Silver Linings and Sleepless Nights

Lillian has never been a good sleeper. And, yes, we tried [insert any book, method, or schedule you can think of here]. And, after struggling for almost two years to get her to nap, go to bed on time, and sleep all the way through the night, I can (strangely enough) say that I am glad we never won this battle.

Now, I’m not saying that it wouldn’t have been nice to erase those sleepless or restless nights or that we shouldn’t have tried a little harder. I have some under eye circles and crow’s feet that would beg to differ. However, I do think that it has made this transition from one to two much easier.

I expected constant, mind-numbing exhaustion this time around. I mean, a toddler and a newborn?! Come on! I probably wouldn’t be able to shave my legs for at least a year, much less put on makeup or change out of sweats (and, for the record, I have been able to do all three…at least once). Sure, I definitely have moments that I just want to cry into my thrice-reheated coffee, and I always collapse happily into bed. But, quite contrary to my assumptions of what life with two under two would look like, I have not succumb to utter exhaustion (at least yet…knock on wood).

It’s as if sleeplessness somehow became the norm over the last two years. And, since Lucas is waking up at least every two to three hours for a snack (the kid rarely eats for more than 5-10 minutes…which is both annoying and nice), I am happy that my body doesn’t have to once again re-adjust to not having a full night’s rest.

Call it the silver lining of the less-than-fun parts of parenthood. And, I hope to find and appreciate more of these silver linings in the hours, days, months and years to come. Because, as I have already become painfully aware, this season of life flies by much too fast. So, I might as well enjoy the crazy ride ;).

Toddler Stylings by Lillian: Quick and Easy Makeup Tips That Will Wow!

Putting on your makeup shouldn’t take long. There are, after all, cartoons to be watched, cuddles to be had and rooms to be destroyed. But, it does take some finesse to efficiently apply the perfect face.

In this quick lesson, I will teach you how to really “glam it up” in less time than it takes Mom to change baby brother’s diaper.

Step 1. Don’t head for Mom’s makeup drawer. I know that’s where you were going. And, while Mom’s lip gloss might work for every day occasions, if you are really looking to go glam, then head for the craft drawer. That’s right, the craft drawer. Now pick out the brightest marker you can find.

Step 2. Open the marker.

Step 3. Apply marker to your lips. Then, apply marker around your lips for that extra pizzazz. Don’t forget your cheeks. You don’t want them feeling left out.

Voila, you have the perfect look. Go show Mom. She’s probably just zipping up baby brother’s onesie. Her amazement of your beauty will be worth it all.

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Step 4. You are probably thinking that after creating the perfect look, you are done. But, NO! Don’t fall prey to such naivety. The marker must be destroyed! To truly be glam, no look can be repeated. To accomplish this, simply pick out the marker tip and tear it in to tiny pieces, taking care to spread it across the floor. This will ensure that no adult can simply put it back together.

Stay tuned for more Toddler Stylings by Lillian. Next time we will be discussing tips for redecorating your play area…and the rest of the house.

Old and New: Abbreviated Birth Stories

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I dare you to find anything more calming than a newborn snuggling up to you. I’m convinced that it’s not possible. Our newest little addition of calming joy was born at 10:08pm, weighing a perfect 8lbs, 12oz (1oz shy of being a whole pound bigger than his sister was), and I am so thankful.

Lillian and Lucas’s birth stories are quite different, and, like any new mother, I’ve heard many opinions-posed-as-questions on both deliveries.

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Lillian. Please keep in mind that I am writing this story almost 2 years after the fact, and some of the details are a little fuzzy. With Lillian, we chose a doctor who delivered at Baylor All Saints and who has an outstanding reputation. I hate to admit that my favorite thing about our doctor was her wit; but, I also completely trusted her and felt she was committed to getting the baby here in the safest way possible. We set a date to induce Lillian: February 17th, 2013. Randal was about to take the bar exam, and we wanted to give him a chance to spend time with Lillian and not have to worry that I was going into labor during the exam. We chose this date rather than February 16th because it would give me one last chance to mark some items off my to do list.

Of course, my daughter started having a mind of her own at a very young age. I started going into labor on the evening of February 15th, and Randal and I left for the hospital around 10:00PM. I was convinced that it was false labor because the contractions didn’t quite hurt like I thought they should, but we took our bags just in case. And, good thing we did! We were admitted to the hospital, and I was given the impossible task of trying to sleep in the delivery room. My blood pressure kept spiking throughout the night and the morning, which I equate to being scared of what was ahead. The constant beeping of the blood pressure monitor didn’t help either.

Family started gathering in the delivery room the next morning (at some point they thought it was a good idea to eat tacos—from my favorite taco place—in front of me…but that’s another story). The great thing about having family in the delivery room prior to delivery is that they all get to be in on the experience. The bad thing about having them there is that you feel as if you constantly need to be entertaining them. Being on your back basically naked while in some amount of pain does not lend itself to entertaining. Or, maybe it does for some people.

At 10:00 AM the following morning, I still hadn’t progressed much, and we made the decision to let the doctor break my water. At noonish, I STILL hadn’t progressed much, so we started pitocin. Pitocin pain is sent straight from the devil himself, so it was not much longer before I decided that an epidural was in order. The anesthesiologist who delivered my epidural was amazing. There were no complications (ie, they only had to do it once and after wiggling around in bed a little bit, it worked on both sides).

A common misconception (at least I misconceived it beforehand) about an epidural is that you won’t feel anything. I definitely still felt pressure (but no pain!), and I knew exactly when it was time to push. Well, at first I thought it might be time to push. Then I KNEW it was time to push.

The only time I cried during labor was right before I began pushing. I think it was the first time my “maternal instinct” started to kick in. The delivery went off without a hitch. My doctor was very encouraging, and got Lillian here safely and in one piece! She was born at 4:31pm, weighing 7lbs, 13oz and was 21 inches of perfection.

Then came recovery. Ugh. Recovery. Recovery is what no one warns you about, and it hits you like a ton of bricks. But, Baylor All Saints had amazing recovery staff and rooms, even if the food was terrible (really, really terrible).

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Lucas. For multiple reasons (NONE of which included the quality of care I received from my doctor with Lillian), we decided to use the UNT Midwives for Lucas’s delivery. This meant that I had to prepare myself for delivering in a different hospital and for delivering “naturally.” As an aside, I could probably write a post in great length about why I hate the word “natural” to describe this style of birth. But, I will not step on to my soapbox about that now.

I thought that Lucas was never going to grace us with his presence. Because Lillian was 6 days early, I mentally prepared myself for Lucas to arrive around 38 weeks. On December 17th (39 weeks, 3 days, but who was counting?), after raking 3 trashcans full of leaves I thought my water broke. So, I called Randal home from work and we headed to the hospital. This time I was convinced we were staying, so I made sure we had everything.

When we got to the hospital, we were told that my water hadn’t broken (embarrassing), and they sent me on my merry little way. Before we got back home, the contractions started and they felt less than amazing. We stayed at home long enough for me to sit on the couch and give Lillian another hug, then we headed straight back to the hospital for a second time. By the time we got to the hospital, I could hardly talk through the contractions.

When I walked into the delivery room, I felt like I was walking in to a final exam completely unprepared. I was armed with a whole two pages from The Bradley Method book and not much else. I was slightly embarrassed and overwhelmed as the nurse started asking me about my birth plan. Did I want to labor in the tub? Sure, why not? Did it come with a beer (just kidding)? Did I want to deliver in the tub? Did I want to shower? Use the ball? Walk the halls? Umm…walking was out by this point. What did I want to wear? Skin to skin afterwards? Obviously. I wouldn’t want to deprive myself, er, I mean, my child, of that.

The midwife who was on call for my delivery was one of my favorite midwives from the UNT group. And, after admitting that I had completely failed to study up for this whole thing, she coolly and calmly walked me through all of my options. And, she helped me start breathing. Apparently you shouldn’t stop breathing during every contraction.

After getting situated in the tub with my water and grape juice (that I was pretending was a wine cooler) and sending off Randal to get the bags from the car (it seems like we were certainly staying this time), I sent my very last text message around 7pm or so. I didn’t much care to talk/text/social media-ize after that point.

I labored in the tub for about an hour and a half or so, and I remember looking up at the clock every few contractions and trying to figure out how much longer I had to go. Actually, I don’t remember talking very much during labor, but I do remember trying to get the nurse and midwife to guestimate when everything would go down. The only answer I really got was “it won’t be too long.”

After I labored in the tub, I curled up in the fetal position on the bed. This is when I had the only visitor besides Randal in the delivery room—my mother. She was there for about 1 minute (maybe 30 seconds or maybe an hour, who really knows). I don’t remember too terribly much about labor except that it was very painful and I didn’t talk (even when I wanted to, I couldn’t). But, I guess that’s a good thing. I don’t very much like remembering pain.

They say that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle, which is why I assume that I only had to push for 5 minutes. For women who push for over an hour, I have MAD respect for you. Lucas arrived with zero complications, and the pain was over as soon as he was brought to my chest (well, most of it anyways). He was absolutely perfect.

Then came recovery. Ugh. Recovery. Recovery was (is still) completely different this time than last time. But, it’s still horrible. I don’t think there is a way to make recovery fun.

Both of my deliveries were absolutely perfect in their own right. Both deliveries went smoothly and resulted in beautiful, healthy children, and as an added bonus, my body wasn’t fully damaged in the process. BOTH styles of delivery had their pros and cons, which I would love to discuss (but don’t want to hail over the pages of the internet). However, if I could give just one piece of advice to any soon-to-be new mom, it would be to choose a practitioner who you can trust and choose the delivery you are most comfortable with. It’s the start to your story of motherhood, and frankly, other people’s opinions on the subject don’t much matter. Plus, you get 18 more years to screw this whole parenting thing up 😉