Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Oh bring us some figgy goody"

For years children have been messing up words or fudging them to make whatever sound they desire. One of my mess-ups from my childhood was around my 2nd or 3rd Christmas I used to sing "We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new ear!" and "O bring us some figgy goody."

I'm proud to announce that Auralee has taken after her father in this. We have a portable DVD player which she terms her "Horrible DVD player." My favorite, however, involves one of the Silly Songs By Larry by veggie tales. If you've never heard the one about Barbara Manatee it's worth a quick Utube search but be cautioned that it's horribly addicting. I've found myself singing it on occasion. The other day I heard Auralee singing the exact jingle with her own sweet words, "Barbecue Manatee (manatee)...you are the one for me (one for me)... sent from up above (up above)..you are the one I love (one I love)."

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My Appendectomy, or So I Still Have My Bellybutton After All: a story in three parts

Prologue: All week long, I've been insisting that the surgeon sewed closed my belly button when he made the middle incision during my operation last week. My husband, sound-minded doctor that he is, kept shaking his head and assuring me that I did, in fact, still possess a very viable belly button.
Me: Then where is it?
Husband: Same place it's always been.
Me: I can't see it.
Husband: (shakes head and walks away)
Today, I discovered that he's right. I do still have my belly button! I am both excited and annoyed at the news since it is, on the one hand, smaller and more like the belly button of yesteryear before four pregnancies stretched it into the giant cavern of abdominal black holes, but on the other hand, now I still have to clean it. Turns out it's been there all along, hidden underneath the top steri-strip, happily allowing me to assume that the fold of skin located directly below it was the remains of my stitched-together-umbilical-insertion-point when it was actually just another incision.

Part I: A week ago Saturday night, I went to bed feeling bloated and wondering what I ate that was causing such horrible indigestion. I woke up on Sunday morning feeling more of the same, and my discomfort continued all day long, gradually growing worse. I didn't want to tell anybody, because it's just not a subject for polite conversation.
Somebody: How are you?
Me: Actually, I'm feeling really gassy.
See?
But husbands are different. So when I came home after choir practice and a YW activity and told him something was wrong, he promptly assessed the situation. Appendicitis is really easy to diagnose if you know where to push.

Part II: My most favorite things about the hospital are
1. Pressure socks-it's like a continuous, alternating massage on your legs for hours on end.
2. Trying to hold a polite conversation with the MA while you're being pushed through the hospital on a wheeled gurney and staring straight up at the ceiling.
3. Positionable hospital beds.
4. Waking up after being anesthetized. It beats waking up to a screaming baby at 1:30 am, that's for sure.

My least favorite things about the hospital are
1. The pre-CAT scan dye.
2. The liquids-only diet.
3. The solids too.
4. Pretty much anything you have to or get to ingest.
5. Having a nurse assist you into the bathroom after surgery and stand there holding your IV while you're trying to pee. After you've had an IV and been on a liquids-only diet for eight hours.

Part III: So far, recovering from an appendectomy is way worse than appendicitis. One downside is that it hurts to laugh for about a week afterward. Another is that my career as a two-piece swimsuit model is forever defunct. But they did give me some pretty heavy painkillers. I took a total of four during the week I was recovering, and got some of the best naps I've had in years as a result.

Credits: The whole point of this story, aside from the joke about my disappearing bellybutton, is so I can thank the people who helped me pull through. So without further ado, I'd like to thank

-Raegan, who loves my kids enough to not tell me when they've given her a very difficult time.

-Bethany, a wonderful friend and visiting teacher who has now saved my life twice when I've taken all-expense paid trips to the emergency room. (Honestly, I'd never been to the hospital before I moved to Jacksonville; I don't know what it is about this city.) But Bethany's consistent and selfless acts of service on my behalf are such that I will be forever in her debt.

-Christina, the best next-door neighbor ever, who walked my older kids to and from the bus stop every morning and then spent two of her own precious mornings watching my younger kids so I could rest. I ask you, does your next-door neighbor do that?

-Michelle, who heard the panic in my voice and came to the rescue at a moment's notice.

-Julie, who gathered and sorted my laundry.

-Connie, who watched my kids so I could take a drug-induced three-and-a-half-hour nap. That hasn't happened in forever!

-Carol, who swooped in like an angel of mercy when I thought I had things under control and got things under control for real.

And last, but certainly not least, John, who changed the dressing on my wounds, fixed my back, listened to me cry, and never uttered a word of complaint about seven straight days of frozen dinners.

Here's to belly buttons that survive appendectomies and appendices that don't.
Exeunt
Sent from my iPad

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

1:30 a.m.

> Hello, and welcome to another edition of What's Wrong with my Baby, and Why Won't He Sleep? If you have followed this blog or read my facebook status updates with any regularity, you know it really ought to be What's Wrong with Me, and Why Am I Still Awake at 1:30 a.m. trying to email a blog post from my iPad when the baby quit screaming fifteen minutes ago? (Sorry. Capitalizing stuff on the iPad is way more work than on a regular computer, and I just got tired.)
>
> But seriously. It's like he wants to snuggle with me all the time. And I just had my appendix out, for heaven's sake (watch for a new post about the surgeon who removed my belly button-- Coming Soon) and it hurts to lean over the crib with one hand on his back for however long it takes to reassure him that I haven't left, even though, as soon as his breathing slows down, I really am going to leave. I'm even thinking about making a giant mattress on the floor with blankets and having Joe sleep with him so that when he wakes up at night, he feels a warm body next to him and can just go back to sleep. Do you think it will work?
>
> The other day, I pulled him into bed on a Sunday afternoon because I was trying to wake John up from his nap so I could get a little one before I went to choir practice (and, after all, who can sleep with a 3/4-of-a-year old baby climbing all over them?) But instead, he just curled up and went to sleep (the baby, that is; John was already asleep) and it got me thinking that I'm going about this all wrong. Only, what would it look like, to go about it all right?
>
> I'll tell you what it would look like: me, twenty pounds lighter (did you know that people who sleep eight hours at night weigh less, on average, than people who don't and also because I could get up early and exercise?), blissfully cleaning my house, playing with my new three-year-old, preparing extra lessons in reading and multiplication for my school-aged children, cooking delectable meals full of yummy vegetables and convincing my children to eat them without either one of us resorting to whining or threats, and going to bed fully relaxed in the knowledge that I will not have to freeze my toes off in a few hours when the baby wakes up and starts screaming.
>
> I guess I could start wearing socks to bed.
>
> Sent from my iPad

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

New family pictures

I've always wanted to have a professional photo shoot with my family. Our next door neighbor is a photographer, so my wish finally came true last Sunday. Here are a couple of her masterpieces:




The Latest Stories

Priya and Auralee are taking ballet/tap classes on Monday afternoons. A couple of weeks ago, one of our neighbors gave us two pairs of tap shoes that her girls had outgrown. The smaller size fit Auralee perfectly, and I thought Priya's fit well until she said her prayers that night and asked Heavenly Father to bless her tap shoes to get bigger so they did not pinch her toes anymore. After she finished, I asked her if her shoes were too small. When she said yes, I suggested we buy her new tap shoes that fit better. "But mom," she said, "don't you want to see if my prayer worked?" Well...yes, of course I do. Uh, now what?

Whenever I put Auralee in her bed without the other kids around, she asks me to draw animals on her back. I describe the animal as I'm drawing it, and she guesses what it is. Usually, she's pretty sharp. But a couple of nights ago, I drew a zebra on her back. I was careful to leave the telling detail--the black and white stripes--to the end. This is the conversation that ensued:
Me: Can you guess what it is?
Auralee: A llama?
Me: Do llamas have black and white stripes?
Auralee: Um, they have pink and white stripes.
Me: Well, this animal has black and white stripes.
Auralee: Well, llamas are pink.
Me: What animal has black and white stripes?
Auralee: Llamas are white.
Me: What animal has black and white stripes?
Auralee: Some llamas are brown.
Me: You're right, it's a llama!
I guess it's better to check with her and find out what animal she's fixating on before trying to draw the wrong animal on her back.

In other news, I'm writing this post at 2:30 a.m. as I listen to Elijah cry himself back to sleep. I know it's a long shot, but I wouldn't mind some advice in the comments section about this kid. All the books say that the key to good baby sleep is making sure he falls asleep on his own in his crib. Well, he has been doing that for almost his entire life, and it's not making any difference at all. Most of his naps are crappy catnaps that last less than an hour. He's pretty cranky most of the day because of it. And at night, he still wakes at least once, sometimes twice, even though he weighs twenty pounds and eats like a horse during the day. Sometimes I let him cry, but on many occasions, he can scream in his crib for an hour before going to sleep, and then he wakes up again in a couple of hours anyway. Other times, like tonight, for instance, he wakes up, I nurse him, and he still screams his way back to sleep. I don't get it. What am I doing wrong? My sleep deprived brain is out of ideas, but I sure would like to get a good night's sleep before the year's out.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Visit to North Bend, OR

I don't like to post a travel log--I don't usually go anywhere worth blogging about. But last weekend, John, Elijah, and I had an all-expense paid trip to southwestern Oregon, and I just had to post some pictures. My family lived in Oregon for three years when I was a teenager, and John happens to be looking at a practice just outside the town where we lived. It's been twenty years since we left, and it's even more beautiful than I remember. We stayed at a vacation rental owned by one of the doctors in the practice. Here's a picture of it.


This is the view you can seen through the front windows:


And here's the lake down the hill where you can boat, fish, camp, play volleyball, swim, and roast marshmallows:


Here's a picture of the docks with fog:

Of course, most of the pictures were taken through the car window as we drove, and they do not do justice to how lush and green it is. But if you're jealous that we might be moving there, just remember: we LOVE visitors. So go ahead and pencil in a visit to Oregon sometime next fall. We'll leave the lights on for ya.

Random Pictures taken during Grandma's visit










Thursday, September 30, 2010

2:30 a.m.

I just published this poem on my other blog: www.poetrystoriesanduselessthoughts.blogspot.com, but I wanted to put it here, too, because a couple of friends have been lamenting their sleepless nights with crying babies lately, and I wanted to commiserate with them. Christy and Katie, this one's for you.

At 2:30 a.m.
waiting for the baby to sleep again
I discover
why the electric bill is so high.
The A/C has been running for an hour--
some contest to outscream him?
or try to get ahead of the Florida summer?
I wonder who will last the longest
in this battle of wills and lungs?

Surely I can outwit the air conditioner--
turn up the thermostat and
make it go to sleep.
But the baby?
He must struggle along as he can,
screaming his anger out alone
in the dark
to uncaring gods who will wean him
of bottle and breast
and make him learn.

Life is not fair, baby.
For you, whose body and soul
I cradled nine months inside me,
who has no complaint I do not feel,
must now find your own way
back to sleep.

You can check my other blog, occasionally, for poems and other random thoughts. No pictures on that one, though.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Warning: This is a Rant

If you don't feel like listening to me rant, please do not read this.

Disclaimer: I freely admit to being stubborn, proud of my education, my homeschooling efforts, and, sometimes, my stubbornness, and prejudiced against public schools. This post is only anecdotal; it is not hard and fast evidence, and I am not in any way objective.

My latest facebook status update reads: Shaunna Sanders wonders what she was thinking when she put the kids in public school this year. Well, what I was thinking was that Elijah was so young and such a poor sleeper, and it was only for a year, and John really encouraged it, and it couldn't be that bad, could it? Ahem.

When I registered Joe and Priya, I asked the front desk staff about the absence policy. They said that there were absolutely no unexcused absences allowed, that I could not pull my kids out of school just for vacation, and that illness had to be accompanied by a doctor's note in order to be excused. I asked if I could sometimes pull them out early, and they said, sure. But then I mentioned that my home school coop had planned a poetry, art, and nature study class every Wednesday afternoon, and that I would like to take my kids out after lunch on each week on that day so they could attend the class. The front desk staff got very defensive, said that they would notice a pattern and that I would get taken to truant court. She also added that Plantation Oaks Elementary had an art and music program. (It's just the P.E. teacher they cut because of budget constraints). That's where it all started.

Well, actually, that's not. When I registered them, I had no paperwork for Joseph. He's always been home schooled, and I don't believe testing is necessary; I teach him oneon- one every day. I know what he knows and what he doesn't know. After checking with the district, they told me that he could register for the second grade but that after nine weeks, his teacher would have to evaluate him to make sure he could stay in that grade or, if he wasn't up to snuff, he'd have to go back to the first grade. I asked what would happen if he was more advanced--would they move him up to third grade? No.

When I met Priya's and Joe's teachers at orientation, I spoke to them about the coop class. Priya's teacher was fine with it. Joe's teacher seemed okay. She checked their schedule and found that Joe had math on that afternoon, but I assured her that he would be fine missing one hour of math instruction each week. He had already finished the Math-U-See beta level and was ready to start multiplication. That was dumb, I now understand. Shouldn't have said anything that could be mistaken for bragging. I only meant it as reassurance, but it seems to have been taken as a challenge.

I took the kids out early for our first Wednesday class on September 8th. The following Friday, September 10th, John answered a phone call from Joe's teacher. According to John, his teacher said that the administration was concerned with Joe missing an hour of math lecture each week. John asked if Joe was having trouble in math. His teacher mentioned one lesson when he struggled a little with the skip counting concept they were working on, but she spent a little one-on-one time with him, and he got it.

Since his teacher implied that it was the administration who had issues with my taking him out early on a regular basis, I decided to take it up with the administration. I wrote a very polite email (I had John read it to make sure) to the principal explaining my intention and kindly reminding her that I felt it was my responsibility to educate my children and that the school district was helping me in this endeavor, for which I was grateful. That was on Friday.

The following Wednesday morning, right before the next class, she wrote back to say that she understood my desires but that the math classes taught at the school were very interactive and Joe couldn't afford to miss them. She said that if I took my children out early, she would have to count it as an unexcused absence. I suppressed my frustration again.

I wrote another email to the principal and one to his teacher. The principal's email said that I had talked with my coop and they had agreed to meet a little later. Joe's schedule said he had math right after lunch on Wednesdays, so if I picked him up after that, at, say, 1:45, he wouldn't miss any math. Would that be alright? She hasn't written me back.

The email to his teacher made mention of the same proposal, as well as thanking her for her hard work and letting her know what I had done to work with Joseph concerning a deficiency mentioned in his interim report. That, in itself, is obnoxious. Joseph's interim report marked him as below grade level on reading comprehension. I examined his tests, on which she based her evaluation, and found that, of all the questions he missed on the reading comprehension section, all but one of them were missed because he had not answered the question. If he had answered them incorrectly, then I could see how you might think he had a problem with reading comprehension. But to omit them completely indicates a problem with checking over the test and making sure you haven't skipped any. When I went over the questions with him at home, he
answered them all just fine. Also, he had 100% on all math tests and assignments.

Joe's teacher wrote back and said that the schedule she had sent home was simplified and that he actually had math on the last hour of the day on Wednesdays. She ignored my statements about having minored in math in college and tutored it extensively, my offers to purchase the math book so that I could keep up with the class (I have since found it available for free online) and my assurance that I could certainly make up any lessons Joe missed. She also dismissed my offer to volunteer in her classroom, saying she would let me know if she needed anything.

I wrote back again saying that I would see if the coop could move the class to Fridays. Would that be alright? But she did not respond. When she does write me emails, she never uses my name. She just starts the email with Hello, and then goes right into it. When I talked to my next door neighbor, she said that last year, she took her kids out of school seventeen days for vacations and other things, and that nothing happened. When I told her what the principal said, she said that the principal can't do that. If I check him out anytime after 10:45 am, he can't be counted absent. The problem is, I don't know if it's the teacher or the principal or both. If it's the teacher, I could ask to switch teachers, but if the principal is in agreement with her, then that won't do any good. I could take him out anyway, but that is sure to displease his teacher, and that would only rebound on his head. So what do I do? Stupid public school system. No wonder I have vowed that this is absolutely the only time I will ever put any of my children in public school. Duh.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Conversation with a 5 year old

- 6:30 a.m. Priya climbs into bed with me.

Good morning Priya.
Good morning Papa. Can I watch saturday-morning cartoons?
*hands out for a hug*
I'll give you a hug and kiss first.
I love you Priya.
I love you too Papa.
I love you more.
I love you more than ten-hundred-thousand-million-infinity.
How much is infinity?
Infinity is on-and-off, on-and-off forever.
*Kiss*
I love you Priya.
I love you too Papa.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The End of Summer

Tomorrow is the first day of school--and by that I mean public school, which Joe and Priya are attending for, well, for the time being, at least. It has been a difficult decision, but in the end, the sleepless nights won out, and I decided that it wouldn't be fair to anyone to homeschool them when I'm operating out of such a deficit.

But that's not really what I'm blogging about today. This is an "end of the summer" blog post, even though, in Florida, summer won't even think about ending for another several months. It's still so hot and humid here that you step out of the front door and wonder if you will have to grow gills just to breathe. We do have storms here, too, but they usually sweep in during the afternoon, dump a bucket of rain, and then depart quickly enough that our evenings are clear skied again. They don't really cool anything off, and, of course, the air was already at 100% humidity before it rained anyway.

My sun-bronzed babies, however, are saying goodbye to that--goodbye to weekly trips to the beach and daily trips to the pool. Goodbye to fifteen minutes of jumping on the trampoline followed by forty-five minutes of drying off in the house. I realized the other day that Florida is really all my kids know of the world. They can't fathom living somewhere that doesn't have an ocean within a 45-minute drive. They wear sunscreen like you might use a daily moisturizer, and the pool is just an extension of their back yard.

My favorite evenings this summer have been when we pack a picnic dinner and meet dad after work at the pool. We eat on the patio (no dishes!) and then swim until the sun goes down and the pool closes. The water is perfect, I don't even have to put on sunscreen, and I think maybe we should live in Florida forever. But I don't mean it.

This is goodbye to summer because it is our last true summer in Florida, and I want to remember what we have loved about it and how much of an adventure the past six years have been. John will finish his residency at the end of next June and we will be moving somewhere back west. Even if we do move near a beach, it will be a cold beach where children wade in up to their knees, not jump in up to their necks. It won't be sunny Ft. Lauderdale, the fifth burrow of New York, and it won't be west Jacksonville, the first city of the deep south. It might feel more familiar to me, because I grew up where you can use the mountains to figure out which way is north, but it's going to totally disorient my children, who always know that the beach is to the east. And I guess that's okay.

Elijah is growing quickly--much more quickly, it seems to me, than my other children did. He is morphing out of the indistinctness of infancy and into the wonder of personhood. He rolls both directions and is starting to army crawl a bit, too. He got his two bottom teeth a few weeks ago, and started eating solid foods with great enthusiasm. He is so patient with his siblings as they try to feed him, carry him, sit him up, and tug him around.


Auralee is really excited to have mom to herself for a few hours each day while Elijah sleeps. She is obsessed with doing things herself and is almost too smart for her own good. She knows how to work my iPad almost as well as I do, making me think maybe I should download a few more educational games.

Priya is very excited to start kindergarten. She had a birthday last week, and we are happy to report that five years old is a great deal better than four. She is becoming such a pleasant little person to be around. She loves everybody--especially Elijah--and is getting better at cleaning up after herself and obeying her parents.


Joseph was not initially excited at the idea of public school, but when he found out that he could make friends with the kids in his new class, his attitude changed. He is such a social kid, and his enthusiasm for hanging out with friends is matched only by his obsession with fishing, Saturday morning cartoons, and Pokemon, in no particular order.


Our other news is that John's brother, Sam, is engaged. We are excited to have a new aunt, Sarah, in the family next summer. They came to visit us, and everybody had a great time getting to know one another again. Congratulations, Sam and Sarah. Can't wait to play at your wedding.


And that's about the end of it all, but the beginning of a whole new adventure. Here's to a new and exciting year.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Auralee and Elijah

Lately, Auralee has been really interested in having her picture taken with Elijah. For example:




These pictures really show how chubby Elijah is becoming. But my favorite is the following. Elijah is usually pretty smily, but he broke out the cutest face ever for his dad yesterday. (Serves John right for bugging him).


Saturday, May 8, 2010

Funny stories from each of the kids

We went to a Latin Festival at the church last night. Joe was talking with Jodi Hawthorne, the YW president with whom I serve.

Joe: I have a stuffy nose, which is good news and bad news.
Jodi: Really? How come?
Joe: It's good news because when Priya farts on my face, I can't smell it.
Jodi: Oh...
Joe: But it's bad news because I have to blow my nose ALL the time.

And here's Priya in a conversation with her grandma a couple of days ago.

Priya: Wahhh!
Grandma: I'm afraid you can't go because you're crying.
Priya: (stops crying) But I'm not crying anymore.
Grandma: But you were.
Priya: Grandma, that was my fake cry.
(I knew it!)

And finally, Auralee talking to me when I got her dressed the other day.

Auralee: Is this a new skirt?
Me: It's new to you, I guess.
Auralee: Did you buy me a new skirt?
Me: Yep. Let's put it on.
Auralee: I can put on my new skirt and shake my bootie.
Me: Um...I guess so.

Not sure what wearing a new skirt has to do with shaking your bootie, but apparently, it's essential.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

more pictures (mostly for my mom and grandma)


Blessing day with everybody in their Sunday best.

Grandma and Grandpa Munger have been visiting,
so we've been having a great time fishing...
camping...


and bike riding.


In Florida, it's never too early to go to the beach...





And never too late to get into the sling



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Elijah's blessing and other stuff


This is the older three outside the Apple store
(did Shaunna mention that she really wants an iPad?)


And a nice little picture of our tax return
(don't tell our landlord!)


Here's Elijah at six weeks old--all dressed up for his blessing.
(And yes, he has a receding hairline. But at least he had hair for a while!)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Musings on a Bird's Nest over the Buckman Bridge

The Buckman bridge spans the St. John's river at a turn over three miles wide. By some amazing and rare coincidence, I drove over it by myself this evening. Toward the latter half of the bridge, I noticed a series of birds' nests built on the scaffolding that suspends the exit signs over the heads of commuters. At first, it seemed a strange place for a bird to build a nest. After all, aren't birds supposed to be wild and shy, hardly the type to set up their living rooms directly over an eight-lane freeway?

My next thought was of the possibility that the birds who built those nests may have actually laid eggs in them. And if those eggs hatched and the baby birds survived the harsh winds and temperature fluctuations that must accompany the air above a large river, how would they ever learn to fly? I mean, if a baby bird tries to step out of a nest built in a tree before he is really old enough, he will take quite a fall, but the forest floor is usually fairly soft--at least, compared to layers of tar and concrete traversed by tons of steel speeding across it at 80 mph every few seconds.

Then again, I thought, have we not all built our little family nests over major freeways these days? There do not seem to be any more forests with safe, silent trees, among which we can raise our young ones. Perhaps our parents had that luxury--although I doubt it--but it is definitely not our destiny to raise children in a world that is, for the most part, innocent. We have no more choice than our children do; we have to turn their minds skyward, no matter how loudly the traffic roars below. It is the only way they will be free; it is the only way they will survive.

May God grant our children safe passage as we labor to teach them to fly.

Friday, April 2, 2010

More pictures of our kids




Yep. These kids love their little brother--always under mom's supervision, of course. Priya said to me, the other day, "Mom, I can't wait until I grow up." When I asked why, she said, "So I can have my own baby." I can't wait until she grows up either. That way, I can be the grandma and give the baby back to her while I get a good night's sleep!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Auralee's version of Sleeping Beauty

video

She's supposed to be singing the song from Sleeping Beauty...you know, "I know you, I've walked with you once upon a dream." If she's singing the wrong words, however, you can't hold her completely responsible, since she's never actually seen the movie. And she learned the song from me. And I've never actually seen the movie. So, all things considered, she does a pretty good job.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Soccer Season

Soccer season is upon us once again. And after waiting two years and four soccer seasons, Priya is finally old enough to participate instead of watch her older brother. It's funny, however, the motivations our children have for the things they do. Joe is a pretty good soccer player--i.e., he usually stays focused on the game, often defends well, and sometimes even scores. I think, however, that his favorite part is not actually playing in the game but, rather, sitting on the bench flirting with the girls on his team.


Priya, on the other hand, loves to be on the field. Once in a while, she kicks (at) the ball.

Most of the time, however, she focuses on looking good on the field...


or relaxing on the bench and cheering on her team.

Ahhh. There's nothing like two months worth of Saturdays spent sitting in the Florida sun, watching your children exercise!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

*WARNING: Graphic birth story*


I've been thinking a lot about yelling lately. Not that I've been thinking about yelling at someone, but just about yelling in general. Because it seems that, with each successive birth, I've gotten just a little bit louder. And my perspective about yelling has also changed because I've got a new baby at home, which can be, at times, noisy. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

I woke up on Friday morning (March 5) in labor. It took me a while to wake up and realize what was going on, partially because the contractions, at first, just felt like menstrual cramps, and also because I honestly did not expect to go into labor on my own so early (only six days past due!) I had a pre-natal and a non-stress test scheduled for that morning, and I planned on asking my OB to strip my membranes during the exam because that seemed to work for Auralee's birth and I was sick of being pregnant. But then I woke up in the morning and all of that was unnecessary.

I labored patiently all morning. I figured it would take a while, since all of my labors do, and because the contractions weren't really that bad yet anyway. I went to Target for pacifiers and burp rags. A lady in the parking lot asked me if I was okay when she saw me sitting on the back bumper of the car, waiting for a contraction to end before putting my bags in the trunk. I smiled and said, "I'm fine; I'm just in labor." Ha. I was really excited to say it, and even more excited when John called Dr. Seltzer to cancel my appointment and let him know that I would probably deliver later that day.

I cleaned out the van and packed a backpack for the hospital (weird!) I laid down at about 2 p.m. The contractions were pretty strong by then, but I didn't think they were really doing that much, because they were still averaging about seven minutes apart and lasting only 40 seconds at best. When I got up, I called around until I found someone to come and stay with the kids while John and I went to the hospital. Then, at about 4:00 p.m., I had John check my cervix (one perk of having a doctor for a husband) to see how much longer I had before I needed to go to the hospital. He was on call at 5 p.m., so we thought that, if I was getting close, I might go with him to the hospital and labor in the on-call room until I was ready to check into L&D. He said I was 6-7 cm, very stretchy, and almost completely effaced. We figured that I'd better go with him to the hospital at that point.

We had Steve Jordan come over to help John give me a blessing, and as soon as my friend, Michelle Reed, arrived with her kids for a slumber party, John and I got in the car and left. On the way to the hospital, the contractions got closer together and some of them were, as I told John, "real doozies," although I still didn't think they were strong enough to be what I consider transition contractions. They were 3 to 5 minutes apart, though, and we decided that I ought to check into the labor and delivery ward as soon as we arrived. He called Dr. Seltzer, who was already at the hospital, and the nurses at L&D to let them know we were coming (another perk of having a doctor for a husband).

We walked through the hospital to the maternity floor, pausing a couple of times for strong contractions. They had the room all set up for us--all their silly instruments and the strange bed and obnoxiously breezy hospital gown. I disrobed and put on the gown, then climbed into the bed so they could poke and prod me. This was the part I most feared about the entire process. When I found out that my insurance wouldn't pay for a midwife and a home birth, I spent a lot of time agonizing over the hospital experience. I think it helped having John running around behind the scenes orchestrating everything so that I got the nurses to leave me alone as much as possible. They took my blood pressure and put the external fetal monitor on my belly. They needed fifteen minutes of monitoring, during which time I had to lie on my back. Ugh!

The worst part was getting the stupid IV in. I didn't need fluids or anything, but it was one hospital protocol that my OB was unwilling to dispense with, so after cycling through three different nurses and five sticks, they finally got one in. It didn't give enough blood for the tests they needed, though, so they still had to take blood from a vein in my arm for the CBC and the rest.

By that time, they had the monitoring they needed, so they took off the belt and the blood pressure cuff and, after checking my cervix to report to Dr. Seltzer, said I could turn onto my side. As soon as I did, I had one of those contractions that makes you grab at anything you can just to keep your body from tearing in half. The nurse said that I was completely dilated--a rim and a bulging sack, she said--and that if they broke my water, the baby would be born within ten minutes. I hesitated for a moment. Dr. Seltzer came in and assured me that this was true. I had another one of those mind-blowing, just-kill-me-now contractions and told them to go ahead and break my water.

As soon as my water broke, I felt like some had set a 20-lb. bag of rice on my abdomen. The contraction which followed lasted FOREVER, it seemed, and I was beginning to wonder if it was worth it break my water. But then everything happened so quickly. I started feeling the urge to push and the urge to yell, so I did both, which, I think, hurt the ears of everyone in the labor room except me. They kept telling me to quiet down and convert some of that energy into pushing, but the pain had to go somewhere, and I was not really conscious that I was screaming.

I didn't curse or yell at my husband or get angry at anybody. I just wanted the baby out so that the pain would end. So when Dr. Seltzer told me to wait until the contraction ended and then push between contractions, I did so, and it hurt, but the head was out and then everybody kept telling me to look down, but I wasn't going to look down, I was just going to finish birthing this baby so that I could be done with it, and the next thing I knew, he was lying on my stomach, all warm and wet, and purple, and it was OVER!

I don't know what kind of a rush you get when you have an epidural. When you don't, it's absolutely amazing; it hits you all at once. You're not pregnant anymore, you're not in labor anymore, you're not pushing anymore. All the pain is over, instantly, and you feel light and airy and SO AWESOME, like you just learned how to fly or saved the human race or helped create life.

So that's why I don't worry about it when my newborn baby yells at me a little bit--he doesn't want to go to sleep on his own or he doesn't like getting his diaper changed or whatever. I know what it's like to find your way through something however you can. He's so beautiful (see for yourself), and we all love him instantly.