My Babies

I am falling.

So fast and deep, it feels like I'm living in quicksand.

Only this isn't death. It's love.

This might be one of my favorite things about a new baby. The chance to fall in love again.

This past week, I've done little but gaze at that sweet little boy.

I don't know him yet, but I'm already smitten.

And in a small way, I'm reaching back through time, to love all my babies through this final newborn. They all looked like this when they were fresh from the womb -- ruddy skinned, almond eyed, topped by a head of thick dark hair.





Of course, they don't stay that way. Natalie's skin retained the olive glow of her father and her hair lightened only subtly. Connor and Teyla grew to have the fair complexion and lighter hair of my Irish ancestors. And each of them has their own unique color of eyes.

They've changed so much, they bear little resemblance today to the tiny babies they once were.

But in a momma's heart, the present child and the past infant live simultaneously. Maybe that's why our hearts ache a little more with each passing year -- because it has to expand to hold more and more of our children, in both their past and present tenses.

So today, I will kiss Kieran's sweet head and kiss the head of all my children. I will hold his little hands and remember the beginning of each story. I will settle my nose into his hair or his tummy or his neck and inhale the most precious aroma on earth.

My babies.

The Non-Apology

I'm by nature a courteous person. Therefore, I am fighting the urge to write a big, fat apology at the top of this post, and beg your forgiveness for staying away from the blog for so long.

The thing is, I'm growing weary of all the apologies in the blogosphere. I like to humor myself, but I know you aren't waiting breathlessly on the other side of the screen, refreshing your reader every 20 minutes to see if I've posted something new. Life goes on. It's perfectly acceptable for someone to walk away from their blog and take a break, whether it be for five days or 50. (That's the beauty of a feed reader, by the way. My favorite bloggers can take a break and I'll know the minute they return because I'm subscribed to their feed. If you need a tutorial on what I'm talking about, Abraham Piper has a great one here.)

Plus, I know you all support me in my desire to spend time soaking up these precious newborn days. You have always been so gracious about me striving to balance my writing and public life, so to speak, with my family and private life.

So why apologize? It seems superfluous.

Instead, I'll just say: I miss you. And I have so many words in my head at the moment, it threatens to burst. (Which I don't need, seeing as I have other parts of my anatomy at the bursting point, if you know what I mean.) For whatever reason, I had determined to make Kieran's birth story my next post. But I'm struggling to find the time to write a narrative right now. (Go figure.) And it hit me yesterday (I'm slow) that, hey, this is my blog, and I can change the rules anytime I want. So while I still intend on completing and posting Kieran's birth story in the near future, I'm going to go ahead and start posting again, even though that means we'll be out of sequential order. (The horror!)

That's OK, right?

If it isn't, I'm sorry.

Drunk with Joy

I owe you a birth story.

Every day, I wake up and think, "Today's the day! First thing this morning, I'm going to get to that computer and type out exactly what happened on May 7, 2010."

And then Kieran wakes up. (That's his name, by the way.) So I nurse him and (as soon as my toes uncurl) I run my fingers through his silky black hair. I kiss his cheeks about a hundred times and then I change an impossibly tiny diaper that has ballooned to a softball. I make sure the kids have their lunches for school and grab a cup of coffee and I jump in the shower. Then Kieran wakes up again and I put on "Dora" for Teyla before I sit down to feed the baby. And then Corey comes home from the morning school run and talks to Kieran while I empty the dishwasher and fold a load of laundry and ohmygoodness it's lunchtime already.

And the next thing you know, it's nighttime and I have just enough time to read a few blogs before I do the whole thing over again.

But here's the thing: It sounds crazy. But it isn't.

It's pure love.

My heart aches from the blessings. I'm wallowing in gratitude.

These lives that we have. They are so precious. So beautiful. And time pushes us forward at an ever-quickening pace.

I try to soak up each minute. And even then, I find that droplets are lost.

So forgive me as I work toward regaining my balance and finding time to write again.

For now, I am drunk with joy.

The Best Mother's Day Ever

Guess what I did this weekend?

I had a baby.

Turns out, he wanted to be born on Friday so he could come home and celebrate Mother's Day with the rest of the family.

He's the best gift.

(Although I really like my ceramic painted heart and handmade coupon book too.)

Full story forthcoming, of course, hopefully in the very near future.
For now, I at least wanted to stop in and share my joy abundant.

(Anyone else suddenly hungry for Mexican?)

One Week

My post at 5 Minutes for Parenting today is about the calm before the storm, how life tends to pop with color for me the days just before a new baby arrives.

And we are, literally, days away from that blessed event. If Baby Boy doesn't decide to come on his own this week, he will get his eviction papers next Wednesday, May 12.

Why an induction, you might ask? It's a fair question, one I don't think I've addressed very well on my blog.

So here you go: The background story for why I will most likely be induced next Wednesday. (Attention male readers who are also related to me: Stop reading now. You might want to check out these Jesus cookies instead. Have a pleasant day.)

1. I have medium-sized babies. Natalie, my firstborn, was 8 pounds, 11 ounces at 41 weeks. (That's one week overdue for those of you not fluent in pregnancy.) Connor was 8 pounds, 3 ounces at 39 weeks (one week early). Teyla -- sweet, tiny Teyla -- was 7 pounds, 4 ounces at 39 weeks. I realize for those of you who grow 11-pound babies (cough, Heather, cough), those are feather-weight newborns. But for me, they are substantial enough to warrant some watchfulness.

2. To my great surprise, I dilated early and consistently with Connor. At 36 weeks (the first time most OBs or midwives check "what's going on down there"), I was at 2cm. At 37 weeks, I was at 3cm. At 38 weeks, I was at 4cm. At 39 weeks, I was at 5cm. (And this was all without painful contractions.) "Woo-hoo!" I thought to myself at the time. "I'm already halfway there." What I didn't know is that ...

3. ... Early and consistent dilation often means lightning fast active labor. Connor was born approximately 30 minutes after Corey and I screeched into the ER. (His birth story is here and here, if you're bored.) It was crazy and hectic and completely drug-free. Which was completely against my birth plan, by the way.

4. When I was pregnant with Teyla, I again started to dilate early and consistently. To stay ahead of the curve, my wonderful OB agreed to induce me around 39 weeks so we could better control what was going on AND (this is the important part) I could enjoy an good epidural for the first time ever, as God intended.

5. Teyla's birth was miraculous and beautiful and peaceful and (dare I say it?) fun. Because I was already dilated to 4cm, we didn't even use Pitocin. My OB just broke my water and -- whoosh! -- we were off. It was such a positive experience, I looked at Corey when Teyla was about 10 seconds old and said, "Oh my word! I could do this again tomorrow!" (Which was NOT what he wanted to hear. But you know. It was that easy, compared to the births of Natalie and Connor.)

6. And that brings us to today. Once again, I'm dilating early and consistently. My body is following the same pattern set down by Connor. And the sheer size of my belly makes me think this baby is not going to weigh less than Teyla. Put it all together and you get a highlighted date on the calendar for May 12.

7. One last thing, that I can't overlook: Scheduling an induction also simplifies the whole who's-going-to-watch-the-older kids aspect of giving birth -- and my OB, having three kids of her own, sympathizes with that headache. Ever since False Labor Monday, Corey and I have instituted a Plan B in case I break out with a case of real contractions. But Plan B, by its very nature, tends to be a little hectic and crazy. Having an induction scheduled means my parents can drive from Colorado and be here to stay with Natalie, Connor and Teyla while I'm in the hospital (and lunches will be made ahead of time and outfits put together and everyone will know Teyla's nap schedule and what times the kids need to be at school, etc.). It's incredibly freeing for a control freak to know the plan is being followed.

So here we go: One week. I'm off to enjoy a few more days of big belly "freedom." It's all about to change.

How to Fit 6 People in a 3-Bedroom Townhouse...and Love It

My youngest brother called me last week and said, with a note of regret in his voice, that he was going to have to unsubscribe from my blog if the nature of my posts didn't change. I guess all the talk of pregnant watermelon bellies and rupture of membranes and bloody show got to him.

Duly noted, Jon. Thus, I present a pregnancy-free post. (But I can't promise this will stick. After all, I'm scheduled to be induced next week. This is only a temporary reprieve.)

Here's a real-life story problem for you.

How do you fit six people and a dog in a cozy-but-not-so-big, 3-bedroom, 2.5 bath townhouse?

My mind started chewing away at that puzzle last September, about five minutes after we found out we were expecting Baby #4.

Right up front, I want to say: We love living here. It's our home while we wait for our ex-house in Tiny Town to sell. And we are keenly aware that at 1900-square-feet, it is bigger than the dwellings of most of the world's population.

But we also knew it would take some rejiggering to fit us all comfortably.
At the time, Connor and Natalie shared a room...

...and Teyla enjoyed her own space, the better to corral all the baby gear and keep the disruption of midnight wakings to a minimum.

Corey and I threw out a few different possibilities during the first half of the pregnancy. (Put all the kids together in one room and leave the extra room for the baby? Look into renting a bigger house while we continue to wait for our ex-house to sell? Put the baby in with us?)

But it wasn't until we found out we are having a boy that a good plan came together.

First, we decided change the rooms into a boys' room and a girls' room. Not only did it make the most sense to split the kids evenly, but it meant we didn't have to repaint. (The girls' room is pink; the boys' room is green.)

Then we settled on bunk beds as the only way to fit everyone into the 10-by-10 spaces.

Then I did the grunt work of measuring most of our upstairs furniture to see what would fit in the new rooms. (Things that didn't fit were sold on Craigs List. I'm ruthless about keeping things lately. I even sold the glider rocker when it was determined it was just too big.)

Then, when the kids were on spring break, Corey took a few days vacation to dismantle the current bedrooms...

... (creation is a messy business, yes?) ...
... assemble beds ...

... and get the new rooms ready for occupancy.

And when we were finished, I clapped my hands for joy. Literally. The new rooms are even cuter than I imagined.

Thus, I present to you: The new girls' room...

...and the new boys' room.

The one vital piece of furniture I couldn't fit in the bedrooms was the changing table. So that went into the hallway.

Actually, that's a fine compromise, since both Teyla and the new baby will use it for the time being.

I also had to move my old office, which was tucked into the nursery closet...

...into a corner of the master bedroom.

End result: I. Am. So. Happy. The rooms are adorable. And the kids love their new spaces. (This also served as Teyla's transition into a big girl bed, which has been a fabulous move for all of us. But that's a story for another day.)

The only problem outstanding is how to change the sheets on bunk beds. Because, good night, it took me stinkin' FOREVER to get them on and tucked in the first time. Right now, I'm thinking they will get laundered once a year ("It's the day of Laundry Jubilee, kids!") or when they get contaminated with bodily fluids. (Sorry Jon!)

Any tips from bunk bed veterans?


Seventeen years ago today, I got up early - really early for a Saturday.

I had to, you see, because a trio of young men came and took away my bed.

For the first time ever, my bed was leaving my childhood bedroom, the one with the blue walls that you could barely see behind all the posters, post cards, pictures and comics.

Because I was getting married that day. My bed and I were leaving the comforts of home and charting a new course with a new man. A new adventure.

It hit me today that Corey and I are at the tipping point. We have one more year of marriage before our years of Married with Kids equals (and then surpasses) our years of Married without Kids. The last eight years have been so full of life, it's hard to remember a time when it wasn't Us + The Crowd.

It was just Us.

The beautiful thing is, I appreciate Us more now, in the midst of the The Crowd.

I fall more in love with Us every passing day.

Seventeen years. Ups and downs, joys and agonies. Redemption. God's handiwork.

Us. Because of Him.