It’s the final countdown!

It absolutely boggles my mind to say it out loud, but I go back to work a week from today.

I have no idea where my maternity leave and the first twelve weeks of Itty Bitty’s life have gone. It truly seems like it was just yesterday that maternity leave stretched infinitely before me and I was never going to get to go back to work and I was going to lose my mind before the end. Don’t get me wrong – I am so very glad and grateful that I have been able to stay home with my babies for 12 weeks each time. I love not having to put them in daycare until they are a little bit older and sturdier.

But having spent time as a stay-at-home mom and spent time as a working mom, I can tell you that I think being a working mom is much easier than staying home with my kids. Being a stay-at-home mom is, in my opinion, the most difficult job on the planet and one which I am not mentally equipped to undertake. Perhaps it would be easier if my children were older and I wouldn’t find it to be so excruciatingly isolating and difficult if I stuck at it for months and years, but I doubt it. When patients frequently tell me that they’re sorry I have to work and that my kids go to preschool, I always want to reply, “Why? I get leave my girls with people who have nothing to do all day but interact with them and teach them and care for them while I get to come and do a job that I absolutely adore and I’m actually pretty damn good at. If we were all home together, they would not be getting my undivided attention because I would still have laundry and dishes and cooking and cleaning to do, in addition to taking care of them.”

But I digress. This wasn’t actually supposed to be a foray onto my soapbox of “Staying at home with kids is really hard and those parents don’t get enough credit.” This is supposed to be a brief update on Itty Bitty and life in general with three amazing girls.

Itty Bitty is, without a doubt, the smiliest baby ever.

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She gets so incredibly excited anytime anyone comes and talks to her or interacts with her. She particularly adores the Littlest Brewster, a feeling that is mutual as LB thinks that her littlest sister is the bee’s knees. Itty Bitty is pretty laid back for the most part, cycling through eat, be awake for a bit, sleep for a bit most of the day without much crying or fussing. Like most babies, she gets pretty frotchety from 4:30 or so onward and doesn’t want to be put down; though as long as she’s being toted around or is on someone’s lap, she’s a happy camper.

I feel like we have been exceedingly lax at trying to get her on a schedule re: naps and bedtimes. I need to go back and look at the monthly updates I did for LB and BIT (something you’ll notice I did not do for IBB) and see if they were on more of a schedule by now or if I’m misremembering. Granted, I know I haven’t really pushed the schedule issue because 1) with the bigger two being in school and having to get picked up and dropped off daily (I don’t do both but I do at least one or the other every day), Itty Bitty and I were rarely home for an entire day, 2) with the holidays and travel, it’s super difficult to maintain kids’ schedules and 3) I knew that whatever schedule I managed to get IBB on would go to pot as soon as she went to daycare. So I sort of went with the “sleep whenever you’re tired for as long as you feel the need” schedule during the day. Nights, we mostly try to do bath, bottle, bed between 6 and 7. She will typically be up once or twice a night and then up for the day between 6 and 7 in the morning. I’m usually pretty accepting of still being up with her during the night, though I get kind of frantic when she has the occasional “bad” night and is up more than that and I convince myself we are doing something wrong and she will never sleep through the night, ever, and I will never be well rested again, ever. Thankfully, she rarely has more than one difficult night in a row and I breathe a sigh of relief the next night, secure once more in the knowledge that we haven’t ruined her sleeping forever through our erroneous attempts at parenting.

On the whole, I feel like life with three kids is going pretty well. It helps that the Littlest Brewster is now old enough to be sort of helpful and sort of autonomous. And both LB and BIT really love Itty Bitty and we’ve been blessed that there has been no actual anger or malicious jealousy over how much of my time and attention she gets. The DreadBrewer, while always an incredibly involved father, has started doing even more with the big girls (if possible), which has definitely helped with the transition. He does baths about half the week and bedtime most of the week for them. They love doing things with Daddy as he is definitely more fun and rough-house-y than Mommy is. (I just don’t play like that. I’ve tried and I can’t do it. I also have serious guilt issues that I can’t take care of everyone in the family all on my own but that’s just my own insecurities talking.) All in all, I feel like we’re settling into our groove as a family of five. Though I’m sure that will all go out the window when I go back to work next week and we have to establish a new routine all over again.

But it’ll be worth it. I could use a break. 😛

The Ordeal of the Funky Belly Button comes to an end

I feel like we’ve finally reached the end of our ordeal of the funky belly button. It’s been about a month since the Itty Bitty Brewster had her umbilical granuloma excised and I’ve been anxiously watching for any sign of recurrence. But the suture site is fully healed and no extra granulation tissue is in sight. We also got the pathology report back that it was pure granulation tissue without any urachus tissue present, so that’s very good news.

That's one good looking belly button!

That’s one good looking belly button!

At this point, I’m confident that Itty Bitty will be able to wear a bikini without fear of funky belly button stigma, should she so choose. What a load off my mind! 😛

Wow, it’s been a long time…

Dang, I had every intention of writing witty and insightful blog posts with admirable regularity while I was home on maternity leave. And here we are, halfway through my time home with the Itty Bitty Brewster and I haven’t written a damn thing.

In my defense, with the holidays and the DreadBrewer being able to take some time off work and other family members being able to come up and help out, I’ve had very few days where it’s been just me and the IBB. And those days are my best chances to sit down and get a post started. No one who comes to help really wants to sit and hold the baby while I work on my laptop…

But enough excuses. How are things going with IBB? Now that we’ve reached the 6 week mark (!!!), I feel comfortable saying that she’s a pretty darn good baby. I never want to make that pronouncement too soon, for fear of jinxing ourselves and bringing on horrible colic or something like that, but at this point, I think we’ve passed the official colic danger zone and we can breathe a sigh of relief. I was actually fairly certain that IBB was a grumpy baby and that she was never actually awake AND happy, until my sister visited and made an effort to point out all the times that she was awake and happy. And it was a heck of a lot more time out of the day than I was giving Itty Bitty credit for, probably because the times that she is grumpy are so much less pleasant and more anxiety-provoking and thus they stick out more in my mind. She is starting to have longer periods where she’s alert, which is nice because the older girls love interacting with her. The Littlest Brewster in particular thinks the faces that IBB makes are hilarious and will spend quite some time trying to get her to smile or make funny expressions.

Sleeping is going as well as can be expected for a 6 week old. She usually goes down for the night around 8, with a bottle, and then is up again around 12 and 4. While we’re home, I can feed her again between 7 and 8 and she’ll gladly go back to sleep for a brief nap, but she’s not averse to staying up a bit after breakfast. Up until the last few days, she was taking an epic midday nap (in the 3-4 hour range) but it’s been shortened just recently. Itty Bitty is just like any baby and gets kind of grumpy from around 5 pm to bedtime and wants to be held a lot. The DreadBrewer notes how her crying/fussiness coincides with his arrival home from work, though I have pointed out that that’s correlation, not causation. The last two days have been particularly obnoxious (to me) as she has not been napping well and she has decided that she is only happy in her car seat as long as it actively moving (be it in the car or in my arms); as soon as motion ceases, she is fussing. Needless to say, the trips to pick up her sisters from preschool have been trying.

I had planned on writing a funny post about how it’s not supposed to be this hard the third time around and I should have more of a clue, but (surprise!) I haven’t gotten around to it. (I’ve actually been working on this post alone for 3 days… which is just depressing.)  The list of things I googled in the first few weeks of Itty Bitty’s life included:

  • How do I know if my newborn is constipated?
  • Do formula-fed babies cluster feed?
  • Is my one-week-old sleeping too much?
  • When does colic start?
  • What are lifting restrictions postpartum?
  • Can the umbilical cord stump fall off too soon?
  • How do I care for an umbilical cord area?
  • How big is my newborn’s stomach and how much should she be eating?
  • What does an umbilical hernia look like? An umbilical granuloma?
  • Why does my baby fart so much?
  • Can my baby fart too much? How do I know if she has a tummy ache?

I’ve also spent a considerable amount of time worrying about things like:

  • Am I holding her too much? Am I coddling her compared to the other two?
  • Am I not holding her enough? Am I neglecting her compared to the other two?
  • Am I over-feeding her?  (Thank you, Dr. S for giving me a complex about this at our last check up.)
  • Why does she seem hungry all the time?
  • Why can’t I figure out what to do with her when she’s crying?
  • Why doesn’t she like a pacifier like the other two? Should I get her used to one or should I count my blessings?
  • Why doesn’t she have a schedule yet like the Littlest Brewster? Have I lost my parenting edge?

All of which is ridiculous, as this is our third go round and I should have a little more faith that we are doing okay and we aren’t going to irrevocably damage our child with our best intentions.

And, despite my every effort, I still feel that this post is a little scattered and not totally complete, but I want to go ahead and post something about how we’re doing. And of course, I’ll include some pictures, since most of you are in it for the pictures anyway. But I do PROMISE to post something again soon that is more complete over the next few days. And I need to post something on restarting the Couch-to-5K program. More so for my accountability than anything.

Anyway. Enough tired rambling. On to the pictures!

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My Itty Bitty Butterfly

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Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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Cruising in style! Funny that we never used the double stroller with 2 kids but it’s essential with 3…

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Sister silliness

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The generalized chaos of our evenings

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More alert than ever

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Because the Itty Bitty’s belongings are the BEST

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First smiles are so worth it. And for the record, my sister and I think she looks like Vizzini from The Princess Bride

Hello Baby!

The day after posting my Pregnancy #3 Update – Hello Due Date! I went into labor. Crazy, huh? Actually, crazy is my labor & delivery story but I’ll get to that after I tell you guys what you really want to know – Wally is….

… another daughter!!! 🙂 We now have three amazing girls and DB and I couldn’t be more excited.

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Introducing the Itty Bitty Brewster!

And for a fairly quick (for me) rundown of the craziness of the Itty Bitty Brewster’s birth:

As you guys know, I decided to go ahead and start my maternity leave on my due date, Wednesday 10/19. I spent the day futzing around the house and ran a few errands (which DB yelled at me for, calling a Target run “not relaxing” but we all know that’s madness…). I had been having intermittent contractions for a few days, but nothing really painful or timeable or even consistent. Well, Thursday morning, around 1:00, I woke up with a legitimate contraction. I waited, and 5 minutes later, there was another one. I lie in bed for about an hour before telling DB that I was having contractions and that I was going to go downstairs to watch TV (since I wasn’t sleeping) and have some tea. I told him to stay in bed and get some rest.

From 2 to 3, I watched The Princess Bride and continued to have contractions every 5 minutes or so. Around 3, I went upstairs, told DB I was still contracting, and hopped in the shower to see if that changed my contraction pattern. After my shower, I was still having contractions so DB came downstairs with me and we discussed what our options were. Did we go ahead and call my mother-in-law to come over so we could go to the hospital and get checked out? Could I wait until the office opened at 8 so we could drop the girls off at school first and avoid making his mom drive in the dark? I really didn’t want to go to the hospital only to be sent home. Ultimately, we decided we’d wait until 5 to call his mom to come over, seeing how I felt at that point. DB went back upstairs to get some rest while I finished The Princess Bride.

By 4 am, my contractions were suddenly a heck of a lot closer together and a heck of a lot more painful. I texted DB that we needed to go ahead and call his mom so we could head in to the hospital. He asked if I had timed the last few and I hadn’t, so we timed a few to be certain and yep, they were every 2-3 minutes like clockwork. He called his mom and I called the OB on call and we got ready to go.

I wanted to wake up the girls and kiss them goodbye before we left, which was a good and a bad idea. The Littlest Brewster started crying because she was worried it would hurt for me to have Wally and because she was worried I “wouldn’t look like me” after I had the baby. She calmed down pretty quickly and was fine until it was time for us to go, at which point the Brewster-In-Training started to freak out. In fact, she’s sobbing hysterically in our last picture as a family of four.

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We didn’t end up leaving for the hospital until 5:10 and it was a loooooong 30 minute drive to get there. Every time I would have a contraction in the car, I swear I felt every bump or ripple in the pavement. The DreadBrewer was great and talked to me the whole time, even managing to make me laugh a few times. I told him on the way that I was hoping I’d get there and be 8 cm, but that I was scared I’d get there and still be 2 cm like I was at our MD visit and get sent home.

Around 5:45 we went in to the Emergency Department entrance and were immediately wheeled up to OB Triage. Surprisingly enough, the RN who checked us in was a former patient of mine who was on duty the night the Littlest Brewster was born (though she wasn’t my nurse that night, as much as I wanted her). I got my gown on and got up on the stretcher and hooked up to the baby monitors and we started going over the admission questions. I had sort of been hoping she’d check me right away but instead we talked about past medical history, due date, how my contractions had been going. My first recorded set of vital signs was at 6:00 am (remember that).  Finally, I said, “I’m having a lot of pressure with contractions. Can you check me?” So she gloved up and got ready and…

The guy from patient registration walked in to get my ID and insurance!!! Gah! Luckily, DB took care of that stuff pretty quickly, the guy left, and the nurse was able to check me. And I was 8 cm dilated, 100% effaced, with a bulging bag of waters and Wally at 0 station. At that point, she started moving fairly quickly. She called Dr. Smith and the L&D nurse to let them know where I was labor wise and that she would be wheeling me right over to a delivery room.

I had a few more contractions on the stretcher on the way over to L&D and, as best I can figure, we rolled into that room around 6:15. There were about 4 nurses in there getting things all set up and they helped me over to the delivery bed. Dr. Smith came in and did one quick check and I was complete (10 cm, 100% effaced), Wally was at +1 station, and my water was still intact. So the MD broke my water, I had about 2 more contractions, and then we got down to pushing.

I started pushing at 6:25 and pushed really, really hard through 2 contractions and Wally was born at 6:31. Once the baby’s head was out, Dr. Smith had to cut the cord because it was wrapped around the neck so tightly, but he left it really long so DB could still trim it. And once the rest of the baby was out, DB investigated and told us we had another daughter! Hooray for girls!

(Quick side note: I could not have done this without the DreadBrewer. He was so good throughout the whole whirlwind process, staying calm and positive. He rubbed my back when I wanted and stopped touching me when I wanted and was just generally awesome. I don’t think I could ask for a better labor partner.)

A few minutes later, the placenta was delivered (which I anxiously made them assure me was intact, so thank you Elise for that deep and abiding fear of retained placenta) and Dr. Smith made sure that I had no tearing and didn’t need any sort of fixing up post-baby.

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We got a whole hour of skin-to-skin before they took the Itty Bitty Brewster (IBB) to weigh and measure her. DB and I both knew right away that she wasn’t as big as the other girls had been – I guessed 8 lbs even and he guessed 8+3. She surprised us both and clocked in at 8 lbs 8 oz and 21″ long. Making her my longest, fastest, skinniest baby.

We’re both still in total shock that it went so quickly. Roughly 46 minutes from the time we arrived to the time I delivered her. If we ever have another, I think we’ll have to head in to L&D with my first contraction.

There’s still more that I could write, about pretty much insisting on being discharged 24 hours post delivery to the differences between 1st and 3rd baby post-partum to how the big girls are handling the transition, but I’m out of time for the moment. But I’ve got plenty of maternity leave ahead of me, so stay tuned!