Posts Tagged ‘pregnancy’

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
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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
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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
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6 Things Pregnancy Books Don’t Tell You

Photo cred itsliketheyknowus.com

Because it’s been a hot minute since the last go around, I’ve been checking out a ton of pregnancy books from the library. Most all of the books are written for a first-time mother’s perspective, but I read them anyway. One of my favorites when pregnant with Wes is Pregnancy Day By Day, and it’s since been revised and updated 3 times. How can THAT much change in 7 years?! At any rate, I checked it out again.

There’s plenty of great advice and information out there, but I noticed there’s still a lot these books don’t talk about. Maybe because it’s too personal or maybe because it just happens to me, but this is straight-talk for pregnant moms to be. Here’s a few of what the books don’t tell you:

Nose Whistling
What they say: You may experience congestion or excess saliva while pregnant.

What they don’t say: You may wake yourself or your partner multiple times per night from a weird whistling sound. It may take you a few seconds in your sleepy stupor to realize it matches your breathing pattern and therefore is coming FROM YOUR NOSE. Dried up boogers cling to the inner walls of your nostrils, and since you’re breathing heavier during pregnancy anyway, the strong wind howls across those ridges and makes an annoying woo. You have to get up, get a tissue and clean your nostrils well or it will happen again and you can’t concentrate on anything else.

Road Map Veins
What they say: Your body is producing up to twice as much blood volume, which may give your skin a healthy “glow.”

What they don’t say: Your blood vessels may expand so much, that if you have pale skin, it will be very noticeable across your neck and chest. It may look like an unattractive GPS route, which is sure to be a lovely sight in the warmer months.

Wardrobe Malfunctions
What they say: You may not need maternity clothes for a while and can adjust your normal clothes with waist extenders or belly bands.

What they don’t say: Using clothing modification methods work for an hour or so, but if you’re moving around or sitting still for too long, the stretchy band that covers and holds up your unbuttoned pants may shift and render the thing useless. Your friends and coworkers may be too nice to mention to your face if your zipper fly is visibly down for half the morning, so do yourself a favor a look down to conduct a self-evaluation every time you stand up.

Interpersonal Space
What they say: Your older child and/or your dogs may enjoy spending more time with you as they bond with their sibling in the womb. (Ok, this may not really be in a book!)

What they don’t say: Your kids and furry kids will follow you around the house and want to be touching you at all times. Get used to increased lack of privacy, as well as hands and dog paws resting on your growing belly. They may even want to sit on top of your stomach to be THAT close.

Nesting Spurts
What they say: You may have the urge to clean and organize.

What they don’t say: You may have just enough energy to WANT to do some nesting projects, but really, you just want to sit on the couch. Your husband may pick up where you left off, organizing the entire nursery and getting around to moving the couches from the family room to the basement like you have wanted to do for so long. But you may not have the motivation to refinish or design the now-empty family room, and you probably won’t really care too much.

Incontinence
What they say: Your pelvic floor may be weakened during pregnancy.

What they don’t say: You may need to frequent the gym bathroom if the workout-of-the-day (WOD) includes any jumps. Especially double unders. It may be wise to invest in leakage protection.

 

All joking aside, I am enjoying this pregnancy so much more than my first. I worry less, I’m (sorta) eating better, and I’m sleeping well.

Tonight, after several hugs and belly-attention, Wesley said, “Mama, I just want to make sure my sister is going to be strong like me.” He and Steven are looking out for us ladies well. Almost half way there!

Posted: March 16th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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Baby Name Reveal 2

So here we are. Since announcing our news, I’ve felt like it’s become more real. I’m just barely considered “advanced maternal age” for this pregnancy, but also given family conditions, I was asked to consider genetic screening. At 11ish weeks, I had a chromosomal blood test which came back low-risk. They were also able to tell us the gender of this baby: GIRL!

I’m to follow up semi-regularly at the high-risk OB so they can keep close tabs on little girl in this so-called geriatric body. I’ve already had two ultrasounds, and we have our upcoming 20-week ultrasound later this month – which will take approximately one hour. At that appointment, they’ll check each organ to make sure everything looks ship-shape. It’s comical to me to be considered old high-risk when my doctor isn’t even slightly concerned about our health (post test results). I don’t mind the extra attention, however, and it’s fun to see the baby more often.

13 weeks 4 days

Steven and I went to a childbirth refresher class a few weeks ago. It was designed for people like us who need some reminders because it’s been several years since the last go-around. I was surprised at how much has changed in hospital procedure and found the class really helpful. Steven was such a tease the entire evening and made me chuckle with nervous laughter. He is so good at calming my ridiculous fears and making me smile.

Testing out the peanut ball in childbirth class!

The majority of the time, we’re excited and anticipating the sweetness of the change. The boys especially. Other times, panic sets in and I start to doubt myself: can I do this? How could I possibly love this child as much as I love my first? How does this affect my professional life? Can I get back into shape after she’s born?

I’ve been so much more tired than I remember with Wesley, and baby brain has already set in. I’ve made so many ridiculous decisions that are now embarrassing to admit. I am sappy and cry easily, and the boys hide their giggles while trying to console me. “The baby is making you cry again, huh, Mama?”

Thankfully I am surrounded by people, including Steven and Wes, who are thrilled and encouraging. My favorite reactions have been from our immediate family: shock followed by total delight. All three of our nieces are excited to have another girl around.

Besides fatigue and hormone-craziness, I feel great. I’m kicking rear-end in my fitness classes and still achieving personal records. I hope to maintain this stamina as long as I can – my goal is up through 36 weeks. So far, things have been easy for us. And one of the easiest things was selecting baby girl’s name.

We had a running list of girl names when planning one for Wesley, so we went back to the start. Steven actually picked the names this time; he knew as soon as we confirmed my pregnancy. To go along with the nautical-themed nursery, this child needed a similar themed name.

Maisie Gale.

Maisie was a top favorite of mine if Wesley was a girl, and Steven gravitated to it. I love its cuteness that can grow into maturity. It means “pearl.” I particularly like Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs series – the main character is generous, humble and persistent. I started reading this series while on our honeymoon and have followed Maisie throughout her journey from poverty to WW1 to self-employment. Our Maisie is our pearl in which we hope will become a loving member of her future community.

Gale is the spelling we chose to reflect ocean winds, hence the nautical theme. It means “joy of the father” and “pleasant, merry.” A gale is a forceful wind, too, so a little bit of independence in her personality may be expected.

Steven’s initial reaction when I showed him a positive pregnancy test was a large, goofy smile. When we learned the gender, he chanted “Maisie Gale” around the house and made us all laugh. This baby is dearly loved and known by her father.

Though we didn’t expect her arrival, she is most welcome and anticipated. You’re loved, Maisie Gale!

Our niece, Elli, created this painting after hearing her gender and name

 

Posted: March 4th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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Love is Patient

I didn’t get a clever Christmas card put together in time this year, and surprisingly, I’ve heard from several people about it. Patience. I had ideas for what it might entail: a 10-year collage of past Christmas card fronts (or randomly mailing one of 10 “retro” versions of past cards), a Shattuck version of The Night Before Christmas poem. But I just didn’t have the energy or motivation to design and assemble it. Then I thought we might just send a Happy New Year card, and that came and went, too.

We didn’t forget about you or lose your address. And we do have news to share, so Valentine’s Day seems pretty appropriate to announce our annual family update.

Steven, Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang, had another year of speaking engagements across the U.S. He nearly earned his Southwest A-List status again (one trip short). He speaks at conferences to audiences about donor retention, fundraising success and constituent engagement for not-for-profits. Steven co-wrote two chapters in a new textbook, Fundraising Principles and Practice, which was published in March 2017. He and Wesley have their weekly activities they participate in together, including tennis lessons and Cub Scouts. They also are partners in crime in solving video game puzzles – finishing both Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey. In warmer months, Steven cycles to work via the Fall Creek Trail and Fort Harrison State Park, and he is increasingly interested in clean eating and brewing kombucha.

I, Communications Director at Alzheimer’s Association Greater Indiana Chapter, started regularly attending a Crossfit gym in April for low-weight/high-rep training, mixed with cardio and gymnastics workouts. Though I don’t plan to graduate to “real” Crossfit with power lifting, I have enjoyed being a part of an encouraging community. I feel good and am stronger than I’ve ever been. I also regularly sing on the worship team at Trinity Church, which is such a blessing and immensely fun. I hope to read and paint more than last year, and found that I enjoy dabbling in yard work (when it’s not so overwhelming).

In August, we celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary in Chicago. We saw Aladdin on Broadway and visited the Field Museum for the first time. We also had our first-ever family photos taken in October, and I wore my 10-year-old rehearsal dinner dress.

Wesley, Kindergartner, is a bright, clever and sweet 6-year-old. He is well-liked by kids in his class and his teachers. Because he is inclusive, he has many friends and a few close ones. He is a leader and role model, but he sometimes has trouble with dictating and tattling. And when it comes to peer pressure, he follows – even if he knows better. But he’s excelling in school, learning to read and write in Spanish AND English. He’s lost two teeth, loves Star Wars, Power Rangers and even (still!) Octonauts. Going on bike rides with the family is one of his favorite things to do, and he loves to hang out with us and friends. He’s such a gem.

Jake, 12-year-old Italian Greyhound, and Lucy, 8-year-old lab-pit mutt, are lazier than ever. Jake continues to have terrible breath and rotten teeth, so I finally introduced him to soft food and chewy treats. Lucy wishes she could have them, too. She found yet another spot in the fence that’s loose, so she frequently explores beyond our fence line. Lucy can’t stand to be left alone too long, so we never worry that she won’t return to the back door. They’re both going gray.

The House hasn’t undergone too many updates or exciting improvement projects this year. We spruced up the guest room with a new headboard, mattress and lighting. The rickety mailbox finally got replaced with a sturdy new one. We planted a few arborvitae in the side yard and started a pollinator garden. The living room gained a new club chair, plant stand and greenery. I think the biggest project was installing new interior doors for the upstairs bedrooms. Still on the list: bathroom remodels, kitchen back splash and paint, basement flooring.

Baby Shattuck was quite the surprise at the end of 2017, and probably the reason I didn’t have motivation to create Christmas cards in time! She (yes, girl! Stay tuned for further info.) will be joining the family in mid August – right around our niece’s birthday and our wedding anniversary. After an initial period of shock and panic, we spent the long winter break warming to the idea of another family member in this house. We’ve enjoyed our small trio family, but if you know much about me, I used to grieve for another child. Patience. After much prayer and reconciliation, I have found peace and happiness with my two boys. Even so, Steven and I were planning to explore fostering and possibly adoption soon, and those plans are now on hold. What a change in plans!

We attended the first ultrasound together, and Wes was able to meet my OB doctor; the doc who delivered him has since retired. I feel so much different than the first pregnancy, but as I enter the second trimester, I feel less nauseous and more “normal.” Except food is just a nuisance. Aversions, spontaneous hunger followed by uncomfortable fullness, ugh. And so many pimples! But I can continue to work out, of which I’m grateful.

Wesley is thrilled to pieces, and he has been very sweet and interested in learning how the baby grows each week. In yet another lesson in patience, he’s learning to wait. And how the period of waiting can make you frustrated and yet grow in love and joy. He thinks it’s been fun to have a family secret, and now that we’re gradually telling people, he sometimes gets protective. “Only FAMILY MEMBERS can know, Mama!”

The nesting period has already begun; Steven has helped me make an inventory of what baby items we still have, cleared out space for the nursery, and Wes helped me put together the crib I scored on Craiglist for $35. (We will likely be asking to borrow your gear!) And while I was on a business trip, they found cute prints to hang on the walls, had them framed and hung before I returned home.

Frankly, we Shattucks are glad 2017 has past, which wasn’t the best of years. We have so much to anticipate, do(!) and look forward to in 2018, and we wish you a lovely year. Please stay in touch, and come visit us soon!

(Remember this? The Sequel releases Summer 2018.)

Posted: February 7th, 2018
Categories: Leah
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I Am the 1%

Here’s the long-awaited “working mother” post. I’ve avoided this topic, mostly, because I don’t fit in. I enjoy working. “Wait, what?! Don’t you have a kid?”

Facebook is great. I like keeping up with people and seeing photos of families and hearing of news that I probably wouldn’t otherwise. It also opens up all kinds of silent judgments, and for that, I often contemplate pulling back from social media. I don’t want to, so I don’t, but it comes to mind more often than not. Usually it just means I hide certain types of posts and be done with it. I know I still have that new-mom grace period so I’m allowed to post a kajillion photos of Wes everywhere, but I also wonder how many people have hidden ME because of it. Posts about wanting to stay home with children but can’t, posts about kids growing up too fast – all that – I just don’t fit in.

Maybe it’s because I have a job that challenges me and keeps me craving more. Maybe it’s because I love my coworkers. Maybe it’s because I’m working for a fantastic mission in the face of a cold and scary national reality. Maybe it’s because it’s pretty much my dream job. Well, I’m sure it’s all of these things to an extent, but the fact is, when I was pregnant, I didn’t think I would want to stay home fulltime. I had many people tell me I would change my mind, but I haven’t. Sometimes I feel guilty about it. Will Wes think I love my job more than him one day? Will it make me a worse mom?

Yes, my job is overwhelming at times. 2012 is my busiest year yet. Throw in a new logo design and launch, and you don’t have nails for the year. And yes, I am truly looking forward to family vacation in September and my dear friend Jordan’s wedding next weekend. They keep me going. Knowing that I have so much to look forward to keeps my pace. But I still don’t believe I would trade it for staying home. It’s possible my life may change, and I may look back on these times and think Past Me is crazy for not being home. And that will be another windy post.

While I’m on the podium, I’m also “weird” in the fact that I’m just not in love with the infancy stage of life. I know it’s supposed to be some of the best years – watching tiny people grow into little people in just a short year. Since Month 6, we’ve had much better sleep and a much happier baby, but I’m ready for him to do toddler things. GASP. I know, I probably will regret saying that in the near future. I don’t want to wish away his life, either, so I’m savoring what I can each day. But honestly, mothering babies is so competitive. Women are the worst, most judgmental people in the universe. And I know I struggle with envy of nice, rounded heads filled with hair on a mobile baby. Why does it even matter? ALL KIDS GET HAIR. MOST KIDS WALK. It’s not like Wes has a terminal illness. I am blessed to have THE cutest and most expressive kid on the planet (Mothers: judge away). And more seriously, I am blessed to have Wes at all.

All my needless worries about hitting developmental milestones melt away when I slap myself back to reality. Too many of my friends are facing some sort of fertility, pregnancy or special needs battle. And again, Facebook opens up a world of knowledge I wouldn’t know about people otherwise. Through social media, my heart aches even MORE for people dreaming and praying for strong, healthy children and mothers. How can I be so thoughtless?

I am the 1%. I’m weird and like working. I’m ready to tackle “terrible threes” (yes, I know it’s supposed to be “two,” but frankly, 3 is harder!). And I feel like the lone person in the world who doesn’t know how to best comfort and console a hurting, wounded or barren woman. However, I do know the immeasurable power of prayer, and you’d better believe my list is growing.

Posted: May 6th, 2012
Categories: Leah
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Comments: 3 Comments.

Scar Tissue

This week alone, I’ve learned that four of my friends are pregnant. Some second pregnancies, other first. I’ve also learned of a rare neurological diagnosis that another friend is trying to process and understand for her little 3-week-old.

In the last year, my thoughts and opinions about family-raising have shifted up and down and around again. Steven said to me after hearing the news of one of the pregnancies and beaming from ear-to-ear, “this time last year you would’ve been sad.” He’s right.  I used to think that welcoming a child into the world either meant saying goodbye to the new baby’s parents (I call them hermits.) or learning of another very sick mother or child struggling through each day. And each new baby would remind me of my other friends who are unable to have children for whatever reason, and my heart would continue to ache.

The day my sister had the gender ultrasound with my nephew, I couldn’t wait for the phone call to celebrate the life of a new boy or girl. I called her a million times that day, but she didn’t pick up. I knew something was off. Calling Dad, he said, “Well, it’s a little boy.” No real excitement in his voice. “But he has some issues.”

Finally my sister called me while I was at Bible study. She told me our nephew had spina bifida and was unable to bend his legs. He would likely have mobility and other difficulties. That week was one of the hardest to accept. I knew God had a plan, but it was a confusing one.

Months later, we went to Cincinatti to celebrate our niece’s birthday. When she opened the door, I immediately noticed her shirt, saying, “Big Sister!” We were thrilled to find out another niece was on the way. After a few weeks, our sister-in-law became very sick and found out both of her kidneys had failed. The baby was fine, but Kelly would need to be on dialysis immediately for several days a week until a transplant was available.

Thankfully, through prayers and God’s grace, both our nephew, Jeremiah, and niece, Anna, are healthy, beautiful children. Jeremiah is a charming, sweet kid who is not defined by his diagnosis. At 18 months, he’s learned to pull himself to a standing position without much feeling below his waist. Anna was born prematurely at 31 weeks and 3 lbs, but you would never know it now. We just celebrated her first birthday. And just this week, Kelly was given a new kidney by a gracious donor and friend!

I cannot say I don’t have scar tissue built up from watching my loved ones worry, pray frantically and wonder about the unknown future. Perhaps this is why I’ve been so hesitant to be fully happy for my friends becoming new parents. Of course, it’s wonderful for new life to be brought into this world, but I hate to see so much pain involved. I don’t understand much of the Lord’s will, but I do know this: Children are a positively wonderful gift – even when you watch them make temporary homes in specialized hospitals, your love for them soars.

This year is different. I won’t be half-praying for these ladies and their growing bellies. I’ll be thinking, celebrating and praying for each of them in sickness and in health.  And remembering that God is gracious, perfect and never gives us more than we can’t handle.

Posted: September 18th, 2011
Categories: Leah
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Comments: 2 Comments.

Welcome home, GrumpFace!

Beware, this is likely to be a rather winded post. End disclaimer.

Wesley Matthew

THE STORY

Waiting for Wesley to arrive was a little difficult, only because I was so far progressed. If you read past posts, you knew that I was 4 cm dilated and 80% effaced at my 40-week appointment. Doc was convinced I was delivering over the weekend, but we scheduled an induction for Monday morning if that didn’t happen. To pass the time, we went to see Harry Potter 7.2 the day after D Day (thank you, Wes! That shows your love for me.) and walked around the mall and downtown to encourage his arrival.

That evening, I started having mild but regular contractions that lasted all night long, preventing me from sleeping much at all. Waking up on Saturday morning, they had completely stopped. Not fair. Disappointed and hot, we just stayed in on Saturday, thinking that labor was imminent. I had a similar night with regular contractions to keep me up, only to have them stop Sunday morning. I was so tired and bummed that we just skipped church and watched bad TV all day. After dinner and ice cream with my parents, I was anticipating another evening like the last two, but the contractions only got stronger and longer. We were already scheduled for an induction at 6 a.m., so we headed to the hospital, taking bets on how far dilated I had become.

After checking in and signing paperwork in between contractions, the nurse announced with disbelief that I was a whopping 6 cm and completely effaced. She said, “I guess we won’t be needing Pitocin for you!” She brought in my doc, who was pleased that I had waited until he was available to deliver this baby. Doc said I would have a baby in my arms by 11 a.m., and my response was, “Awesome! I can eat lunch!”

I got an epidural about an hour after arriving at the hospital, and within another hour and a half, I was already pushing. I was super blessed to only have to do 40 minutes of actual pushing – feeling very little pain or pressure. In fact, once Doc came in to deliver Wes, I only had 2 major pushes. He decided to arrive with a bang, and I remember seeing an entire body escape at what seemed like 20 mph – leaving all the nurses dumbfounded at how fast he came into this world.

Wesley Matthew was born at 10:39 a.m. on July 18, 2011. He weighed 8 lbs, 0.4 oz and was 20″. He looks a little like me, but is a healthy mixture of both of our mothers’ sides of their families. He’s got a cute little old man scowl, which I’ve affectionately nicknamed GrumpFace.

Lucy greets Wes for the first time

THE DOGS

Jake and Lucy have been rock star dog-sibilings! I was overly anxious about how they would react to him, but as Steven usually says, I was being unreasonable. They were anticipating something great was about to happen, and their welcoming licks and kisses just about made my heart melt.

Wesley is part of the pack. Jake has already claimed his legs & feet for lounging upon, and he repeatedly shares my lap with Wes as he’s feeding. Lucy lays down next to him during tummy time. She loves to watch him through the rungs of the bassinet while he’s sleeping. And there is no lack of doggie kisses! They both give his feet some lovin’ whenever they get a chance.

The next step is attempting a walk with the entire family. This has yet to be accomplished since it’s been so freakishly hot and humid. Once it gets below 95 degrees, perhaps we’ll be able to make use of our awesome jogging stroller!

My little rhino

FIVE DAYS LATER

I gave birth to a champ. He’s super strong, a great eater and has allowed us to sleep 4-5 consecutive hours for 3 nights in a row. (Fingers crossed it stays this way!) I’m increasingly amazed at how natural it is to care for a little human. I may not be doing everything I should be doing, but he doesn’t know any better and probably doesn’t even care. Obviously he’s content – proven by the fact that he has a slight smirk on his sleeping face at the moment.

The visits with friends and family have been great. Everyone loves this little guy! We have some wonderful people in our lives. I’ve definitely felt the affects of all the prayers given to us. Our week has been nothing but fun and special. We are blessed!

If you’d like to see more photos of Wes, his big first day and beyond, visit Steven’s flickr. I’m sure we’ll be updating it frequently as he grows and changes. We have a son!

 

Posted: July 22nd, 2011
Categories: Leah
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Comments: 2 Comments.

Dear Wesley (a pep talk)

Jake & Lucy waiting patiently

Dear Wesley,

I know you’re officially only 2 days “late,” and it must be nice and warm, comfortable and entertaining with all the gurgles and whooshing sounds surrounding you. I promise, however, it’s very nice out here in the world, and your father and I are so looking forward to introducing you all kinds of new discoveries out here.

Admittedly, I’m a little cranky this morning because I didn’t sleep well. It’s not your fault, I know, but mild, intermittent contractions for 12 hours last night got me excited that you were on your way. When they stopped suddenly this morning, I was disappointed that I would have to wait longer to see you and hold your tiny little hands.

We may have to wait until Monday to look upon your face, but I thought I’d give you once last little nudge to see if today or Sunday might be a possibility. Think about it, but don’t force yourself into something that will harm you.

You are loved tremendously already; I can only imagine how that love will grow when we finally have the chance to snuggle, laugh and grow with you!

Love, Mom

Posted: July 16th, 2011
Categories: Leah
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