Next Steps

My fingernails are the longest they’ve been since perhaps my wedding day. I’ve always had a nervous habit of fidgeting with my nails, and it got worse when I started playing guitar in high school because I bit down the nails on my left hand for easier fret fingering. Though I don’t play guitar much, I kept that nasty habit. But on maternity leave, I haven’t stress-bit hardly at all.

The last seven weeks have been filled with joy and adjustment. Wes continues to be helpful (“Mama, you already fed her on that side.”), and Steven has taken on or completed household projects every time I turn around.

I’ve developed some new skills as well:

  • Multitasking with one arm (while breastfeeding). I’m proud of my abilities to shuck corn, make dinner and set the table, feed the dogs, and yes, even use the bathroom while feeding Maisie. I don’t know why I don’t just use a carrier more often, which would make tasks that much easier!
  • Wearing spit up and sweatshirts. I notice these things while sitting in the parent pick up car line at Wesley’s school. I’ve also gotten good at configuring the best time to arrive at school with the least amount of idle waiting.
  • Reorganizing areas of the house. You should see my linen closet! Steven remarked on the Day of Kitchen Cabinets, “It’s like someone actually thought about where things should go.” I take that as a compliment.
  • Stocking the freezer. I’ve discovered how much I enjoy prepping freezer meals for a rainy day. We’ve eaten so well during the last couple months – starting with meals provided by friends the first weeks, and now with these Shattuck family-approved make-ahead meals (many of which are crockpot simple!).
  • Sorting clothes. Gone are the snug-fitting shirts and pants in Wesley’s closet. Maisie has a solid wardrobe for her first 9 months, all organized by size and season. I’ve also gotten good at dropping off bags of donated clothes to various places!
  • (Not) Looking sleep-deprived. Maisie is pretty good at sleeping once she finally gives in, but she can fight it for hours. Thankfully I can usually get enough rest to have a functional day ahead, but I can also call upon a tip given to me by a makeup artist friend: white eyeliner on the top lid makes you look more alert.

It hasn’t been all peaches and rainbows, however. This pregnancy and birth were relatively easy and uneventful, but the postpartum recovery process has been more difficult than anticipated. After initial breastfeeding issues and several infections, I’m not 100% recovered. I’m still fighting off a lingering staph infection, and it’s really frustrating. Some days I could do little more than watch reruns of The Office.

There were (and sadly, still are!) times where I felt like a senior woman who complains to friends and family about her aches and pains. Thankfully I’ve been well looked after and my body seems to be slowly healing, but it has made my big plans for traveling and visiting throughout leave go abandoned. Not to say I/we haven’t done anything fun!

Earlier this month we joined Steven on a day trip to Chicago. He was scheduled to speak at a conference on a late Saturday afternoon, so we bundled up the rental car, caught our familiar train from Hammond, and toted a stroller around downtown Chicago. We visited Millennium Park and the Bean before Steven had to get ready.

 

The kids and I spent the afternoon at Navy Pier and the Chicago Children’s Museum, which was so much better than expected. We had just enough time to walk back to the conference hotel (ugh, that walk was the worst because it happened during Maisie’s prime feeding time), walk to the station and board the train back to our car. We arrived home just before midnight. Steven: “We could do that again.” Maybe a near-future day trip to visit some museums?

Both Steven and I have volunteered in Wesley’s classroom on separate occasions this month. It’s the best way to see how the Spanish immersion experience plays out, and it’s amusing to observe how your kid does and interacts with others. Wesley was thrilled to show off his baby sister to his classmates, and she was Miss Popular at recess and the lunch room.

Our first date night occurred last week! Steven got us great seats to Andrew Bird’s limited symphony tour, Time is a Crooked Bow, as my birthday present earlier this year. The show did not disappoint. I joked with a friend (who generously watched the kids for us!) that I started leaking breast milk from sheer excitement.

We’ve also had entertainment at home during these past few weeks. Maisie has reached an interactive milestone and has been smiling and cooing at us in recent days. At bath time the other night, she was so happy that we all took turns making faces to get the best smiles out of her. We likely looked ridiculous, all three of us gathered around her, talking and giggling in high-pitched babbles. She loved it!

I’m unsure why the video recorded on its side:

I return to work this week, and I’m starting to fidget with my nails again. For good reason: this is the busiest week of the year as the Indianapolis Walk to End Alzheimer’s is happening on Saturday. I have missed the entire fundraising event season and feel very out of the loop. I’m anxious to jump in and be a part of things, contributing to a mission I love and believe in.

But I also believe in my mission to contribute to my family’s needs. Maisie was a gift to us, and it’s my turn to give her my time and service. After this event season wraps up, I’m stepping away from my job to be at home for the foreseeable future. We are in a more stable position than when Wesley was born, and though it’s not something I ever thought I’d do, it’s time for me to take on a new position at home.

This decision was made with lots of influence and encouragement from Steven and Wes. I pretty much blame them for this newest adjustment. Though I have to admit, I’m looking forward to experiencing Maisie’s milestones and spending the holidays together. In January our family will re-evaluate my options, and I may return to the work force in a part-time position if something fitting becomes available.

Though my nails will be bitten to the shreds in the next few weeks – from health concerns, returning to a busy work environment and then leaving it all behind – I find I’m not nearly as anxious as I might have been. God has provided a blanket of peace in which I’m deeply snuggled. There is joy in my heart. All is well.

If I should say, “My foot has slipped,”
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, will hold me up.
When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,
Your consolations delight my soul.    – Psalm 94:18-19

Posted: September 30th, 2018
Categories: Leah
Tags: , , , , ,
Comments: No Comments.

Resident Baby

As much as she resembles her big brother, little Maisie definitely has her own preferences and personality.

During the last month, we have adjusted to a new normal. We have watched this new person “wake up” from her days-long newborn slumber and start to recognize voices, focus on objects and faces and give us a handful of teaser smiles. (We can’t wait for the real reactionary ones!)

  

Maisie has met and spent time with a lot of people in the last 5 weeks. She appears to enjoy hearing chatter and conversation and has demonstrated her own version of FOMO – she won’t sleep if she hears fun dialogue around her! Once she IS asleep, however, she is extremely difficult to wake.

I can’t successfully wake her to eat every 3 hours, and at first we were a little concerned about her weight. We went to the pediatrician three times before she started to gain a few ounces, and now she’s up a pound from her birth weight. But she doesn’t have nearly the appetite Wesley did. I felt like he nursed every 45 minutes for the first 3 months, and that’s probably not an exaggeration by much.

It’s been fun to reminisce and compare notes to our previous experience.

Wes Maisie
Birth Stats: 8 lbs; 21″ 8 lbs, 1 oz, ; 21″
One Month Stats: 11 lbs; 22.5″ (75th percentile) 9 lbs, 2 oz, ; 21.5″ (38th percentile)
Swaddling: Mandatory Indifferent
Pacifier: Indifferent Indifferent
Feeding: ~1 hour; cluster feeds ~3 hours; cluster feeds at night
Sleeping: Sleeps most of the day & 4-5 hours at night Difficult to fall asleep but sleeps for 4 consecutive hours
Tummy Time: Screams bloody murder Tolerates
Baths: Dislikes Dislikes
GI: Limited gas and spit up Poops so much; lots of burps

Wesley has discovered a few things about his sister, too.

“She likes when I talk to her.”

“You say you’re feeding her, but it’s really drinking milk.”

He thinks he taught her some of her baby reflexes, and it’s too cute to correct him. “Mama! Look! I taught my baby sister how to grab my finger!”

Our family walks are even better now with a little one in tow, and she stops fussing when we’re on the move – either on foot or in the car. Except for a very long 45-minute walk around downtown Chicago last weekend during her prime cluster feed time. Whew, that was rough.

Also rough? Her inability to stay asleep until just about midnight. She cluster feeds from 7-10, usually dosing off several times. But once I lay her on her back, she promptly wakes up and fusses to nurse until she falls asleep again. The cycle continues for several hours, and I’ve caught up on my reading. Thankfully once asleep, she and I get a good 5 hours in before she wakes to eat again.

She tried a bottle for the first time last week. It took a few minutes to get the hang of it, haha.

All that food comes out en force, and she stained so many onesies before I realized it was time to move up a diaper size. She’s still wearing newborn onesies, though sleepers and some outfits are becoming snug. I sorted through the 0-3 month clothes this week and pulled out a few new items to add to the rotation. And based on a friend’s suggestion, I put the extra newborn size diapers and the outgrown sleepers aside for doll clothes. Brilliant.

I took a few photos when she turned one month old. Admittedly I haven’t taken nearly as many as I did of Wesley. Poor second child (or “second born” as Wes likes to say).

We love our little pimple-faced, skin-peelly Nugget, Stink Pot, Fuss Bucket, Little Miss, Maisie Girl.

Posted: September 20th, 2018
Categories: Leah
Tags: ,
Comments: No Comments.

One Week Old

We’ve achieved a handful of small accomplishments this week, but mostly we’ve just loved on little Maisie.

(Isn’t this mermaid tail, made by my dear friend Jordan, the sweetest?! She has been gifted additional tails to grow into as well – perfect for our monthly photos!)

HIGHLIGHTS / EVENTFUL THINGS OF THE WEEK:

  • We had our first family outings: pediatrician appointment, Saturday farmers market, church and a Target run today, and a family walk with the dogs (although I think I overexerted myself and am now couch-bound for the immediate future).
  • We have been showered with gifts, meals, cards and messages from colleagues, family members, neighbors, church families and countless friends. We feel the love, folks! Thank you.

MAISIE’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS WEEK:

  • Won the hearts of her family members.
  • Slept – she sleeps SO MUCH with the exception between 9 p.m-1 a.m. when she’s alert and wants to cluster feed.
  • Met her quota of feedings and diaper changes according to hospital recommendations.

Jake has to be close at all times.

WESLEY’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS WEEK:

  • Received an A+ rating from Steven on his eager and helpful performance as a big brother.
  • Jumped into and swam in the deep end of the pool.
  • Made several notable wise decisions and is adjusting to a baby sibling better than expected.

STEVEN’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS WEEK:

  • Waited on me 24/7, but didn’t make me feel like an invalid.
  • Surprised me with our wedding cake for our 11th anniversary.
  • Successfully made Maisie sleep or poop while holding her, every time.

LEAH’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS THIS WEEK:

  • Dropped 15 of the 30 lbs gained!
  • Identified two of Maisie’s cries based on the Dunstan Baby Language (“neh” = hunger; “eh” = gassy).
  • Survived the beginning pains of breastfeeding – though she and I still have a lot to accomplish before it’s second nature and doesn’t hurt like whoa.

The morning after the first night at home: still alive!

Wesley is still on Cloud 9 about his new sister. He has enjoyed having visitors come to see Maisie because he gets to show her off and then play with friends. The last couple days have been more difficult for him as he realizes that we can’t give him all of our attention anymore. He’s not jealous, but he’s having trouble being independent and finding his own fun without getting himself into trouble.

However, he loves to snuggle in close when I’m nursing, and he talks about his future with Maisie. He is incredibly tender toward her, and he is empathetic about my body’s healing – offering to reach something and asking how I’m feeling.

Wes: Maisie! Maisie! Oh, look, I made her smile!
Me: She is looking for you; she knows your voice.
Wes: Do you think she likes me more than you?
Me: I think she likes us both.
Wes: Yeah, you’re the one feeding her. I just can’t believe she’s actually here!
Me: Me neither, Buddy. She’s pretty great, isn’t she?
Wes: I just love her so much that I could cry!
Me: Oh, me, too, Bud.
Wes: Look, we’re both crying now!

We are so thankful for this little surprise person. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” – James 1:17

Posted: August 19th, 2018
Categories: Leah
Tags: , ,
Comments: No Comments.

Getting to Know You

She’s been a surprise all along, and she continues to astonish us. Maisie Gale was born four days early on August 12, 2018. She weighs 8 lbs, 1.3 oz and is 21″ long. She just barely beat her brother’s stats – by an ounce and an inch.

I woke from a dream at 2 a.m. Sunday morning, feeling a trickle fall down my legs. I knew it wasn’t an accident, but I went to the bathroom anyway, and lost more fluid on the bathroom floor. Honestly I was slightly annoyed because I had planned to work in the office most of this week, but I was equally amused that it actually happened like all the text books say. (My water didn’t break with the first pregnancy.) I woke Steven up and told him I would finish packing and call the hospital.

As I went downstairs to call my parents, I noticed that our dog Jake had an accident in the family room. I grabbed some tissue to clean it up, squatted to do so, and the flood gates opened. I nearly clogged the half bath after flushing down so much toilet paper from both accidents. And then I went back upstairs to change clothes for the third time.

Mom and Dad hurried over to house/Wes-sit for the early morning hours while we went to the hospital, registered and checked into triage. Within an hour, we were in our room, where we waited for my contractions to gain in intensity. I was about 4cm dilated when we arrived, and hardly felt the every-2-minute contractions. No one tells you that the amniotic fluid keeps escaping after your water breaks. It was quite annoying and uncomfortable to sit in a constant puddle, but there you have it.

Because of the fast progression of Wesley’s birth, the nurses encouraged me to go ahead and get an epidural after we had waited a few hours. I wasn’t in much pain to begin with, and the anesthesiologist complimented me after receiving it: “In 20 years of doing this, I’ve never had a patient ask me questions while getting their epidural. You just made my morning!” When I’m nervous or anxious, I tend to be chatty, so it was the only thing I could do to take my mind away from the stick and pressure of the needle. Steven beamed with pride (and then teased me later).

We got a little rest before my parents and Wes came over to hang out. Wesley’s expression when he entered our hospital room was priceless. He ran up to the side of my bed and put both of his hands over his wide smile: “Mama, I’m SO EXCITED!” The room was perfect and spacious for them to join us. About every 2 hours I had gained another centimeter, so we played the waiting game. It was nice to have company to distract me from the obvious.

To pass the time, Steven made updates to the white board in the room, which has also entertained the nurses on rotation. The board originally said “Have a baby!” under Today’s Plan, and it has periodically changed to “Had a baby!” and “Keep a baby!” Today it said, “Take a baby!” in anticipation of our discharge for home. He later added under Questions for Care Team: “Why is baby?” / “What is baby?” which prompted nervous giggles from staffers.

Around 11:15 I had called the nurse about increased pressure and fluid. She at first didn’t believe me – “maybe in about 50 minutes we’ll be ready to have this baby!” – but after a quick check she changed her mind. She alerted the OB on call (we heard her run down the hallway), Mom and Wes were whisked out the room (Dad went to church earlier that morning while they stayed with us), and all the troops and supplies were wheeled in. By the time they had everything ready, Dad had returned, so he and Mom traded places watching Wes. Mom came in the room just in time to witness the birth.

There’s debate about how many pushes (10?) over how much time in total (20 minutes?), but I was told by a nurse that it was a “perfect birth.” Maisie Gale was born at 11:52 a.m. on a beautiful, sunny day. Steven and I spent the next hour alone with Maisie – our daughter who cried minimally and was extremely alert during those precious first moments.

The extended Shattucks and my sister came that afternoon, and a couple close friends visited yesterday. Everyone agrees: she’s fantastic. We have spent the last couple days getting introduced to each other. A song from the musical King and I has been floating around in my head:

Getting to know you
Getting to know all about you
Getting to like you 
Getting to hope you like me

And she certainly is well-liked! Wesley, who she resembles (it’s unreal by how much!), is becoming a pro at holding her, “teaches” others how to keep her warm and safe, and has told everyone who will listen about his new baby sister.

It’s sweet to see Steven with his little girl. He snuggles her close and teases her in his endearing way. Our quiet evenings are my favorite time to watch them.

We’re smitten. It’s so nice to finally meet you, Ms. Maisie. Welcome to the family.

Haven’t you noticed
Suddenly we’re bright and breezy? 
Because of all the beautiful and new 
Things we’re learning about you 
Day by day

More photos of Maisie’s first days!

Posted: August 14th, 2018
Categories: Leah
Tags: , ,
Comments: No Comments.

The Final Countdown

Summer may be over according to the school district, but we’ve squeezed in a few additional things before life gets up-ended with a newborn.

On Thursday, Wesley started first grade. I didn’t get shopping for clothes or shoes done until the SECOND day of school, but close enough. (I think the best thing about this photo is my bathrobe-clad photobomb.)

He claimed to be nervous, but Wes couldn’t stop talking about his day while at the dinner table that night. He’s in a class with a bunch of buddies, and he’s already served as Class Helper a handful of times.

Friends of ours invited us to dinner on Saturday night, and even though I forgot to bring my swimsuit, another pregnant friend (who’s just a week or so behind us) kindly let me borrow the one she was wearing so I could get a few minutes in the cool water. Yes, it seems strange, but you may not understand how good water feels when you’re this far along! It was also a rather funny experience, confusing the kids in the pool – as we look similarly pregnant.

We had planned to attend family day at GenCon over the weekend. After we were dressed (Mario, Mega Man and pregnant Fiona), Steven discovered the horrible news that tickets were sold out. Wes was super bummed to miss it, but he bounced back with, “it’s okay. Maybe we can go swimming instead.” So we did. Again. This time at Mom’s condo pool.

And afterwards, my parents – who now own a truck and truck camper and I have no idea who they are – came over to test a cast iron dutch oven recipe on us before their approaching camping trip. I also helped Dad figure out how to set up a tent canopy. The pretend camping experience was almost as fun as REAL CAMPING!

Mom and Dad were convinced that I would go into labor the day they left, but here I am. Yesterday’s 38w6d OB appointment was good and uneventful:

  • Heartbeat, Measurements, Blood Pressure: 37 cm, 114/72
  • Weight Gain: No change from last week. Still! By this point I had gained nearly 40-45 lbs with Wesley. This pregnancy is so much different.
  • Movement: Though she didn’t move much during the non stress test (per usual), she has been active ever since. Practice/Braxton Hicks contractions have been constant for the last few days (lots of peaks on the NST!), and I hardly notice them except for slight discomfort. Last night they bothered Maisie so much that she moved all night long.
  • Dilation: 3 cm. I have to credit the practice contractions for the slow and steady progression.
  • Cravings: I got an Egg McMuffin earlier this week, and you know what? It wasn’t nearly as good as I was expecting! I’m hungry for salads and deli meat this week.
  • Moods: Mostly calm, but starting to get antsy. Intermittent sleep is affecting my ability to stay focused.
  • Biggest Gripe: It’s not really a “gripe” but I find it amusing that my coworkers are determined to see my water break in the office and have no doubt that I’ll be in active labor, like, in 10 minutes. Every morning there’s a comment or two: “I can’t believe she’s back today!”
    The thing that has bothered me most this week are loose ligaments in my hips and pelvis. It feels like my leg is popping out of socket. And occasionally I’ll shift positions and a bolt of nerve tingling hits for a moment; super uncomfortable. I decided it’s probably okay to take a break from the gym for several weeks. Saturday is my last planned class, and I’m half expecting to modify the heck out of the workout and then endure an afternoon of contractions.
  • Biggest Like: Checking things off the list! We met with our financial advisor tonight to make adjustments in anticipation of our family of four. Wes is helping pack his own bag for staying with my parents when we’re in the hospital. The newest addition to the bag is a gift from my aunt and cousin – a big brother button!
    Wes asked what Steven and I will be doing for our wedding anniversary next week, and I told him we may be spending it in the hospital. “Oh! Could we order pizza and watch a movie?!” Sure, why not make it a family date if it comes to that?

If Maisie doesn’t arrive on her own next week, we have a scheduled induction for August 22 at 7 a.m. A few more appointments to check on her progress are scheduled between now and then – Oohhhh, it’s the final countdown!

Posted: August 9th, 2018
Categories: Leah
Tags: , ,
Comments: No Comments.

(Always) Something to Celebrate

Steven pokes fun of my excuses to do something fun – mainly get an ice cream cone somewhere. I grew up accustomed to celebrating small victories (the end of a recital or play, last/first days of ___, Dad on a business trip(!), etc.) and what Steven calls “made-up holidays,” and I guess it stuck with me.

At dinner tonight, I suggested that we celebrate the last day of summer by, you guessed it, getting ice cream! (Tomorrow is Wesley’s first day of first grade – yes, already!) Steven then, for the next hour or so, and during our evening walk with the dogs, came up with the following situations to celebrate:

Hey, let’s celebrate that colonoscopy you just got!
Your third cousin’s nephew graduated from high school!
It’s the 60th anniversary of that couple that you met in Kroger once!
Great job getting a new pair of shorts for school!

I told him that you have to keep life fun and interesting, and why NOT celebrate the last day of summer?! We ended up going to Chick-fil-a because Wes found an unopened kids’ meal toy (which you can turn in for free ice cream), I was hungry for a milkshake, and Steven decided to get fries. “So we ALL get a treat!” said Wes. Yes, see? He gets it.

We celebrated(!) Wesley’s birthday with the Shattucks over the weekend, and as usual, it was an adventure. Every single one of my in-laws is an amazing bowler – including my nieces! On a good game, I can bowl maaaaaybe 140. That’s like chump change for them. They have their own balls (some smell like fruit, no joke!) and shoes and either play on leagues, coach teams or have done so at some point in their lives. We thought it would be fun to bring them to Fountain Square to try their hand at duckpin bowling – and guess what?! I WAS THE HIGHEST SCORE.

Steven, Wes and I stopped at Heidelberg Haus for a cake on the way to the alley, thinking we could share it there. But the building has a strict NO OUTSIDE FOOD policy that we now know about, so everyone took their turn holding the cake box and walking around Fountain Square. When we returned to our house for cake and presents, the combination of the day’s heat and shuffling between people made the cake layers slide all over the place. Debra is still convinced it’s Bill’s fault. Seriously the best moment of the day!

A few other things to celebrate: BABY STATS WEEK 37

  • Heartbeat, Measurements, Blood Pressure: 130 bpm, 114/60
  • Weight Gain: No change from last week.
  • Movement: Today’s non-stress test (NST) was long for a couple reasons: my OB was on vacation, so the doc I visited with wanted to get ample data. The last couple NSTs have been 10-15 minutes, and this one was likely the standard 30 minutes, but it felt ages longer. Also, Maisie had to be zapped again because she just gets too comfortable and doesn’t move as much as they’d like to see on a graph. (Maybe they should schedule these tests for 10 p.m.) At any rate, she passed the test and everything looks great.
  • Dilation: 2.5 cm. I didn’t have too many Braxton-Hicks contractions this week that I know of, but apparently they’re happening because they showed up on the NST graphs.
  • Cravings: Orange juice, salt, ice cream. I still haven’t gotten that Egg McMuffin.
  • Moods: It’s been a good mental week. I’m beginning to see real progress and closure on my projects at work, and it makes me feel less and less stressed that I’ll leave without a big, gaping hole for coworkers to fill.
  • Biggest Gripe(s): Finally had to throw in the towel and start sleeping in the guest room with a plethora of pillows. I don’t like not being with Steven, but he hates my excessive snoring and frequent bathroom breaks and constant tossing and turning.
  • Biggest Like: It sounds mushy, but I’m so blessed by Steven and Wesley. They go out of their way to make me laugh, feel special and beautiful. Both of them complimented me on separate occasions this morning. Wes begged me to take video of Maisie’s heartbeat so he could hear it. Here you go, Buddy.

August has a lot of firsts (and therefore ice cream celebrations!) ahead. Here we go into Week 38!

Posted: August 1st, 2018
Categories: Leah
Tags: , ,
Comments: No Comments.

8 Months Down

July has been a bustle of activity. After vacation, we went right back into day camps and other summer activities. Regarding the last post, my tests results came back negative for cholestatis, so life has continued as busy-normal. Wesley’s 7th birthday marathon (which still hasn’t ended – duckpin bowling with the Shattucks this weekend!) has been fun and memorable. He spent the week with my parents at “Grandma Camp,” swimming, playing with cousins, visiting museums and even going to Dave and Buster’s.

CAN YOU BELIEVE MY PARENTS PLAYED ARCADE GAMES? I cannot.

 

We invited neighborhood friends and a handful of other close family friends to his Pokemon-themed birthday party.

   

July is usually hot, and because we still have an empty family room and less indoor seating than normal, I thought having his party at a park with a splash pad would work well. (Plus I wouldn’t have to do as much house cleaning!) And it did – despite the rain showers. But since the kids were already wet, it was really only us parents who had to cope with the weather.

 

A few of the dads hid “Pokeballs” (DIY Easter eggs half sprayed painted red and filled with minifigures of Pokemon) throughout the park, and I think the kids enjoyed that activity just as much as getting wet.

 

We had a quiet birthday celebration at home, and because I spent all my available energy on the massive 4-layer cake (it was a brilliant spontaneous decision) for his birthday party, we were happy to grab a few Flying Cupcakes and toss a candle in one for this birthday evening.

He had asked for “a bird, hamster or bunny” for his birthday. Uh, no. Over the last few weeks, martial arts has come into conversation, so Steven and I surprised him with a uniform and two weeks of Tae Kwon Do lessons to see if he’d like it enough to continue. (The building is a former Dairy Queen, and the running joke is that we’re going to Dairy Qwon Do!) And just a week in, he’s already earned his white belt and three stripes!

 

On the baby front…

I had my 36w6d OB appointment a few days ago, and now I’m at 37 weeks and considered full-term. “I’m going to pick on you a little today,” said my OB. Because of my slightly-too-old-to-be-pregnant status (though she said I’m “barely old” haha), I’m now having weekly non-stress tests up until delivery. I also had another lab to test my blood platelet count, which has been on the lower side, and I had a call today that they’re still lower than normal. I’m to continue having lab work throughout the duration of pregnancy to keep an eye on my levels. If they dip too low, I may not be able to have an epidural, and an early induction may be necessary. (I’ll only start worrying about this if my doctor becomes concerned!)

To further add fuel to the fire, I also tested positive for Group B Strep, which, sparing the gross details, is a gut bacteria that comes and goes in healthy women. It’s not really a big deal, but I’ll need to be given penicillin during labor and delivery to prevent any infection to the baby. Being “advanced maternal age” or AMA definitely makes for a more interesting chart and case!

When I was at this stage in pregnancy with Wesley, I tracked our weekly stats. It’s been fascinating to refer back to over the years, and I thought I’d continue in carrying Maisie.

  • Heartbeat, Measurements, Blood Pressure: 140 bpm, 36 cm, 102/40
  • Weight Gain: Total weight gain thus far is 30 lbs. I’m a little surprised it’s this much, but equally interested that I haven’t gained anything MORE than this. I gained 45 total lbs with Wesley, so it’s less than the last pregnancy, but I still feel like it’s a lot.
  • Movement: She was a little stubborn during my non-stress test, and moved very little. The tech had to use a special vibration zapping device to startle her enough to move around so they could get more readings on the monitor. She’s typically pretty silent during the day, increasing in movement as the evening progresses. She loves the hours between 9-11 p.m. and a certain spot under my right ribs.
  • Dilation: 2 cm, which, as I told Wes, is about the size of a penny. I was exactly the same dilation with Wesley at this time, and I feel like I stayed there for a few weeks. I didn’t get any stats on effacement. Being pregnant around a school-aged kid can get interesting. Wes is observant, and he is following this pregnancy and my body changes closely. Trying to explain dilation to a 7-year-old without getting too graphic has its challenges, but he seems satisfied with my answers! (Which then prompts new questions.) “Mama, how did Mary and Joseph have baby Jesus without any doctors?!”
  • Cravings: Egg McMuffins, but I haven’t yet given in. Ice cream and really cold water always sound refreshing, too. And watermelon.
  • Moods: I’m usually pretty steady and upbeat, but I do get frequently frustrated at myself. It’s like my brain forgets that this body is busy with another job.
  • Biggest Gripe(s): I’ve had Braxton-Hicks (false contractions) all week, and though they’re not painful, the tightening of my stomach causes Maisie to move around, which feels awful against a tight uterus. I know I had these in the last pregnancy, but I don’t remember them being this uncomfortable. Unfortunately my feet and ankles are starting to swell, and it’s super annoying. I think the other biggest gripe is the sight of my “popped turkey” belly button. It looks lovely poking out of all my clothes.
  • Biggest Like: Perhaps the reason for all the contractions is because I’m still attending CrossFit classes. Monday’s workout was tough, but I managed to complete 60 weighted lunges with a 35 lb sandbag, row 2,000 meters, and throw 65 9-foot tosses with a 10 lb wall/medicine ball. It was the first time I’d worked out in a week, and my legs were feeling the activity the next couple days, but I am pleased and proud of my progress. I do have to modify ab work and anything on the rig, and I sweat like crazy. It’s likely not a pretty sight – still aiming to go as long as I can! I joke with my gym friends that I should just think of the actual birth as a WOD (workout of the day).

While at my parents’ condo last week, I saw a photo of myself 7 years ago at the same week of pregnancy and in the same dress I was currently wearing. I thought it would be fun to recreate the photo, and had Dad snap a picture of me.

So I’ve aged a bit, but I like what I see. I’m not self-conscious about my looks or wrinkles or vein-y hands. I’m much stronger in body, mind and spirit than in 2011. Isn’t it fascinating to see side-by-side? Or maybe I’m just in awe of the whole situation – how I’m actually pregnant again!

Ironically the photo on the left (photo credit to Angie Cinnamon Photography) was taken at an open house for Joy’s House, my former employer, and I went to the same event yesterday evening. I was 36 weeks pregnant there, and it was one of the first years we had decided to have an summer ice cream social and open house for the public. I remember planning the prepping for the event, thinking it was one of the last events I’d assemble before maternity leave. It was fun to see people I loved that evening, doting on my baby belly.

Last night was a similar experience. I went by myself because the guys went to Tae Kwon Do, but that meant I could catch up with my Joy’s House family. People who carried me through Wesley’s pregnancy doted on the Maisie bump, and it was sorta like an anointing or dedication experience. I love the people of Joy’s House and the special relationships I maintain with the families, employees and volunteers involved.

You guys, for all the crazy (and sometimes challenging) stuff, life really is fun, isn’t it? My prayer for this pregnancy has been for health and peace, and I feel blessed with support networks and wonderful people in our lives.

 

Want to see the rest of Wesley’s birthday photos? There are some good ones here.

Posted: July 27th, 2018
Categories: Leah
Tags: , ,
Comments: No Comments.

What to Expect When You’re Not Sleeping

“It’s like, when, you’re talking about lice and your head starts itching.” I described to my parents. Though I’ve had restless and itchy legs and feet for a few weeks, it seems worse than ever now that I’ve been tested for a liver condition, cholestatis of pregnancy. Likely because I’m more aware of it?

What I thought was a normal pregnancy symptom could possibly be something bigger and more serious, though it’s highly likely I don’t have it. I causally mentioned my restless legs at the 34/35 week appointment a few days ago, and after a series of follow-up questions, my OB ordered a couple tests to rule the condition out as a precaution.

Cholestatis can cause problems for a baby born at full term. If tests come back with positive results, I could be induced as early as next week. Next week!

On Wednesday I completed a non-stress test to make sure baby Maisie was fairing well, and she did great. Doc isn’t concerned about her. Whew. (Remember when I had multiple NST conducted while admitted for a complicated migraine during my last pregnancy? It brought back a flood of memories.)

  

I’m willing myself to take things in stride and trust that God has a handle on this situation. It’s probably nothing, and I’m doing a fair job of keeping myself preoccupied (except my coworkers have heard me moan about it!) until we know more; however, these feet seem to be even more tingly than before, and it’s keeping me up at night.

My typical regimen when flair ups happen (usually 2-3 times a week), is to eat a banana, drink coconut water and pop a couple Restful Legs homeopathic pills. The combination is typically enough to help me fall asleep, but I often wake and move to another room to prevent Steven from not sleeping, too.

PREGNANCY INSOMNIA. I woke at 3:30 this morning and eventually threw in the towel, giving up at the possibility of any rest. If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what you can expect:

  • Eating Cheerios at the crack of dawn is best when watching Anne of Green Gables. (I think I cried through the whole thing – likely because of stress and because it’s that good.)
  • People-watching is a fun activity even in the beginning hours of the morning. (I now know there are a handful of dedicated early walkers in our neighborhood.)
  • You can get a lot of household chores done when no one else is awake.

So, we are in limbo. We’ll have an idea of what to expect when results are available after the weekend, and I anticipate it to be a very long few days indeed. I keep checking my email and phone for any updates from the lab, and yet I know it won’t be there.

I’m not worried about my health or her health, really, but this earlier delivery possibility wasn’t one I was anticipating at all. Wrapping up work within an extreme time constraint makes my head spin, but heck, it will be ok. I guess I better start packing a hospital bag and secure a car seat – just in case!

Meanwhile, Wesley had a busy camp week – both Springhill day camp and VBS. I attended the closing ceremonies of both, and he was given a Leadership Award for his bossy guiding personality. He’s going to be a fantastic, protective big brother. I’m proud of this guy who turns 7 next week.

“Mama, remember at Christmastime when you told me about the baby? She was smaller than an ant! I can’t believe how big she is. Oh! I felt her move again. Whatcha doing in there, Maisie? Gymnastics?!”

Dear Maisie, your brother is SO READY to meet you (and so are your parents!). Perhaps he won’t have to grumble about the lengthy waiting period much longer. And I’m grateful that our doctor is keeping close tabs on both of us.

Posted: July 13th, 2018
Categories: Leah
Tags: ,
Comments: No Comments.

Tiny House Living

I’m all about a bargain, and when you’re in late pregnancy, convenience + bargain is basically a gold mine. I’m usually the one who does the vacation planning, but the guys usually enjoy what I scramble together.

The bullet list for 2018:

  • within a 4-hour driveable distance (I can’t sit comfortably in a car right now)
  • access to water (Wes is a fish and it’s cheap entertainment)
  • less than a week booking policy (the guys don’t like to be away from home longer than 4-5 days)
  • around $150/night (to save money for baby preparations)
  • available the week of July 4 (less PTO consumed and away from loud neighborhood firecrackers)

In January I found a quaint house within our parameters RIGHT ON THE BEACH in South Haven, Michigan. We have vacationed along Lake Michigan (Holland in 2014 and South Haven in 2013) and enjoyed our stays, so it seemed perfect. And it was! Just, tiny.

It’s called the Little House, but it’s smaller than “little.” Wes is convinced it is actually the former garage of the house next door, and he’s probably right. Except the Little House was finished in HALF of the “garage.” Equipped with a full bed in a separate bedroom, bathroom with a shower (“I can’t believe there is a shower smaller than ours [our master shower is a mere 2.5 sq feet] that actually exists.”), kitchen and living room with futon, it has all the essentials in miniature form. When you look out the sliding glass doors, you not only SEE the LAKE, you see how it will take you less than 5 minutes to dip your feet into water.

We got a glimpse of trendy living in a tiny house, and appropriately we renamed the Little House as “Tiny House” for our stay. I learned how to move things around every time I wanted to sit or stand somewhere. In one of these moves – in fact, the very first one when we arrived – my phone dropped into the toilet and went instantly dead. On Day 1. I told myself not to work up about it and enjoyed being wireless for several days.

The kitchen was not quite fully stocked with pots, pans and utensils needed for cooking, but I learned to get creative and strategic, and Steven mocked me saying this multiple times. But we made most of our meals in the Little House, next to (or on!) the beach itself. “What a woman,” says Steven.

Being 34 weeks pregnant on vacation isn’t really ideal in any location, but the proximity to the sand was very welcome. I packed my folding zero gravity chair and looked quite a site with feet propped up, sun hat, Kindle, water and bulging belly.

“Look at you, multitasking mama!”
“Your baby belly is adorable!”

^Those beach comments were always better/more positive than while walking around in town, of which we did quite a lot.

“Whoa, your belly button has popped!”
“It must be tough in this heat!”
“How much longer now?!”

And then Steven’s favorite, “Do you know what you’re having?” It doesn’t bother me, really; people are curious. But his argument is it’s not phrased correctly. “Why do people ask if we KNOW what we’re having? Why don’t they just ask if it’s a boy or girl? And why do they care anyway?”

I gotta say, though, I feel really good even at this stage. Walking miles on the beach and around town didn’t phase me, I didn’t ever feel self-conscious in my swimsuit, and I generally vacationed near as similarly as I would have, NOT pregnant. The only differences were frequent bathroom breaks and multiple wakings during the night.

So, what did we do on vacation?

THE BEACH – We were right on North Beach Park in South Haven, so naturally we spent the majority of our time there. Wes and I slept poorly one night, so we got up and spent the early hours of the morning in the sand, watching tractors plow over footprints from the day before. Wes “made friends with the waves” by “playing with them” – for hours upon end. He crashed hard after 6 hours of constant playing one day.

He also made friends with the many teenagers and young adults who spent their July fourth holiday at the beach. I’m so glad I’m not in that awkward stage of life anymore. Watching unsure-of-themselves girls with their proving-themselves boys was entertaining, and Wes saw past it. He swam right up to them and joined their games. He only occasionally lingered over ill-fitting swimsuits, but he didn’t ask me questions afterwards. (Steven still asked/reminded him to play with kids his own age!)

We played many rounds of water frisbee and kite flying. We assured him any freshwater sharks would be far from the beach, and he is basically now a beach pro.

 

We also met a cat on a leash and discovered she’s a motorcross celebrity. Check out Mya the #Motokitty.

IN TOWN – We hardly drove anywhere. South Haven is extremely walkable, though Wes might tell you otherwise. We visited all the staples – Bunde’s, Captain Lou’s, Clementine’s, Sherman’s Dairy Bar – but we also enjoyed a river cruise where Wes was so chatty that he became a part of the small boat crew. We seemed to need to walk across the drawbridge every half hour when tall boats could pass through.

FOURTH FESTIVITIES – The tradition in South Haven is to watch the large fireworks show off the south pier on the night of the 3rd. These were amazing to see over water.

And the following day, we caught the annual Fourth of July parade and stuffed our pockets with candy. Multiple popscicles were handed out, too! Our favorite was lighting sparklers on the beach at dusk.

 

“[The four sparklers are] like it’s me, you, Daddy and Maisie!”

U-PICK BLUEBERRIES – Besides swimming, Wesley’s favorite activity of the week was picking our own blueberries at DeGrandChamp Farms. None of us had ever done anything like this before, and we all were pleasantly surprised at how much fun we had. While hunting for the biggest, juicest berries, we talked about the similarities to Blueberries for Sal kaplink, kaplank, kaplunk! – and how we would eat them – out of the pail? in pancakes? in pie?

We picnicked near the blueberry shrubs, then purchased our own 2-year-old Legacy plant to take home with us.

By our last day, we had grown weary of our confined space and spent a very windy afternoon on the beach. The water was choppy, the air was slightly cold, and it was too windy for frisbee. But it sure made for a fun, wet experience on the pier!

We came home last night and slept in our own beds. Though not a direct quote, Steven’s comment was something like, “It’s a strange sensation to be in a house with so much space.”

I guess we’ll never downsize into a tiny shed on wheels, but we did have an enjoyable week. Wes helped me plant the blueberry bush today, and I spent the better part of the afternoon reconnecting my old iPhone 4s from four years ago to my phone number in order to rejoin civilization.

Next planning adventure? Maternity leave.

Posted: July 7th, 2018
Categories: Leah
Tags: , ,
Comments: No Comments.

Second-hand baby

You guys, it’s happening. With only 10 weeks left to go, reality is starting to set in a little more each day. I’m beginning to get annoying on social media with all the baby-related posts. But seriously, it’s my life right now and nearly every other thought.

People ask me/us if “we’re ready,” and I usually state that yes, we’re ready for Maisie in that most house-and-care things in our control are in order, but that I’m grateful for (up to) 2.5 months to finish up everything at work before maternity leave. Golly, that could be a post in itself – and knowing me, probably will be.

Am I mentally ready for the family change? Most days, yes. I’m not nearly as panicky as I was when pregnant with Wesley. A friend at the gym said I appear very “grounded,” which was probably one of the most surprising compliments I’ve received. I feel good and as normal as can be, too. Other compliments have been along the lines of “you’re so small!” “you’re glowing!” (Today, however, I feel extremely pregnant and uncomfortable and not so small or glowing.)

  
Paul D’Andrea took a few funny maternity photos while helping me update our staff headshots. I love the one of me and my coworker, Jenni, with the goofy heart-on-belly look! (We think it looks like I have 4 alien arms.)

Then there are times when I wake at 4:30 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep because I get anxious about raising another child – What if she is a difficult, colicky baby? Will she be stubborn and dramatic?? How are we going to pay for a wedding??? – or because of a serious charlie horse or restless, jumpy legs and feet (bananas help, fyi).

I don’t, however, worry about the baby stuff we’re accumulating. Nearly all of our friends have complete families and are ready to give things away. We have inherited a nursery full of gently used or unused items, and anything else has been purchased at consignment stores or garage sales.

She truly is a second child for all the second-hand items we’re using.

THINGS BORROWED/GIVEN:
Car seat (don’t worry, I know for a fact that it’s not expired OR been in an accident)
Bouncy seat
Bumbo
Rock n Play (I never had one with Wesley; I hear they’re miracle-workers for naps!)
Clothes (SO MANY CLOTHES)
Bassinet
Cloth diapers
Swing
Swaddles and sleep sacks

THINGS PURCHASED FOR DIRT CHEAP:
Crib – $30 (nearly new Craigslist find!)
Stroller – $5
Bathtub – $3
Playmat – $8
Side-by-side sleeper – $12
Levana video monitor – $50
Medela Breast Pump x 2 – $25 (plus I got a third from insurance, haha)
Snoogle support pillow – $15
Cloth diapers – $5-6 (some brand new at this price!)
Skip Hop diaper bag – $10

SPLURGES:
Maxi Cosi umbrella stroller – $125 (I got a killer deal on this “loaded” compact stroller when Babies R Us went out of business)
Ergobaby Omni 360 – $115 (I didn’t have a good carrier with Wes, so I didn’t wear him much. I’m excited about this “sworn-by moms” splurge, also new but discounted price!)
IKEA highchair – $23 (Steven & Wes picked this out while on a trip to our city’s new IKEA store)
Milliard crib mattress – $45 (Steven’s Amazon find)

See? I can’t believe how gear-ready we are at this point. We have had wall decor hung and furniture from around the house reassigned to the nursery and in place for months. I’d like to get a few house projects done before she arrives, and ideally we’d trade in one of our cars for a slightly bigger one, but these aren’t necessary for her arrival.

For all the lack of spending on this child, she really has had a lot of hands-on attention. I found out that AMA stands for advanced maternal age, so there’s that. Thankfully the tests and scans have all been positive, and she and I both seem to be in good health. There are dog ears in our charts about a possible hole between her heart ventricles (cardiologist isn’t concerned) and my platelet count (OB isn’t concerned), but she’s of average size and weight and growing well.

Last week’s 30-week ultrasound was entertainingly uneventful. After taking measurements, our ultrasound tech tried for several minutes to get a good 3D view of her face. We must have woken her up because she did not want to be messed with, and it was impossible to snap a pic without her hands in her face. Regardless, we got to see her protest in response – punching her fists, opening her eyes, and even drinking amniotic fluid. Amazing.

The ultrasound tech looked closely at Steven’s face, then mine, and back and forth with Maisie’s obstructed view. “Yeah, she definitely looks like her father.” I sure hope she’s right!

Posted: June 11th, 2018
Categories: Leah
Tags:
Comments: No Comments.


© 2018 | The Shattucks | Leah Shattuck | Steven Shattuck | Indianapolis, IN