Wednesday, November 11, 2015

October, Obviously

This October was a little tricky. I was feeling like my uterus would explode at any moment to bring forth a child (haha, you silly, hopeful woman!), Halloween (and thus, awesomesauce Halloween costumes) was staring me down to see who would chicken out first, and those 5 kids of ours had piano, Cub Scouts, school, Activity Days, Pre-K, percussion, etc devouring time. It felt like a lot of "hurry up and wait!" moments. We didn't take pictures of most of them...until all the exciting stuff at the end of the month!
We began "ponderizing" scriptures this month, as advised by an LDS leader at General Conference the first weekend in October. We started out with Matthew 11:28-30 (which seemed appropriate since I was sure hoping to LABOR early in the month!).
Tyler accepted the invitation to "pitch" Rising Star Outreach to compete for a prize to help benefit their non-profit. We weren't sure whether or not I'd have the baby by then, since it was a few days prior to my due date, but fortunately (?) baby held off and he was able to win "Judge's Choice" for the day he pitched! He only had 4 minutes to "sell" his company, but he packed that 4 minutes full and knocked it out of the park. I'm so proud of this guy and grateful that we can be involved in the amazing work RSO does to lift the leprosy-affected in India.
Meanwhile, my belly got bigger and bigger. I walked into stores and peoples' eyebrows would climb (usually followed by an incredulous comment about how I was ready to pop--I WISH!), I waddled around the house and was exhausted by climbing the stairs, and we hesitated to commit to doing anything because I was dilated to 3+ and 80% effaced and "could go any time now!" Sigh.  
This is what I have to show for the first half of the month. Kid-selfies. At least they are cutie pies, right?
Tyler did take advantage of some free tickets to a BYU football game (thanks, Daniel!) and introduced Jack to the pure fabulousness that is live BYU football. I declined the opportunity to slowly waddle to the stadium (which is a bummer, because I love going to the games!) but the guys had a great time! 
Then this happened (see previous blog post for all the story or just for more pictures of these delectable cheeks). I'll admit it, he's my favorite event in October! 
The weather was gorgeous through the month, so kiddos got to enjoy the river trail with Grammy.
 Grammy also made homemade play dough with these 2 littles, and they have been enjoying HOURS of play with that dough.
Cole worked on perfecting his Hobbit impression. 
 Amelia worked on her baby-cuddling skills.
Sheridan and Henry would have worked on those skills more often, but darn school got in the way. 
Jack had his first percussion concert. He is such a talented musician! 
We did squeeze in a little jack o' lantern carving on Halloween.
Hooray for cute little jack o'lanterns! 
This year, the kids channeled their inner wizard and transfigured into Harry Potter characters!

Sheridan was brilliant as Hermione Granger 
Amelia was a purrfect Crookshanks 
Jack channeled Draco Malfoy with diabolical glee. 
Henry was magical as Harry Potter!

 Cole had a hoot as Hedwig the owl.

And Micah was The Boy Who Lived!
Hope you all had a wonderful Halloween!

Welcome to the World!

So, we had a baby on October 20th. The basic info? Micah Alexander, 10 lbs 2 oz, 21.5" long, born at 7:25 pm in Orem.

The rest of this post is the too-much-info-nitty-gritty.

I know this baby announcement might have come out of nowhere for many of you. That's because we never announced the pregnancy. Unless you actually saw me or are very closely related to Tyler or me, you probably were blissfully unaware. Why, you ask?

Well, there are a few reasons. The biggest was the miscarriage I had last year at this time. After feeling very strongly that our family wasn't quite complete, I was due with my spring baby. I saw the heartbeat and baby move during an 8 week ultrasound. I was sick and showing enough that my kids figured out I was pregnant...except at the 12 week checkup, the baby didn't have a heartbeat anymore. We were all  completely devastated. My body didn't figure the situation out and kept on with the pregnancy, even though baby had passed away. The drugs I was given to help my body through the process of miscarriage didn't work completely, so surgery was required. That week of knowing my baby was gone...but my body not was horrible. I was very seriously, devastatingly depressed. Once the miscarriage was complete, I was better. Still fragile, but better.

A few months later, I found out I was pregnant again. This is how the conversation with Tyler went.
Ali: "So I am going to tell you something, and then we are not going to talk about it for a few months."
Tyler (wondering what the heck was going on): "Uh, ok?"
Ali: "I'm pregnant."
Tyler (stunned silence). " can I ask a few follow-up questions and then we not talk about it for a few months?"
And then, we didn't talk about it for a few months.

After a start like that, is it any surprise I never could announce it? I started thinking of all my friends going through similar issues with miscarriages or struggling with infertility and undergoing a boatload of treatments and here we are on our sixth kid...and I just couldn't.

This pregnancy was my roughest emotionally and physically. I don't know how much my "advanced maternal age" contributed, but my body was so over being pregnant by the time I was 26 weeks along. But the pregnancy kept going past 40 weeks. I haven't been pregnant past 39 weeks since I was pregnant with Sheridan and haven't reached my "due date" since I was pregnant with Jack. (Do we have time to discuss my pet peeve with the term "due date?" Babies are not term papers or bills or library books--they don't care when you think they're "supposed" to come. Everyone around you, though, who knows your "due date" reminds you constantly that your body isn't doing what it "should" do and is late. Because the person who is waiting for you to have that baby is WAY more anxious than you are for it to come...which is why I haven't announced my due date since I was pregnant with my first.)

Uh, I think I've gotten off topic. We had a baby. Let's tell that story.

So, I was 40 weeks and 2 days (not that we're counting, right? Because we know due dates are guess dates based on averages. Tell that to a woman who had gone over that date) and more than a little anxious to be done with the pregnancy. My SI joints protested painfully whenever I had to do something like move. Heartburn precluded such crazy activities as drinking more than a sip of water or eating. The hormones were only making me a little crazy. My belly was larger than it has EVER been and I was getting tired of people looking at me like I would explode.
(This is my belly about a week before I was "due." It was all in front!)
My mother-in-law flew into town the morning of my 40 week checkup and arrived to watch our littles about an hour before the appointment (THANK YOU, MOM!!!). At said appointment, I was sure I'd still be at 3 cm and 80% effaced. Cue angels singing when I was at 5 cm (at the beginning) and 100% effaced going to 6 cm by the end of the check. Midwife: "How close do you live to the hospital?"

Contractions started at home about 2 hours later while I was on the phone with my sister. After 15 minutes of those, I excused myself to labor in our awesome jetted tub (no joke, I've been looking forward to laboring in that tub since we moved into this house). Tyler's mom offered to get us all dinner, but I really didn't want her to leave. I was nervous we'd need to leave before she got back.  I was only in the bath for 1/2 hour before I felt like we needed to get moving toward the hospital. When I got out of the tub at 5:30, the midwife on call was on the phone with Tyler to encourage me to head to the hospital as soon as I thought I was in labor (at first Tyler told her I couldn't come to the phone and she turned to the other midwife, "I hope she isn't going to have this baby at home!"). I let her know we were just about to head in and would be there by 6. I was starting to get teary and shaky and just wanted to go to my birthing place, so I figured that transition was coming.

Tyler loaded the car in record time and I zoned out to my Hypnobabies. Contractions were hard and about 3 minutes apart, but if I stayed in the zone they were mostly pressure. At the hospital, they put me in a triage room for all of 2 minutes until they realized I'd already been checked at 6 cm that day and moved me to my L&D room. We ended up having a nurse that attended at least 2 of our other kids' births (yay Brooke!) as well as an awesome tech who fanned my face for over an hour (yay Mindy!) in the warmish room. I got in my room around 6 pm, checked out at 7 cm and then got out of the bed to labor. Seriously, laying in that bed during contractions made the pain radiate all the way down my legs and I thought I might die. :) Since neither dying nor writhing in pain was on my agenda, I opted to labor standing by my bed, leaning over it and having Tyler squeeze my hips during each contraction. The medical staff mostly hung back and let me do my thing. Leaning over the back of the raised bed became more comfortable as things progressed. My breathing started to change toward the end of each contraction and it felt good to get a little pushy and breathe the baby down. My water broke (at least partially) during this phase. After several of these pushy contractions, the pressure started to get really intense.

It was time. I knew it...but I also knew, "I can't do this!" I held back during the first real pushing contraction because it is such a big, overwhelming powerful feeling. Powerful in a, "there's no way this will fit out!" way. Logically, I knew I'd done it before and I could do it again. Too bad logic doesn't play much of a role in this part of the story! Tyler asked what I needed and I let him know I needed those awful monitors off my belly! So he just removed them, may-he-be-blessed-forever. I loudly announced several times that I couldn't do it, and Tyler kept affirming that I WAS doing it. Tyler was by my side the entire time he wasn't squeezing my hips, telling me what an amazing job I was doing and reminding me to relax. I was pushing on my knees with my arms draped over the back of the bed. Feeling that baby descend--wow. I finally got in the zone and let my body do its job. The next contraction and I pushed the head out. I remember my midwife telling me, "Slow down! Don't push!" but baby's shoulders were already sliding right out and baby started wailing.
Tyler announced, "Wow, definitely a boy!" After a few moments  I flipped around to hold my baby. Once the placenta was out (seriously, so cool to see that!) and the cord was done pulsing, Tyler cut it and baby was no longer a part of me. It's an amazing moment. Everyone commented on how huge baby was--but I think everyone was shocked when the scale read "10 lbs 2.4 oz."

I did need pitocin afterwards (and with that I will take something for pain, thank you), but I did not need any stitches (Midwife: "I cannot believe it! No tearing, no abrasions!"). I was tired but I felt so. much. better. I was only at the hospital for 1.5 hours before having our boy, but what an intense hour-and-a-half!

(Baby's first selfie, compliments of Daddy)
Naming the baby was tricky. The name we'd planned on for a boy wasn't right even though both Tyler and I liked it. We went back and forth, scrapped our entire list of boy names and had nothing. Alexander finally felt right for a middle name...but that darn first name was elusive. We debated Tuesday evening through Wednesday. Wednesday night we prayed for help--and we both had the name "Micah" come during the prayer. We have never even mentioned Micah as a name, but it felt right, so Micah Alexander it is. And (as I announce almost every time I pick him up), "Oh, I just love him so much!!"
(Me and all my minions) 
(These kiddos LOVED meeting their new brother!) 
(She wanted a sister and said she wouldn't like a brother...but the second she met him she was in love!) 
(I was SO worried he'd feel displaced and reject the baby, but he ADORES his baby!) 
(The going-home outfit Daddy had to hastily pick up for him since his sex was a surprise,  I hadn't washed the 3 month clothes, and the newborn outfit was WAY too small.)
(Getting bundled up to go home) 
(This was one of our nurses--she was also my nurse for Jack's delivery and helped me have my first successful NUCB. We love Debbi and were so excited to see her again!) 
(This sweet boy was all tuckered out after his drive home. Welcome to our family, MicahMan!)

Friday, October 9, 2015

Where did September go!?!

September was full of school, homework, piano lessons, soccer games, scout activities, BYU football, and general busyness. For me, the month was a lot of shuttling kiddos around to activities and commitments. It's funny, even when we limit the amount of extracurricular activities, with 3 kids in school there is always plenty of chauffeuring!

 Henry may not have been the most aggressive player, but he sure loved being goalie! He had a few really sweet saves this year.
 Obligatory cute shot of our curly-headed cutie. Someday soon we WILL get on breaking the paci habit. Right now, we've been focused on potty training (and he's doing quite well so long as he only wears pants with nothing maybe after we are successful with underwear we'll focus on losing the pacifier).

 Henry loved his soccer team! He had a fantastic coach.
 These 3 kiddos had their piano recital at the end of the month. They have been begging to have once since June and we finally (FINALLY) had a time that Tyler was in town and we weren't already over-booked on the weekend.
They did a great job. It is amazing to see how far hard work can take a kid as opposed to just talent. We've seen amazing progress in their playing as they have really buckled down and practiced like they should. It has been a good reminder for me--sometimes, I feel like I'm not talented in an area, not a natural, or just plain no-good at something. Seeing Sheridan in particular as she worked and worked and paid the price and kept has been inspiring to me. It has reminded me that even though something might not come as naturally or might be a struggle, there's no reason I can't keep working at it and become proficient. So, thanks, Sheridan, for teaching me a pretty important life-lesson!

August Among Us

August was filled with getting ready for school to start mid-month. Lots of last-minute play-dates with best friends, lots of pool time, lots enjoying those final days of freedom before homework and schoolwork started up again!
 Amelia got to meet her Pre-K teacher and got her school bag. We got to personalize the bag--Wonder Woman for the Win!--and the girl was so EXCITED!
 At church, we had a BBQ "roundup" before we got into the full swing of school. Henry LOVED learning how to rope a steer!
 And then it was suddenly time for school to start...
 Henry was pleased as punch to be going to school for a FULL day! He loved meeting his teacher at Back to School Night and couldn't wait to learn ALL DAY LONG!
 Sheridan had mixed feelings about school starting up again. Last year, she was in a pretty unruly class and that caused her endless stress. She does not understand why kids have to behave badly at school! Added to that, her teacher would threaten the class with "zeros" if the kids didn't calm down, and it was a recipe for anxiety for our Sher! The first day of school, she learned that she was actually in ANOTHER class--but it was with the teacher she'd really wanted, so she (amazingly) dealt with that unexpected news very calmly. She LOVES school this year, which is such a relief! 
Axel Jack is in 5th grade this year. FIFTH GRADE!?! It's killing me. He was really bummed that his best buddy is NOT in his class for the first time since they met in 2nd grade. He was, however, excited that his class theme is Harry Potter. When it came time to go back to school, he had very mixed feelings--but he seems to be finding friends and settling into the routine once again. He's so excited to be taking an early morning percussion class.
 5th Grade, 3rd Grade, and 1st Grade. Can you believe it!?! 
 A few days later, Amelia started Pre-K. She may have been a LITTLE excited. Just kidding! She was bouncing-off-the-walls-excited for days and was SOOOO ready to just go!
 Cole wasn't quite sure what to make of it...
Meanwhile, Tyler was in India. Sigh. 
The founder of Rising Star Outreach had just returned home from 3 years as a missionary for our church. Getting back to India was a huge priority for them together, as there were fires to put out and cherished individuals to reconnect with. It was a trip filled with less of what Tyler loves (time with the kids at the school and the individuals in the colonies and the volunteers) and more of what is less-fun (meetings, meetings, meetings).
We were all SO HAPPY when Tyler came back! Happy, happy, HAPPY
 The weather was still ridiculously hot, so after Pre-K we checked out the Splash Pad a few times.
 We had picnics and played at the park. 
 Sheridan and her dear friend, Hadley, ran a snowcone stand and donated 1/3 of their profits to charity. I was pretty impressed by these little philanthropic entrepreneurs. At the same time, Jack and his buddy, Caden, sold home grown veggies and donated their profits to charity. My kiddos have some pretty amazing friends.