Monday, August 31, 2009

Year Four: Romance

Baby's eyes squeezed shut tight in slumber, Jed quietly zoomed cars around on the couch, and Michael and I giggled as we sneaked into the bedroom for an anniversary moment. Nothing like some good old fashioned smooching on a warm sunny bed.

Just as things started getting good, a head popped up at the base of the bed. "Whatcha doin' Dad?" We ignored the head.

A few moments later, we passionately kissed as a two-and-a-half year old screeched about three inches from our faces "STOP THAT, GUYS! STOP THAT!" The mantra continued as we studiously focused on our osculatory practice. Soon a flop onto my back and moist hands prying our faces apart. "Stop! Stop that, guys! Stop it!" A wail came up as Michael shoved Jed off my back. We broke apart and sighed.

Then grinned. We grabbed the kid and started kissing him.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial

Since our anniversary weekend ended up a spectacular blur of church obligations, Michael and I declared this to be our "Birthday and Anniversary Celebratory Weekend!" Michael took Friday off, and for our anniversary we packed up the kidlets and took a family vacation to Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. Armed with plenty of snacks and pbj sandwiches for lunch, we drove the 45 miles through misty green fields nestled between billowing forested hills.

The Memorial commemorates the 14 years when young Abraham Lincoln lived here in Indiana. In the early 1940s, the CCC built a gorgeous visitor's center building, with giant stone carvings depicting key events in Lincoln's life.Here we are in the Memorial. Jed loved running around the big empty rooms and grassy front lawn. Must have run a hundred miles that day. And I might add that he did NOT fall asleep on the way home. Sheesh. That kid is impossible to wear out.
Oh we are cute.
Mommy and baby nursing in the corner.
After seeing a short film, we went to see the living history farm, where costumed characters live, farm, cook, and grow their food just as the Lincoln family did back in the 1820s.

We walked through the corn fields, all plowed by horses and sown by hand.
Jed loved all the wooden tools, animal pelts, and the chicken coop in the background. But the bigger livestock, not so much. Sheeps and cows and pigs are all well and good in the abstract, but in real life, he didn't want to get too close. I finally wheedled him over to feed the sheep, which worked well until a big woolly head shoved through the split rail fence and tore the weeds from my hand. Jed shot straight into the air and wailing insisted "WE SEE CHICKENS NOOOOOOOWWWWWWWW!"
My favorite moment occurred as we stood watching the cows and sheep, cicadas buzzing in the hot sweaty air. In the background, we heard a rumbling. A truck pulling a doublewide drove past the back side of the feedlot. We smiled. That's life in Indiana--hot hot hot with cows and a doublewide.

As we started herding Jed towards home, we heard a sweet-toned whistle. "Whooooo!" Then again. A train! Jed's ears perked up and we started to run towards the track. A real train! Right here beside us! We saw a little red engine break through the trees. As we came close, it slowed down... and stopped right there at the end of the little road. A hairy little man hopped down and shouted towards us "Would your little boy like to see the train?" My jaw dropped. We laughed yes and ran up to the train.

As Jed got to the stairs, the bearded man leaned over to lift him up. Ummm, yeah, unfortunately Jed doesn't do hairy men so well. His eyes widened and he flailed toward me, wailing. And he wailed the entire time on the train. Oh well, Dad and I thought it was cool. And Jed did too, once we were far, far away and the hairy man had faded from memory. The best part: the train's name was THOMAS. Here we are, on an old fashioned farm, with Thomas the Train. Could this day get any better?
We bid goodbye to Thomas and had a picnic lunch there in shady trees next to the track. What a lovely, perfect day!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Zoe Ann's Birth

My eyes popped open and I glanced at the clock: just past four. I slipped out of bed and down the hall to the bathroom, where my suspicions were confirmed. Just a few drops, but I could tell -- my water had broken! I quickly assessed where I was at and what needed to happen. No contractions, at least no more than usual for the last few days. I'd gotten six hours of sleep, fabulous! Even with twenty bathroom stops in that stretch of time, after months of insomnia it felt like heaven. I considered going back to sleep with Michael until things got rocking and rolling, but I felt absolutely famished and decided some breakfast was in order first.

I felt surprised at my calmness. Not particularly happy/excited. Just... taut. Prepared. Ready. When the rushes started to hit, they felt familiar, my old friends I'd been entertaining for weeks. Many days of early labor had beaten the thrill from the moment, but at least this time I knew that they'd come with a purpose. I cleaned up the kitchen, tidied up in the main rooms, gathered my bags for the hospital. At 5:45 or so, I snuck into the bedroom to grab something. Michael sat up, sleepy eyed and mussy haired. "What are you doing?" "I'm in labor." "Really?" After so many early contractions, seeing me up and about coping in the dark was nothing new for him. "Yeah." "Anything I can do?" "Nope. Go back to sleep. It's going to be a long day." "Ok." He laid back down and immediately lost consciousness. Just as well. I really couldn't think of anything for him to do. For now, I felt fine laboring alone.

This labor felt completely different from the hit-by-a-train whirlwind birth with my Jed. Instead of an immediate conquering and overwhelming and screaming pain, this time I felt in control. This was simply labor -- work. A woman's work.

I returned to the living room and labored on the exercise ball for a while, sitting and then laying across it. I packed an overnight bag for Jed to take to his Grandma's. The contractions started to take more concentration to handle. I timed myself: contractions two to three minutes long every two minutes. I stripped down and hopped into the shower, intending to use every last drop of that hot water and relish every second of it. The heat relaxed me but soon felt too hot. I stepped out of the shower, the Indiana heat causing my body to immediately replace the water dried off with sweat. Still too hot. The rushes came harder, harder. I felt my control start weaken, I felt emotion start to seep through my cool shell of coping. Time to wake Michael up.

"Michael, can you wake up?" He flung himself up, I think shocked that he'd fallen back asleep. "What? Are you ok? Can I do anything?" "I need you." "How are things going?" I told him about the timing. "Oh, wow. That's fast." "Yeah." He saw my tears well up and soon another hard contraction hit. I doubled over. "You're emotional. That's a signpost. Oh my gosh I'm going to call my mom!" I smiled weakly to myself. We weren't planning any particular "kind" of birth, but I inwardly congratulated myself on my purchase of that husband-coached-childbirth manual and thanked the Lord for a husband nice enough to read it. I let him take over as the contractions became too much. He rushed madly around the house for a minute, and then the moment the next surge began, ran back to carefully hold me, my arms around his neck, and rock me as I moaned through the wave. I became more emotional, more incoherent.

Jan, my mother in law, arrived in no time. Jed had awakened and Dad had set him up with some cold cereal and Thomas the Train at the kitchen counter. He heard me moaning and quietly crying. "Mommy crying?" I heard him ask. He came into the bedroom, concerned. "Mommy all better now?" "I'll be better soon, Jed," I said. "Baby Z is coming today." I moaned again. "Mommy all better now?" he asked again, rending my heart as I felt so much love for that sweet, darling boy, my closest companion, and realized how much our little life was going to change that day. His daddy steered him back to Grandma.

We were ready to go. 7:45 AM. It was time. I gave Jan a tearful hug of thanks ("I'm emotional," I clarified, in case she couldn't tell) and I think I asked her to wash Michael's underwear because it was all dirty (What else would one be concerned about in the midst of labor?) Driving in the car didn't feel nearly so awful as I'd imagined. Michael drove slowly. Later I asked him why he didn't take the rare opportunity to speed with justification. "We live like one mile from the hospital," he said, "and speeding down Epworth Road is no fun at all." We checked in at the front desk, the first birth of the morning, it looked like. "Are you in labor?" the friendly check-in lady asked. "YES," I replied, trying to strip my tone of sarcasm as another massive contraction hit and I lost ability to communicate again. In triage, the nurses checked me. 8 cm, fully effaced. That got the ladies rolling.

I chose to walk to my room. Upright contractions were MUCH more intense, and I figured more intense would mean more quickly, so we walked. Progress down the hallway was slow. About halfway, Dr. Blanke showed up, looking fresh and cheery in his St. Louis Cardinal's shirt. "You are my favorite person!" he announced with a smile, "You waited for me!" Indeed we had. He'd left town for a vacation with his wife the day after my due date, and we all rejoiced that baby had waited long enough for him to be there. I smiled vaguely. "I told you we would wait! This is a very obedient baby. Did you enjoy the game?" "Sure did," he said. Then there was another contraction and I went back to my laborland again.

My memory becomes muddled at this point. I remember after walking into the room, I stood there alone, husband and doctors and nurses quietly consulting in the corner. My assigned nurse, Cheri, read my birth plan. Meadow arrived at some point and gave me a great big enthusiastic hug. Soon I was ready to push. I clambered up on the bed onto the squat bar. Just as I started to push was the only point during my labor where I felt some panic. In retrospect, I think it's because my birth with Jed was ALL pushing, so long and never fruitful. I was afraid. But it only lasted a moment. I felt supportive hands and whispered reassurances. "Tell me I can do it," I begged. They told me. I trusted them.

After only two or three pushes, I heard Dr. Blanke ask Michael if he wanted to see his baby. Michael echoed my thoughts: "What? Already?" Two more pushes and my baby tumbled like a wet, purple rubbery newborn calf onto the bed. A cry of happiness went up. She (yes, SHE a girl!) squirmed in her wet skin and tousled wet black hair. "My baby!" I quietly shouted with joy, "Let me hold her!" Immediately she was placed on my chest, all beauty and eyes clenched shut. She was born at 8:36 AM, just 45 minutes after we left home. After a few stitches and a brief checkup, and everyone seeped from the room, as quickly as they'd come. The room still dim, I looked up from my sweet babe for what felt like the first time. We were alone, Michael and I, with the new child already bound to our heart. Less than twelve hours later, before the sun went down, we were home.

(I've also written out Zoe's birth in a much more detailed novel-length version. If you like the gory details, email me and I'll drop you a copy.)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Sleepy Beauty

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Photo Op

My mini-Michael photographer.

He can even roll the film forward and set the flash. He just finished up the film on his second camera. "Smile, Baby Zoe!"
Focusing is still a challenge... ha ha ha!

My Darling Boy 3

Monday, August 10, 2009

Toe Pinches

Every evening, I warm a small cup of milk in the microwave. I grab a sippy cup of water and a toothbrush with "yummy toothpaste". I peek into Jed's room, Baby Butter under my arm, and there I see my favorite sight in the whole world -- my two boys, snuggled up in bed. The lamp softly lights the scene, the "twinkle star" quietly lit above the bed. We kneel for a squeaky family prayer, hugs and kisses all around. Then its into to bed for my men, they nestle into the bright pillows and blankets for books time. Though the dishes await, many times I've lingered to enjoy the quiet moment. Sometimes Jed gives me a shove "GO, Mom. Go!" and I know my place -- OUT. Other times, though, I sit at the base of the bed and give my tired, handsome husband a foot rub. He smiles and sits back, and we all bask in the happy moment.

A few weeks ago, after I'd been impolitely kicked out of the room, Jed jumped up in the midst of a story. "Dad, just a second." "Jed, come sit down and finish the story." "Just a minute, Dad. Toe pinches." Michael grabbed him. "Jed, sit down!" "Dad! Need toe pinches! Just a second, Dad!" Jed walked to the bottom of the bed, plunked down, and rubbed his daddy's feet. "Toe pinches, Dad!" he said with a grin. Michael laughed out loud. Talk about a great family tradition! Now Jed gives Dad toe pinches every night.

This past Thursday, I took over bedtime duty so Michael could finish up some church business.

When Michael came in, I was in the midst of my own delicious toe pinches.

And then Zoe got toe pinches, too.

Bedtime is the best time of the day. We relish our quiet happy family time every night. Sometimes the routine takes a while, but the enjoyment of a happy, ruffled daddy who comes out after an hour of whispered giggles and songs, makes it worth every moment.

My Darling Boy 2

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My Darling Boy

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Neener Neener

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Big Brother

With all the fuss over the new arrival, we musn't forget our big Jed. And he is a BIG BROTHER NOW, as he has consistently reminded me since baby arrived. "Jed, are you a baby giraffe?" "No, Mom, I'm BIG JED!" Awwwwwww, darn. I miss my baby elephant (though I notice the baby animals have been reappearing the last few days... ooo, I hope! I love my darling baby animal!)

The Saturday after my due date, two days before baby arrived, Jed conveniently fell down the stairs and cracked his collarbone. He spent the next few days mostly being babysat and hardly seeing his mom at all. By the time he came home, he was one sad and tired kidlet. I am everlastingly grateful to Michael's parents, who took the injured older brother for days and loved him up, to my parents arrived a few days later with a bag full of presents JUST for him, and willing baby-holders who took Zoe for a bit ever day so Jed could have some much needed Mom Snuggle Time. His shoulder seems to be healing fine, he has become extremely cautious around all stair type objects, and the retraction of trampoline privileges has caused great pain and suffering, I'm sure he'll need years of counseling after the trauma of Mom enforcing the NO JUMPING rule.

Jed loves loves loves Baby Z. He coos and oooos and aahhhs every time she is near, rubbing his face against her, giving her belly kisses, proudly showing her off to friends, and whispering tidbits of nonsense in her ear. He holds her in his lap a dozen times a day, giggling when she poops and telling me how happy she is to lay there.

I'm amazed to find that welcoming Zoe into our family has just made me love my little big boy a hundredfold more. I love tiny Z, but she's still the little stranger we are just getting to know. Then I look over at my Jed, and remember the ten thousand happy memories we've shared in the last two and a half years, and realize that he's twined into every fiber of my mother heart. I love my little boy. How could anyone resist that sweet happy face?!