To 2020

I think we can all agree that 2020 has been a mess of a year.

But through all the mess, I have so much to be thankful for.

We experienced virtual school and canceled plans like many others. We missed seeing family and friends and had to re-imagine celebrations that sometimes made us miss “normal” even more. Work this year was one of the hardest years I have experienced professionally due to unprecedented procedures and layoffs and furloughs. I lost my grandpa and wasn’t able to properly mourn with our family. Who even knows what my goals where at the beginning of the year. The achiever in me can’t think about it or else I feel shame and failure even through a pandemic.

However, I can’t completely write off the year or wish it farewell with a vengeance. In some regards it has been a great year for us. Tom got his dream job. We got more time than we could imagine with our kids, and we were pushed to slow down with them. We are healthy and safe.

2020 was anything but normal, however I was able to experience a normal and healthy pregnancy even though most of it was spent at home.

I have to thank 2020 because it brought me the greatest blessing with this sweet baby.

In a year that brought so much bad times it seems, I want to always remember him as the bright spot in the craziest storm.

I have been thinking a lot about how we will portray this year to Walter when he gets older. Everywhere you look you see or hear comments about the dumpster fire that is 2020. But being pregnant and having this little nugget was a humbling reminder that even in our darkest times, there is room for hope and growth.

So while when we look at all that 2020 was for us, I feel so lucky that when I look back at this time, I will be thinking of Walter joining our family. For me this overshadows all the sorrow that I experienced through undoubtedly one of the longest years. He was my reason to keep moving forward.

As we embark on the new year, there are definitely parts of 2020 that I want to leave behind . If we never have to do virtual school again, that would be fine by me. Undeniably, there was a lot of sadness and disappointment throughout this year.

But I am also so grateful for the year that brought my littlest boy.

What were your bright spots during this historic year?

Walter-1 Month

What a month it has been!

Weight:  Walt is around 7 and a half pounds. He is not really gaining weight but he also doesn’t seem to be losing it either.

Health: No real big health concerns as of right now. His mouth is completely healed from the tongue tie procedure. Breastfeeding is still a work in progress. I am monitoring his weight now to see if we dip down again, but other than that it seems like we are doing good! We seem to have another “happy spitter” on our hands though. Both of the big kids were spitting up at this age too, so I feel like we are ok here. I also watched a video the other day that was a good reminder that even though it seems like they are spitting up their whole feeding, in reality it is only a teaspoon or so.

Diet: We made it a full month of only breastfeeding. We are still feeding every 2-3 hours, and he gets a couple 1 oz bottles between those feedings as well. I am pumping 3 times a days to meet those needs and still stock some up for when I go back to work. Essentially I am either feeding him or pumping every 1-2 hours. My goal is to make it to the next month and then reevaluate. If we are still on this schedule in a month, I may introduce formula. I really don’t have time to do much else besides focus on feeding him and trying to maintain some supply for him. At the current rate we are going, I am not sure this schedule will be sustainable for my health. It is utterly exhausting and draining in so many ways. I am struggling with this a little bit since I made it a full year with Daphne. I know it is not rational but my brain is saying you have made it a year before, and I am feeling this extreme guilt for even thinking about formula this early. Like some how I am failing Walt for not making this breastfeeding journey work for us, which is basically why I never leave this chair to make it happen right now. But as I said I do know from my experience with George that this is not sustainable for much longer, so we will continue to take a little bit at a time and reevaluate. I also fully believe in “fed is best” and really have no issue with formula; it’s just a debate I am internally struggling with because I have made it work before, and hormones are weird.

Clothes: He is still in premie and newborn clothes, and he is in newborn diapers.

Sleeping:  He is awake a little more now. He sleeps the best between 7am-noon. He is fussier in the afternoon an early evening. Night time has been hit or miss with what schedule he wants to be on. There seems to be no middle ground. Either is he cluster/comfort feeding all night or he stays asleep for 5-6 hours at a time. There have also been a couple nights that I have had to hold him while we sleep in a chair because even feeding him won’t console him.

Likes:  He still loves being held and getting pats on the butt. He is starting to notice his big siblings and look for them. He loves to ride in the car. I started using the baby carrier over the last week, and he doesn’t like getting in it, but then he falls asleep as soon as he is settled in against my chest.

Dislikes:  He has found his voice over the last couple months, however Tom and I agree that he is still our quietest baby yet. He does not like getting his clothes or diaper changed. He generally hates the hours between 3-7 if you aren’t holding him. As much as we have tried, he does not seem to like a pacy. Once he is in the car, he loves it, but getting in the car seat initially is a different story.

Nicknames: Walt, Wally, Wally Bear, Dooders. Daphne has her own nicknames for him: Waltie baby, Cutie baby, and Baby Walter.

Quirks:  With him starting to be awake more, I am sure more of these will start to arise.

We parents are:  ready for some sense of a routine. With bringing a new baby home, virtual school, and the holidays, this month has been a whirlwind. Exhausted doesn’t even seem to be the appropriate word. Feeding him has been really consuming, and I have had a few meltdowns myself with the exhaustion. I feel like I never leave our bedroom between all the feedings and pumpings. I know this will end, and I just have to keep reminding myself that but it is hard when you are bound to a chair day in and day out. I am feeling like I am completely healed from the birth, so that has been nice to not feel like I am broken all over. I also am able to wear all my normal clothes again, but let’s be real I still live in leggings most days. I would love to start working out again, and my hope is to start walking on the treadmill here soon. But I need to get a better handle on this feeding stuff. It seems that there is never any time between the feedings to do things for myself because there is something else that always needs my attention with the limited breaks. I also feel like I am touched out, which is hard when you have too big kids who need affection as well. It’s just a lot right now to be able to give to all the people who need it. Tom is back at work with 12 hour shifts, so I know it is a lot on him as well to come home needing a break but also juggling giving attention to all of us. Fortunately, the sun room is done, so he can take some down time on his days off.

Big kids are:  doing as good as can be expected with all of us being home all the time. I think virtual school about broke us all. It has been a really hard month for George to become a big brother again and lose some of his attention from us, and then to be forced to do kindergarten virtually for the weeks before the holiday break. It just wasn’t ideal for his personality for this all to happen at once. But we are trying! George is also fascinated by me feeding Walt. He wants to know how breastfeeding works and all the mechanics behind pumping. So many questions! Daphne is now obsessed with Walt. She is always checking to see if he is awake or if he needs something. She is quick to try to console him and sings the sweetest songs to him. She loves to read to him and try to find toys that he can use. They both love him so much, and I can wait to see their relationship continue to grow.

The dogs are: now 10 years old! We totally missed their birthday this month…..whoops.

In case you are curious, here is George at two weeks and Daphne at one week.

Walter-Two Weeks

Thank you for everyone has reached out and shared in the excitement of our newest little nugget. It has been a whirlwind couple weeks since he got here.

Because I know that babies don’t keep, I still want to attempt to document everything about these stages.

Weight:  Walt is hovering around 7 lbs. We have been having issues with losing weight. He was 7 lbs 8 oz when he was born but at our appointments last week he dropped below 7 lbs. We have had so many doctor’s appointments to try to monitor this. He is just so skinny!

Health: We were having some severe issues breastfeeding. He was only using his gums to eat, and after just a couple days I was bleeding through every feeding. So through several lactation appointments and some referrals to a specialist, we found that Walt had a really bad tongue tie. It was so severe he basically could not use his tongue. So he was using his jaws and gums to gnaw the milk out. The doctor we saw said that if we had not found it now, he would have had issues with eating and speech later on. A procedure to fix this later on would have meant we would have had to drive to either St. Louis or Kansas City to have a more serious procedure and do physical therapy. But since we found it so quickly, last week we did a procedure to laser that tie. Since his tongue was basically useless before, this week we have been trying to retrain him how to eat. We are hoping that this is helping with the weight issue. Today we did get the green light that everything is healing nicely and we are seeing enough progress that we don’t need to come back to the specialist again.

Diet: He is only on breastmilk. I have to use a nipple shield, which is really not ideal for the long run, but it is helping him learn how to do it correctly. I am hoping we can stop using it soon. We are on a strict feeding schedule of every 2-3 hours nursing and then following up with a 1 oz bottle of pumped milk. So I am really just feeding him or pumping all day.

Clothes: Even though he is our biggest baby, he is still so tiny. He cannot wear any newborn sleepers or pants without swimming in them. We have few premie things that he fits perfectly.

Sleeping:  Honestly, he is doing a really good job sleeping. For the most part, when he is not eating he is sleeping. Sometimes it is hard to keep him awake enough to eat with the schedule we have from the doctor too. We did have issues with him at first with sleeping flat on his back. He was spitting up a lot, and he would just cry when we put him down flat. After talking with the specialist, he said a lot of this was because of the tongue tie. Walt would just take in a lot of extra air with how he was eating. We have seen this improve a lot since we had the procedure done, and we have been working on transitioning from sleeping with an incline to flat.

Likes:  He likes when I sing “You are my Sunshine” and “Cheeseburger in Paradise.” He loves getting pats on the butt. Both seem to soothe him pretty quickly.

Dislikes:  Walt is the chillest baby. Even his cries aren’t that loud. He really only shows disdain when I am a little slow to get him set up to eat or when I am putting lotion on him.

Nicknames: Walt, Wally, Wally Bear, Brother, and Daphne only calls him Baby Walter.

Quirks:  It’s hard to say right now. Eat, sleep, poop…

We parents are:  Tom went back to work a couple days ago. He has been working his behind off to get our sunroom done and keep the big kids occupied. We just moved plants into the sunroom, and it is all very exciting to watch this project wrap up. I have been a little overwhelmed to be honest with the feeding stuff. I know it has only been two weeks, so I am trying to give myself grace with our transition. However, it is hard to not be exhausted and feel like you can’t just be yourself when you are constantly focused on the feeding. I am also trying not to feel guilty that he is not gaining weight since he is getting all his sustenance from me. Whether it is making sure I am not letting too much time go by without a feeding or a bottle to keeping myself hydrated, and then add in trying to give the big kids some attention, it’s just been a lot. We have also not had many days where we haven’t had an appointment, so I am ready for a few days in a row without any plans to rest fully. Physically outside of the exhaustion, I am feeling decent. My body is healing up nicely, but I also want to be sure to be easy on myself that the pre-baby body doesn’t exist and nor should it. I will say the more that I think about his birth too, it was the closure experience I needed. It was like he was sent to us to help me heal from our previous pregnancies and birth experiences. My heart needed him, and it has been beautiful to have him join our family.

Big kids are:  doing so much better than expected. I hope to write a post soon about how the bigs are reacting to Wally coming home. It’s been precious. They are super supportive and protective right now and tell everyone that he is their baby and we will keep him here. Daphne has been calling him our “treasure.” George cried the first several days because he was overcome with joy and love for him. We’ll see how the next month goes because George is home doing virtual school for the next two weeks and then is off school until the new year. He may feel differently with all the time I spend feeding little man instead of playing with George. But all in all, I could not have asked for a better reaction from our first two babies. As far as who Walt looks more like, it is hard to say. When he was first born, I thought he looked like both pretty equally. Now as the days go by, I see more similarities to George.

The dogs are: doing just fine. Honestly, I don’t think they are even phased at this point that we brought another kid home. They have sniffed him a little, but they mostly ignore him.

In case you are curious, here is George at two weeks and Daphne at one week.

Walt, you are the final piece to our family puzzle. And we love you so very much!

Walter’s Birth Story

One thing that I have learned is to never expect your delivery experience to
go a certain way. Each of my kids have entered this world so vastly different,
and it is probably one area of my life that I go in with zero expectations
except wanting a healthy baby.

A week ago I had posted our 38 week update, so here is the story of how
things changed over the next 48 hours.

On Saturday, I was having a couple contractions every hour. My back started
hurting. My anxiety started ramping up, so I called the OB on call line to talk
through where the threshold would be of when to come in. Through that
consultation, they advised me that we did not need to head to the hospital since
Walter was still moving enough in an hour’s time.

Sunday, it seemed that more symptoms started piling on: contractions more
regular, brutal headache, and some blurry vision. Walter had also severely
decreased his movement. He was normally fairly active after I eat, but he was
maybe kicking once every couple hours. I was supposed to document at least one
hour that had 10 movements. By the time that the Chiefs game ended that
evening, I was freaking out. I called the hospital again, and this time the
nurse recommended that I came in to at least get observed on the monitors.

So around 7:30 pm we packed up our hospital bags just in case and kissed the
kids goodnight. (My mom lives with us, so we are fortunate that we didn’t have
to wait for someone to come and be with them. It also meant that there was some
normalcy for them.) I wasn’t quite sure what to think. Would we would be coming
home or not? I even mentioned to Tom at least it is still fairly early in the
night if we do have to come back home.

Once we got to the hospital, I got all strapped up to the monitors, and we
heard the sweetest noise of Walter’s heartbeat. I had a wave of peace come over
me knowing that at least he was ok in there. They also gave me an IV of fluids.
The doctor’s came in and said they wanted to monitor us for a couple hours
before making a call on whether to send us home or keep us. They did reiterate
several times that Walter looked perfect!

I was having contractions about every 9 minutes at this point. I was only
dilated at a 3 though.

I can’t remember the exact time, but it was enough time that Tom and I were
able to watch all of Christmas Vacation. I also want to note that the nurses
said I could eat so Tom went and got us a variety of snacks while we waited and
enjoyed the movie. It was so weird to me because every other delivery I was
basically forbidden to eat once I got in a hospital gown.

Anyway, a couple hours had passed, and the medical team came in to discuss
options. The doctor gave us two scenarios. He said that my symptoms were mild
enough that they would be comfortable sending us home and waiting it out for a
more natural progression. My blood pressure had been higher the whole time we
were there, and it spiked while the doctors were in the room. So the second
option was to induce based on the fact that I have chronic high blood pressure
and did have some other pre-eclampsia signals starting to flare (headache and
blurred vision). We asked him which option he would recommend if he were in our
shoes. He said he would lean towards the induction since we were at 38 weeks. I
was ecstatic to hear this as an option because I just knew I couldn’t
reasonably be able to stay sane and calm if we went home. The thing about
anxiety is that it doesn’t always make sense, and the doctor was giving me a
safe solution to have this baby.

We settled in and called our families to let them know we were having a
baby!

They started the pitocin at 1:15 am. It was a different experience for me
thought since I was not on magnesium for my blood pressure. Thankfully, even
though my BP was elevated, it was not in a place where it warranted the devil
that is the mag drip. I also didn’t have a catheter, so I was able to get up on
my own. While I could not walk around freely because of the monitors, it was really
nice to get up to go to the bathroom on my own. Those beds are not comfortable,
and I know that being confined to them is an element of my previous experiences
that really brought my mood down.

They came in about every half hour to increase the pitocin. While the
contractions were increasing in length, at this point they were nowhere near as
painful as I remembered with the other two.

I was so excited though that it was all happening that I really only slept
an hour that whole night.

At 4:30 am, I had only progressed to a 4. In order to go higher with the
pitocin, they wanted to break my water. While they did so, the doctor said she
could feel Walter’s head. It was happening!

The contractions started increasing. I was holding off on the epidural as
long as possible because I really did not enjoy the catheter experience I
wanted to minimize as much time as possible with that. But I did finally
request it around 7 am. Unfortunately the request was delayed due to two
C-sections that were occurring at that time.

At 8 am, they checked my cervix again, and I was only dilated to a 5. The
contractions I was having were pretty intense at this point as well. They ended
up needing to break my water again. It was at this same point that I was able
to get the epidural. I was in tears at this point from the contraction pain, so
the process of getting the epidural set went pretty fairly quickly. I will note
that they never did get a chance to put in a catheter.

It was at this point, that things moved so quickly it is hard for me to
remember exactly what happened. The anesthesiologist kept trying to work the
epidural magic, but I was still feeling harsh pain like I never experienced
with the other two. I had a sharp searing pain in my lower left abdomen that
felt like I was being stabbed. And then a similar pain in my left thigh. It was
so bad that it was making me lose my breath. This was in conjunction with the
contractions basically being on top of each other at this point.

I don’t even remember how many people were in the room, but it seemed like a crowd had gathered to start
prepping the bed for delivery. The leg stirrups came up, and they started
telling me instructions for pushing.

I was having a hard time focusing though because the epidural was not
working. I felt like someone was attacking my body with a knife and squeezing
the life out of me at the same time. I kept saying “this is not ideal”
through the tears.

The anesthesiologist gave me as much of the epidural as he could, but it
seemed as though I would be feeling all of everything.

And so the pushing began. We did four rounds of pushing before Walter shot
out of there. I will say that it felt like an eternity, and in my head I
thought he was stuck. They kept telling me he was right there, but to me it
didn’t feel like he was moving at all. Feeling all of it due to the epidural
failing was not ideal…

But eventually he came out like a rocket and so did so much amniotic fluid. Both Tom
and I commented on the amount of stuff that spewed everywhere this time.

At 9:24 am, Walter was here: 7 lbs and 8 oz, 20 inches long.

At this point the epidural did kick in which I guess was helpful as I pushed
out the placenta and got stitched up.

They put Walter on my chest for a brief moment while Tom cut the umbilical
cord. But they soon took him away to check his breathing.

All the amniotic fluid that shot out with Walter also went into his lungs,
and he was having a hard time breathing.

I could see the pediatric team flock around him, but I couldn’t hear him
cry. I kept leaning over to Tom saying something is wrong. I had flashes of
what happened with George come through my mind. Tom did his best to reassure me
that this was so very different, and that it was unlikely that the NICU was in
our future again. They kept Walter for about a half hour. During this time they
were giving him oxygen and suctioning out any fluid. Tom went back and forth
between me and Walter to check on both of our progress.

Finally they were able to give him back to me, and very quickly they were
trying to get us moved to a post-partum room.

I was kind of in shock at this point because the turnaround never happened
so fast for us. The epidural was wearing off and my blood pressures were
steady. Walter was beautiful and perfect and breathing fine.

Around lunch time we were settled into our post-partum room. It is just
insane to me to think back on all of my experiences. Tom and I were still
fairly anxious since it was later in the afternoon after Daphne was born that
my hemorrhage happened. However, the doctor’s had taken some extra precaution
throughout the delivery and then checked my belly every 15 minutes to help push
anything remaining out.

Tom went and got me Sonic corn dogs, and we settled in for our stay. The
hospital policy is to stay at least 24 hours after the birth. And due to the
pandemic, we did not have any visitors, so it really was just a waiting game at
this point.

We watched several Adam Sandler/Drew Barrymore romcoms and played rounds of
Rummy. We switched off sleeping to monitor Walt. He was gurgling after he was
fed, so we wanted to make sure that he didn’t projectile vomit anywhere. I also
don’t think I changed a single diaper while we were there. Tom really rocked
that duty!

The next morning came and we were out of the hospital by 12:30.

Y’all I wasn’t even in the hospital for 48 hours to have this kid. We just
had so many complications throughout the other two deliveries, it was unreal
how calm this one was. George was there for 2 weeks, and I was there for 1. And
with Daph we were there for almost 5 days.

Tom and I were sure they were going to hold us over for some reason, so we
were practically running to get out of there once the discharge papers were
given.

Looking back, I would have loved to have the experience of my water breaking
naturally and not having to be induced, but I am happy with how it all turned
out. While not having a successful epidural was not ideal, this was a great
delivery for me. I never thought it was possible, so it was amazing to have a semi-normal experience.

Baby 3: 38 Weeks

How far along: 38 weeks. I can hardly believe that I have made it this far. This is the longest I have ever been pregnant, and I have no idea what is happening.

Sex of Baby W: At the ultrasound, it was confirmed that this one is still coming out male.

Weight gain: I have gained 15 pounds total.

Size of Baby W: He is the size of a Pomeranian or spaghetti squash. At the ultrasound I had last week, they shared that he was 6 lbs and 6 oz, and he is measuring a week ahead. (His head is measuring a couple weeks ahead so not sure how I feel about that.) Daphne was exactly this when she was born, and George was 5 lbs 14 oz, so it looks like little man may end up being my biggest baby yet.

Maternity clothes: Seriously, why don’t they make all clothes this stretchy?

Baby items: Nothing else is needed, but I have few things I am still eyeing that may make our lives easier in the upcoming months.

Stretch marks: I have some but for the most part it seems that my skin has stretched out nicely.

Belly button in or out:  I officially have an outie.

Sleep: Sleep hasn’t been as awful this past couple weeks. I don’t know if I am just so exhausted that I am phasing out the pain or what. I will say that I am sleeping in that half sleep phase where I am not ever fully asleep. And when the kids climb into our bed it is even worse.

Best moment the past few weeks: I had a surprise baby sprinkle at work. It was such a funny and special moment to see so many people pop into the virtual celebration. It was truly a surprise, and I was really overwhelmed by it.

Worst moment the past few weeks: We lost all of our chickens this last week due to a variety of predators. George took it really hard, and is convinced that his favorite chicken just moved next door. After a couple years of fresh eggs, it is so hard to go back to store bought eggs.

Miss anything: Being able to stand up without a sudden urge to pee. I am making the list of things I want to eat that first week: corn dogs, sushi, coffee, and a deli sandwich to just name a few.

Cravings/Aversions: I haven’t really had many cravings that I can recall. Although, being 9 months pregnant during Thanksgiving was pretty amazing. I had three thanksgiving meals in a matter of 5 hours.

Movement: He moves a lot in the morning and evenings. I have been trying to get a video so I have documentation of his crazy movements, but it’s like he knows he is being recorded every time I try.

Symptoms/how I am feeling: I definitely am feeling 9 months pregnant. Just this week, I have had bouts of nausea. I am having contractions periodically through the day. At my appointment earlier this week, I was still only dilated to a 3, but it feels like things are happening. Today, the lower back pain arrived. I do feel really silly though that I have no idea what to expect. Here I am round three, and I am clueless like I am a new mom on what gradual labor looks like. Because of that, I have been getting a lot of anxiety that I will miss the signs. I am really trying not to freak out, but it’s becoming increasingly more difficult with each day to not just hang out on the nurses line with every twinge.

Looking forward to: Having this baby in my arms!

I don’t have any updates from the other kids since at this point they were already born!