Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Uncle Jacob's home from Peru!

Jacob came home from his mission on July 24th! Everyone else went to the airport but I stayed home and chilled with baby Benjamin (and my mom and David came to chill with me so I wasn't a bit lonely). The day before we reminded the girls that Uncle Jacob was coming home, and I showed them a couple of pictures and told them that he was a safe adult even if he felt like a stranger. So it was alright to talk to him and hug him (if they wanted to). Apparently they both gave him hugs when they saw him, so all the talking-about-Jacob we've done over the past two years paid off.

Benjamin's Life: Rolling over

I have so many blog posts to write that it's not even funny. This post comes first, though, because it contains time-sensitive material. All the other posts I have to write are things that were scheduled on our calendar, events that we (more or less) remembered to go. This, however, wasn't on the calendar. It wasn't even on the radar.

Benjamin was happily awake this evening so I put him on the floor, on his back. He kicked around there, happily looking around the room, and I thought to myself "This is highly unusual." And then I thought "Tummy time!" because I haven't been very good about tummy time with this boy. Life's been busy so we usually do tummy time together in the recliner at around 3 AM when Benjamin's like, "This is the best time of the day ever!" and I'm like, "Oh, my gosh! Go to sleep!"

Today, though, he was in such a good mood and the girls were (for unknown reasons) not playing leapfrog over him so I flipped him onto his tummy. He angrily rubbed his face into his blankets for a few seconds before he remembered that he could lift his face off the floor. So he did.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Got Milk?

Benjamin had his two-week check-up on Monday (having a preemie is still kind of funny—he'll have his two-month appointment on August 9th which is just two weeks after his two-week appointment; we have appointments for both his actual and adjusted age). He was a surprisingly large 7 lbs. 14.5 oz. when we weighed him. The doctor said his weight gain was phenomenal—he's gained three pounds in the past eight weeks.

This is not the first time we've shocked a doctor with our ability to pack on the pounds. Miriam shocked her pediatrician, too. He credited my milk for her miraculous weight gain. 

I make a lot of milk. Have I mentioned that lately?

I'm a certified milk donor and have already shipped off two huge crates of frozen milk, totaling 100 lbs. 

Sunday Afternoon Naps

Some of us had one:

And don't my two dudes slumber well together?

Some of us did not have a nap:

Instead we played dolls. 

And just for the record, that blonde girl in the chair is a doll, not another child.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Family Party

Our extended family came over to help celebrate some more with us on the evening of Rachel's birthday.

Miriam had changed her clothes for the millionth time that day and thought she looked superb.

Friend Party

I bet you all thought I was through with writing about Rachel's birthday. Well, I'm not.

Rachel had her friends over on Friday morning. When I originally asked her which friends she'd like to invite she got really pouty. She hemmed and hawed for a long time before I finally asked her what was wrong. "It's just that I don't know which friends to invite. I kind of want to invite them all but I just have so many friends!"

It's true; Rachel does have a passel of adoring (and adorable) friends. And while I didn't want to throw a huge party I would have felt bad telling Rachel to limit her guest list to a few of her closest friends. Why? Because we're moving in two weeks and she'll never see her little friends ever again (or at least not for a long while). That's why. So in addition to this being Rachel's birthday party it was kind of like a final play-date with all of her little friends as well. She invited her whole primary class, including one of the new girls in the ward, and some other kids from primary and around the neighbourhood. Almost everyone was able to come and it thrilled Rachel to pieces!

We started out the party with colouring pictures of Hermione and Harry while we waited for everyone to arrive. Then we took a little walk around the house and entered the yard through the gate, which was decorated as platform nine and three-quarters, before hopping on the Hogwarts Express.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Birthday Parties

This year Rachel turned five. I've been dreading this year for a few years now because five is a party year and Rachel has been talking about her party for months now. We've been telling her since she was about three (and started being invited to parties) that she could have a party when she turns five—a party where she can pick a theme and decide which friends to invite and make requests for games and food and things like that. We've decided to throw parties when our children turn 5, 8, 12, and 16, which are kind of milestone years in our family culture (kindergarten, baptism, graduating from primary, and being old enough to date...or drive...). It's how Andrew's family did it and I think it's rather smart so it's a tradition we've adopted. My family threw parties every now and then...but not in a set pattern that I remember.

In between party years we do small family gatherings, or (as was the case in Egypt and likely will be the case in North Carolina) informal, intimate gatherings with close family friends (because our family is too small to eat a whole cake by ourselves).

The only problem with this whole party-throwing idea is that I'm a little bit of an introvert. Big gatherings exhaust me. Thinking about having to throw birthday parties for my children stresses me out to the point where I lay in bed at night calculating how many parties I'll have to throw in any given year.

2012: Rachel - 5, Miriam - 3, Benjamin - 0 (one party)
2013: Rachel - 6, Miriam - 4, Benjamin - 1 (no parties)
2014: Rachel - 7, Miriam - 5, Benjamin - 2 (one party)
2015: Rachel - 8, Miriam - 6, Benjamin - 3 (one party)
2016: Rachel - 9, Miriam - 7, Benjamin - 4 (one no parties)
2017: Rachel - 10, Miriam - 8, Benjamin - 5 (two parties)

2017 is going to be a rough year, I can tell, but I'll get to recover in 2018 so that will be nice. Unless, of course, another little one gets thrown into the mix, but I supposed they'd have to turn five in 2018 in order to have a party that year which means that we'd have to have a baby next year and hahaha to that—I'll get off scot-free in both 2013 and 2018 or there will be tears).

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Beautiful children

I don't mean to brag or anything...but Andrew and I? We make beautiful children.

Ignore the spit-up flakes floating around the inside of Benjamin's cannula...and Benjamin's cannula...and Miriam's sweaty hair...and her red, hot cheeks...and the scratches Benjamin has given his sweet cheeks...and the dandruff in his eyebrows (why there?)...and Rachel's chapped lips...and the scar on her left cheek (from what?)...and...and...and... Clearly our children are pristine specimens of beauty.

Happy Due Date!

Today's a pretty big day for Benjamin—as of today his adjusted age will be above zero! It's his due date!

More Benjamin

With Rachel down for the count, it was Miriam's turn to get to know Benjamin. In a way this sickness was a blessing because the girls were quiet and calm for much of Benjamin's first week here and there wasn't any bickering over who got to hold him when because the rule was that if you were puking you weren't allowed to hold Benjamin, no ifs, ands, or buts.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Ghana 2012: The big catch up

Last year, it took me a few weeks to catch up on my blog posts from Ghana—I came home on May 11 and finished writing about everything on June 3. This was in part because of our crazy back-to-back vacations to Phoenix, Calgary, and Nauvoo. Fortunately I was graded on the blog posts, since part of the Ghana class requirements was to keep a journal or travelogue about the trip and turn it in by June 3, which I totally did.

This year, the Ghana trip was seemingly busier, with the different TA responsibilities I had. I knew there was no way I’d be able to keep up with posting every day, but I figured that I’d be able to catch up when I got back. We were going to have a baby near the end of July and we only had one vacation planned (to Grover), so I had plenty of time. Loads of time.

Then Benjamin was born on June 3 (kind of ironic timing), and we started the 5 weeks of NICU hell. And my Ghana blog post drafts languished on my desktop. For the whole 5 weeks. Oops.

Benjamin's Life: Six Weeks

Benjamin is six weeks old today! Or -3 days adjusted. Sometimes I still feel torn between feeling robbed of his infanthood and being robbed of my pregnancy. Either way, he's been home for just over a week and is about as newborn as they come. Since most of the pictures we've taken of him were from the hospital we decided to take him outside and take some nicer pictures. I'm not very creative with posing and mostly just let him do whatever he wanted to do but I think a lot of the pictures turned out cute.

Den of sickness

Rachel was sweet when she first woke up on Tuesday but soon turned into a beast of a child. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Benjamin's first check-up (July 9)

Our big plans for Monday involved venturing out of the house with Benjamin. But only to go to the doctor. We slept in fairly grandly and then I showered with Benjamin (because bathing babies is a drag) and we dressed him in a cute outfit from Auntie Katharine. His shirt says "Captain Adorable."

And we're back!

Adjusting to life with three children has been more complicated than I'd imagined. Do you want to know what I imagined? Don't laugh.

What I had imagined was that we'd bring our bundle of joy home, walk through the door and be greeted by squealing, excited sisters. And there would be unicorns and rainbows, sunshine and daisies. And life would be eternally blissful. The end.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Benjamin's Life: 24-hour request

Our first twelve-hour request was rather depressing. We arrived at the hospital fro the 10 AM feeding and the nurse told us she gave Benjamin a bottle at 7:00 and that we could start our 12-hour request and be out of the hospital by 5:00 that afternoon. It didn't go so well. He got tired and had brady after brady after brady. Later our neonatal specialist pulled out his chart where bradys are recorded and showed us entry after entry of bradys and explained that we wouldn't be able to go home until the problem stopped. Our occupational therapist later told us that 12-hour requests shouldn't start with a bottle feeding--they should always start with nursing because taking a bottle is typically easier for babies than nursing is and so should be reserved for the end of the request, just in case the baby is too tired to nurse.

Needless to say, we failed. And then Benjamin had his PCG5 which revealed both central apnea and reflux. We were told we'd be going home with Benjamin on oxygen, hooked up to an apnea monitor. And we were happy with this decision because it involved the word "home" and also took some of the scariness of taking a preemie home--because if he does happen to have an apnea episode at home the monitor will pick up on it and an alarm will sound which means that I won't have to stay awake 24/7making sure that my baby is breathing.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Benjamin's Life: PCG5

The acronym PCG5 seems a bit misleading since the P is technically silent and all three letters come from the same word: pneumocardiogram. I, uh, don't actually know what the 5 is for.

Anyway, it's a twelve hour test that measures all the vitals they normall measure (respiratory rate, heart rate, oxygen saturation levels) in addition to a couple of others (effort, air flow, things like that). It also involves a pH recording to see how acidic his spit up is (in order to determine whether or not he has reflux). He got all hooked up after we did our back-to-back feeding yesterday (so around 2:30 PM). 

We didn't see him until 10:00 last night and boy was his little room crowded!

This is the normal set-up:

Benjamin's Life: Four Weeks

I keep thinking that my tears have all dried up, that I'm finally getting used to things, that I'm handling things well. And then the weekend hits and I turn into Old Faithful. The reason the weekend is so awful, I think, is because it's when Benjamin gets older.

Sure, he gets older everyday. But by the time Sunday rolls around he's a whole week older. It happens every Sunday without fail. Andrew and I will look at each other and one of us will say, "X weeks ago you went into labour," or "X weeks ago Benjamin was born," and it opens a flood of memories—horrible memories—of Benjamin's birth. The terror of realizing that our half-baked baby was coming too soon. The panic of realizing our baby really could not breathe on his own. The grief of saying goodbye before he was loaded into the ambulance. The loneliness of sitting in the hospital with no little baby to take care of. The thrill of finally being discharged and walking out of the drive to another finally hold my baby. The nervousness of feeling his tiny, fragile body next to mine. The fear that I would never be able to take care of him. The desire to have him home and healthy...or, better yet, to not have him here—to still be pregnant.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. It's strange to not be pregnant when you should technically still be pregnant. And it's strange to have a baby but not have that baby with you.

But Benjamin is getting closer to being home with us everyday. I said the weekends are difficult and this one was no different. I cried a lot on Friday. And Saturday. And Sunday.