Praying for poop

Lydia has been really into drawing princesses lately. We love her pictures.
Another one of Lydia’s drawings. This one she drew for me to try to get her privileges back. I love it.

On Tuesday Abe took Clarissa in for a biliruben test again. She is constipated because I took Percoset for two days, not thinking how it could affect Clarissa. It completely constipated her, and so her biliruben count continues to climb.

At the biliruben test. The nurses gave prizes to the girls.

In the evening Karin came over to meet Clarissa. She brought balloons and toys for all of the kids, and they were so excited to see her. They were so excited that the girls cleaned their room in record time. (They were told that they could only see Grandma Karin when their room was clean, and wow–I had no idea they could hustle like that!)


School switch

On Monday Abe and my mom had huge days. Abe was busy shuttling Mary to and from kindergarten, taking Clarissa in for bilirubin tests, taking care of me at home, fixing meals, and, on top of it all, arranging for Lydia to switch schools. Considering she was supposed to start school the very next day and that her back-to-school night was Monday night (which Abe attended, just to make sure he was making the right decision), this was a huge day.

Both Abe and my mom specifically asked me to keep the details of this day private and unblogged because it was a very spiritual and intense experience for everyone. So, posterity, refer to our scripture journals for specifics.

But Lydia is now enrolled in a school we love, and we are grateful to have found this school. We feel blessed in every aspect of our lives and can’t imagine ever moving anywhere. We have both Mary and Lydia enrolled in incredible schools, the girls have incredible music teachers (and Mary’s piano teacher is the one who told Abe about Lydia’s new school), and we have an incredible neighborhood where we know everyone and feel cared for and known. What else could we ask for out of life?

In the morning the Freestone girls (some of our wonderful babysitters) dropped by to meet Clarissa. I love these girls!
Ammon demonstrated how good he is with Clarissa. He is wonderful with her.
Reading to Ammon. We read a LOT together because my physical capacity for other interaction is still not one hundred percent.

Mary’s first day of kindergarten

On Monday Mary had her first day of kindergarten! She absolutely loved it and was so good all day. Whenever I asked her to do something she said, “Yes, Mom!” and ran to do it. This is highly abnormal behavior, and when I praised her up and down for being so obedient, she explained that kindergarteners have to be good.

Also, her school t-shirt has a picture of a bear on it…with red glasses. She was so excited to wear it to school.

Abe took her out for ice cream after her first day of kindergarten.
Later in the evening, Mary and Lydia attended an open house for the school that we subsequently withdrew Lydia from.

Going home

One of my favorite things about the hospital is being basically naked for days on end. I hate the gowns and only wear them for visitors, and the nurses all claim to “have seen it all,” so I feel really comfortable wearing nothing but the diaper stuff they give you for post-birth recovery.

Sadly, on Sunday morning one of the nurses took it upon herself to cover me with a gown while she was doing one of her checks, and I took that as a sign that maybe they had reached their limit with my foray into the realm of the unclothed. After that, the hospital ceased to be as fun. Plus, I had already ordered breakfast and didn’t have time to order another one before check out, so I called Abe and asked him to come get me.

He and the girls showed up not much later and rescued Clarissa and recently-clothed-me from the first inklings of boredom we had experienced since arriving at the hospital. My mom watched Ammon at home through the whole thing and that made check out a lot easier.

When I arrived home, the house was clean and Abe had surprises for Clarissa and me at every turn. He is so good at speaking my love language. 🙂

Clarissa’s bassinet. It’s mostly symbolic at this point because she does so much better co-sleeping. The girls both wrote her love notes.
My mom held Clarissa.

The first full day

I loooooove the hospital, and after Clarissa was born I settled into my room and focused on enjoying my stay to the fullest. I celebrated by ordering meals every two to three hours. Everything tasted delicious. I love hospital room service so much.

The nurses were so kind and uniformly helpful, and I remembered some of them from Ammon’s birth. One of them, Katie, told me her horrible birth experience, and I felt so sorry for what she had been through. Her second child was a VBAC, and part way through the birth she was begging for a c-section for the pain. They refused to give her one and she ended up with massive tearing. The recovery from her birth AND having a two year old at home sent her into a depression, and she has been on antidepressants ever since. She is now a grandmother. I felt so bad hearing her story.

Before Abe went home on Friday night, we spent the last several hours together in the room with Clarissa. It was so sweet to just be together and rest after all of the excitement of the day.

I loved my first night in the hospital and spent most of it with Clarissa right next to me. At one point I did send her to the nursery for a couple of hours and tried to sleep, but for the most part we were together.

On Saturday Abe came over in the morning and spent some time with us before everyone came over to greet Clarissa again. Every time he came through the door during my stay at the hospital, I felt like it was Christmas or something. It was just so great to have him around.

At home, Suzanne arranged a treasure hunt for the kids. They were SO excited by it! Again, the pictures are with Abe, so I will put them up when I get his pictures. But this was a huge highlight for the kids.

Around lunch time, Tom, Suzanne, my mom and the kids came by to see Clarissa again. Ammon was, once again, elated to see her and got really sad whenever he wasn’t in a place where he could see her, point to her, and yell, “Baby!!”

Saturday evening was our stake luau. Abe accidentally arrived after it ended, so he and the kids ended up just playing in the park with some neighbors.

After he got the kids to bed, Abe made my day again by coming over. He arrived after the kitchen closed, and I was hungry again. After all the meals I ordered and ate, you’d think hunger would be impossible, but I guess it wasn’t impossible for me. So Abe got me some food from the hospital cafeteria and we ate, talked, and rested together before he went home for the night.

I slept a lot more on Saturday night, which was sooooo nice. The nurses were really concerned that Clarissa follow a strict feeding schedule and eat every two to three hours. I tried to be as compliant as possible, but at some point I started to put my foot down and expressed my opinion that she would eat when she was hungry. It was pointless trying to get her to eat when she was not.

After I expressed my opinion a couple of times, they relented a little and let me feed Clarissa on Clarissa’s schedule. At that point, feeding became much more natural and more successful–all at once. I remember with Lydia setting a timer and waking her every two to three hours to try to get her to eat around the clock, and if I hadn’t done that, she might have been a terrific sleeper from the get-go. As it was, I think I conditioned her to nighttime wakings, and I learned my lesson for my other kids.

Clarissa is born

This is the first time I have been alone with all FOUR kids since Clarissa’s birth…and I am blogging! I can’t even believe it. The Mamaroo has Clarissa peacefully swinging away while the other three kids play together. I didn’t know how it would be with four kids, but it seems they can handle themselves (for now, at least). I am over-the-moon thrilled.

Anyway, I have to back-blog because I have been too exhausted and/or delirious with pain at the end of each day to blog, and so I’ve missed recording some wonderful days.

The BEST day I’ve missed so far was, of course, the day of Clarissa’s birth. It was absolutely incredible. If Abe and I were to have any more biological kids (which we are not), we would totally choose to be induced every time in the future. It was an amazing experience.

First of all, I was so excited the night before that I could hardly sleep. When it was time to get up, Abe and I were both in such a great mood. We couldn’t wait to go and finally meet our baby girl! Abe was also able to plan for the induction date, meaning he got all of his work out of the way so he could be fully present for the entire birthing event. That was HUGE.

After we got to the hospital, Abe wheeled me up to labor and delivery where they were expecting us and we were already registered. All we had to do was sit in the waiting room watching a random talk show wherein septuagenarian Jane Seymour (who looks twenty-five) advertised a skin cream that gets rid of all your wrinkles. Abe’s running commentary on the show kept me laughing while we waited.

Then it was time! The nurse got me all ready and got the IV in in one try. I can’t overstate how amazing that was. Usually this step takes over an hour and my arms are black and blue, top to bottom, for a month afterward. The nurse was amazing.

Then they started the pitocin. I wanted to feel some sensation since I have been waiting for this birth for so long, so I waited a little to get the epidural. After about half an hour my water broke on its own. In between contractions, Abe read old blog posts and showed me pictures of our kids from years back while we listened to Chopin nocturnes. I always listen to the nocturnes while in labor, and I hum them for days afterwards. It is a nice tradition.

When the contractions started to get strong, I asked for an epidural. At that point, the anesthesiologist was tied up with a c-section, so they took me off pitocin for about two hours and stopped labor while we waited. About two hours later the anesthesiologist came in and got the epidural in within less than five minutes. Again, this was remarkable to me because in the past this step has always been labored. (HA!)

After the epidural, everything was pain free, blissful and quick. I dozed in between looking at the pictures Abe kept excitedly showing me (to my delight), and after about an hour I felt like I needed to push. We called for the nurse, she checked me, and said I was dilated to ten and just minutes away from delivery. I almost cried from excitement. I’m almost in tears now writing this because I am SO happy to have Clarissa here.

The sweetest doctor I have ever had, Dr. Dabling, came in, and she calmly delivered Clarissa. It took a couple pushes because Clarissa was facing the wrong way and Dr. Dabling had to turn her. But after a couple pushes, out Clarissa came!!! She filled us all with so much joy. She was born at 1:09pm and weighted 8 lbs 6 oz–our biggest baby by far! Maybe all the bedrest fattened her up. 🙂

Meeting Clarissa for the first time.

Ammon was thrilled to meet Clarissa, too! We just didn’t take any pictures with him on the first day because we did not know if he would be gentle or not. It turns out he is incredibly gentle and sweet with her. He says, “Baby! Baby!” in the most excited tones and points at Clarissa when he says it. He also tries to say her name. It comes out, “Kissa.”

Once at home, Ammon kept exclaiming, “Baby! Baby!” and running around testing Clarissa’s things.

Tom and Suzanne came up in the afternoon to help with the kids and meet Clarissa. The kids were so excited to have them around, and they were a huge help. We have some really cute pictures of the fun they and the kids had together, but they are on Abe’s phone and he is at work. Hopefully I can get them on here soon.

In short, meeting Clarissa was one of the happiest days of our lives. Birth was a beautiful, sweet experience, beginning to end. We were so excited through the whole process and never encountered a single bump or bit of worry at any point. And best of all, when the wonderful process was done, we had baby Clarissa in our arms. She is an absolute delight and our entire family is in love with her.

Clarissa’s birthday-eve

It’s after 10pm, and Lydia is so excited about Clarissa that she can’t sleep. She is right next to me while I type. In about nine hours I get induced!!! Mary is asleep, but even she has been expressing excitement about the birth. She told Lydia that she would love Clarissa more than Ammon because Clarissa is a girl. Lydia thought that was terribly mean and declared that she would love both Ammon and Clarissa exactly the same. If that’s true, I am going to have a great little helper in Lydia!

Abe set up the bassinet tonight and is cleaning the baby’s car seat. He is “papa birding,” a term my mom used to describe how my dad got things ready for us.

Here are pictures from the day:

Here’s Clarissa’s blanket!
If I were taller or had a ready stool for this picture, I could have taken a better photo. Oh, well. This coming year I am resolved to become a better photographer once and for all!
Playing in Ammon’s room this afternoon.

Ammon was the first to spot Abe return home. This is him yelling, “DADDA!!”

I also spent most of Ammon’s nap catching up on the drama in Charlottesville. Because I am pregnant, I can’t handle much news like this. I spent a long time crying in front of videos and generally feeling despair. I can not believe the alt-right even exists. It’s just so insane. Abe refused to watch the videos because he is trying to be in a good, happy place for the birth. I read him articles while he set up the bassinet, though. We are just incredulous that such hate and ignorance exist. I can not wait until we have a new president and hopefully these racist, anti-semitic, hateful people will go back to their dark corners or wherever they were before the tragedy in November.

Ready for Clarissa, and birth stories (not mine)

This morning Ammon woke up pretty content, so I let him play in his room while I got ready for the day. Abe changed his diaper and put Ammon’s basketball hoop in Ammon’s closet before he left for work.

By the time I got to Ammon, he had literally torn his closet door down trying to get to his hoop. He just barely missed smashing the window to smithereens, and when I found him, he was climbing the fallen, angled door like a slide. He really likes his hoop. (Abe took the other door off of his closet so this can not happen again.)

Also, Abe put batteries in a lot of toys tonight. The Alphaberry in Ammon’s hand has not had working batteries since Lydia was two years old.

The girls played really well again today. They are on a roll! Also, Lydia loves drawing princesses. I remember drawing very similar kinds of princesses when I was younger–with the same form as Lydia draws them and everything. But one difference is that Mary insists Lydia put RED glasses on her princesses. Lydia has been so sweet to oblige.

Also, Lydia brushed her hair for the first time ever tonight. She is brushing her hair in this picture. I have never even considered letting her try before which shows what a crazy control freak I can be. She did a great job.

Every morning for a week Lydia’s first words of the day have been, “How many more days until Clarissa gets here, not counting today? It’s taking sooooo long! I just want her to be here NOW!!!!” She continues to be very excited to meet her little sister. I know she knows how many more days are left because she asks both Abe and me this question multiple times a day. I think she just likes hearing that we are getting closer each day.

Also, I also finished Clarissa’s blanket today!! That means, according to my calculations, we are ONE HUNDRED PERCENT READY for Clarissa! Honestly, we have never been so ready for a child before. With Lydia we were physically ready but had no idea what a new baby would be like. With Ammon and Mary we were arrogant slackers and thought that we were ready but put off setting up their spaces until after they were born.  Because I have had almost two months to think of everything we need to do for Clarissa, we are so, so, SO ready.

I recently read a story Abe’s cousin posted about his miracle baby’s birth. It scared me so badly and I think about it every day, multiple times a day. His cousin’s wife basically sensed that there was something wrong because the baby had stopped moving. Since the baby had not moved before in the past, Abe’s cousin, Danny, didn’t think much of it but drove her to the hospital anyway. When they got there, they discovered the baby was literally dying and had minutes left to live. Within three minutes, they performed a c-section and saved his baby.

Danny wrote about how horrible the experience was, but how his testimony of God’s hand and miracles was strengthened. He was one red light away from having his baby die on the way to the hospital, and every single light he hit was green. When they got to the hospital, every doctor and nurse necessary was right there on hand to perform the surgery. Also, most babies who are dying because of a cord knot (as his baby was) don’t come out very well. His baby is one hundred percent normal on every test. These are some of the miracles he wrote about in his blog.

I am so glad his baby is okay! And every time Clarissa moves I say a silent, “Thank-you, God,” because I am very scared of cord knots. When I lived in Salt Lake, one of the ladies I visit taught was thirty-nine weeks pregnant and her baby died because of a cord knot. I was with her in the hospital as she gave birth to her stillborn baby girl, and the experience has stayed with me ever since. I don’t know if I have ever felt as sad as I felt when my friend delivered a perfectly beautiful but lifeless baby daughter. It was so, so awful.

Right now Clarissa is moving as I type. Thank you, God.

Anyway, I will take pictures of her blanket tomorrow when there is sunshine for lighting. Right now Abe is breaking it in by taking an evening (well, 10 pm) nap under it.

I am going to start another blanket just like this one tomorrow. I know of about five babies happening between now and the end of January that I would like to give a blanket to. Sadly, this blanket took me at least twenty hours, though maybe now I that have experience I could whittle the next one down to fifteen. I have no idea if I will ever finish another blanket like this, but I can dream! I absolutely ADORED the yarn for this blanket. Each skein was so soft, and the colors were rich and so, so fun to work with. I feel like I could make this blanket five more times and not get tired of it, but with a newborn on hand…I just don’t know. I do know that if they allow me to crochet in the hospital, I am going to crochet between contractions all day Friday and try to get a head start on this crazy goal.

Harvesting the garden

On Tuesday I spent most of the day crocheting and listening to The Lemon Tree: An Arab, A Jew, and the Heart of the Middle East. It is a wonderful book.

I also made soup for dinner. I think I am actually starting to get better because a couple weeks ago I would not have been able to stand for that long.

Abe’s allergies are acting up, so he came home exhausted not only from his biggest work day this week, but also from his allergies. He still managed to conduct a fun FHE wherein he talked about the law of the harvest. Then he, my mom, and the kids went out and harvested our garden. I had no idea we had so many tomatoes! It was very exciting.

The kids played beautifully for most of the day. I think after the long summer, they are starting to figure out how to get along–just in time for school to start next week. 🙂

“Believe” by Imagine Dragons

On Monday Lydia spent the whole morning listening to her hip-hop song from dance, Believe, by Imagine Dragons. She literally listened to it on repeat for hours straight, and when Ammon’s nap time came, she climbed into bed and prepared to listen to it for the afternoon. She and Mary quickly became distracted by playing, but this is how nap time started:

Also, Ammon is starting to learn all sorts of new words! On Monday he added “hoop” to his growing vocabulary. It’s an appropriate accompaniment to his most favorite word, “ball.”

In the evening Abe took the kids to Qualtrics for his team party. I think they had a great time, and he probably has pictures on his phone. I’ll put them on here when he’s home next and I think of it!