Saturday, August 31, 2013

A Father's Love.

 "I see how much I love him, and I imagine my dad loved me like that one day, and it makes me wish I'd been a better son"

I read this anonymous quote, and it struck a chord.  I have thought of this, often.  The day Brock was born, I thought of my own parents.  I thought, seriously?  They loved something THIS MUCH!?  Not only something...but ME!?  It does not seem possible.  I am so flawed.  I can think of so many things I did which hurt or disappointed my parents through the years.  I think of how little I appreciated them.  But then I think of how none of that matters to me, as a mom now, myself.  I see it in Matt.  These baby boys could do no harm in my eyes.  I am proud of their every milestone.  I could kiss their cheeks until they are raw.  Like my own mother, I will make a birthday dinner for them every year that I am able, or they are available.  For their birth, is truly a day I celebrate.  And, it's not only me, I see this same awe, love, and reverence in their father.  He is just as smitten as I, and these boys will forever be his sons. No matter what they do, or who they become, they are loved by us.

To this day, I am still amazed by the human capacity for love.  I'm not sure I will ever get over how much one little person can take over your heart in an instant.  And that it can be repeated (soon to be) four times, without dampening the effects even slightly.  Though I hope for success, love, happiness, kindness, and virtue from all of my sons, I will never fault them for their mistakes.  Perhaps, one day, they will have a son and reflect in the same manner, but I want them to know...they could never be better.  In our eyes, they are already THE BEST.

Little Things

      As I was driving, with all 3 boys in the van, I hear a loud, long, adult-like fart.  And Curtis, just begins to belly laugh.  Infectiously.  To the point where all 3 boys are laughing. Straight from their gut!  I just had to laugh too.  When we all finally settle down, Curtis continues to have a smirk on his face.  He finally says, "I tooting, Mama".  Oh really?

      Matt has been encouraging Brock to go downstairs and turn on cartoons, or play on the iPad in the morning for weeks.  As independent as that child likes to think he is, there are some habits which are hard to break.  Like convincing him that it is OK to sit alone and eat breakfast or watch TV.  Matt would give him pep talks at night.  Telling Brock he is a big boy, that he knows how to turn on the television himself, that he does not need to be supervised at every moment, that his parents do not need to be awake with him.
       After 4 weeks of having to wake up in the 5 o'clock hour, I finally had a 'normal' morning - which means I did not have to be awake until about 7:15am.  Amazingly, Matt's hard work kicked in that day.  But, just before heading downstairs, on his own, for the first time, Brock had to clarify a few things with his father.  He goes up to him and says, "So, I can do anything I want?"  And Matt, says, "Well, sure, within reason. What are some things you shouldn't do?"  And Brock replies, "Wake up mom, and break picture frames."  Hmmm...the wake up mom bit makes total sense.  Not breaking picture frames???  I mean, probably shouldn't go around doing that, makes me wonder how often he thinks about bustin' up a picture frame.

     Perhaps related to the above post, one morning, Brock came sprinting upstairs, breathless, to tell me about a show he had been watching downstairs while I slept. He exclaims "Mom!  They showed a real lady having a baby on TV and it was sooooooo cute!!"  He then dashed back off, and back downstairs.  I wondered how graphic this show with a "real lady having a baby" was.  What exactly did they show?  Well, piece by piece, I have learned that this program was pretty thorough.  As the other day, when discussing the impending birth of his baby brother, Brock informed me that I would have to go to "the pushing hospital". 

Friday, August 30, 2013

It's all in the angle...

...or the outfit. 

Day to day, I get such a range of comments.  When in scrubs, I generally get told, "I can't even tell you're pregnant!  You look great for 35 weeks."  Conversely, in an outfit like the purple shirt above, I am frequently asked "Are you sure there aren't twins in there?" or "You're ready to pop!" or just speechlessness when my answer to "When are you due?" is: "in 5 weeks"!  Also, just looking at the side by side, you can see that the angle makes a HUGE difference as to whether I am carrying "high" or "low" or whether the baby has "dropped".  One day, I thought it might be fun to update my Facebook status with every single comment I got through the day regarding my pregnancy.  I still might. 

Recently, I have had a few friends, patients, experiences that have made me think twice about complaining about my current "condition".  There are so many things in life that can go "wrong".  Good people can get diagnosed with horrible diseases, healthy couples can struggle to conceive, jobs get lost, any number of extremely stressful, saddening things can happen to anyone at anytime.  I am not currently in that kind of situation.  My "condition" is a truly happy one.  I am lucky to be where I am; 35 weeks pregnant, with a strong, healthy, huge baby boy.  It's hard, sometimes, to look past the immediate, the now.  My RLS continues to worsen, and consume my evenings.  Depending on what I drink, some days, I literally stop in the bathroom to pee between every patient! If I don't drink enough, I contract all day - which also makes me feel like I have to pee.  Lose-lose situation there. The indigestion...well, everyone is sick of hearing about that, but it sucks.  I waddled a bit the other day because I must have slept wrong, making my hips and lower back nearly non-functional all day.  The baby is so large, and strong, it hurts now when he kicks.  I have to hold my stomach all day to keep his legs in check.  I could go on, and on, but these are all wonderful problems to have.  Wonderful, and extremely temporary problems.  I only have 5 (likely 4) weeks to go in this pregnancy.  It has sped along, and soon, I will meet Baby boy O, number four.

Last night, I insisted we go to the pool, mostly to relieve some pressure from my hips and back.  It did the trick.  I feel like a new woman today.  But it also made me look at, smile with, and enjoy my little family.  It reminded me how lucky I truly am.  How ridiculous it is that I constantly complain about my relatively minor aches and pains.  Watching Curtis play by himself, sitting on the little bubbling fountains, giggling, without a care in the world, melts my heart.  Observing Brock in his floaties, trying to swim after and play with a group of big boys, just makes me laugh...who does he think he is?  Sweet, baby George, alternating between climbing on and cuddling with Matt and I fills my heart.  Watching him sprint up the ramp after getting dressed, saying "nigh nigh", because we pushed him far past his 7:30 bedtime, is sad, yet, cute all at the same time.  If a warm, August night, with the beautiful cloudless sky, in a huge, clean, pool, surrounded by the 4 (5) loves of your life isn't enough to make you love life and appreciate everything in it, than you need to get your head checked.  Because, it's perfect.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

It's Not a Hoax.

My close friend Whitney had been talking of throwing a "Think Pink" shower since she found out I was pregnant.  I was uncomfortable with this idea, as from the moment I saw the positive test to the second before I received confirmation via 20 week ultrasound, I was certain 4.O was male.  I had no problem leaving the gender a surprise in the prior three pregnancies. You grow accustom to the idea of not knowing.  It's just such a fun, happy surprise at the end of a long, hard process.  My mentality is that, it's always a good surprise, no matter which way it goes, boy vs girl.  I didn't think, that in your heart, you could ever be disappointed with the end result of a healthy, crying, pink baby.  Until 4.O.
It was a strange thing.  I began having anxiety about the delivery.  Worrying that I might not be equally happy with either result.  People seemed so hopeful it was a girl.  In fact, nearly EVERYONE seemed convinced or at least incredibly hopeful that this 4th O'Laughlin child might be a she. I really wasn't.  I was indifferent and leaning to the male side of the spectrum.  Which made it all the harder to listen to people go on, and on, "reassuring" me that this one was "definitely" a girl. The idea that anyone, most of all myself, might be disappointed with a 4th boy did not sit well.  Therefore, I decided to possibly end the speculation, at least for myself.  Even during the US, I remained hesitant to find out, in fact, I told the sonographer not to tell us, but sure as she laid that probe on my belly, my boy proudly exposed himself.  A boy!!  Honest to God, I felt not even a moment of disappointment.  In fact, I think I felt relief.  A boy is so familiar, easy, sweet, perfect for our family.  Now, having done it both ways, I see advantages to waiting and knowing.  I am at ease.  I still hope for brown hair, brown eyes, and some of my Smith genes.

A boy...great.  I tried, and tried, to convince Whitney that I shower with all girls stuff was a bad idea, without actually coming out and telling her why.  Finally, realizing the endeavor to be futile, (as I was attempting to persuade one of the few people who rival me in stubbornness -in a good way), I decided to tell her I did not want a "Think Pink" shower because 4.O was in fact "Blue".  Days later, we came up with the plan to do a surprise gender reveal at the shower for all!  What ensued, I would have never predicted, but it was a beautiful day, moment, and event with nothing but joy for our soon to be bundle.
Whitney devised a competitive game as a diversion.  The ultimate goal, being to get to the ribbon and pull down the balloons first, to search for a small balloon, with a Target Gift card.  Interestingly, no one cared to search for the Target associated balloon, when they all saw blue balloons and a giant sign shouting "Baby Boy!"  In fact, Meaghan, the first person to dress her baby completely, just stood in shock, repeating "Are we being punked!?"  Confusion ensued.  No one seemed to hear me repeatedly answering their questions with, "Yes. I. Am. Having. A. Boy."  Some laughed, some cried, no one knew if I was being surprised too.  It was chaos.  It was not a hoax.  It was fun.
With all the excitement, I could hardly enjoy the incredible food, supplied by Whitney and co-host, Christin.  She even had Bella Napoli iced coffee.  Mmmm, my fave.  I think 4.O will have enough diapers to supply him until he is a Size 3-4.  And the group got me a new swing (as the one purchased almost 5 years ago has just narrowly survived 3 giant infants, as well as toddlers who seem to think it's fun as well.)  The hosts went above and beyond with adorable decor, diaper cakes and a diaper tricycle.  I genuinely feel spoiled, and loved.  Most of all, the fears that my beloved 4th boy might not be as welcomed as the previous three were absolutely proven irrational.  His arrival will be greeted with nothing but joy, just like his preceding brothers.  And I cannot thank you all enough, for reassuring me that you all are just has happy about another little boy, as we the words of Mimi O'Laughlin, "Welcome to the club".

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Life or Death

Since birth, we have often referred to our third son as "Curious George".  He came into this world nosy, and with the drive to explore.  There conveniently happens to be a cute little monkey in lots of books that shares the name, thus making this title doubly adorable.  Anyhow, this curious nature lands George in many a predicament...or so he thinks.  George being our dramatic, man of many faces, hilariously gets himself into situations he perceives as life threatening, almost daily.   Matt and I, being somewhat laid back on the parenting spectrum, noticed that we have begun to prolong the poor child's terror for a few moments to catch a good shot of the moment between life and death.

We know he has gotten himself into one of these messes by the sound of his blood-curdling screams.  He screams a lot.  One of his screams, I can easily identify as the "I just spotted Zebra-friend" scream.  Another one is the "Curtis just took my toy" scream.  Yet another is the "something is preventing me from getting what I want" scream.  And the last is the "I may die momentarily if someone doesn't come to my rescue" scream.  Which is what he is doing in ALL of these photographs.  Even the last, you can't see his face, but just reference the 3 above and imagine what you might have seen from the other side...
Perhaps, a big contributor to him getting into these predicaments so frequently is actually the fact that George is our third child.  Not only our third child, but the third in less than 4 years with 2 older brothers.  Perhaps it has nothing to do with his personality, and all to do with the fact that we let him wander off, unseen, a little more than we did with his brothers.  Perhaps it's the combination of both.  Whatever it may be, it amuses me.  He has yet to truly get anywhere near a deadly situation, and I don't foresee that happening.  His big brothers are pretty good at tattling.  And George's screams can be heard loud and clear throughout the house (and possibly neighborhood.)  So, keep on exploring, Curious George, and we'll keep photographing it.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It's not cute.

My condition is no longer "cute".  I'm not sure that is every was, but I'll give you weeks 24-30.  In the beginning, I am too tired to care, it's not visibly obvious to anyone that I am pregnant, and I feel no need to broadcast it, so I am generally left alone.  Then the bump starts to appear.  I start to feel better.  Normalish, almost, well, not quite, but tolerable.  So I happily oblige strangers and colleagues alike with a smile and response to their pregnancy related questions.  But now, as I approach the end, and it has become completely, undeniably, grotesquely obvious that I am hugely pregnant, I cannot avoid the incessant questions, smiles, comments of sympathy, stares.

It's my fourth pregnancy, and unless I am accompanied by my three boys, everyone is shocked to hear this.  They don't even perceive how bored I am with their unoriginal questions.  I honestly don't know what's worse, though.  Someone who just keeps looking at me and smiling at my "precious cargo", or the tactless person that races me and my cart in the Costco parking lot so they can catch up to me to ask me when I'm due.  Seriously!?  You don't know me, likely have never seen me, likely never will again.  Why MUST you be sure to bring my giant belly deformity to attention.  I mean, pregnancy is technically a medical condition which requires, close and regular follow-up.  No one sprints up to the person with an obvious left-sided deficit from a recent stroke to ask about their medical condition.  It is actually considered rude and socially unacceptable to stare at people with gross, physical deformities (and I don't mean gross like disgusting, I mean gross like in the pathological diagnosis sense).  Just because the creation and bearing of children is generally regarded as a purely happy phenomenon, doesn't mean you can assume anything.  It's not a happy experience for everyone.  There are a million different circumstances in which people are pregnant, and it should be their experience to have, and not be required to be shared with every person who thinks it's adorable.

It's not cute. My clothes hardly cover by belly, my pants constantly falling down, and I only have about 3 things that are comfy to wear.  When you get up from your seat and insist I sit, I will reject you.  Sitting is no longer comfortable. Standing isn't either.  Nor is sleeping.  I am giant.  Just let me be.  Don't tell me I "need to eat to feed the baby."  I birth huge, healthy children, I weigh over 200lbs, I don't think eating is a concern.  And as you tell me I need to sit, and eat, you then ask me when I am due, and are shocked that I still have 7 weeks to go...and inevitably the twin topic is broached.  No, it's one fetus.  It will be 10 pounds.  A lot of people have two 5 pounders as twins AND, as stated above, I am not naturally a "small" person anyhow.

Most recently though, I have had a new late pregnancy experience.  When I am in public with my 3 boys, it has become routine for people to bluntly ask, "is this one a girl!?"  Originally, I would just fake smile, shrug my shoulders and say, "we don't know".  I still do this mostly, but one time, someone caught me so off-guard, and I was so flustered  that I just said "no".  As in "No, I don't know", but I just didn't have time to finish my complete thought before she gave me such the look of pity.  As if having a 4th boy would be a tragedy.  It truly pissed me off.  I mean, what a bizarre reaction!  You people all go from looking at me and smiling at my miracle, to feeling sorry for me because it might be a 4th boy?  I have since said "no" to a few other strangers, and gotten quite the range of reactions, but none of them have been congratulatory.  One woman told me she has 9 sisters and no brothers and "that you have to stop trying at some point".  As if assuming I am just going to keep birthing children until I "get" a girl.  It's an extremely interesting social experiment.  A good friend of mine is expecting her 4th boy, after years of fertility issues, heart break, thousands of dollars spent on procedures to help her conceive these wonderful boys.  Do you think she feels sorry for herself because all of these amazing miracles, that for a fleeting moment she thought might be impossible, turned out to all be the same sex?  And if this one does turn out to be a girl, and I don't have another, will everyone assume that's because "Mission: produce an O'Laughlin female" is complete?

To be clear, if I specifically talk to you about my pregnancy, often, you are free to discuss it with me all you want.  You can even smile at me if you like...though, if you know me, you won't do it.  I don't even mind when my family and friends touch my belly.  This baby will be part of their lives too, eventually.  As for you strangers, you will never meet 4.O, so don't worry about it.  In my defense, I have never looked at another pregnant woman and smiled while pregnant.  And almost no other pregnant woman has looked at me and smiled.  We all have a mutual understanding.  We all feel one another's pain.  We see that it's not cute.  We are all just trying to distract ourselves until that wonderful little bundle finally arrives.  Then, I will be happy again.  I will smile at strangers.  I will let them marvel at my beautiful miracle.  Because, a newborn, my friends, is not only cute, but stinking adorable!
An example of how "not cute" my current condition is (photo concept and composition compliments of Brock.)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

My Many Color Days

Dr. Seuss has a book where he uses colors to insinuate and describe moods.  I love this book.  I have read it to the boys' a couple times, and mostly feel it is above their head (as are the messages in a lot of Dr. Seuss books.)  The other night, as we read this book, I got to the brown page, which reads:
"Some days, of course, feel sort of Brown. The I feel slow and low, low down."
 I then look Brock in the eye, and say, "I don't think you have EVER had a day like this."  Brock, who abhors the idea of not knowing/experiencing everything, adamantly states, "Yes I have!"  So I inquire as to when?  He fumbles and mumbles a bit, obviously unable to think of an example, and settles on, "When I was a teeny, tiny baby."  Ok, Brock.  Guess I can't argue there, who knows what kind of days newborns have, I just assume they are all kind of the same, and somewhat stressful...not really Brown though.  The very next page reads:
Then comes a Yellow Day.  And, I am a busy, buzzy bee.
As I am reading this one, I am thinking in my head, ummm, this is EVERY day for Brock.  No sooner do I finish the final sentence, does Brock then emphatically, and ecstatically state, "I have LOTS and lots of those days, mom!"  I just laugh, and agree.  Yes, yes you do Brock.  Since the day he was born, his pediatrician, and our family friend, as well as most any observant bystander, has always described him as "busy". It's funny.  Babies, toddlers, kids seem so very transparent to us, but it turns out, they have significant insight as well. Our little shark, as we call him, (because he behaves as though if he were to stop moving he might die) is fully aware of his busy personality, and embraces it as his own.   Let's just continue to hope, as I always have, that he chooses to use this energy, willpower and insight for good, someday.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mom Knows Best.

With all the medical advancements, and significantly improved quality of Ultrasonography, studies show that the best indicator of baby's size before it's born is mother's intuition.  When the OB, midwife, sonographer and mom give their estimates, mom is usually closest.  It makes sense, really. She is the one carrying the child, day after day.  Feeling the movements become stronger, feeling the top of it's little bum (or head if baby is ornery), feeling her stomach get shoved closer to her throat, no longer able to bend over enough to tie her shoes.  I remember with Curtis, starting about 32 weeks, commenting at every appointment how huge he was.  Brock was only 8lbs 12ozs, so there was no reason to suspect a gigantic baby, but my OB listened to my concerns, agreed, and obtained a 38+ week ultrasound.  This US estimated Curtis to be 7lbs 13ozs.  I remember the exact measurement, because I just laughed when she said that, and told her, no way.  Less than one week later, Curtis was born, and he weighed in at a whopping 9lbs 7ozs, just as I had suspected.

They also say, that every baby gets bigger.  And as the chart above indicates, George followed suit, and though born a week early, managed to come out an entire pound heavier than his previous brother.  So, if we go by patterns, 4.O is estimated to be 12 pounds if born on the due date.  Now, let me say, this chart is based off the theory that a baby gains 1/2 lb every week during the last trimester (which, I doubt is entirely accurate).  And I do know that at 35 weeks, George was estimated by US to be 6lbs 15ozs +/- a pound (obviously it was +, which would put him at nearly 8 pounds at 35 weeks!!!)

Anyway, the point I am trying to make, is that, the whole mother's intuition thing is TRUE.  So far, I have been the most accurate guesser of baby size.  In fact, I think I guessed Brock's exact poundage in the family poll.  I joke about the size of baby 4.O all the time, but when asked, I admit that I don't think this one will be quite as big as George.  I even told the OB that I guessed it to be approximately 5lbs right now (as I also indicated on the chart above.)  I have only gained 10 pounds, and truly have been trying to eat better, in an attempt to keep the size down.  So, when the opportunity arose to get some estimated weights on Baby 4.O, I jumped on it!  At 31wks and 1 day, Baby 4.O weighed in at 5lbs 1oz, +/- 13ozs.  Somewhere between George and Curtis.  Just as I suspected.  That being said, it's still a GIANT baby.  This baby could potentially, by the US stats, be nearly 6lbs right now.  A few of you reading this, personally carried a baby to 40 weeks which came out around 6 pounds!!  Imagine carrying that child for 8 more weeks...

I'm not trying to down play the feat of carrying a fullterm infant.  Or even a premature one.  It all gets miserable near the end, no matter the size of your baby.  Every woman should be commended for every single delivery she has, whether the delivery is 2 hours long, without pain meds, and a 5 pound baby or 25 hours, with an epidural, and a 9 pound baby, or even a scheduled cesarean of a nice, average, 7 pounder.  I am merely pointing out, that when I joke about carrying a "term baby" for up to 10 weeks, I am not kidding. 

I might take the Nurse Midwife's advice that we work with, and start taking some Primrose oil, and getting acupuncture starting at about 37 weeks or so...