Month: April 2013

I watched “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World” and now I’m freaking out about how short life is turning out to be.

The CD the girls usually listen to at bedtime was getting scratched and starting to skip, which I discovered is less conducive to sleep than no music at all, so I made them a new one, with new songs. Well, not new songs, actually old songs – ones we’ve been listening to since Julia was a baby – but songs that weren’t on the old CD. We’ve been playing it at bedtime about a week – long enough for me to know that they’re pretty much asleep by track seven and it’s safe to slip out by track eight. But last night, I lingered.

I sat in the dark on the floor of the their bedroom with my baby, my last baby, at my breast, and I couldn’t help but look at my biggest girl under the glow of the nightlight and marvel and remember.

Return to Pooh Corner. Rocking her to sleep under the tree in her Hundred Acre Wood nursery. She used to fit in my arms the way Jackson does now.

I Don’t Want to Live on the Moon. I see her through the rear-view mirror, asleep in her car seat on the way home from Kindermusik. Phoebe is sleeping in the Wiggles nightgown Julia used to wear then.

All I Really Need. We sing it on the way to preschool – the one Lucy goes to now.

May There Always Be Sunshine
. And I’m crying.

BANGS!

Now, we argue about her bangs. (She refuses to have them cut.) She picks out her own clothes. I don’t have to tell her to do her homework or practice piano, anymore – she does it on her own.

Flower in her hair

She helps Phoebe get dressed in the mornings. She’s changed her diaper, washed her hair, and made her breakfast. She gives her piggyback rides. She can buckle her into her car seat.

Sisters

When Lucy was nervous about her t-ball scrimmage – you know, the one I missed – Julia took a pen and wrote Bear on the palm of Lucy’s hand. “When you’re feeling scared, just look at your hand and remember, you’re a BEAR. You’re big, strong, and fast. You can do anything!” And Dave said that Lucy did, on her way to second base. She stopped and looked down at that hand, then kept on trucking.

Julia

Julia will be nine in two months. The time she’ll be likely be living under my roof is half over. So when the CD was through, I stayed just to be where she is a little longer.

All My Children

It only took me five weeks to get a picture of all four of my kids together.

Ready for the Piano Ensemble Concert

I took it last night, before Julia’s Piano Ensemble concert.

Today, I tried to take the picture I’d been planning my whole pregnancy: the one with the t-shirts* I’d bought long before Jackson was born.

The kids were willing to be photographed long enough for me to get about 50 shots and I was really excited about this one when I was reviewing them on my camera.

If only I'd gotten Julia's whole head in the frame!

Then I uploaded it to my computer and realized I’d cut Julia’s head off, dammit. So, this one is probably the best one I took.

My Kiddos

All faces are visible, all eyes are open and uncrossed, and no one is moving, crying or committing an act of violence. If I want one better than that, I’ll have to hire a photographer.

*I bought the girls’ big, bigger, and biggest sister shirts from Just Jen and Jackson’s lil brother shirt from Heather Rogers’ Designs. (And no one paid me or gave me anything free to tell you that. I just thought you might want to know where I found them. But, someone DID send me the boppy and cover in the last two photographs as a baby gift for Jackson and forgot to say who it was from. So, if it’s from you, thank you!)

Goodbye Forever, Breast Pump!

I didn’t get to hold Jackson the day he was born. I barely saw a glimpse of him. He certainly didn’t see me. He never opened his eyes. He was struggling to breathe.

The recovery room was cold, dark and quiet. A woman nursed her minutes-old baby behind the curtain next to me. I wept.

“I want my baby.”

They brought me a breast pump.

The Breast Pump

Every two hours, I pumped. At first, there was nothing. Dave brought me pictures and videos of Jackson to try and stimulate something. He even Skyped with me from the NICU. And I pumped some more. There was still nothing measurable, but there was moisture we were able to collect with foam-tipped swabs that they gave Jackson to suck on during painful procedures.

“Just keep pumping. Leslie, if you can get even one milliliter of that liquid gold, we can put it in his feeding tube,” his nurse told me over the phone. “It’s the best thing you can do for him right now.”

I kept pumping. It was the only thing I could do. I started to get some drops. We gathered every one with an oral syringe and I fed my son for the first time without seeing or touching him.

The next day, Jackson was extubated and my doctor gave me a pass to visit him. Finally, I was able to hold my boy and nurse him. Still, I had to pump to establish my milk supply. Even after I was discharged from the hospital and by his side in the NICU where I could put him to my breast for every feeding, I had to pump. Jackson just wasn’t strong enough to take it all from the breast himself.

Dave and I measured life in the NICU in three hour increments, according to Jackson’s feedings where I would weigh him, nurse him, then weigh him again to determine how much milk he got from nursing. Then Dave would bottle feed him pumped breast milk while I pumped more milk. If Jackson couldn’t get at least 60 ml from the breast and bottle in an hour, he was given the rest through his feeding tube. Two hours later, we’d do it again.

Jackson was weaned first from his oxygen tube, the incubator, and then his IVs. The feeding tube was the last hurdle he had to overcome. He needed to have eight feedings in a row without it before he could go home.

All we wanted to do was take our baby home.

My heart was in my throat every time I’d weigh him. My stomach would churn in time with the whump-whump of the breast pump. I’d pray that I would pump enough milk for the next feeding.

When Jackson was discharged, the breast pump came home with us as I still had to continue the nurse-then-bottle-feed-then-pump routine while he built up his strength. I had foolishly thought exclusive breastfeeding would be easier to establish at home where I’d be more relaxed without all the pressure of weighing and measuring. But I was scared instead. I spent most of my time with the baby or the pump at my breast, worrying that he wasn’t getting enough to eat. I documented every feeding and diaper change, and measured him incessantly.

It took about five days to fill my freezer with pumped milk and a week to gain enough confidence to stop offering bottles. It took even longer to quit logging soiled diapers and pumping altogether. I’m not sure how long it will take to believe my son will really be okay, but today, I returned the pump to the hospital.

Jackson

I’m getting closer.

How do I fail thee? Let me count the ways.

She’s off to her first t-ball scrimmage along with her dad the coach and her big sister the helper.

Lucy Bear is off to t-ball

And I’m not there.

It’s too cold out to take the baby. The toddler was in the middle of her nap time. I’m a mess. And I’ll confess, I’m not sure I can handle them both at the field, yet.

I know. I’m a mother who cannot “handle” her children. And admittedly! I don’t even deserve to have children, if you ask my Facebook news feed.

People can be so hard on mothers.

I can be even harder on myself, if you can believe it. As far as guilt and failure go, this is a tiny flake of snow on the tip of the iceberg, my friends.

“Leslie, you’ve just got to pull yourself up by your bootstraps!”

I’m not even wearing boots.

This is why I don’t have many pictures of Jackson.

“There he is! Look at my handsome little man!”

Jackson

“And those cheeks! Look at those cheeks! Those kissable cheeks!”

My handsome little man

“You want Mommy to hold you, don’t you? You want to snuggle with your mama?”

My baby boy

“Okay, that’s enough pictures. C’mere big guy!”

Doesn’t it feel good to do less?

We celebrated Lucy’s birthday with a movie theater party last Saturday. It was so easy and stress-free, I had actually started to get stressed about it.

What am I forgetting? What didn’t I do? There must be something I missed.

But it really was easy.

I booked the party and sent invitations. I ordered a cake and bought plates, napkins, forks, birthday candles, tablecloths, bottled water and glow sticks, then brought them to the theater on the big day. Tables, pizza, popcorn and fountain drinks were provided by the theater where we enjoyed a private viewing of The Croods.

It was a blast.

Lucy's 5th Birthday Party

(I tried to take pictures, but a movie theater is pretty damn dark, even with the lights on.)

I’m sure I could have souped-up the party with an overwhelming amount of balloons, favors and treats, and one of my homemade three-tiered fondant cakes, but I didn’t feel like anyone missed those things – at least I know Lucy and I didn’t. I just wasn’t up for all that so soon after Jackson’s birth. But even without an all-out, over-the-top effort, Lucy felt special and everyone had fun. That’s a successful party, if you ask me.

Now, for me, the surprising part of every party I’ve ever thrown for the kids are the gifts. When I was a kid, I knew a party meant presents. As a party-goer, selecting a gift is part of the fun, usually. But as a grown-up party-giver, presents are the last thing on my mind, so I’m always a bit overwhelmed with that part. I never expect them. And this time, Lucy received some very generous and thoughtful gifts.

Now that she is five and able to write, I thought it was important for her to write thank you notes for her gifts. I also realized that, at the age of five, there were limits to how much writing she could reasonably do. I thought about writing the majority of the note for her and letting her sign her name and personalize it, but it didn’t seem like enough when I knew she could write the whole note herself. And so, I had her write one note.

Lucy's Thank You Note

Then I made copies of it and Lucy personalized each one with a small drawing.

Making Thank You Notes

I love them, because the effort to make them was truly Lucy’s – my contribution was minimal. And you know how I feel about that.

Let me set the scene…

Setting: living room. Child sleeping on the couch wakes up and notices her mother typing furiously on the computer in the next room.

Child: (thinking aloud/voice-over) “Look at her, so hard at work.”

Child quietly slips into the kitchen, gingerly opens the refrigerator, retrieves the butter and retreats to a hiding spot under the table. Child slathers self with butter.

Because OF COURSE.

The Little Mommy

Phoebe is a very proud big sister.

Phoebe

She loves to help out with her baby brother. She frequently pushes me aside in an attempt to take over whatever it is I’m doing with him. “I do it,” she says. “My turn.” She’s even pulled up her shirt and declared, “Baby Jackson, I nurse you!”

She wants to do it all.

I do my best to keep her involved. Diaper changes offer the best opportunity to employ her helpfulness since they’re so frequent. I let her bring me a diaper when he needs changed, and she delights in carting the dirty bomb off to the trash. Except for last night, when apparently my diapers-are-okay-for-babies-with-little-poops-but-the-best-place-for-poop-is-the-potty pep talk clicked, and she decided to try and flush the diaper, oh, however many times it took for me to realize there was a lot of flushing going on and then get up off the floor and barge in there, which is exactly the same amount of time it takes to flood a bathroom.

“I do it, Mama,” she grunted, flushing furiously with her brow furrowed and toilet water splashing over her feet.

Phoebe!

“Yes, Bee. You did.”

Improvising

Lucy turned 5 yesterday.

Lucy is 5

(I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about that. And LOTS OF THINGS. Heh, I gave birth less than a month ago – I’m pretty much a weeping sack of feelings! I’ll likely share some of them when I’m not so busy having NICU-flashback panic attacks and obsessively weighing my baby.)

To celebrate Lucy’s big day, I made ice cream cone cupcakes for her preschool class and t-ball team because A) ice cream cone cupcakes are awesome and B) you don’t see them all that often – not because they’re this novel idea, but because no one knows how to transport them. (Remember last time I made them?)

Ice cream cone cupcake

And so I started thinking. Soon, an everyday egg carton…

Clever me!

…became ice cream cone cupcake transport!

Ice cream cone cupcake transport!

It wasn’t an ideal solution, but a solution nonetheless. I still spent several moments delighting in my own brilliance.

Before long, once again, my ingenuity was called upon.

Earlier in the day, I had asked Dave to pick up the gift wrap for Lucy’s presents. He brought home a roll of cellophane. This would not do, obviously, as cellophane is transparent, Dave! Since there was no time to run to the store for gift wrap and I was still high on my success with the ice cream cone cupcake-egg carton transport system I created, with crayons, paper and Julia’s help, I made my own gift wrap in about five minutes.

Improvised gift wrap

I didn’t even get twitchy over the fact that the gift wrap didn’t match the card or the bow or the cake. (The truth is, I forgot the card. And I left the bow off, because, well, it didn’t match.)

You guys, I’m starting to think my perfectionism is waning.

Flying High

I just love this picture.

Flying High

I had to share it with you, along with the fact that I’ve managed to get showered two days in a row which means I may be getting my still-swollen (seriously, they look like turtle feet) feet back under me.

Meanwhile, this is happening.

The Great Cornholio Pose

And also there’s this.


How are you doing?

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