Second Chance Sunday: London and Natalie

Wow…sometimes you start writing a post and it just never gets published. But it really should have, because it was a gem. This was one of those that I found in my drafts folder.

So I’m having my own version of Throwback Thursday: Second Chance Sunday.

This post featured my “first born”, London, and was originally written back when Natalie was only a few months old:

A lot of people have been asking how the cats are adjusting to the wee princess. Thankfully I can say pretty well on both accounts. London was always a mama’s boy, in my lap at every opportunity. Once my belly got in the way he begrudgingly sought solace in daddy’s lap instead, and still has to for the most part. He does look for every chance to steal the lap or even share it with Natalie. It’s a very competitive relationship.

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Today I snuck into Natalie’s room to take some pictures while she napped, and London decided he couldn’t just let her be the center of attention.

So first he showed off by nailing the high jump into the crib.

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Then he checked to make sure he had good light.

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Shook out his fur.

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And posed.

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As a follow up to this post, at 21 months old, Natalie is extremely good with animals of all kinds, and I attribute that to learning with the cats. From the get go we taught her to be gentle, and nice, and to not play with their faces. I’ve only had to remind her a handful of times about not grabbing the tail. “Kitty” was one of her first words, and she loves her big brothers. London will allow her to pet him as long as she’s slow, but Malcolm will still dart away rather than risk it. Eventually he’ll realize she’s another source of scritches and wise up.

London has a nasty habit of scratching our door jambs, and Natalie has picked up on our reprimands of him. She’s taken to admonishing him with a “London, no!” if she thinks he’s up to no good…which is 75% of the time. The other day she scolded him for knocking a tape measure off the bookshelf, then discovered that he wanted to chase it and began wiggling it like a wand for him. This only furthers London’s disillusion that I gave birth to Natalie only so he could have a devoted playmate and petter.

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Fifteen Months

You keep us going these days, Natalie. Fifteen months old and you grow by the minute.

The biggest news is, you are walking now! A week or two ago you really became a walker, as opposed to a crawler who occasionally walks. You always look pleased as punch when you’re toddling about, elbows bent and hands raised, ready to wave at passersby or catch yourself when you stumble.

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You are a ham and cheese sandwich these days. You’ve learned which things are silly and funny, and you’ll do them just to get a laugh out of us. Whether it’s pinching and holding the spoon between your teeth, or dropping things and uttering the cutest little “Uh Oh!”, you know what gets us to smile.

As with all toddlers who are independently mobile, you get into EVERYTHING! As I type this, you are pulling bowls out of the cabinet in the kitchen. We’re trying to teach you what is ok to touch and what are “don’t touch” items. We’ve got a pretty long road ahead of us on that one.

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You are smart as a whip. You have figured out the home button on our iPhones, and you’ve nearly uploaded photos (that you’ve taken) onto flickr! You’ve also mastered the signs to “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes”, and you ask for them frequently.

Writing is your favorite thing to do. We’ll give you a pen or pencil and a piece of paper and you will scribble away. You’ve spent an entire church service writing on papers. Occasionally you’ll pause, hold out the page and study it with furrowed brow, as if to see what it’s missing.

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You are becoming much more communicative. We’ve been trying to allow you to make your own choices on some things, because you do have your opinions! From what to wear that day, to whether you watch Curious George, Busytown, or Babar during special TV time, to what you eat for snack, you’re not shy to tell us what you do and don’t want.

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We’ve also started introducing manners. First are “Please” and “Thank You”. You are very good at signing or saying them when prompted, but what has impressed me is how often you say them unprompted. You may turn into a little lady yet!

That being said, we’ve also entered Tantrum Territory. Like I mentioned before, you know what you want, and you don’t like hearing the word “no”.

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We’re starting to see your imagination at work when you play. You like to tuck in your dollies, feed your fish stick to your chipmunk stuffy, and you LOVE to pretend to talk on the phone. Funny thing is, when we actually call someone, you clam up!

Little things give me glimpses of the little girl you’re turning into. I’ll catch you flipping through a book while sprawled on your tummy on the floor. You’ll ask to put on a vest after several attempts to put in on by yourself. You’ll pick up a bag and carry it about as if it were a purse.

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One of my favorite things about you so far is your love for the cats. You love to toddle after them, pet them, and give them hugs and kisses. And I very rarely have to correct you on grabbing their fur.

Your love for hugs and kisses aren’t reserved to the kitties. Lately you’ve been snuggling up as I sing you to sleep, and I wish I could stay there all night, just like that. You’re no longer a baby, something I thought I’d mourn, but I’m enjoying watching you blossom.

One Month

My dear Natalie,

How has it been a month already since you entered our lives? How has it only been a month since you completely changed my role in life? You seem to grow by the day, your eyes now focus, lock on, and study your environment so intently. I’m in love with your new smile and the noises you make when you’re sitting contentedly in your rocker. When you fall asleep on me, I lose so much time just snuggling and breathing in your sweet baby scent.

Your eyes are still a beautiful blue, a fun little mystery that you still have in store for us. Whose eye color are you going to get?

I am enamored with your little hands. You love to play with your blankets, my clothes, the air…your tiny fingers are constantly moving, grasping, gripping.

We do have our trials. You like to cluster feed in the evenings, which can be frustrating for me. Instead of eating for quite some time and then sleeping or being content for a few hours, you’ll snack every hour, and you can be quite fussy in between.

I’ve changed more diapers than I care to count. But I don’t mind. Daddy does though. You like to give him a hard time while he changes you. He’ll get the dirty diaper off of you and you’ll shoot out another poop. You hit the floor last time! Then, once he cleans that up and gets a new diaper on you, you’ll pee! I giggle when I hear “I need back up!” from the nursery.

Your furbrothers, London and Malcolm, try to compete for attention with you. London was always Mama’s Boy before you came along, and now he rarely finds my lap empty! He’ll snuggle with Daddy, but if the opportunity arises, he’ll take back over. He’ll even split my chest with you, which leaves me happily pinned in a chair. Malcolm was rather leery of you when you first arrived. Now he’ll check up on you, though he tries to make it look like he doesn’t care. If you’re crying, he’ll run over and see what’s going on, then look at me as if to say “Well, what are you going to do about that?”

Nights are OK for the most part. Lately you’ve been sleeping for about 4 hours before waking to be fed. Sometimes you eat heartily and go right back to sleep, other times (like last night), you’re up and ready to party, and 2 hours later I give up on your bassinet and snuggle you into my chest where we’ll finally drift off to sleep together.

I love you, my darling girl. You are the apple of everyone’s eye, and you’re quickly wrapping Daddy around your dainty little finger. We’re very excited to see how you grow and where we go as a family.

Love, your Mama

Silver Linings

Internet, I’m under a lot of stress. It’s hidden itself amid cat naps, baby snuggles, and no commitments for the last week or so, but it snuck up on me last night.

Natalie was very awake yesterday. We’d been wanting this, for her to be more alert during the day so she would hopefully sleep at night, but being awake most of yesterday meant that she was cluster feeding most of the day. I had hoped that I’d be able to take some newborn photos of her during her deep sleep period mid day, but when the time came she was only cat napping and every movement shot her steel blue eyes wide open again.

I also chose yesterday to work on my business plan for 2012. Add math and pressure to little sleep and a needy baby and you get a ticking time bomb. It ticked away until last night. Sean was home, and Natalie was fussing after JUST eating for the umpteenth time, and I decided to try changing her. I’d swapped out the dirty diaper for a brand new one, turned away for a second, and turned back to a puddle of pee that had run down her leg and settled on the sheepskin, completely bypassing the absorbent diaper I had placed so carefully.

I cried.

It seems stupid, it was a nothing accident, but the fuse had expired on the stress bomb that had been lurking. Sean looked at me like I had two heads and asked if something else had happened that day, because I was definitely overreacting. I couldn’t move, I just sat and cried, my face in my hands. Sean got paper towels and took Natalie while I soaked up the puddle.

11pm came and we went to bed, or rather, Sean went to bed while I sat up and prepared to nurse Natalie until 1 in the morning. But to my surprise, she ate heartily and drifted off to sleep. I had her swaddled and in the bassinet by midnight. She woke once to feed from 3:45 to 4:30am, and again, she ate efficiently and drifted back off to sleep. As I set her in the bassinet she smiled sweetly in her sleep. 

My heart melted. In that little smile I read “Thank you, Mommy, I love you.” The rest of the day’s struggles disappeared and I was smiling as I switched off the bedside lamp. I said a quick prayer, thanking God for the reminder of why patience was a virtue, and resolved to always tell this little miracle how much I love her, no matter what else is going on in my life.

PS: The next time she stirred it was 7am. I rolled over and found Sean still sleeping – he must have turned off his 6:30am alarm and fallen back to sleep. So he can thank Natalie for getting to work on time this morning.

Natalie’s Birth Story

Looking at her sweet chubby cheeks 17 days later, the details of Natalie’s arrival are already starting to fuzz at the edges. Perhaps it’s sleep deprivation, perhaps it’s love, perhaps it’s God’s funny little trick to ensure that I’ll have another baby eventually.

The short story? 31 hours of labor, 2 trips to the hospital, an hour and ten minutes of pushing, and Natalie made a stubborn entrance into the world at 9:40am on Saturday, December 17. She was an alert, surprisingly calm bundle of cute at 7 lb, 4 oz and 19.25 inches.

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If you have some time to kill and aren’t squeamish, here’s the full story.

A little background to this pregnancy, it’s been predictable. From the beginning, a friend of ours dreamed about me presenting Sean with baby booties in an Easter egg (I had my positive test a week before Easter), then she dreamed we’d have a little girl. A week before I went into labor, we asked my father-in-law to predict when she’d arrive. To preface this, he predicted the exact time my husband would be born. So he lay his hand on my belly and said “8 days”.

6 days later, Thursday, December 15, we went to the mall to get some Christmas shopping done and to hopefully encourage Natalie to drop. It worked, 2:30 am on Friday, I woke up with cramps. Time-able cramps. Frequent, time-able cramps. I looked over at my slumbering husband, who was supposed to go into work that day, and decided to go into the living room to time and see if these would pass. I’d heard all the stories of first time moms having false labor, so I thought I’d let him sleep while he could.

I turned on White Christmas and got down to timing. 30 seconds in length, coming every 4-5 minutes. Over the next couple of hours, they continued at 4-5 minutes apart, but increased to nearly a minute in duration. At 5am, I went into the bedroom, gently woke Sean, and told him he wouldn’t be going into work that day. 

Since the contractions were very manageable, I decided to wait and call my OB’s office when they opened. I didn’t want to go to the hospital too soon, only to be sent home. Unfortunately, my doc was at the hospital in a surgery, so they recommended I head into triage to be checked.

11am: 1 cm, 80% effaced and -1 station. Exactly where I was on Wednesday at my last appointment. They gave me an hour to walk the halls in hopes of making progress.

12pm: 1 cm, 80% effaced and -1 station. I was released and we went in search of lunch. The resident recommended that I wait until the contractions were unbearable before coming back in. That suggestion made the rest of the day one of the most frustrating days of my life. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain, so what does unbearable mean? Obviously I’m surviving each of these contractions…should I call when the pain’s causing me to pass out?

Around 8pm I was lying on my side in the tub, trying to let the hot water ease the intensity of the contractions, but the water didn’t cover me and it was cooling off quickly. I began to feel a new sensation, pressure in my bottom with each contraction. Everything I’d ever read said this was a signal of transition, but I was still afraid of going back in just to have them send me home again. I was in tears, frustrated, and Sean looked at me and said “We’re going in.”

9pm: Moment of truth. I held my breath as they checked and gave the biggest sigh of relief when they reported I was 4-5 cm, 100% effaced and -1 station. We began calling our parents and sisters to let them know that Natalie was on her way.

To my surprise, my parents, mother-in-law and sister-in-law came right away. They were a nice distraction as I worked through each contraction. They stayed until 4am, when I had only progressed to 6 cm and the doctor decided to break my water. I took a shower to get some relief and allow my body to relax before the next step. 

After they broke my water, the intensity ramped up. Until that point I had been managing each contraction by breathing through them. But after 28 hours and no sleep, I was losing the control I had, and they were coming one on top of the other. At 6 am I was at 7 cm, and I couldn’t lie in bed anymore. I asked for the epidural.

I don’t regret giving in on going naturally. Making it to 7 cm was no joke. I was exhausted, and I still had to make it through 3 more centimeters and then push. Who knew how much longer it was going to take? The unfortunate thing was that the epidural didn’t touch the bottom pressure I was still feeling, so I didn’t get total relief.

Around 8:30am my body began pushing involuntarily, but I was still only 9.5 cm. If I started pushing, I could have tore or swollen my cervix. So for the next .5 cm I had to fight my body…um, can you say nearly impossible?

Finally I was given the OK to push, which was unlike anything I was expecting. Sean helped me through on one leg while the Best Nurse Ever (trademark) had the other. For the most part I was able to get in 4 pushes with each contraction, but I may have let some contractions slip by in hopes that little girl would work her way down a bit while I got a break. An hour and ten minutes passed, and after about 8 “last pushes”, Natalie appeared, 8 days after my father-in-law answered our question, eyes wide open. She was placed on my chest, where I soaked her in through tears of joy and relief. Sean cut the cord.

The placenta was very uncomfortable for me to deliver. It was still slightly attached, so the doctor had to do a manual internal sweep to break it loose. Then I had to be stitched up for second degree tears. But, in the end, it was all worth it!

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By the next day I was healing right on schedule and Natalie was eating and voiding satisfactorily, so we were able to be released Sunday evening (around half time of the Patriots game).

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Hello 2012 – Meet Natalie Rose

2 weeks have passed since my life completely changed. After 31 hours of labor, 2 trips to the hospital, an epidural, and an hour of pushing, the most amazing 7 lb, 4 oz bundle was placed in my arms. Since 9:40am on Saturday, December 17, my life has not been my own. 

My darling Natalie, at two weeks old you have me feeling like the luckiest mom in the world. I still can’t believe that that word – “mom” – applies to me. I’m still a child it seems. But you have been so good to us so far, sleeping, eating and going through diapers like a champ.

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Right now the Patriots game is on and you’re snuggled in your Daddy’s arms, sleeping, dreaming, and letting out the cutest little squeaks. I could stare at your beautiful little face for hours. I’m convinced maternity leave is meant for mothers to just sit and stare at their new little miracles, because, let’s face it, productivity around here is at an all time low. We don’t get out of bed until 11am on a good day, and we snuggle and nap on the sofa as the hours just disappear. But the past 2 weeks don’t feel wasted. We’ve gotten to know you, beautiful little you, and we’ve fallen into a bit of a rhythm with feedings and changings. 

You’ve had a very busy life so far with Christmas and New Years at only a week and 2 weeks old. You’ve met so many of our family and friends, and they all adore you. You met Santa, you’ve been to the theater, you’ve been to my office, and you’ve been shopping.

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You make the cutest faces right now. My favorite is your “Oooo!” face. Your eyes get big and you pucker your mouth into the teeniest little o. Everything is new and interesting to you as you focus more and more each day, and I’m excited to experience everything for the first time again through your eyes. 

We’ve got a long journey ahead of us, Natalie, and while your Daddy and I are excited to see you grow into an amazing woman, we’re determined to savor this one baby step at a time.

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