Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Soup




Remember this post? Scary. Don't worry, I made sure the old-fashioned ladies and basting instruments were no where to be found. Besides, I think this kid requires a slightly bigger pot.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Monday, December 15, 2008

Numbers and Tears

Eva's check-up went really well on Friday. She is 7 lbs. 11 oz. (5th percentile) and 19 1/2 inches long (<3rd percentile!). I was really interested to find out that they're comparing her to other full term infants her age although I guess it shouldn't really surprise me. Maybe it does because the percentiles they gave me when she was born were compared to other 34 weekers (80th in weight and 60th in height). I think it takes a year or two (?) for preemies to catch up to their full-term peers, so it will be fun to see how she measures up with each check-up. For now, she will be called "Lil' Eva."

Last night Rodney took Will to our church's anual Hanging of the Greens Party where Santa made an appearance. Eva and I stayed home and I'm actually kinda glad because my heart couldn't have handled these faces:





I wish we had a scanner because the picture they got of him shows a clearly upset little boy trying to be brave. It's precious.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Growing

Eva is officially out of her preemie clothes! I truly can't believe it. Tomorrow we visit the pediatrician for the second time and we will find out the exact amount, but she is definitely growing. I look at the 5 sleepers that she lived in for the first 5 weeks of her life and think "wow, she's was so tiny." She is now looking and feeling more like a 6 day-old newborn rather than the 6 week-old that she is! This is the refrain that's been playing in my head all week: Well, we're movin' on up (movin' on up) to the next size.





Last week (on the coldest of all days) we got our Christmas tree. This year Will actually had a reaction to it which basically consisted of one emotion: fear. After a little while of running in the opposite direction and crying, we got the lights out, put the Christmas music on (a little Bing) and he started forgetting about the gigantic outdoor object being indoors (isn't his fear justified?). He then spent the next few hours saying "ligh" and took on the role of daddy's little helper.





May the force be with you all this Christmas season:

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Will and Eva Updates

I thought it'd be fun to start with some photo comparisons.

Will:


Eva:



3 week-old Will:


3 week-old Eva (I remembered that my very first blog post was titled "3 Weeks With Will" with the photo above and I wanted to do the same for Eva with the same exact pose, but of didn't get around to it. I managed to get the pictures below but they didn't turn out how I wanted):


(there's one in between these two where she's very unahppy- hence the pacifier)





Will's first bath:

Eva's fifth bath (the 2nd baby gets the shaft- unfortunately we didn't capture her first bath on camera):

Now for the updates.

Eva: She will be 5 weeks tomorrow and she is growing so fast already. When she was born she was so tiny and fragile that she felt more like a doll than a baby, but not anymore. She's starting to fill out and has more control over her body. A week ago Tuesday she was 5 lbs. 15 oz., so I'm sure she's over 6 lbs. now. She's eating great and wakes us every 3-3 1/2 hrs. at night. I've mastered the side lying position with breastfeeding, which makes me feel far less sleep deprived. I wasn't confident enough to try this with Will because he wasn't a great latcher early on and I was afraid I'd smother him. No such worries this time. Another difference between the two as newborns is that she doesn't cry half as much and really likes her pacifier (maybe this is why she doesn't cry as much?).

Will: He just had his 18 month check up on Monday and he's doing really well. My biggest concern with him is his appetite (I've mentioned before that he often asks for food all day long and would eat well beyond good portion sizes if we let him- not to mention that it takes him two seconds to clear his plate) and he actually went down in percentile with regards to weight so the doctor was not concerned. This was very good news because I was ready to call the endocrinologist if it continued to rise (it jumped from the 50th to the 75th between 9 and 12 months and rose even more at 15 months).

He has discovered the word "no" and it has replaced "bus" as his favorite word, although it's a close 2nd. I read a really good article here about toddler discipline strategies and there's a good section on responding to the word "no" (scroll down to the bottom). It's pretty interesting if you have a toddler. I've heard lots of people say that 18 months is when things got really interesting with their kids and now I see what they mean. Besides discovering his ability to decide things for himself, he's becoming pretty self-aware. Sometimes when we're talking about him he responds with looks or certain words even though we're not talking to him (I've started to monitor more closely what I say around him). He is a very smart and affectionate boy and it's been so much fun to watch him during this stage.

Here are some cute photos of the two of them I took the other day:






What I'm Thankful For

I know it's a little overdue, but I wanted to be sure to express what I am thankful for this year. A dear one once told me that Thanksgiving was her favorite of all the holidays because she felt that thankfulness is the most important spiritual attidute. With that in mind, here's my list:

1. A healthy baby girl despite complications

2. A son who makes me smile everyday and who I can't seem to hug and kiss enough (he'll probably be that kid that says "MOM!" in a whiney voice because he's embarassed at my constant affection.)

3. A hardworking husband who challenges me to be better

4. A loving and supportive family

5. A home with everything I need

6. The opportunity to sing without needing to make money at it

7. That there is a loving and forgiving God, regardless of my lack of faith.

8. My health

9. My friends and mentors

Now for photos. Here are a few from our Thanksgiving visit with my mom and Rodney's dad last week. It was such a great week. Mom, we miss you so much already! Jerry, we're glad you're O.K. (he was in a car accident on his way home to S.C.).


Will and Nana at the Botanical Gardens




Grandpa and Eva

Thanksgiving Dinner

More to come with pictures and updates of the kiddos.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Introducing...

Eva Sophia Malone was born on Halloween night at 8:18 pm, 4 lbs. 15 oz., 18 inches long.


She spent 10 days in special care with only one complication while she was there: she had an apnic episode where she stopped breathing for 15 seconds. This is a common thing in babies born at 34 weeks, but they wanted to keep her for at least 7 days beyond the episode to insure nothing else happened.




Nothing did, and after 8 days of driving up to the hospital every 3 hours to feed her, I was so relieved when we finally got to bring her home.



Nancy was an absolute Godsend, taking care of Will just about every waking minute AND helping us cook, clean, and get the house ready for Eva's discharge.



Michael was also such an awesome help, taking Will while I was in the hospital the week before she was born. Our church also stepped in, as I mentioned before. It's times like these that you truly understand how important the community is, both as a giver and a receiver.

Because of cold and flu/RSV season, Will was not allowed in the special care nursery (all siblings/children were prohibited) and didn't meet Eva until she was discharged from the hospital. We often wondered what was going through his head as I got my coat on and rushed out the door every 3 hours. He really showed no signs of understanding what was happening and even since she's been home, he's been the same little boy. He likes to pat Eva's head gently while she eats and put his head to hers in a mini hug. He is really sweet when it comes to babies and it's no different with Eva.





The most difficult part about coming home with a preterm baby is the fact that it's cold and flu season and due to her fragile immune system she is at high risk for getting sick. Because of this we have to avoid public places for at least 3 months and limit non-family visitors. No one is allowed in the house that has even the slightest signs of having a cold or being sick. It sounds anal, but in my doctor's words "You kinda have to be paranoid. The alternative is another extended stay in the hospital. " It's already affected plans for Thanksgiving as my sister and her family were planning on coming and they can't now because Mia (my niece) currently has a cold and gets them a lot this time of year. We had a visit with Dr. Schmandt on Thursday and we talked about the risks, with RSV being the biggest. She told us that toddlers are the most common carriers (especially those in daycare) and even then it's hard to know when they have it because the symptoms are the same as a cold. Dr. Schmandt recommended Eva to our insurance co. to get the RSV vaccination but she was denied because she has to meet more criteria- Ex: born at an even earlier week or have a sibling in daycare. She also told us that Will is a big risk (he just got over an ear and sinus infection) and we need to do our best to keep him healthy. That part is going to be hardest. Needless to say, we've been hand-sanitizing nazis.

Besides all of that paranoia, she's really doing amazingly well. We get home visits from a pediatric nurse twice a week for two weeks and we had the first visit on Wednesday. According to her Eva has just been sailing along. She was impressed with how well she did at birth and in the special care nursery, not needing a feeding tube or help with breathing. What also impressed her was how well she's been nursing. She's already gained weight (she's up to 5 lbs. 2 oz.) and grown a half of an inch.

We are truly blessed despite all the possibilities. We have a healthy baby girl, even though technically she wasn't due to make an appearance for another 6 weeks. I'm feeling great and am so relieved about the success of the VBAC.

Here's a little summary of the birth: After 5 days in ante-partum after my water broke I was induced at 34 weeks. I got an epidural remembering the pain of the contractions from Pitosin with Will's birth. I have no regrets about this because those contractions came so fast and frequent (I did feel them on a much lesser scale- they just felt like menstrual cramps) that I'm sure I would have ended up with the epidural anyway. After 10 hours of resting in bed, reading, listening to music, and even watching a little tv, the contractions got more intense and I started feeling a lot of pressure. Then it all happened so fast. Within 30 minutes the baby was born. I was scared that Dr. Turner wouldn't get there in time, but she did. My recovery has been worlds better and I definitely recommend a VBAC to any woman for their second child. Of course, I realize that it could have ended in C-section, but it's so worth the attempt.



Thanks to everyone for your words of encouragement, prayers, and phone calls. What an amazing feeling to be surrounded by such love and support.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In The Hospital

Many of you probably got the news, but my water broke last night around 5:30. I have been hospitalized and put on bedrest while they try to keep me pregnant until Friday. Marisa beat me to the chase and posted a pretty thorough description of what's going on, so I'll send you to her blog here so you can read about it.

We have gotten a flood of emails and phone calls with all of your concerns and well-wishes, and for that we are truly grateful. Our church is pulling together a dinner-delivery list and even a sign-up for babysitting if needed. What a blessing.

I am in fairly good spirits and am anxiously awaiting the birth of this little girl who apparently wants to be a little early on the scene. We pray for her health and our emotional stability as we approach the challenge. Thank you for being such an important part of that.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Halloween PJs

You know that phrase "this too shall pass"? Well, as trite as it may sound it's good to keep in mind on the days that I feel like the world is crashing in (i.e. the day of my last post). Because, like my dad and I talked about on the phone the other day, things could always be much worse. I know this in my head, but thanks for listening and empathizing with me when it's hard to remember (or when verbally spewing out my emotions serves a cathartic purpose more than anything else).

One answer to prayer- Laura called me and reminded me that she has two girls with crates of girl clothes that they've outgrown. I'm all for sharing and passing-on, so this is a huge answer to clothing prayers.

The contractions have seemed to slow down and I've traded them for a slight cold. I'll take the cold. Rodney and Will have been passing it around and are more miserable than me (well, Rodney anyway). Rodney's looking forward to a relaxing weekend playing soccer (homecoming) and attempting to get at least 8 hours of sleep at night. I'm cheering him on in both respects.

Will's napping has seemed to improve this week. The only exception was on Sunday when Rodney was painting his room and we put him in the pack 'n play in our room. He was quiet for a good while after I put him down so I thought he was alseep, but then I went in to get something and found him playing with my music bag (it was on a surface he could reach). After picking up a few pieces of shredded music, I moved the pack 'n play further from anything he could potentially get a hold of and shut the door. Then, after about an hour of hearing him play on the monitor, Rodney went in to get him and found him pantless, diaperless, and half shirtless (one arm out). Needless to say, he wasn't really into napping on Sunday.

Monday, October 20, 2008

I am currently in one of the most stressful times in my life.

I just started my eighth month of pregnancy and we moved into a house that needs so much work. My 16 month old needs constant activity and trips to the park are getting harder and harder (the back yard will soon have to become our "park"). I just started singing in another professional choir and have forgotten twice to go to rehearsals due to scatterbrained-absentmindedness that according to my pregnancy book is on the increase at 32 weeks. I have 5 nights in a row of Bach Society, with 2 concerts, 1 rehearsal and two recording sessions. It's a good thing I'm paid to be there. There's noone but me to clean the upstairs apartment to get it ready for Juanita and this one still needs lots of organization. Will needs winter clothes, Eva has no clothes and I'm on the verge of tears (all of this with Rodney's Africa trip in 2 weeks). This is a raw post, I know.

So, where is all this stress getting me? Apparently a visit to the hospital. I need to start by saying that everything is fine, but I definitely need to take it easy.

Some background information is needed: Last Monday at my OB check-up Dr. Turner asked if I was having contractions and I casually replied "yes." She asked about frequency and some other things and seemed concerned. I was not concerned (until she was) because I remember having lots of Braxton Hicks contractions with Will. After doing a cervical exam she determined that I was "thin" and that my cervix was at the midway point. She warned me that if I had an episode of 6 contractions in one hour that I needed to come in to the hospital. She debated whether or not I should come in the following week (instead of 2 weeks) but said that if anything happened between now and then just to come in. Fast forward to Friday night. I was singing in Alton with Bach Society and had consistent contractions throughout the concert and even well after I got home. I decided to eat, drink and sleep and go in to the hospital the next morning. They checked me and said that I'm definitely thin but not dilated, so they sent me home with some instructions to stay hydrated. I still need to speak with Dr. Turner, but it's definately shaken us up.

So, what now? After this week I don't need to go to Bach Society rehearsals because I'm not singing in the Christmas concert due to baby arrival. I've also decided that I MUST rest when Will is resting and pare down my commitments as much as possible. If this means sleeping in on Sundays and missing church, then I've decided not to feel guilty (as was the case this Sunday). I'm accepting/asking for more help from Rodney and trying not to get worked up over the "little things." I'm very grateful for the encouragement I've received from family and friends and look forward to having Nancy around in a few weeks and after that family to be around when the baby is born. I have to remind myself that I am not alone.

I said it was a raw post.

On a more positive note, Rodney was able to paint Will and Eva's room this weekend. This provided me with some tears of joy and a respite from my stress. Thank you, Rodney.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Two Posts for the Price of One

Hopefully you will consider this post a deal and not a tedious way to get you all caught up.

Post 1: Moved-In
We are now officially moved in to the 1st floor apartment of our two-family flat and I am already enjoying the perks. Tasks such as laundry and grocery shopping at this stage of my pregnancy will no longer be as difficult as they once were. Something as simple as taking a walk with Will will be that much more convenient and letting the dog in and out is a cinch! In fact, as I write Che is contentedly sleeping on the back porch. He seems to be much happier when he can come and go outside whenever he wants.

Before I share photos, I want to thank some people: First of all, I need to thank my gracious brother-in-law Michael for taking an entire day off of work to paint for us. I am certain that I would be depressed having to stare at all of the unfinished walls of this place today, but now with two of the most important rooms finished (ceilings and all) it has made all the difference in the world. Thank you so much, Michael. Also, thanks to Michael, Scott and Kyle for helping us move. What a blessing it is to have such friends and family.

Now the pictures:
Living Room, Angle 1
(sorry about the blurriness)


Living Room, Angle 2


Dining Room

Kitchen and Will's forehead

Our Bedroom, complete with peeling walls

Will and Eva's Room, Angle 1
(we haven't gotten the bedroom window treatments in yet so the blankets are serving as black-out shades)


Will and Eva's Room, Angle 2


I feel pretty good about how things are coming together as far as overall organization. Now it's just the things that make a place feel like a home that I'm anxious about. Of course painting the rest of the house will make a huge difference, and then putting up wall hangings. The kitchen (ceiling) and the bathroom will most likely not get done before Thanksgiving and all I have to say is that I feel for Rodney as I know he's so overwhelmed with the task list.

Post 2: Other Notable News
Will is going through some interesting phases right now. The biggest is with napping. He's recently decided that he hates napping and for a couple of weeks would refuse to nap just about ever other day. We decided to do Ferber for naps so that he could be getting his sleep requirements and although it's definitely helped, we've still encountered rough spots. The other day he cried (after many visits from me) for over an hour in his crib and never napped. Thankfully, he's sleeping fine at night (probably from sheer exhaustion) although he is waking up earlier and earlier in the mornings. This morning he was up at 5:50. Ugh.

The other phase he's going through right now is stranger awareness. He's never actually gone through this this phase until now, so it's been interesting to observe. It's really not that bad, he just seems much slower to warm up than he ever has.

Oh, and food. Let's just say that there are days when Will constantly asks for food. I've determined that he does it when he's bored, which apparently is quite a bit. Rodney and I have discovered that he needs A LOT of stimulation and doesn't play alone for very long. Yesterday he whined nearly continuously during the day for food and I decided to add it to my "nah/no thanks" list ("no" is reserved for dangerous behaviors- either for himself or others). The "nah" worked yesterday and we'll see if it continues to work.

Will loves his books. This is one of the only things I can count on him doing on his own for a good 15 to 20 minutes. Making you proud, Grandma Nancy!
Right now his favorite word to say is "bus" and his favorite sound to make is a whinnying sound like a horse. Call them new fetishes. Sometimes William will neigh like a horse when he wakes up from a nap or do it repeatedly while riding in the back seat of the car. He also calls any large vehicle a "bus." Rodney and I spend a lot of time laughing these days.

The pregnancy seems to be going well and Eva is moving like crazy. A week or so ago she seemed to be moving constantly to the point of annoyance (imagine something pummeling your belly non-stop). I do get tired and sore when I overdo it, but as long as I rest during the day I feel much better. The nice thing about this pregnancy is that I actually have time during the day to do that (as long as Will naps, of course=)).

I am now singing with the Saint Louis Symphony Chorus which is pretty exciting, but have yet to attend a rehearsal. They are rehearsing for two different upcoming concerts, one of which I am not singing in because it's scheduled for the week of Eva's due date and I am not required to be at those rehearsals. I am really looking forward to singing with such a high quality ensemble. I'm sure there will be no end to what I learn.

I'll close with some photos of Will and I. Sorry you can't see the belly that well, I will try to get a good belly shot soon.

At Forest Park



Zen-Yoga Master

Quint-Bongo Boy - Making Uncle Marc proud!