He explained to Oscar that Mommy and Daddy were about to go to the hospital to have the baby. Oscar, in his sleepy, yawny, stretching state asked, "What baby?" as he stumbled toward the toilet. (This incident was reported to me by Eli.) When I got out of the shower and got dressed, I heard Eli downstairs moving car seats from our van to our friend's SUV. So, I went to check on the children. Oscar asked me "What baby?" again when I explained to him what was going on. I tried to rouse Elsie, but she did not want to get up. She started crying and told me that she wanted to stay at home. I'm pretty sure Eli ended up carrying her out to our friend's vehicle, and as we got ready to go I kissed the kids goodbye in their car seats, and they drove off. I hopped up into the truck--yes, the truck--and we headed to the hospital (to note, Eli was not in his Army gear).
The first new experience is that I was instructed to come in through the front doors at 2 a.m.--I had to ring the hospital's doorbell. (The last two pregnancies I had to go in through the Emergency Department and then ride/walk up to the Labor & Delivery floor.) I rode the elevator up, and then waited for Eli to join me. They made him wait out in the waiting area, which ended up just being him leaning against a wall in the hallway, while they signed me in and put me in an observation room. Upon sign-in, I overheard the nurses talking about Murphy. You know, as in Murphy's law? Everything that can go wrong will go wrong? I told them that they better kick Murphy out before this baby came. They laughed and said that the only thing Murphy had affected so far was their food orders for the night. I asked which doctor was on call tonight. Guess who?
When Dr. Harris came in to check me, I joked with him about this baby not coming this week, huh? And he laughed, and then told me that I wasn't as big as I had been when he saw me on Thursday, that this baby was probably smaller than he thought. All of this was news to me. He thought I was big on Thursday? I'm really glad he didn't tell me that on Thursday, haha. He mentioned off-handedly how much fluid I had. Then he left and they brought Eli in. Finally, they moved me to an L&D suite and hooked me up to monitors, took my blood, yada yada yada.
Then we waited. We slept while we could.
The contractions were getting more intense. Nurse mentioned that Dr. Harris would be coming in to check on me around 6, "when he gets up."
Shift change at 6 a.m. No doctor. I hadn't seen Dr. Harris since 2 a.m. They mentioned that they were understaffed. Five women in labor, and only three nurses on duty.
7 a.m. Still no doctor. I called for the nurse. Eli and I had been having the conversation about pain management. The contractions are getting to the point of unbearable, starting to resemble my labor with Elsie, and I'll tell you that memories of that labor are not good ones. I wanted to know if I had made any progress in 5 hours of laboring at the hospital. She checked me. 4 cm. 1 cm progress in 5 hours. I consented to the epidural. At some point Dr. Harris came in to tell me that he was leaving and that he hoped he wouldn't have to see me again (that is, that I would not still be here when 6 a.m. rolled around again and he was back on call). And at some point, Dr. Hensarling came in and checked me. Baby was "floating" and man, there was a lot of fluid.
8:30 Eli is awake and hungry. Still no epidural. Evidently, the nurse paged the doctor that was written on the board, but no one had updated the board, it was the wrong anesthesiologist, so he didn't answer. Took her a while to figure that out.
Closer to 9 -- Two hours of severe contractions, and I know that I have made the right choice for this labor--now if the anesthesiologist would come. Oh, hey, here he is. He asks Eli to support me, and to my surprise, Eli consents (huge fear of needles, he has). And he holds me for a while, until he tells the nurse that she needs to take over before he hits the floor--so they leave me alone while she escorts him to the La-Z-Boy. He has lost the color in his face. The nurse comes back to hold me, just in time for another crazy intense contraction.
As we wait for the meds to kick in, I have to lay on my back. The contractions are less intense, and now I'm only feeling them on the left. I get rolled back and forth like a taco. It's all weird. We talk with the nurse. No, I didn't teach her son. Oh, she had Mr. Holland when she was in middle school, and she's in her mid-forties. Chit chat chit chat. The epidural takes effect. My contractions are picking up. They come in and adjust the fetal heart monitor and give me (and the baby) oxygen. Evidently baby's heart rate is raising and dropping slightly with contractions. Nothing too serious, but they are paying attention to it.
Dr. Hensarling comes back in and asks me to try to bear down with the contractions. I do, and baby moves, and I dilate more. She says that is promising. She leaves to go check on a patient. She comes back after a while. 10:20-ish? I'm fully dilated. Though baby is floating, she wants me to bear down with the next contraction. I do.
And then everything changes.
She feels the cord. It is prolapsed, coming out before the baby. This is a rare occurrence in a birth (I find out after researching it later), and it means that we are on our way to an emergency C-section. My eyes tear up, but Eli is there to calm me. He puts his hand on my head and smooths my hair and tells me that it will be okay. I'm not weepy because I'm scared. I'm weepy because I realized again that I'm not in control, and I could never have imagined this outcome, this labor, this birth.
We hadn't seen but one person off and on most of the morning, and within seconds, it seems every person on staff is in the room running around frantically, each one doing some important job. Eli puts on his paper scrubs, and they whisk me away to the operating room. There is a lot of laughing and joking on the way since one of the nurses is having to ride the gurney with me, and she kept mentioning how much fluid there was. They dial up the epidural, and they prep me for baby's arrival. Eli finally comes in (I really was afraid that he would miss it!).
Dr. Hensarling is delivering, Dr. Harris is back to assist. At some point, she says, "Hey, baby girl!" and cries ring out through the OR. Honestly, I was surprised--I had talked myself into getting ready for a boy, though I wouldn't admit that aloud, haha. This little girl is an alto. :) They handed her to Eli, and he brought her around the curtain for me to see. I started talking to her, and she whipped her head around when she heard my voice. It was sweet. :)
While they were sewing/gluing me back up, Dr. Hensarling said some things that made me laugh. She was talking about how this little marble-headed baby was a trouble-maker. I was supposed to be her "chip shot" on this Saturday morning--laboring on my own, progressing without pitocin, an easy delivery. But here we were.
This time, the C-section recovery was different. Eli got to carry the baby with him to recovery, where they both got to stay with me. My blood pressure was very low, so they kept me laid back. When they could set me upright a little, they put little girl on my chest for skin-to-skin contact. My L&D nurse stayed, too, and we all got to talk. It was a crazy morning, so we called the grandparents (who were almost in town) and asked them to bring lunch for the L&D nursing staff.
With the emergency C-section, there was no time to donate cord blood through the donation program at the hospital. That made me a little sad, since I'm unable to donate my own blood. But, having baby girl safely delivered was the most important thing.
So, we joked upon arrival about Murphy and his law, and maybe it seemed that everything that could go wrong did, but I mentioned at the very beginning about experiencing God's sovereignty through this birth. I recognized it as it unfolded, and I had been thinking and praying beforehand about how God had already written this birth, and now His will be done.
Eli was supposed to be in Anniston, but it was NASCAR race weekend in Talladega, so there was no room at the inn. He had to change his travel plans to leave in the morning, so he was home with me. God wrote that.
I hadn't seen Dr. Harris in 5 years, and two days after my appointment, he's the doctor on call when I arrive at the hospital, so he is the most knowledgeable about my most recent doctor's visit. God wrote that.
I consented to an epidural because after Elsie's birth, that was what made everything progress. Had I not had that epidural, I would have had to go under general anesthesia and would not have been awake to hear those first cries and the declaration that I had another daughter! God wrote that.
Times flies when you're sleep deprived, or so we joke. One week she has been in our lives, and one week we have been so blessed getting to know her. So you can get to know her, too, here is my list of
10 Things I Know about Gladys
1. She likes to eat. The girl had no problem figuring out this whole eating thing, and she loves it. We went to the hospital on Friday (6 days old) for a weight check, and within three days of being released from the hospital, she was already back over her birth weight. (We left the hospital on Tuesday at 8 lb. 1oz. and by Friday she was 8 lb. 8.6 oz.--sheesh!)
2. She likes to sleep. The other two Beavers did not sleep nearly as much. Elsie still doesn't like to sleep, and Oscar probably didn't sleep as much because Elsie was around. Eli was concerned about the amount that she has been sleeping, but found that it's "normal" for newborns to sleep up to 20 hours a day. Yep, that sounds about right. She's even a good sleeper at night.
3. Gladys is the most hiccup-y baby I've ever met. Even after giving her a good burping, she will still develop the cute baby hiccups. She never had the hiccups in utero, as far as I can tell, but maybe I just didn't feel them, seeing as there was all that amniotic fluid to keep her cushioned.
4. This little girl loves a back rub. Like mother, like daughter. I love to see her eyes roll back in her head in newborn delight, and wish I could bottle all this newborn contentedness and sell it! Or maybe I should save it for the toddler years...
5. Gladys loves to stretch out. She'll sleep swaddled or balled up in her fetal position on my chest, but given the opportunity to lay on my lap, head on my knees, looking at me, she will sssttttttrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeettttttttccccchhhhhhhh every time. With the aforementioned newborn contentedness.
6. Green is her color. We have pink, yellow, and blue clothing, but honestly the green goes best with her coloring. I may be biased, though, since green is my favorite color...
7. She already is able to tune out her siblings' noise. This morning the kids helped Eli cook breakfast while I stayed in bed to recuperate from the night's feedings (I said she's a good sleeper--and she is--but that doesn't mean she's not a newborn, you know?) and I hear Oscar running up the stairs. He throws open the door to my room and yells (Gladys' bassinet is right by the door), "Mama! Breakfast is ready!!" and then slams the door. And then he does it again because he wants me to come NOW. Guess who slept through all of that?
8. I don't know if Gladys is better at communicating, or if the third time is a charm for her parents--but we definitely have a better idea of what her needs are. Part of it I credit to the Dunstan Baby Method, which is probably a bunch of hooey, but I watched the DVDs after Elsie was born, and what I remember has been helpful. "Neh" is hunger, as it involved the tongue. "Eh" is gas, discomfort. So far, so good.
9. Gladys has less hair than any of the other little Beavers did when they were born. I wonder if this means I can hope for some dominant genes? Will she be a brunette? Brown eyes, too? Only time will tell. But the more hair they had at birth, the blonder they were when E & O got older. Elsie had more hair and has stayed blonde longer. Beaver 1 has blue eyes. Beaver 2 has green eyes. Beaver 3?
10. Gladys is loved. I don't know how He does it, but the Lord makes our hearts grow to make room for the new people in our lives. I remember being worried about it when Oscar was born--was it possible to love baby #2 as much as I loved baby #1? Did I have a limited supply of love to give? People told me that wasn't the case, but I couldn't fathom how it wasn't the case. And then I knew it was true. Within seconds of him making his arrival into the world. So, this time I knew it wouldn't be a problem, but again, I just couldn't imagine what it would be like. Unbelievable, is what it's like. Amazing! And it's not just mama that is affected. It's daddy, and Elsie, and Oscar, and if I had to argue, even Coco. She is loved, indeed.
The first half (the federal half) of our tax refund arrived this month--just in time to have the van checked out, haha. Thankfully, repairs have been minor, and because of that, we were able to put a pretty sizeable chunk (~$2300) onto the last of our loans, bringing the total to just under $12,000! (We ended last month with ~$14,000.) So, upon crunching numbers, we can have this paid off if we can double our snowball payment every month between now and Christmas, which, frankly is completely doable. I can just TASTE our success!
The momentum is picking up and we're getting pretty gazelle intense about getting rid of the last of our loans, and we're looking at our budget to see where we can make temporary sacrifices.
Not everything is going, though. We did decided to spend a little bit of money for some summer activities for the kids so that I can have a little reprieve with the new baby around. They will be taking a ceramics class once a week starting at the end of May and lasting until mid-July, will be doing swimming lessons for two weeks in June, and then will do a week of art camp at the end of July. All of this is through the pretty awesome Opelika Parks and Recreation department. I tried to find activities that they could do together based on their ages to make my life easier. There will be a whole lot more choices when they both get to school age, but for now, this is enough. And, of course, there's always the library's summer reading program and a few days at Miss Kay's house. It will be a full, but restful summer as we keep giving this debt a swift kick in the pants!