Friday, October 29, 2010

On repeat

The first six to eight weeks with a newborn are undoubtedly special. However, to keep things real, there's also a feeling of extreme repetition as you feed, change, burp and rock your baby. I like to refer to this phase as " Groundhog Day" in honor of the Bill Murray classic.

For me, I feel it the most in the blissful, yet nerve wracking, moment that comes when you reunite with your pillow after a late night feeding. Just as you settle in, you hear a shuffle from the bassinet. Your heart starts to pound in your ears as you wonder if the baby is waking back up.

"Breathe deeply, fall asleep" is what you instruct your body to... before you can finish your thought you hear the cry. You're standing back up. Again.

When Eliza arrived, I didn't believe that my life would ever feel mine again. It never really is after becoming a Mother, but to be in a position to make and keep a schedule of your own was a feeling that I had pretty much kissed good-bye. Time passed and I was surprised when I'd catch snippets of my former life resurfacing.

Suddenly, life resumes to its new level of normal. And then, you see a picture taken of your baby back when they were a few weeks old. You want to cry at how much they've changed. The second time around (or third) it's easier. You know that the feelings of solitary confinement will pass. You learn to cherish the unique, heaven inspired moments that come with having a newborn while living through the less appealing duties.

This phase we're in has me thinking. Life has compelled me into a place of limbo. I'm feeling rushed to find that new level of normal while dealing with a major life adjustment. I now have three children and, as I mention in nearly every single post, live 1900 miles away from our parental safety nets. As I try to find balance, I've mentally made note of a few things that have aided me through the feelings of deja-vu.

How to avoid Groundhog's Day in October:

By Alison Flegal

1. Focus on other children: Your social life may be extinct, but theirs isn't. Keeping up with preschool, birthday parties and scheduling an in-house play date for your toddler will give you something more than a "should-do." You now have a "have-to" on your plate. Good luck. Keep things spicy by reserving one morning for school pictures... throw in an alert newborn, subtract the help of adults and you've definitely given yourself a challenge.
Eliza at a pony themed birthday party yesterday.
Michelle dropped off her younger two for a play-date with Henry
and accompanied our oldest set to the party.
Thanks to Nanna Teresa for looking after Lottie
so I could watch the boys.

2. Celebrate a holiday other than Groundhog Day
Carve pumpkins, bake pumpkin spice cookies, decorate. Do your best to resist the bag of Halloween candy that's hiding upstairs in your bedroom closet. Even though it's 2:00 a.m. and you're up nursing and feeling rather famished yourself; a kit kat probably isn't the best idea. However, if you succumb to temptation, have another and then forgive yourself.

3. Line up visitors. Don't take a pain pill prior to said visit. You'll seem zombie like. (This new Mom has been off her pain meds for quite awhile thank you very much... alright, alright. I ran out.) .

4. Schedule your sweats, gauchos, pajama pants into your weekly laundry rotation. Who knows when it's physically feasible, or emotionally safe, to try on your regular jeans. Besides, the thought of your well-used maternity pants triggers your gag reflex.

5. And finally... remember that they grow up.
It's not about you at all. Find one on one time with your kids and spouse. If you find that your toddler is acting out and suggesting that the new baby should live in the garage... He's really not a toad. Like you, he is a little overwhelmed. He misses you.
Make sure he gets that one on one time. You need it as much as he does. Provide him a day of normalcy - as best you know how.
He may not believe you right now, but you just gave him another best friend.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The day we met Lottie

The price I physically paid to meet our sweet little Lottie was greater than I ever imagined it would be. However, as any new Mom would say, I would do it all over again to have her here safe and well. For a third time, I am completely encompassed with an intense and sudden love for our newest family member. The feelings we have for her have effortlessly trumped the memory of the horrifying, hell inspired, NON-MEDICATED birthing pains that brought her here.

That's right. I unwillingly joined the, "I thought I was going to die, but then I gave birth" club that I mentioned in a recently written post. This is story of Miss Charlotte Marie's birth.

At my 38 week appointment, a non-stress test and ultrasound reassured us that our baby was healthy and preparing well for life on the outside. Because I was 4 cm dilated and 80 % effaced, the doctor suggested we set an induction date for the 18th while making the assumption that I wouldn't be able to keep that appointment as I could "go into labor" at any moment. Famous last words, right? Agreeing with her assessment, I went ahead and scheduled the induction knowing I could postpone it if my feelings changed.

As the week passed, I did my best to focus on the charms of the Autumn time season with the kids. We trick-o-treated at the zoo Friday night with our friends, took our yearly trip to the pumpkin patch, made a Halloween craft and painted pumpkins. Saturday afternoon, Andrew took us on a nature walk, followed by a stop at the play park. As Andrew and the kids raced around, I breathed the scene of my family in slowly. In a matter of hours it would be transformed.
Fully aware of friend's opinions that I ought to wait for her to come on her own, Andrew and I examined our own feelings on whether or not we should proceed with the induction. As uncomfortable as I was physically, I did not want that to be the motivating factor. Knowing how well the baby was doing, how favorable my own body was and having experienced a positive induction in the past (Eliza was induced 4 days early due to gallstones) I was feeling optimistic. After prayerful consideration, it still felt right. Not to mention, to be able to arrange child care for Eliza and Henry and knowing exactly what was needed to prepare for our time apart brought me the peace of mind I'd been praying for. I felt it was one of the ways the Lord was blessing us.

With every last detail in place, Andrew and I left our house at 4:45 a.m. on Monday morning. It wasn't long until we were settled in our hospital room. My thoughts were varied.

"This is the room where I'll meet our daughter."
"I wish my Mom was here."
"This bathroom reminds me of the Emerald City from the Wizard of Oz."
"I wonder if it's okay that I ate breakfast this morning. Maybe they won't ask..."

They asked. And although I feigned ignorance, I was scolded. :)

The induction officially began a little after 7:00 a.m. when they began pitocin. That step proved unnecessary as it was never needed to spur the contractions. An hour later, I felt my first real pang of excitement when the doctor arrived to break my water (8:05 a.m.).

Two and a half hours later our daughter was born. That's how fast it went. Is that fast? I thought it was fast.

An hour after my water broke, I progressed from a four to a seven. It wasn't long until I informed them that I was seriously ready for an epidural. I could feel my composure deteriorating rapidly. Still, I was determined to be amiable and cooperative.

*Enter the anesthesiologist who SERIOUSLY needs a refresher's course
on how to properly administer an epidural*

Thank the stars above that what followed her failed attempt didn't happen the first time I gave birth; because if it had, I seriously wonder if we would have ever procreated again.

As I waited for the epidural to "kick in," I began transitioning to an eight. I started to panic. My legs! I can easily move my legs! I kept questioning the nurses,

"How long until I feel relief?" I clearly remember that relief was nearly instant with my previous deliveries. It took a while before they were fully effective, but its ease and comfort were present from the start. My happy epidural memories abruptly shatter as another contraction pummels through me.

Why they wasted there time in asking if I could feel my toes is beyond me. Surely my ever increasing cries of pain ought to have indicated the clear failure of the epidural. A nurse jumps in and begins coaching me on how to breath. Thank heavens for her and her ability to say all of the right things because OH MY GOSH I WAS FREAKING OUT.

Finally, someone in green shows up to administer some other drug to try and speed up the relief.

"If this doesn't work, we'll re-do your epidural." That's okay. How about we re-do it now instead? Meanwhile, my dear spouse begins running his fingers through my hair; the speed of which increases as his nerves build. This annoys me.

"ANDREW! Can you PLEASE stop washing my hair?!"

At that moment, Andrew's hand is replaced by the nurse who I am now relying on to help me survive my own panic. Forty minutes have passed. I'm no doctor but the relief should have arrived years ago! It's also clear that plan B was a waste of precious time. The intense urge I have to push indicates that the time to receive a second epidural has expired.

The good news is that the pain is now so insane that I no longer have space left in my brain to feel scared. Oh wait. I'm lying. I am scared when they tell me that they have to drain my bladder to make more room for the delivery. Despite the fact that my legs are able to function, we're too close to delivery for me to walk to the bathroom. I won't say much about that catheter except for that I should have gone with my initial instinct to simply pee myself on the bed rather than allow that to happen. Who cares about grace and class. Those qualities flew out the door about an hour ago.

I am screaming. That's all I can do. I scream to the world of how badly it hurts. At one point I give up on my breathing technique and begin to hyperventilate. Andrew tries to get me to focus back on my breathing. Because it feels like he's demanding something of me (for my own benefit, I know) I tell him to shut-up. I am so sorry about that love.

I want to push. There is no doctor. They tell me to wait. That's like telling your four year old that they need to fly. You just can't fly. It's impossible. Being told to "wait for your doctor" is like being told to do the impossible.

Finally the doctor arrives.

"Push Alison! The doctor is here. Start pushing." I'm being yelled at. Or maybe they're just trying to yell over me. I'm not sure. I don't know what to do. I have zero control. This atmosphere is COMPLETELY different than my past two deliveries. Those were serene and empowering. This was confusing, PAINFUL and frustrating.

At some point I made the decision to push. I had to do it. So I did it. And it hurt so bad. But then, like someone switching off a light, it was over. Suddenly, I'm handed someone else who is screaming as loudly as I had been. I take her in my arms and start sobbing to her how much I love her. I soon realize that I'm weak and need someone else to take her. I hate to pass her off so soon, but I need a moment to recover. I am in shock.

I sit in a fog of disbelief, amazed by what I'd just done. My husband stands dutifully at my side. I point to our baby who is being looked after by nurses and encourage him to go to her. And then I watch. An expression of love fills his face as he begins to study her. That look of his, soothes me. And so I stare at him. That's all I can do.What the heck. Did you know there is a third phase of labor? Apparently I wasn't paying attention the first two times. Prepare yourself as I type the gross words, "the after birth" because that's what abruptly stole my attention away from the beautiful scene I'd been focusing on. I feel an urge to push again. And you know what's hilarious? I am told to wait until the doctor is finished stitching me up. Which I likewise felt. But after labor, who cares. Seriously. For therapy, I return to watching Andrew who is still busy falling in love with his newest daughter.

And finally, the three of us were alone. That first hour we spent together is one I'll never forget. She began to nurse and I swear hasn't wanted to stop since. I spent a day and a half in the hospital before we brought Miss Charlotte home. Our first week together has been blissful. I could easily fill several paragraphs detailing the ways in which she has blessed our family, tell you how well we're adjusting, the continued reactions of our kids... but alas. This post, which has taken me days to complete, needs an ending point. I'm so thankful our story has added the first Charlotte chapter to its pages. I cherish her, I cherish Eliza and Henry, I cherish my amazing spouse and I cherish these happy hormones that are still flowing in abundance.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Our three children...

Life has never been so sweet.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Charlotte Marie Flegal

Charlotte Marie


October 18, 2010
10:41 a.m.
7 lbs 2 ounces
19 inches

We are so in love.

Mommy and baby are healthy and well.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Waiting on a sister

Dear Baby Sister,

One question.
Where are you?!

If you think I'm impatient, you should see Mom.

Eliza and I just wanted to let you know that we are ready to meet Y.O.U!

Considering you'll have a lot on your plate when you first arrive, we went ahead and chose your Halloween pumpkin. I hope that's okay!

On Monday night, Daddy gave Mom a special blessing during family night. After that, Eliza made you a "Welcome Home" sign. Mommy loves it. With that being said, I'm not sure why she's hiding it up in your room. She mentioned something about your car seat, the packed suitcase and sign "taunting her."

Daddy and I can't figure her out. Lucky for us, these past few days have been made easy thanks to a most special visitor!!Nanna Teresa jetted up to our house last Saturday after spending time with our extended family in Ridgeland, South Carolina. Like you, she was born here! Her presence brought Mom peace of mind. We were all happy to have the world's best "security blanket" (that's what Mom called her) here for a few days.

After picking her up, we went straight to the zoo. You'll see! She is so fun to be around! And helpful! Nanna watched us during Mom's doctor's appointment, played games with us, vacuumed, listened to Mommy talk (and talk and talk - you'll see about that too! The females in this family have a gift!) took us to Costco and came with us on Eliza's field trip to the pumpkin patch.
Here we are at the zoo. That frog is big enough for the three of us.

Our trip to the pumpkin patch was likewise memorable! Mom said it was neat to watch Eliza interact with her class and teachers. Despite being with all her friends, she was a pal as she let me tag along.I promise to return the favor to you when I evolve into the cool, big brother.

We were hoping for an extra bumpy hayride for Mom. Sadly it didn't do the trick! You're still baking. Still, the day was great! The weather was spot on and the pumpkins were ours for the taking!
After naps, it was time for us to take Nanna back to the airport. She's been gone too long from Bubba. I'm sure he's missed her! As we left the airport, I cried for her. Mom says she'll be back when you decide to come.

No pressure. You're only 38 weeks big. It looks like I hold the record at 37 weeks 5 days. I'm alright with that.

Just know that with the two of us in the picture, you have a lot to look forward too (if I may be so bold).

We love you, we love you, we love you.

Henry (and Eliza!)

Monday, October 4, 2010

Inventive? Inspired? Or just plain bored.

Guess who else is nesting?

Eliza was disappointed when I told her we wouldn't be buying the baby a new mobile for her crib. Volunteering to replace the one we have with something new, she quietly assembled and designed a mobile of her own while I watched general conference yesterday. (That's a unicorn you see in the above photo).

Baby doll was lucky enough to try it out first.
Unaware of her creation, I was tickled to find her doll napping in such thoughtful accommodations. Sadly, I had to disassemble her crib when it came time to rebuild the couch. The mobile, however, remains.The idea for "project guitar" must have been inspired by my refusal to let her play Andrew's guitar yesterday. Please note the green guitar pick in her hand as she strums the crayon inspired strings. Perhaps I ought to have been more involved so that I could have provided her with better materials to work with, but hey - she was content and we were impressed.
Rock on, Eliza!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Reign me in.

(written late Saturday night)

Reaching his hands to the top of my belly, Henry attempts to seize open my stomach.

"Come out! Come out Baby Sister!" His command is gentle, yet firm. He remains steadfast as his fingers delve deeper for round two. (Careful buddy! Your fingers could get lost in that mass of skin!)

"What are you doing, Henry?" Ignoring my laughter his serious eyes lock on mine. With a heartfelt plea he urges,

"Get baby sister OUT, Mom!" He has no idea how deeply I share in his desire. However, he did make it clear that:

A. He understands that his sister is inside of me.
B. He is clueless ( as to how she'll make her exit.
C. She is running late for their first play-date.Bless his empathic little heart.

Earlier this morning, I became uncharacteristically weepy while conversing with my Mom on the telephone. Please understand that I do my best to stave off that type of emotion when my kids are nearby and am disappointed that he clued into my mood. The touch of his hand stops me mid-sentence. My matter of fact child asks,

"Mom. What is your problem?!" If there hadn't been a tender tone to the question, I would have assumed, by his choice of verbiage, that his future teenage self had been the one to ask the question. Like his Father, Henry has no problem being direct.

Eliza, on the other hand, is a bit more calculating.

"Mom? Are you in the mood for something?" I sense that she's about to ask for a treat. Charmed by her, I play along.

"No. I don't think so." I pause. "Are you in the mood for something, Eliza?" Delighting me, she unexpectedly replies,

"Not really. I'm just in the mood for snuggles."
These are the interactions that I live for. It's what I need to focus on when I feel myself giving into the temptation of self-pity.

(Commence the launch of virtual tomatoes now.
I will be the first to say that I have nothing to complain about.)

Honestly, I am thrilled that I'm about to have another baby! When it comes to meeting your children, the anticipation never dims. There is an inescapable charge of excitement that's accompanied by an overwhelming desire that all will be well.

Based on a few choice exchanges, it would seem that for the rest of the world, the birth of a subsequent child may seem less significant considering you already parent two kids. Not to mention you have your boy and your girl,

"So, what do you need another one for?" At a doctor's appointment, you're asked (at the age of 26) if you'll be having your tubes tied. After all,

"This is your third." Your hairstylist, who is super talented, requests,

"Just promise y'all won't go all Duggar family on me." Which makes you laugh. The fanfare that a first time mom receives (which is totally deserved) may not ever be replicated. And while you feel that the arrival of each child is deserving of a celebration involving fruit plates and crepe paper, you realize that you have the things that matter most.

So who cares , right? The blessings of a healthy pregnancy is reason enough to do the happy dance; however things got better last Monday when the doctor informed me of my progress.

Last Monday, I was:
36 weeks and 1 day.
2 cm dilated
60% effaced

Keeping in mind that Henry was born at 37 weeks, 5 days; I carry an expectation that she'll be early too. Motherhood has taught me that expectations are foolish (usually) which is why she'll probably be two weeks late.

My point is that the excitement upon receiving progress reports, the worry attached to the "what-if" scenarios, the anticipation of how her story will unfold, putting my plans of preparation into action (a.k.a. nesting), the concern of what to do with Eliza and Henry, are feelings I'm grateful to be experiencing.

(That was a mouthful. I suddenly feel the need to go rinse out my mouth and start over on that paragraph.)

As I packed my hospital bag today, I marveled at how miniature newborn sized diapers are. Do bums really come that small? I was reminded of the unspoken hardships that will soon be my reality as I packed up my stool softener and lanolin cream. Returning to something more fun, I delicately folded and re-folded the two outfits chosen for her to wear home and wondered how my future self will decide between them.

*Cue annoying voice in my brain:
"Seriously, Ali (ahem, and Andrew!)! Who cares about what outfit she'll wear home when she STILL doesn't have a name!" Curses.

What I want to escape (returning to the conversation shared with my Mom) is the loneliness that comes from experiencing something of this magnitude away from the people that she'll mean the most too. The idea that she may not get a single visitor at the hospital rips me in half. I tell myself that my love and excitement will compensate for the void that she'll be oblivious too. Not to mention, she has the love and excitement of two older siblings that will probably help my over sensitive heart the most.

I blame my dear spouse for this post's existence. He is out of town. This is what happens when I'm left alone with my precious keyboard. Now that I've had my fill of writing, I am left to debate with my future self. She, being the wiser, is encouraging me to go to sleep. SLEEP WHILE YOU CAN! My present self (am I freaking you out yet?) is making the argument that I should relish the mental break because I'm about to enter "survival mode" and will temporarily give up the luxury of having mental timeouts. The one thing we all agree on is how grateful I am for two kids who sleep well. I pray that nameless, yet loved, child number three won't be the exception.