Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Parents, It's Ok...

Greetings, my fellow Americans, and welcome to another installment of this blog. As you can imagine, we have been busy around here getting used to another little girl in the house. We are doing fairly well now getting restful nights of sleep after several, well, not so good nights. In any event, I'm back with a bit of an advice column I'd like to call, "Parents, It's Ok," in which I share some things that it's ok for parents to do with a new baby in the house. Without further ado, let's get to this list...
  1. It's ok to send them to the nursery in the hospital. It was 11:00pm that first night with Natalie. Ginny and I were tired. Natalie would sleep in her little box for short stretches, but she wouldn't settle enough for us to sleep a long stretch. So Ginny nursed her one more time, made sure her diaper was changed, and then pressed the nurse button on her bed. To be totally honest, it made me sad that we sent her to the nursery, because it felt like I was giving up on her trying to sleep with us. After a wonderful 2.5-hour sleep, though, I felt better. We sent her back to the nursery again around 4am and got another 2 hours or so of sleep. The lesson? Send her to the nursery and grab some sleep; because when you get home, there's no nurse button. 
  2. It's ok to say no. Not to the baby of course, but to people coming over to visit, whether at the hospital or at home. You're the ones adjusting to a new life. Ginny told people bringing meals to not come or call between 1 and 4 in the afternoon. Why? So everyone could rest. It's ok to tell people to come at a certain time. If they don't get it, they clearly don't understand what being a parent of a baby is all about.
  3. It's ok to feel helpless at times. Trust me, whether it's your 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or heck even your 10th kid, there will be times when you have no idea what to do. And that's ok. You're not going to know what to do. But you will figure it out. 
  4. It's ok to put a screaming baby in the crib. Again, trust me on this one. Ginny and I have had this discussion before. We go through our checklist. Is the baby fed? Is she changed? Is she burped? And we put her in the crib, crying and being loud, while we take 10-15 minutes to regroup, shower, eat, or close the door and sit in our bedroom. This does not make you a bad parent. Instead, it gives you a chance to breathe and gather yourself. I can't tell you the number of times Ginny or I have put a screaming baby in the crib, taken a shower, and come out feeling ready to go. 
  5. It's ok to ask for help. Ask. Ask often. Ask someone you trust. 
  6. It's ok to cry. I've cried more in the last 4+ years of being a father than I had in the last 14 years before that. Being a new parent (or an old parent for that matter) is an emotional experience. It's ok to cry. And cry while holding a crying kid. 
  7. It's ok to wonder if it ever gets better. "The days are long but the years are short." It does get better, and it gets more fun, too.
Hopefully this should put your sleep-deprived, new parent mind at ease.

What would you add to this list?


Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Newest Member of the Family

Hello, dear readers, and welcome back to the blog. Your pal Daniel is a little sleep-deprived as I type this, though admittedly it could be much, much worse. The reason for my sleep deprivation is that we welcomed a new addition into this world.

We arrived at Baptist Women's Hospital at 5:30am Thursday morning eager to meet our new baby girl.

Side note: Ginny had reached her pregnancy limit before this of course, so she was ready - so much so that she was trying to encourage Natalie to come early. I was not in favor of this. I wanted her to wait until the scheduled date, for whatever reason I did not immediately know. Until Labor Day. When I was sick from about 4:00pm through 8:00am. And when I mean sick, we're talking stomach bug sick, as in the worst thing that someone 3 days away from having a newborn could have. By the grace of God, and I do not use that term flippantly, no one else in the house got sick. I quarantined myself and used more disinfectant spray than most hospitals.

In any event, we arrived in the hospital, and soon enough Ginny was getting prepped for surgery. By now, we were used to the routine, and I had no trouble waiting around to see her... until of course they actually wheeled her away for surgery, at which point the nerves ratcheted up. Still, the time passed quickly, and I was next to Ginny in the operating room, awaiting the arrival our sweet Natalie.

The anesthetist not long after motioned and practically dragged me to peer up and watch Natalie be pulled out. The fact that I did not pass out is amazing. Everyone of course exclaimed that was a big baby (as if we would have a small one!), and soon she was fully in this world and letting everyone know how unhappy that made her. The nurses cleaned her up and placed her on the scale, where she weighed 5,240 grams, which made no sense to me because my metric to American conversions are a bit fuzzy these days. I'm sure yours are, too. Fortunately, I've taken a picture of "our" measurements...

Yeah, 11 pounds, 9 ounces. My baby could and probably did eat your baby for breakfast. As is the case with big babies, her blood sugar was low. Fortunately, the nurse attending to her was far better and nicer than when this happened with Naomi. Poor Naomi only saw us for a few minutes before being whisked away to the nursery for a bottle. This time, the nurse actually let me hold her and show her to Ginny. That made parting with her a lot easier. I followed the nurse to the nursery, where Natalie would get all of the love and good stuff she needed.(By the time I checked on her an hour later, her blood sugar had come up, and it stabilized at a good level the rest of the time.)

Meanwhile, back in the surgery room, Ginny was being sewn up and off to recovery. With Naomi, her recovery was difficult. Without grossing you out too much, with Naomi, she had a lot of bleeding that did not stop for a long time. Thankfully, this time there was no issue, and the three of us were all united in a room before lunch! We are so thankful that we were in a room quickly to snuggle with and love on our baby girl.

Here is our beautiful new girl, just hours old, resting in Mommy's arms.

Natalie, we love you and are so thankful you came into our lives!


Monday, August 25, 2014

10 Days and Counting

We aren't counting down or anything around here! 10 days (or less) until the newest member of our family makes her debut. And we are all very excited! Mommy is getting VERY uncomfortable, especially at night and the 105 heat index days aren't helping.

We have been soaking up the last few weeks as a family of 4. It's a bittersweet time, really. We started preschool homeschool back in June and went strong for about 4 weeks but have taken an extended break. We try to get out of the house, have play dates, swing and slide at our locals parks, swim and just soak up time together. And that's exactly what's been happening and I wouldn't have it any other way! I know that once Natalie comes we'll still be able to play outside but leaving the house for a few weeks just won't happen. And that's okay. I know we'll get back to that within a month or so of a good routine. I'm praying for an easier recovery than I had with Naomi since I have two busy girls to keep up with this go around.

My big girls are excited to welcome Natalie Grace but at the same time I think they have expectations that she's going to be a ball of fun like they are. We have quite a few friends with baby girls who are about a year old and 1 year olds are totally different than newborns! We keep explaining to them that all Natalie will do for awhile is sleep, cry, eat and lay around. They'll understand once she comes. But right now that seems so foreign to them. 

Below are a few pictures of what's been going on in our home lately. July and August have proven to be busy months. I'm glad we aren't doing formal "school" right now. It would just get in the way of our fun! We are continuing to keep the TV OFF and reading tons of books together each day, as well as crafting and honing their fine motor skills. They seem to be enjoying our days together. I know I am!

We went to Chick-fil-a last week for breakfast. This picture is a great description of their two VERY different personalities!

Watercolor fun!
It's been hot hot hot here. We enjoy the mornings outside but have to come back in and find other things to do.

We all got haircuts Wednesday and we desperately needed them!

We have recently started Milly-Molly-Mandy, a chapter book, and both girls love it! It's a great little book, written in the 20's. While the language is a bit different and I have to explain what some words and phrases mean, they seem to like it. Each chapter is separate from the next and they are about 6 pages long. I'm trying to get Nyla to dialogue with me so I'll stop every couple paragraphs and ask her questions. Sometimes she gets them, sometimes not, but it's good practice for her.
In the picture above, she's looking at a picture (there are very few) and making up her own little stories or somewhat retelling what I've read. She's obviously getting something out of the book. 

Naomi loves pushing her old stroller around and wearing her sunglass. She's "cool dude."

Daddy and Nyla have visited Putt-Putt a few times this summer. We think one of Nyla's love languages is quality time so she's really enjoyed going and playing with him. She's getting pretty good, too!

We took Naomi a couple weeks ago (before it was scorching hot) and she wasn't interested at first but soon wanted to play. She is funny to watch. She's learning some Putt-Putt etiquette as well. :)

For Nyla's 4th birthday I took her to a local nail salon and we got matching pedicures. Back in the Spring, my mom, sister and I went to this salon and they and a little pink chair just for little girls, complete with butterfly wings. I had never seen that before and told Nyla about it. She immediately wanted to go! I told her for her birthday we'd go and do that. We don't do physical gifts for birthdays, we do gifts of experience. She loved it! We had a great time sitting next to one another and I loved watching her face has her feet soaked and they scrubbed her feet, massaged her legs and painted her toes. And since she's a quality time person, this was right up her alley. We completed our birthday celebration by going and eating taco's together. Another favorite activity of hers!

We love our popsicles on hot days!

Sweet Naomi praying
Nyla enjoyed VBS at my parents church again this summer. Naomi isn't quite old enough to be in a class but each night we dropped Sissy off we HAD to stay for the opening program. They had great music, dancing, puppets, devotion and prayer. She loved it! She can't wait to go next year!!!

Biker buds

My dad likes a picture now and then of his grand girls. I told Nyla, "Sir wants a picture of you. Can you smile for me?"
She said, " yes" and then said, "Sir wants a picture of me being 4." (she had just turned 4 that week... so sweet!)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Plethora of Pictures

As you can imagine, we have been busy around here getting things ready for Natalie's arrival in just 23 days. But we have still had lots of fun!

Post-swimming play time at Gigi's

Another fun afternoon at Putt Putt for Nyla and me. She got 3 holes-in-one!

Face-painting at church block party! A crown for the princess!

And a smiley face for the mostly happy blonde spark plug!

Naomi rode a horse at the block party!

Poor, pitiful, tired Naomi

A Sunday selfie!

Fun at Cookie's church's playground

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Ny's Birth Story - Daddy's Perspective

This is a special "From the Vault" post. I wrote this on Novmeber 1, 2010. Being that today our precious Ny turns four. I thought it very appropriate to post this recollection of the day our lives changed forever. Enjoy...

File this post away as "the one that got away" - or that I have been meaning to write for a long time but never got around to it. I would normally blame procrastination but actually have a much better reason.

Fatherhood is one of those things that, at least for me, you can prepare for but in the back of your mind know that you're not even remotely ready for. We found out a year ago that we were going to be parents. We found out 8 months ago that we were having a girl. Then in the middle of July, our little girl entered the world.

So how did that day go? I'm glad you asked, because you're about to get an inside look at what was going through this guy's mind.

The best place to start would be back in June, when G and I made two "trial runs" to the hospital because she had intense back pain which we thought could be back labor. I'll direct you here to get all the details. That experience helped us better prepare for the real thing - what to pack, where to go, layout of the hospital, and, for me, how much wi-fi there would be. A word of advice for fathers-to-be: take a comfortable pillow and blanket, because the hospital sofa is anything but.

Fast forward a few weeks later to a Sunday night/Monday morning. I was having some trouble sleeping, got up, and checked out the weather (shocker), which showed a line of thunderstorms approaching our area. After I finally fell back asleep, I awoke at 6 to get ready for work. There was one hiccup though. G was already awake and told me, "Babe, I'm having contractions." "Um.. what?!?" "I've been having them since 3:45 this morning." At that point, plans to go to work were abandoned (which turned out to be a good thing, because it rained ridiculously hard that morning), and I opted to work from home in the event of, well, you know. The day went on; the contractions continued every 15-30 minutes; and both of us went about our day as best as possible. Needing to get out of the house, both of us decided to head out to Sam's - just to walk around and enjoy what could very well be our last night with only two of us. We got back, ate dinner, and were going to play Mario Party 8 on the Wii... when we decided to go to Target. Again, another nice time for both of us to (slowly) meander around one of our favorite places.

By the time we got home, it was getting late. We were getting ready for bed when G expressed concern that her water may have been leaking. Not wanting to take any chances, we got our things together - calmly I might add - and made the 15-minute drive to the hospital. Another bit of advice for fathers-to-be: they're going to take your wife back for 5 hours 20 minutes to ask her some questions and make sure she feels safe with you; just be prepared to wait and be nervous. When they let me back to see her, she had progressed nicely, but the water had not broken, and our little girl was still not ready to arrive. After an hour, the nurse told us that, while we would have a baby in the next 24 hours, it was ok to go home, as nothing was really happening. We made the drive home, left all of our things packed, and climbed back into bed.

2:00 AM. I had been asleep for about an hour. My wife wakes me. "Babe, my water broke." Ok, time to go again. Now before I go any further, let me say that break does not even begin to describe it. It was a flood that soaked the sheets on her side of the bed. So again, we climb in the car (bags still in the trunk) and arrive back at the hospital. One of the nurses that saw us earlier happened to be walking by as we were checking in again. G was showing me more water that was leaking. Said nurse saw said water running down G's pants and uttered, "Oh yeah, her pants are soaked. Admit her now." More waiting on my part. Phone call to both of our moms. Update facebook status to "Water break does not even begin to describe what just happened." Come back to room to see my wife.

The morning went on. The contractions got stronger. G was in more pain. The epidural was given. G was not in pain anymore. Our moms both arrived within 30 minutes of each other, claiming they couldn't sleep. That was ok with us. Their being there helped pass the time quicker. They also rocked the cafeteria and scored me some bacon and chocolate milk. Yes, I am 11 years old. Around 9:00, the nurse checked G and said it was time to start pushing. The moms left. And I tried my best to avoid passing out for 30 minutes while G started pushing. More advice to dads-to-be: be ready to use a cold washcloth for your wife... and yourself. Of course, you probably do hospitals better than me.

The pushing passed the one-hour mark. At that point, G's doctor came in to assist. G continued to push, but that little girl just would not move past one tight spot. The doctor laid out our options: keep pushing for an hour and hope she moves OR have a C-section. Neither one of us wanted option 2. But at this point, with little progress made in 2 hours, we both agreed that the C-section was best. I notified our moms of the situation, got dressed up in some scrubs, hat, and mask, and walked with my wife to the surgery room...

Or not. It turns out I had to wait out in a hallway before being let in to see her. Longest. 15. Minutes. Ever. The thoughts are running through my head a mile a minute. Is everything ok? Is Ginny ok? Is our baby ok? Why am I waiting out here? I took a deep breath, said a prayer, and looked up to see one of the doctors coming to get me. Once in there, I sat by Ginny as they had the sheet up, working to get Ny out. One of the doctors told me to get the camera ready. I stood up, watched as they struggled to yank Ny out, and then smiled as we heard the most beautiful cry ever. She was finally here!

I walked over to the nurse's station while they cleaned Ny up, gave her a vitamin K shot, and cleaned up the poo that Ny took all over the equipment. That's my girl! She was still upset, as one would expect when being yanked into a cold room. I started talking to her, and, in an effort to secure an early pony promise, she immediately stopped crying and actually turned her head toward me. (There's a picture a nurse took of me with my hands in a position that shows how much I wanted to hold her.) Oh, man. She had me from that point on. They checked her length - 21 inches. They checked her weight - 9 pounds, 8 ounces! Then they swaddled her up tight and gave her to me. Let me tell you this - nothing will EVER prepare you for the moment you hold a new life that you created for the first time. I think I spent the next 10 minutes just staring at her. I brought her over to a now-sobbing G, who was getting sewn up. Little Ny just laid there in my arms and looked up. Once G was patched up, off we went to recovery.

That was the first time G got to hold Ny, who was still alert and looking up at us. I took pictures with the camera and cell phone, preparing for the exclusive facebook photos. We both sat there, exhausted from a long night but in awe that our baby girl was finally here. This little life that grew in G's tummy finally entered the world in all of her beauty and innocence. Even today, I am still blown away by holding her or rocking her or feeding her or just staring at her. From one single cell to a now 15-week old, healthy girl. What a blessing she is.

Daddy loves you, Ny.