Friday, July 22, 2011

Duke is 1!

Nothing more fun than celebrating a baby's 1st birthday.

Duke had lots of family around to join in celebrating his first year of life. He was hesitant at first when we sat his mini cake in front of him. He poked at it, and then looked around, as if asking permission. Once he got a taste of the sweet frosting, he let loose and dug in. The bakery went ahead and made him his own mini cake (at no charge) that matched the sheet cake I ordered. It was a nice surprise! Thanks, Reasor's! I tied balloons onto his high chair as part of the decorations (No birthday in my house is complete without helium balloons). He loved them - he batted at them, tried to eat them, wiped frosting all over them. Cheap entertainment. We finally had to take the cake away - you could tell he was feeling sick from all the sugar.

It is hard to believe that it's gone by so fast. Time is speeding up. I think back to last June and remember when Duke joined our family. I never wrote down my experiences giving birth to my girls and know I'll always regret not getting the details down when they were fresh in my mind. Even though this is a year later, I feel like I should record what I remember about Duke's arrival.

I was due June 21st, summer solstice. I had a feeling my whole pregnancy that I would deliver early. Then, when my doctor told me she thought so too, I got it in my head that there was no way I would still be pregnant on June 21st. Well, I was. And the next day too. I went in for my final doctor's appointment on Tuesday, June 22nd and I was fairly far along in dilation (I think I was at like a 4 or 5). My doctor asked if I wanted to go over to the hospital and have her induce labor right then. I asked if her if I could think about it and give her a call. I didn't want to make such a weighty decision sitting half-naked in the exam room. I was miserable and definitely done being pregnant, but my desire to have a natural, unmedicated birth outweighed those feelings. I was forced to get an epidural when I gave birth to my twins and I looked forward to having the right to choose for myself this time around. I talked to some people during my pregnancy (my mom, my mother-in-law and some other people) who encouraged me to try it without an epidural. My mother-in-law, bless her heart, gave birth to seven children without an epidural. My mom had one of her children naturally (i.e. unmedicated) and said it was the best experience of all five of her babies. If they could do it, so could I! I knew if my labor was induced, it could mean complications, more intense contractions, prolonged labor. My doctor however was nervous about me being as far dialated as I was and not being able to make it to the hospital in time. I talked to a friend that night who echoed the doctor's concerns and said she had a baby in the car one time. Not wanting me to have the same bad experience, she convinced me to go to the hospital the next day to be induced. I decided I would call and set it up in the morning. Miracle of miracles, labor started on its own just a few hours after I made that decision. I felt like heaven was smiling down on me, granting me this small desire of my heart. The other wish I had was that I could go to the hospital at night. Check, check. Contractions started around 12:30am, as soon as we had laid down to sleep. I think I just thought that going to the hospital in the middle of the night was more exciting than going in the daylight. I'm wiser now though and will not wish for this again. With no epidural, there was no napping. I didn't get any sleep prior to going through labor and didn't get to sleep until that afternoon, making me one exhausted chick. I actually dozed off a few times between contractions.

When I checked in (1:30am), they said I was dilated to a seven (!). Nice. I was thinking it would take about 45 minutes. Wham, bam, baby. Not quite so. Four hours later (5:17am), I finally had my baby boy. My doctor did not seem very happy to be woken up in the middle of the night. I forced myself not to feel guilty about it. My nurses were THE B-E-S-T. Seriously. And Taber was a champ. I rubbed his hand raw I think. He was right there by my side. Later, one of the nurses came up to us and told us she doesn't often see couples work together as well as we did.

It's funny, I can't really even recall how badly it hurt. The pain disappears so quickly (Thank you, Heavenly Father). It is so short in comparison to how long you have your child. I found out later the reason labor took so long was that Duke's hand was up by his head and the cord was wrapped loosely around his neck. I spent most of the four hours on my back, but just a few seconds after moving to my side, things started moving. I yelled and hollered (it did seem to help with the pain, or maybe it was just comforting to be able to share my pain with everyone around me). Ice chips were my friend. I'll never forget how Duke looked when I first saw him. All nasty and gunky looking, but so amazingly perfect. So wonderfully new. His little mouth open and crying. I was surprised when his cries died down when the nurses laid him in the warming tray. He struck me as such a laid back baby. He was much larger than we all expected. I exercised up until the very end of my pregnancy, dang it, hoping this would keep his size in the normal range. But I think in the back of my mind, I knew he was going to be over 9 lbs. My mom had all large babies. It's in the genes. But Duke ended up being a pound heavier than even my doctor predicted. The nurses all kept saying he was such a big baby (Um, hello. Heard of that 16 pound toddler that was born just a few weeks ago? My baby was a runt in comparison). He weighed 9 lbs. 8 oz. I got to hold him immediately after giving birth. This experience was so different from the twins.

One moment sticks out in my mind. It was just Duke and I, alone in my hospital room. Taber was away with the girls somewhere, the visitors had come and gone, and it was serenly quiet. I'm sure some of it was to blame on hormones, but I was so overwhelmed with love for my new little baby, that I just balled. With the girls, the whole experience seemed so clinical, so medical, so sterile. They were whisked away to the NICU within moments of birth and I didn't get to see them for hours. There were also two of them, so I didn't have the same opportunity for one-on-one time that I had with Duke. But with Duke, to be able to spend time with him, just the two of us, to form that bond, was an amazing blessing. I felt so incredibly blessed to be his mother. The ability to bear children is the sweetest gift I have ever been given. Some days I hate being a mom, to be frank. It's not all sunshine, rainbows and lollipops. But having a part in creating another living thing is the most amazing power. And every once in awhile, God gives us experiences like these to remind us.

One more thing I want to remember from Duke's first few days. This happened the morning we were scheduled to leave. One of my sweet nurses brought Duke in to eat. It was early morning, 4 or 5am. She rolled him in and I noticed that he had on a cute Carter's outfit. I thought to myself, hmm, since when do they dress babies in Carter's clothes at the hospital? But didn't think much more about it. I was so tired and had been woken up. I wasn't doing much thinking at all. I started to try to feed Duke, but he was having trouble. I thought, well that is strange. Duke usually has no trouble at all latching on. What is his problem? A few seconds later, reality finally caught up with me and a scene from the Office ran through my head. THIS IS NOT MY BABY! OH MY GOSH! The nurse had brought me the wrong baby. I was mortified. She was mortified. She neglected to check our i.d. bracelets. How could I not tell this was not my baby? Shame on me. I felt like a horrible mom. The babies actually looked very similar though. Poor baby. He was probably thinking YOU ARE NOT MY MOMMY! It makes for some good laughs now.

We came home from the hospital Friday morning. It's been a wild ride since then. Happy birthday, my boy. Our family would be incomplete without you. Thank you for all your kisses, cuddles, hugs, smiles, and laughs. They are more precious than gold.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

My sweet bambinos

We had family visiting from out-of-town, so our kids bunked with us.

They are so sweet when they're sleeping.

Catching Frogs

When my girls were little(r), we took a camping trip. On this particular camping trip, I noticed something about one of my girls. Isabelle was not afraid of the bugs. At all. She had no qualms about picking up fuzzy caterpillars and squishing them around in her tiny, pudgy hands. She is still this way. So unlike her mother, who is not on the friendliest terms with any kind of creepy, crawly thing.

A few weeks ago, much to their delight, my girls discovered little baby frogs on the front sidewalk one morning while my parents were working in the flower beds. Isabelle had no problem plucking these innocent froggies up and cupping them in her hands. Eliza was not as comfortable, but still picked up her fair share. But then when she got spooked, she'd drop them, almost to their death.

Ahhh, summer time.

Summer Fun

We took a trip to Denver. Taber had to go take a test and we decided to turn it into a family vacation. Taber's mom and dad met us in Denver (I can't believe I didn't get any pictures of them!) and we had a fun weekend together. We discovered on the way out there that Duke is not a good road tripper. He confirmed this fact on the return trip.

We had a great time at the zoo.
Duke, Me and Isabelle
Part of the awesome bird show we saw

That is a whole watermelon he has in his paw

Izzy was determined to snap a picture of this peacock

I loved this metal sculpture at the zoo entrance

Liza, hot and sweaty

Izzy, also hot and sweaty
Duke, all tuckered out

Duke also went swimming for the first time. This is how he felt about it.
 Poor Liza got sick on vacation. This is how she felt about it.
It was fun to get away as a family, even with a baby who cried across state lines and another one who was miserably sick.

You know it's time to clean...

...when your daughter practices writing her name in your dust.
If you look hard you'll see the letters E, LI, ZA.