Saturday, November 1, 2014

Connor Matthew: 1 Month


My Dear Connor Matthew,

Today, you turned one month old! What a month it has been. It truly has flown by, even faster than that first month did with Ryan and Zachary. You have become such an integral and natural part of our family that I really have to think hard in order to remember life before you. You continue to be an easy going, calm, patient baby who rarely cries. You sometimes have a fussy period in the evenings (and of course this falls during your brothers' bedtime, making our evenings a little stressful) but even this "fussy period" isn't that fussy and doesn't last that long.



You continue to be a decent sleeper. I nurse you before I go to bed around 10, and then you wake once or twice a night to nurse. Usually you wake around 2:00 and then again at 6:00 (which is about when I should be waking up anyway). Sometimes you wake at 1:00 and 4:00. But you always go right back to sleep. I cannot complain at all!

During the day you still do a lot of sleeping, but lately your awake periods are so much more awake! You're really starting to notice the world around you. You smiled absolute, true smiles for the first time on October 29th. You were looking at me and just broke into a huge grin. It was adorable and you have done it numerous times since then. It makes my heart melt every single time.



You are a super snugly little guy. While you're pretty content when you do need to be put down, you'd much prefer to be held, or snuggled in the carrier or wrap. You curl into a little ball and just love to rest in the crook of Daddy's arm, on Mommy's chest or shoulder.



You got used to diaper changes and baths much more quickly than your brothers. I'd say you stopped screaming during diaper changes after the first two weeks. And you really only fussed for your first two "real" baths. Since then you lay back, relax and enjoy.  I think its safe to say you love getting a bath. And your brothers love to help. Zach always makes sure that the wash cloth we lay on you stays warm. He slowly and carefully pours warm water over it. Ryan likes to clean your feet and rinse you off. (Of course all of this helping is done with close supervision from Mommy or Daddy!).

Watching your brothers interact with you is still one of the best parts of you being here. Zachary is just so very, very gentle with you...much more gentle than your average 21 month old. He gets very concerned if you cry and says, "Baby....eying (crying)" to whoever will listen. He has never once shown jealousy or aggression towards you and I couldn't be more proud of the way he has responded to your arrival in our family.  Ryan just adores you. He would give you kisses and hugs all day long if we let him. Ever since you started smiling he loves to talk to you and coo at you in order to get you to smile. It is just adorable. Zach clearly watches how Mommy cares for you very closely. He often mimics the things I do with you, with his baby doll. He puts the doll on his shoulder and pats his back to make him burp. He puts the baby down his shirt to mimic having it in a wrap. Ryan can always be counted on to keep you company or run to your rescue if you start fussing and Daddy or I can't get to you immediately. You're very lucky to have the two brothers you have. They're pretty special little guys!




Connor, you are such a perfect addition to our family. You have truly fit right in from the start. Its difficult to remember our family before you arrived. Most people don't believe it, but the transition from 2 kids to 3 has been the easiest growth in our family. Going from 0 to 1 was indeed the toughest!

We love you so much Connor! We can't wait to watch you grow....and yet, we are cherishing your babyhood. We know it will be our last. And so, for once, I can sort of begin to understand the sentiment of "enjoy every moment" (even though it always drives me crazy when people say that to new moms!). Even when its stressful, and I am not succeeding at meeting all three of our kiddos' needs at the same time, I often find myself thinking things like "they're only this little for a short time." You have given me the gift of truly enjoying a newborn-hood as much as possible. And I really truly am enjoying it!



I love you so much, sweet Connor!

Always,

Mama

Friday, October 10, 2014

So, you want a Family Centered/Natural Cesarean, too??


So, you've heard about this thing called a Family Centered Cesarean or a Natural Cesarean and you want to know how to go about convincing your OB that its totally doable. Well, here I will offer a few tips about how to go about introducing the idea to your physician.


A Few Things to Keep In Mind

As you read and plan for your own c-section, please remember the following: 

1) Every woman's situation is different. There are a host of reasons why such a C-section may not be appropriate for some women. If your physician hesitates, or feels it isn't right for you ask why and try to understand. Don't assume they aren't being open minded.

2) Planning for what might be a very new idea for your practice and your delivery hospital takes time. Introduce the idea as early in your pregnancy as possible. The more time there is to plan, the better.

3) Have an open mind. Babies are unpredictable. Things happen during pregnancy and child birth that are unexpected. Not everything can be planned for. If you plan and hope to have a Family Centered C-section but it doesn't work out, trust that things happened the way they did to keep you and your baby as safe as possible. Try not to be too disappointed.


So, Where to Begin?

As I mentioned above, introduce the idea as early as possible. Talk to your OB about why such a c-section would be meaningful to you and your partner. Offer some resources to your OB as they may not be familiar with the concept. I e-mailed my OB this video:




And this article: 

The article is particularly key as it shows that this is becoming "routine" in some hospitals in the United States. A lot of people seem to think it is a "UK thing" and not something being done here in the US. Well, it is, and that article is proof. 

So, your OB is on board? What then?

If this type of c-section has been done before at your delivery hospital, and your practice is comfortable with it then you don't have too much else to do. There should be some type of "protocol" in place and the necessary staff should be aware of that. But I would type up a "Clarifying Expectations Document" and review it with your OB well in advance. (More details about this below). 

If you're the first, or one of the first people to have this type of surgery either at your delivery hospital or within your practice, then you have a little more work cut out for you. 

Talk to your OB about who the "key players" are in the hospital who will need to be on board with this idea. Request a meeting with your OB and those key players. Generally you would want someone from Nursing (perhaps the Labor/Delivery Nurse Manager), someone from Anesthesiology (the anesthesia team is key to have on board) and perhaps someone from the NICU; Though, they could probably be updated later. 

I was lucky that the Nurse Manager at my hospital brought in the Chair of Women & Children's Services, the Nurse who would be in the OR the day of my c-section, the head of nursing from the NICU, my OB (of course) and a representative from Anesthesiology (who unfortunately couldn't come at the last minute but was updated personally by the Chair of Women & Children's Services). My husband and I cannot say enough about each of the people who attended this meeting and the work they put into making our son's birth the truly magical experience it was. 

In this meeting I introduced what I will call a "Clarifying Expectations Document." This document was a list of particular details of what my husband and I expected the Family Centered C-Section would be like. As a group, we discussed each of these points one by one. I made it clear that I was not demanding or requiring any of these details (i.e., IV in non-dominant hand, delayed chord clamping, allowing my husband to clamp the chord, how long the baby would stay with me, etc.) but rather just making sure we were all on the same page as far as what the c-section would look like, so my husband and I knew what to expect on this very special day. 

I also made it  extremely clear that if at any point my son's health or my health was in the slightest danger that all "special circumstances" were to be aborted and the team was to do whatever they needed to ensure the safety and health of the two of us. I think it is imperative that any mom hoping for this type of C-section make this clear, so as to assure everyone involved that your priority is a healthy baby. Having a more natural birth experience is truly and honestly a bonus. Its not a guarantee (See item #3 at the beginning of this post). 

After the meeting, in which expectations were clarified, send a follow-up e-mail to those involved summarizing the meeting as you and your partner understood things. This once again ensures that everyone is on the same page. Allow the team to make "corrections" as necessary (if there are any).

Once its clear everyone is on the same page type up a final document summarizing all the details you discussed. Make this summary as succinct as possible, and give it to anyone you meet the day of your c-section who hasn't yet seen this document: Your OR nurse (if you haven't already met her), the Anesthesiologist, the assisting OB, etc.  In my case I was lucky that all of these people had already been e-mailed my list and had viewed the video I linked to above. It was so reassuring and calming to know that everyone involved was on board. But, you may not be so lucky. So, don't hesitate to give that Summary Document to everyone you meet the day of your c-section. 

Then, once you've done all this planning, sit back and hope baby waits to arrive on the day of your scheduled c-section. Be sure to discuss ahead of time with your OB what you can expect if the baby comes a bit early (I am talking days to a week, not many weeks early, in which case things would be very different). Since not all the "key players" may be there, your expectations may need to shift a bit if your little one comes a bit early. Your delivery team may still be able to accommodate the Family Centered Cesarean (ours said they probably would be able to), but if not, that's OK. You will have done everything you can and your team will have too. Some things are just out of our control. 

Try to relax the day of your c-section. Be in the moment, absorb everything, and know that no matter what happens, if the end result is a healthy baby, and a healthy Mom, then there is nothing more you could ask for. 


If you have any specific questions please don't hesitate to e-mail me at kris10camfam(at) gmail (dot) com. I am happy to be of assistance to any woman hoping have the same amazing experience I had. 



Monday, October 6, 2014

A Family Centered Miracle

(Warning, some graphic (i.e. bloody) images included below. Do not read if you are squeamish.) 

This past Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 12:17 p.m. our third son, Connor Matthew DeBoy Caminiti was born. He was born in what was our delivery hospital's first Family Centered C-Section and everything about it was perfect.

With those not familiar with a "typical c-section" I'll try to paint the picture so you understand what was so very different about this c-section.

In a typical c-section, the mom is sometimes (though not always) given the choice to watch the c-section using a mirror. With my two previous c-sections I jumped at this chance as I did not want to miss seeing my babies being born. Partners are almost always allowed in the OR, and they can take pictures. Typically, after the baby comes out of the Mom's belly they hold the baby up high, above the curtain, or more correctly, the drape, for mom to see (as you can see here with my oldest son, Ryan).

They then take the baby away, into another room, where the baby is cleaned, weighed, given shots, etc. My husband has always followed the baby, to be with him, as I knew I was well taken care of by the Anesthesiologist and the rest of the OR team. You can see pictures of this process here, with my second son, Zachary:


While all of this is going on, the mom remains in the OR where the surgery is completed. At some point, the baby is brought in for mom to get a quick peek, to give a kiss, and then the baby is returned to the warmer in the recovery room, where he remains until the mom is able to be moved from the OR to recovery. All told, I would say, typically, a mom is away from her baby during a c-section for about 30 minutes.
Ryan
Zachary 
During my two "typical" c-sections I was lucky in that as soon as I was moved from the OR to recovery my baby was placed on my chest and I was able to begin breastfeeding. But this is not always the case. I've heard stories of moms who did not hold their perfectly healthy baby for up to two hours after a c-section.

Me with Zachary after arriving in recovery.

All things considered, my two prior c-sections were amazing, wonderful experiences and I will never, ever forget them. In fact, you can read about Zachary's here. (I wasn't blogging yet at the time of Ryan's birth, so its not documented except in a file just for him). 

And then, then I had the amazing opportunity to experience a Family Centered C-Section and well, it was just a magical, amazing experience. Let me try to paint the picture of how very different it is from what I described above. As I've done before, this section will be written as a letter to my sweet baby boy. 


Dearest Connor Matthew, 

The experience of watching you be born was one of the most raw, and amazing experiences of my life. I hope you know how much planning went into making this happen, and how thrilled and excited Daddy and I were and are that you entered the world in such a special way. 

You might be wondering what was so different or magical about your birth. Well, let me tell you. During the surgery they dropped the drape and raised the head of my bed so that I could actually see you coming out. I didn't have to strain my neck to see you using a mirror. I saw it happening directly in front of me and so did Daddy. We saw your little head pop out and immediately were in love. We marveled at your dark hair and watched in awe as they slowly pulled you out completely and then immediately transferred you to my chest where I was waiting to snuggle you. 

 


Then, while they sewed my belly up, Daddy and I got to revel in just being with you and snuggling. It was perfect. Daddy captured our first hug on camera and you can see the awe, love, amazement and pure joy on my face. It may be my most favorite picture ever: 



 During the next 30 minutes--which in a "normal" c-section I wouldn't have seen you at all--Daddy and I instead got to snuggle and love on you. These thirty or so minutes were some of the most peaceful and amazing of my life. The doctors were sewing up my belly, using stitches and glue, I was in an operating room, and I was having major surgery! But none of that mattered because I was with my baby boy. My brand new, perfect, beautiful boy. I was with YOU and with Daddy and it was perfect.

Soon, the doctors finished sewing me up and they prepared to transfer me from the operating table to the bed. I thought maybe they would have me hand you to Daddy at this point. But they didn't. The doctor simply said, "You just hold him tightly," which of course I did, and the next thing I knew they were transferring me to the bed, and off we went, headed to recovery.

Mommy & Dr. Penn 
Connor, I think everyone involved in your delivery thought it was a pretty magical experience. The clinicians had never done a c-section like this. I was honored to have them there. They had all taken a lot of time preparing for this delivery. My OB (the Amazing Dr. Penn) assisted by Dr. Keith, Dr. McAllister, our Anesthesiologist, Katie and Anne, our nurses (supported by Anne's student Laura), and Betsy the nursing manager who coordinated everything were all so invested. They watched videos of a similar procedure, they read articles I sent, they read e-mails, they attended meetings, they checked on us even when they didn't have to, and they put their heart and souls into making your birth the magical experience it was. I will be forever indebted to them.

Once we got to the recovery room the nurses weighed and measured you. You weighed 7 lbs 13 oz and were 19.5 inches long. This made you the shortest of the three Caminiti boys at birth, and the middle one weight-wise. They took your footprints and declared you perfect! Then they gave you back to Mommy and you immediately started to nurse. Mommy got you latched on so quickly that all the nurses were very impressed with you! You've been a champion nurser since!

During this time of waiting to make sure both you and I were stable Daddy and I enjoyed getting to know you and cuddle you.


Connor, so far in the 6 days we've been privileged to get to know you I would say you are one of the sweetest most patient babies I've ever met. You are patient and rarely fuss when trying to latch on. You cry at diaper changes but only when they take too long (which is usually your fault, if you pee while I'm changing you, thus necessitating a full outfit change), you tolerate your brothers' constant adoration, poking and prodding, and you sleep well! You are super snuggly and love to curl up in a little ball on my shoulder. I know you will not stay this way forever. But I hope at your core, you will always be patient, gentle, and love Mommy snuggles!

During the 3.5 days that we were in the hospital (with you I stayed 3 nights, and I am so glad I did, as my recovery has been so much easier!) you had many visitors: NeeNee, PopPop, Ryan, Zachary, Auntie Catharine, Julia, Caitlin, Auntie Cindy, and Uncle Chris--your Godfather. Everyone was smitten with you, especially your brothers. You can see in the pictures below how much they both already love you.







Finally, on Saturday, October 4th we headed home with you!


 Every minute with you since your birth has been amazing. I cannot wait to watch you grow and mature, though you can be certain I am going to cherish these moments with teeny, tiny, you, as I know I will never experience the joy of a our very own newborn again. Connor, you have completed our family. We never felt that anything was really missing before, but now that you are here I have a sense of peace about the fact that yes, indeed, we have met all the little people that Daddy and I will create and bring into this world. That is an amazing feeling indeed. 

Caminiti Family: Complete! 

Thank you for joining our family and for making it complete. We all love you so very much already.





Love always, 

Mama 
















Friday, September 26, 2014

My Bladder is NOT a Trampoline and Other Messages to my Unborn Son

My Dear Connor,

In 5 days you will be joining our family in the flesh. You will make us a party of 5, you will give us the trifecta of three beautiful little boys. You will complete us. There are so many things I want to tell you about the last 9 months. This being my last pregnancy, I've tried to cherish it as much as I could (while chasing around your two older brothers full time)!

First of all, you should know how very much you were wanted and dreamed of. And over the past 9 months, as I have soaked in this pregnancy, I have felt certain that yes, you are the final puzzle piece to our little family. We always felt deep down that three kids was our "magic number." I am certain of that now. I'm sure there will be plenty of very not-so-magical moments in the days, weeks, and years to come, when Daddy and I will say, "What were we thinking!?" but magical or not, I don't expect to doubt the fact that yes, you are the last person who will grow inside me and it was meant to be that way. And for that, this pregnancy will always have a special place in my heart.

As much as pregnancy is similar each time, it is also very different. Yes, you made me feel QUITE ill for the first 26 weeks (though, I'm very thankful for the medicine Declegis which was a life saver and at least stopped the throwing up!) just like your brother Zachary did. And yes, I've been very tired being pregnant and parenting two other little guys. But feeling you growing inside me has been amazing. I have a feeling you're bigger than either of your brothers were at birth. You just push against all parts of my body in ways your brothers never did. You seem to think my bladder is a trampoline (FYI: Its not!!), which neither of your brothers did. You bounce and bounce on it, much to my displeasure. One would expect that being the third, there would be more room in there for you, but it sure doesn't feel like it! Your little feet and elbows and hands seem to be trying to explode through the wall that is my skin, and while it's not comfortable, its also amazing. I can tell exactly how you are situated in my belly and when a little nubbin of you goes across my skin I can, with almost certainty, tell which part of your little body it is. Maybe this is because I've done this three times now. But I also think that because you're bigger (or so I think) you've stayed in one position for a while and so its not such a guessing game. I've loved getting to know you in this way, and while I can't wait to meet you in person, I'll also be a little sad to never feel those amazing little punches and kicks ever again. Thank you for giving me that gift a third time.

Connor, you should also know that you're coming into a family that is SOOOO excited to meet you! Daddy and I are of course anticipating your joyful arrival. We're anxious about how we will all adjust, but we are just so excited to meet you! But one of the things that brings Daddy and I the most joy is watching your brothers.

Ryan is SO. VERY. EXCITED. We made a count down to your birth about a month ago. Ryan takes off one link of the chain every morning. He never forgets or has to be reminded. He then announces to Daddy and I how many days are left. He also will tell nearly everyone we see. To the lady in the grocery store, "We're having a baby in 5 days!" To his teacher at school, "We're having a baby in 5 days!" To a new neighbor we've never met before, "We're having a baby in 5 days!" To a stranger we cross paths with on a walk, "We're having a baby in 5 days!"  He can't wait to meet you, to help with you, and love you. I think anticipating you, and thinking about what it means to be a "Big Brother" has also made him a better big brother to Zachary, too. He has recently developed into a big brother who wants to teach Zach new things, help him, and share life with him more. He no longer sees Zach as just a nuisance who takes his toys. Maybe it's Zach getting older. But, I think it has to do with you, too. And that, the interaction of three siblings as opposed to just two is why Daddy and I so wanted three children. I can't wait to see how that will play out over the years!

Speaking of Zachary, he is anticipating your arrival in his own way as well. He gives spontaneous kisses to my belly throughout the day. He tries to share his snacks with you by putting food up to my belly button. He points to my belly, and with a questioning tone, says, "Baby?" Also, any time we get in the car these days he points to your carseat, sitting next to him and says, "Baby!" He must be so very confused. We keep talking about you, this "Baby" who will be joining our family, but Zach who has no concept of time must be thinking, "When the heck will he get here!?!?!" So, it will be joyful to watch him with you, not just with a hypothetical baby that he can't see and touch.

It is an amazing thing to know that in 5 short days our family will be complete. I feel a sense of peace and contentment that I've never felt before. (I'm also a nervous wreck and want to be the best mom I can be to all THREE of my boys, but I think those conflicting emotions are normal). Most of all, I'm just anxious for you to be here!

Connor, I cannot wait to meet you! I am so excited about your birth, a very special "Family Centered C-Section" that we have been carefully planning for months. I can't wait to watch you emerge from my belly. I can't wait to touch you as soon as you are born. I simply cannot wait to meet you, my sweet, beautiful, baby boy.

I love you so very much already!

Always,

Mama

Thursday, May 15, 2014

To My Precious Boys

My Dear Ryan, Zachary, & Connor,

A few days ago I talked about the sadness I felt in learning that I will never have a daughter. And yes, that sadness is real. I hope that as each of your grow up with me as your Mama and Daddy as your Dad that you will learn  to always feel comfortable expressing your emotions, especially in a productive way, no matter what those emotions may be.

But no matter how sad I may feel at never having a daughter, I don't want any of you to EVER doubt my love for you and how much both Daddy and I wanted each of you. Daddy and I pretty much always knew we wanted three children. When we found out Zachary was a boy, we started having many conversations about whether we definitely wanted three children or if we were just thinking of a third to hopefully have a girl. And the answer was a resounding, "We want three kids, whether that third be a boy or a girl." So, Connor, know that you were wanted and dreamed of long before you ever came to be. We haven't met you yet, but we just know you'll be the perfect completion to our family and we cannot wait for you to get here!

Ryan and Zachary, watching the two of you develop a relationship as brothers, and being your Mommy has been the greatest joy of my life. You make raising boys a joy (most of the time!) and I wouldn't trade you for the world...not even all the daughters in the world! ;)  I know Connor will just add to the fun and I can't wait to see it happen.

I promise, no matter what, to always be there for the three of you and I hope you will always be there for each other. I promise to support you, love you, brush you off when you get hurt, build you up when you're feeling less than confident, to foster your strengths, work on your weaknesses, and love you unconditionally. I'm your Mama, you're my sons, and I will always be here for you.

As you grow up, as you develop close relationships with people outside of our family I promise to support you in learning the complex task of only letting people who truly value and respect you for who you are into your inner circle. I hope to develop in each of you a strong sense of confidence and self respect so that one day, by the time you choose someone to spend the rest of your life with you will choose someone who loves you for the amazing person you are. And I promise to love and respect that person as you do. (A letter to my future children-in-law is forth coming).

Until that time comes, I will relish this brief time Daddy and I have of watching you become who you are. It is a challenge, a joy, and the greatest privilege of our lives, to walk with each of you, to help mold you into the young men you will one day be. We won't be perfect. We'll make mistakes. Please forgive us when we do. Please understand that we always want what is best for you. And know that despite the mistakes, we will never, ever waiver on the fact that we love each one of you for who you are, unconditionally. On this life journey, along with the mistakes, we hope to enjoy lots of fun, many tickle fights, family dinners, hugs, snuggles, games, sporting events, concerts, performances, kisses, cuddles, goodnight stories, family vacations, day trips, walks to the park, and everything in between.

I love you so very, very much Ryan, Zachary, and Connor. Thank you, each one of you, for being a part of this amazing little family we have.

Always,

Mama


Monday, May 12, 2014

"Because, Well, That's What She Is"

Today at Target, in the check out line, there was a young girl, maybe 12 behind us in line. She was with her mom, and she was in a wheel chair. She appeared to have some form of Cerebral Palsy. I immediately noticed that she had on bright yellow Crocs, just as Ryan does.

I looked at Ryan, and pointed to the girl's feet and said, "Look Ryan, she has yellow Crocs just like you! She has good taste in shoes!" The girl laughed. I asked if yellow was her favorite color. She said, "Yes! Is it his?" Ryan said, a bit shyly, with a little encouragement, "Yeah, I like yellow, too." Zach then piped up, not to be outdone and started saying "Hiiii-eeee, hiiiii-eeee, hiiiiiiii-eeeeeeeeeeeee!" The girl laughed again, showing her beautiful smile. She said, "He's cute." It was clear speech is something she struggles with, but she was completely understood. I said, "Thanks!" And we finished paying for our items. We turned to say goodbye before we left.

Seeing as I had two small kids, and more items than they did, by the time they were leaving we were still getting situated. We said goodbye again, and the mother, quietly, sidled up to me and said, "Thank you for talking to her like she's a normal kid. Because, well, that's what she is." I was a bit caught off guard and said the only thing that came to mind, "Of course!" And they left. Mom and daughter left, chatting together as they headed out the door. I watched them sadly, thinking that if the mother went out of her way to thank me, that someone treating her daughter "like a normal kid" must be a fairly rare occurrence.

Ryan asked me what the mom had said. I explained that sometimes, because the girl was in a wheel chair, that some people might treat her differently and that the mom was thanking us for being kind and treating her like the normal kid that she is. Ryan said, "Why was she in a wheel chair?" (We've talked previously about why people use wheel chairs). I said, "Well, maybe she was born with an illness that made it so that her legs don't work so well. So, a wheel chair allows her to get around and go to all the places she would like to go." He said, "Oh, it helps her move around, like the people that use the special carts at the grocery store." And I said, "Yes exactly." He said, "Can she walk at all?" And I said, "I don't know. Maybe she can a little. But it probably makes her really tired, if her legs don't work quite right, so, when she's in a store its easier to use a wheel chair." Ryan said, "I wish I could ride in a wheel chair." And I said, "Maybe one day you'll have a friend who has a wheel chair and they will take you for a ride." And we headed out the door as well.

I hope more and more encounters like this, with other normal children, will teach my children to always be kind, caring, friendly, and casual with everyone, even if they do look a little different, talk a little different, use a wheelchair/braces/a walker, or act a little different. We're all just people, going through this world, looking for love, and hoping to find it in as many places as we can. If my children learn nothing from me, other than the goal of spreading love, kindness, and compassion as far and wide as we can, then, well, my job is done.


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Fare thee well, Tessa Margaret

A letter to the daughter I will never have

My Dear Tessa Margaret,

We had a beautiful name picked out for you. A name we had chosen before Ryan was ever born.  Tessa, a strong, beautiful name that your Dad and I just loved and Margaret, after your wonderful, loving, selfless grandmother, my mother.  With each of my pregnancies, I pictured you. I imagined you with long, brown hair like I had as a girl and a long lanky frame like your dad; deep soulful dark eyes. I pictured you excelling at basketball but being more of a center than the guard I always was.  I imagined the mother-daughter dates we would share; watching movies, going to lunch. I pictured doing your hair, and begging you to wear cute dresses, even though you probably wouldn’t have wanted to, because with two older brothers I expected you to be a Tom boy like I was growing up. I knew we'd argue and fight at times. What mother and daughter don't? But I hoped we'd have a special relationship that would allow us to get past any argument or disagreement. I imagined finding out about the first boy you had a crush on and then one day learning that you indeed had a boyfriend (or, perhaps a girlfriend. Either would have been fine).  I imagined the long phone conversations we’d have when you were off at college, maybe Boston College, or perhaps another college completely of your own choosing. Because I have no doubt you would have been a strong-willed, independent woman with a mind of your own. I imagined you beautiful and confident. I imagined you growing into one of my closest friends. A confidant, someone with whom I could share my soul, and I, as someone with whom you would share yours, as I do with my mom. You may have been all of these things, or none of them, but you would have been my daughter. A daughter that I will never have.


Yes, today, we found out that the sweet, beautiful, healthy (we are so grateful!) baby growing in my belly is a boy. A beautiful boy. One we can tell from the 4D pictures already looks like his older brothers, especially Zachary. One who will be celebrated and welcomed into this family with immense love from four people in his immediate family and many in his extended family; a family, immediate and extended, who will rejoice in his arrival and love him unconditionally. We are thrilled to add a third boy to our family. We know three boys will be lots of fun and chaos, joy, and noise. It will be trains and trucks, and sometimes painted fingers and toes, because if my boys want painted nails, then who am I to tell them no? Three boys, three smart, beautiful boys is what our family will be and was meant to be.


But this does not mean that I’m not sad to never meet you, Tessa Margaret. I know there are some people who will read this and wonder how I can be so ungrateful? How can I be sad over a new life? So many people struggle to have any children at all, or to have the number of children they want. I am not sad about the new life. I always imagined my family having three children and am so lucky this will be the case. I am not ungrateful. In fact, I know how blessed we are to have three healthy boys. I have met far too many families who have had to suffer the illness or death of a child far too young. I know how truly blessed we are to have healthy kids. I love raising boys. I love being Ryan and Zachary’s mom. And I couldn’t imagine it any other way. And I know this will be true of our third boy as well. But I am sad that I will never have a daughter. Never have that special girl with whom I will share a special mother-daughter relationship as I share with my mom. Another boy is a beautiful gift. But that does not erase the fact that I am mourning the loss of the daughter I will never have.  


So, fare thee well, sweet Tessa Margaret. I would have loved to meet you. 

Monday, March 31, 2014

From DeBoy to Duggar?? Definitely NOT!


Seriously? So, I assume it was an accident, right? Well, you're gonna move now, I assume? (if I had a dollar for every time I heard this one we could actually afford to move!) Where are you gonna put all those kids? What, are you trying to create an empire? I hope you're done after this one!

These are all comments Matt or I heard (either in person, on the phone, or via Facebook) upon sharing the news of being pregnant with our third child. Given, most of these rather obnoxious comments came from people to whom we aren't that close. But some did come from family members (not necessary a shocker though, given who said them). And  it must be said that the people closest to us, and who are most supportive of us did nothing but share in our immense joy. However, there were enough people who didn't that I was truly left shocked. I mean seriously, when did having three children become equivalent to being on your way to starring in the next TLC reality show about people with an insane number of children?


To answer these questions, Yes! We are serious! No, it was not an accident. Though, given how long it took us to get pregnant with Zach we started trying a bit early, and well, let's just say it didn't take long....at all. So, when we saw  those two little lines on the pregnancy test we were a bit surprised, but also thrilled. No, we are not gonna move. Unfortunately we bought our house in 2006, at the peak of the market, and despite the fact that we would desperately like to move we cannot. But, we are financially more than stable, we have three bed rooms, bunk beds still exist, and we will be able to house all of our children under one, albeit small, roof. No, we have no goals of creating an empire, we've petty much always planned on three kids, and yes, we are certain we'll be done at three. But, what if we weren't? WHO CARES?

This is all to say, when someone shares with you the news of another child coming into their life, please, please, at least fain excitement and joy. Practice, right now, saying "Oh! Yay! That's wonderful news!" with a big genuine smile so that when someone you didn't expect to have "that many" (whatever that number might be in your head) kids calls to share their news with you that they are left buoyed with excitement, not doubt.

Having a child is a HUGE responsibility. No one who truly wants a child goes into it without much thought and consideration. It is a monumental decision whether it is your first, third, or fifteenth child. Even people who desperately want a child are a little scared and nervous when they first see those two blue lines on the pregnancy test. And Matt and I were no different. We were overjoyed, but as with each of our two previous pregnancies, we were also appropriately nervous. What was different this time, was that not everyone we shared the news with bolstered our joy and minimized our worry, as had been the norm previously. This was a shock, and a bit disappointing.

I like to think Matt and I are pretty great parents. We're not perfect, but we provide a loving, supportive home for our children. We nurture them in every way possible and love them immensely. Fortunately, all the less than supportive comments made never made us doubt our abilities as parents. But, imagine if similar comments were made to a couple less confident in their role as parents? I don't like to think of the pain and hurt that could be caused. Matt and I weren't left too hurt (though, the family comments stung a bit) and were rather left wondering, "What is wrong with [insert name]????" But no one sharing such happy news should feel anything but joy in sharing that news. 

Remember, once someone is announcing a pregnancy, its done. There is no going back. So, just smile, say congratulations, and give them a hug. Tell them what a lucky baby it is. And then, behind their backs, feel free to talk all you want about how crazy they are for having that many children. 

In the mean time, Matt and I will be over here anticipating the birth of our third child. We cannot wait to welcome him or her (we don't know yet, but we will find out) into our family, and our cozy little home. There is something magical about this pregnancy. Knowing its our last, knowing that he or she will be welcomed by two amazing brothers, and knowing all the joy (and yes, sleepless nights, diaper changes, flaring 2-year-old tempers, etc) that awaits us. Sweet baby, we never doubted that we wanted you! We can't wait until you get here! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Zachary: 1 year old!

Dearest Zachary,



Today you turned one year old. ONE YEAR! My goodness how the past year just flew by! You started off a sweet, easy-going, happy baby. And now, you're a sweet, energetic, happy, Mama's BOY. You are an absolute joy to be around (most of the time :) and Daddy and I love you so, so very much. Ryan loves you too, even if  he does get easily frustrated when you want to play with his toys. You are a silly, fun-loving little boy who is the perfect addition to our family. It has been such fun to watch you grow over the past year.



You seem to do everything to extremes. You love fiercely, often giving hugs and sweet little pats spontaneously. You are an excellent snuggler. You cuddle into my shoulder--with your head turned sideways and your hand reaching for a handful of my hair or grabbing tightly onto my shirt--anytime you're tired or sad. And anytime you are feeling tired or sad there really isn't anywhere else you'd like to be than in my arms. This is sweet, and makes me feel very loved, but you do kinda take it to an extreme at times. Fortunately, you're starting to let Daddy comfort you more and more. Daddy has figured out your secret tickle spots and you love when he rubs your back and neck in all the right spots.



Speaking of being such a great snuggler, this has resulted in you being a pretty crummy sleeper. Well, you sleep great when attached to Mommy or Daddy. This has made Mommy and Daddy rather unproductive at night (and thus, I blame you for why I didn't write your 11 month post...I didn't have time because I was rocking you to sleep all the time!). Daddy and I plan to remedy this situation when we return from Great Wolf Lodge in a few weeks. So, you better enjoy all the extra snuggles, and night time nursing you're getting right now. It won't last forever! Operation "Get Zachary to sleep through the night, or at least sleep the whole night in his own crib" will commence on or around January 29th! You have been warned.



But other than your preference for sleeping nuzzled up to your favorite people, you are, like I said, an absolute joy. You are mischievous and playful. One of your favorite games is "chase" in which I crawl around the house (since I can crawl about as fast as you can run) and I say, "Mama's gonna get ya!!" and you try to run away, and hide around the corner, but then you see me peek out from the opposite corner and you laugh hysterically and run in the other direction. It is great fun and is often what Daddy finds us playing when he comes home after work. Usually, Ryan is riding around on his scooter helping with the chase while all this is going on. Life with two boys is busy!



You love to climb in, on, or over anything. If something can be used as a step, you will figure out how and do it. You love to climb the stairs and usually our gate is closed, but sometimes it doesn't lock by itself, and you always notice when this is the case. You get so excited when you realize its open and you immediately start heading up the stairs, hoping no one will notice. But, I do notice. And I say, "Zachary! Come back here! And you look back with an impish smile and clamor up the stairs even faster! One day, when I had just finished washing your hands in the kitchen sink, and was drying my own hands, I suddenly heard a CRASH followed by an "uh oh, Mama!" from Ryan. What I found was you, on top of the toilet! In about 15 seconds time you went in the bathroom (where Ryan had just finished and left the door open), climbed up the step stool, onto the toilet, and you were pulling all of the Kleenex out of the dispenser. Well, then the dispenser crashed to the ground, and it made a loud noise because it was ceramic. Once again, you had that impish little smile on your face when I found you.



While you don't have many words yet, you find ways to communicate what you want by pointing, shaking your head, waving, clapping, and yelling! You clearly watch everything we do and you're figuring out this world rather quickly. You try to use screw drivers correctly. You know exactly where to find the screw to change the batteries on a toy and try to put your toy (or sometimes a real one if we leave a tool box open) screw driver in there to open it. You know how to open and close most any drawer, door, or cabinet, even some that have child safety locks, you move your toy vacuum in the back and forth motion that you see Mama and Dada do. You play with legos, blocks, and trains with great dexterity because you watch your brother in everything he does. You want to stir any pot on the stove and you always want to "help" when Mama is making dinner. You're one, but you clearly think you're so much older than you are. I expect, being a second child, that this will be a theme throughout your life!

Eating is another extreme. You LOVE to nurse, and I'm pretty sure if I let you that's all you'd eat. You find most other food rather boring. But, you will sometimes eat cheese, apples, strawberries, peanut butter, Cheerios, yogurt, mango, pasta, occasionally chicken, and oranges. Note, there were no vegetables listed. Fortunately, you LOVE Daddy's smoothies (which always include spinach and/or Kale) and you will eat the baby food pouches with fruit/veggies mixed. Otherwise I would feel as if you were malnourished.  One of these days you will stop nursing, and your appetite will hopefully pick up. Though, I think you secretly know that as long as you're not eating well, I'm gonna be hesitant to wean. But, being a second time mom this time, I know it will all work out in the end and I'm trying not to worry about it too much. Along the line of extremes, you, like your Daddy, have a 6th sense for sweet things! Once, before you had ever even tasted a cookie, you practically lunged out of my arms to reach for a cookie I had put on the counter. How you knew it was delicious I don't know. But you knew, and you always know if there is something yummy around. You put your little hand out and scrunch it back and forth to say, "Give me some!!!" At your birthday party (see above) you did not disappoint when presented with your cake!



I've mentioned Ryan a few times, but he deserves his own paragraph. As I've said, he finds you a bit annoying at this age. But, you love him fiercely. You give him spontaneous hugs, especially in the morning when you go with me or Daddy to get him when he wakes up. You love to "dig" for him under the covers as he is hiding. You wrestle and build towers together. You play nicely in the bath tub. You're brothers, and you're friends and enemies simultaneously numerous times throughout each day. I expect it will be like this throughout much of your lives. But I know at the core of any disagreement is immense love, and that warms my heart tremendously.



You love your extended family members as well. Neenee is hands down your favorite, and PopPop comes in a close second. PopPop is the only person for whom you consistently will give a high five. Neenee and you love to play a game where you "bonk" heads gently. You smirk and giggle when she does this. Uncle John makes you laugh when he makes funny faces and sounds, and Uncle Mark gets right on your level and I'm pretty sure you think he's a kid too! Auntie Cindy and Auntie Catharine always makes you smile, and you love to watch Caitlin and Julia play. They love you too. Caitlin talks to you and is always so patient with you. Julia thinks pretty much anything you do is funny. You've enjoyed visits to CT and from your CT family to Maryland, and you're getting to know and love them as well.



Zachary Joe, you are my sweet baby boy, and I love you with my whole heart. I can't imagine our family without you. January 15, 2013 was a joyful, wonderful day, in which my heart grew exponentially. It is a day in which our family became more complete. It is a day I will never forget. Happy 1st Birthday, Sweet Boy!



Love always,

Mama





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