It's my baby and I'll put her in redonkulous bows as big as her torso if I want to SO THERE!
Mabel's a month old, you guys. It makes me want to cry, and cry I would if I had time to even cry. But, unfortunately (or fortunately?) there's no time to sit around crying about how my very last baby is growing up at a ridiculous pace and will be slamming her door on me like her nutso siblings before I even know it. Time's at a shortage. We wake up, we run around, we cook and clean and run around some more, we have a few meals in between all that running, we welcome J home just in the nick of time to help get everyone bathed and in bed, and then he and I fold 8,986 pieces of laundry and pass out in our bed as soon as Mabel lets us. She likes to throw a party around 10pm, where she stares at us with big huge eyeballs while we sit there in the dark willing her to GO TO SLEEP. And once she does, she sleeps very well (sometimes through the night, though I did NOT just say that because if I DID just say that it would surely be the end of that and we'd be up hourly from here until Ferber time). She's decided she hates her car seat, which is unfortunate given the amount of time we spend in the car going down the mountain and all around town and back on up the mountain, so there's been a lot of screaming from the middle seat and shushing from the front seat and Anderson in the way back seat going "JUST PULL OVER! PULL OVER! PULL OVERRRRRRR!" while Vivi covers her ears and shrieks. And I sit in the front seat sucking down my coffee between shushes like it's life saving oxygen.
Overall though, three hasn't been AS scary so far as I was anticipating. We're getting by, we're getting out, we're not hunkered down in the basement with unwashed hair and two day old jammies and crazy eyes like I pictured we would be. Not every day, anyway. (SOME DAYS.) We take walks, we're meeting neighbors here and there, we hit up a park nearly every single day to run off energy and soak up the fuh-reaking amazing Colorado autumn weather. And sometimes at the park Vivian plays the fashion police and walks up to other girls and orders them to stop chewing on their necklace or questions why they're wearing pajamas at the park when they're NOT wearing pajamas, they were just dressed by their daddy and are wearing mismatched cotton ensembles Miss V deems pajama-y.
Mabel. She's so sweet. She snuggles like her life depends on it, she's started responding to our voices with tiny coos and beautiful little smiles, and her eyes get bluer by the day. I savor the bigger kids' naptime, forgoing unpacking the final boxes or organizing my "closet" (aka, CRAPSPLOSION) to crawl into my bed with Miss MG and just soak up her littleness. It's not lasting long enough, already.
And also, happy birthday to my mama! My beautiful, wonderful, helpful mama. We love you, Mommo!
Hey, moms of sweet, opinionless babies? Enjoy choosing their Halloween costumes now, while you still have full reign over the matter. Because soon enough? You'll be picturing a fluffy lion costume or an adorable dalmation puppy or worst case scenario, a plush dinosaur getup ..... and your four year old son will spot THIS online and refuse to be persuaded to order any other costume. And in the name of encouraging independence and confidence in his decision making skills, you'll get out your credit card and order it.
At least it was on sale?
ps: it'll be a damn Halloween miracle if he's not too scared to wear that thing when the big day comes.
Bug went to preschool. He looks happy, right? Except, here he was twenty minutes prior, choking down his Cheerios between pouts:
"I don't wannnnnna go to pweschool!" That refrain kept up as we got into the car, as we made our way into town, as I stood beside the car in the preschool parking lot trying to coax him out of his car seat. "I wanna go home! I'm a baby! I'm NOT a big boy!" Heart. Break. But finally, I got him inside, and his teacher was sweet as could be, and the two little girls already in the classroom were excited to meet the new boy and show him his hook and cubby in the hallway, and five minutes later my first baby and I were hugging goodbye in the preschool hallway as visions ran through my mind of me hugging a college-aged Bug goodbye in a college dorm before he shrugs me off (his FRIENDS might see, yo!) and J pulls me away and I cry ALL THE WAY HOME FOREVER. Finally, I let go. And after he made a quick confirmation that I'd be back to get him later in the afternoon, Anderson turned and walked to his class. And me? I put on my shades to hide the tears welling in my eyes, darted out to the parking lot, and sat there crying in the driver's seat. And then found a Starbucks. BECAUSE I CAN! (There were no Starbucks in the woods, people. I KNOW.)
He did great. He'd turned into a 10 year old who makes fart jokes by the time I picked him up at 3pm, but he did great. He's due back this morning and not all that excited about it at the moment. He woke up at 7:00, came into the kitchen and saw that I was fully dressed and packing his lunch box, and turned and ran back to bed. And he's still in bed. Note to self: try this trick on Saturday.
No, blog, I haven't left you forever. Just until I have more than two seconds in my day to "relax" and by "relax" I mean we wrangle the big littles into their beds and I pick up my snuggly baby and find a Bravo show on my DVR and don't get to the first commercial break before I'm snoring. The baby, the road trip, the unpacking (and cleaning and curtain hanging and painting and fridge stocking AND AND AND....), the fourth birthday of our firstborn (today!), J heading back to work at his new job and leaving me alone with the three (omg) (today!), newborn pictures (today!), first day of preschool (tomorrow!) .... there's a lot going on.
For now, as proof that we're alive and very well:
Home. We're home. I love our new home. We'll stay in it longer than two years this time, I SWEAR WE WILL.
Sweet MG, today is the day that was your due date. Though we knew all along you wouldn't be waiting this long to meet the world, it still feels meaningful that this was the day my doctor named as "your" day all the way back in January when we first saw you as a tiny little bean with a flickering heartbeat that made me cry crocodile tears of relief. Instead of my belly, you're out and growing and one week and five days old already. You're snuggled beside me, tummy full of milk, in your pink knit hat, your pipsqueak mouse onesie, your grey leggings. Wrapped snug in your little birdie blanket, not a care in the world. You're making your little Mabel sounds, soft whines followed by contented sighs as you drift in and out of sleep. We're snuggled up, you and me, in the final days of our cabin stay on this chilly fall afternoon as the rain pours onto the lake and the wind blows just-changed leaves down to the grass and it's all just so picture perfect that I can't imagine you NOT being here with me to enjoy it. I'm glad you're an early bird, little girl, because that's a week and five days we might not otherwise have had together. And every day is treasured, because I know I'm going to blink and we're going to be packing away baby things forever, planning your first birthday party and wondering where our time has gone.
It's different, this third and final time with a newborn. We know you're our last, and while that occasionally makes me weepy and sends a bit of panic through my heart, it also makes these precious weeks that much more special. We're up at night, and of course we're tired, but those are our quiet hours together, little one. To feed you and snuggle you close and fall asleep to your little baby breaths uninterrupted by spilled milk disasters or screechy sibling spats or me fumbling with the remote to restart Caillou before anyone freaks their freak. I'm calmer, I worry less, I know what I'm doing and don't question my instincts. We're savoring it - each sleepy smile, each silly expression, each adorable outfit that hangs three inches off your feet because you're so much tinier than we expected. Pipsqueak, indeed, Miss MG.
And Mabel, you couldn't be any more the quintessential third child. You're calm, you're quiet, you're resigned to patience. You seem to understand that I'm doing the best I can - pouring cereal and choking down my vitamins and scrolling through the DVR for an acceptable recording of Sesame Street as I shake up your bottle, and though I know you're hungry, you rarely make an issue of these waits. You're good to your mommy so far that way, MG, and for that, I'm more grateful than you'll ever know. Sometimes, I swear you're fake sleeping. You know the other two have me running, you hear the chaos, and you just don't want to deal. I'm onto you. I'd do the same sometimes, if I could. You've made moving from two babies to three babies a far easier transition than I was prepared for. You even let me shower! And blow dry my hair! And change my outfit five times until I find the one that makes me look the least like I'm 30 pounds heavier than I want to be! You're a good girl, Mabs, and I love you SO much more than I even knew I could. I worried deep down, as expectant parents do, that there wouldn't be enough love to go around. I knew it was silly, I knew firsthand how it felt to add child #2 to the family, how my heart just grew the moment your sister cried out in the operating room, how those worries were unfounded. But still, I worried a bit, so big the leap from two to three seemed before ..... and it was all for naught once more. Because you're so, so loved. And not just by me. By your brother, who runs from his room in the morning with his beloved blankie in hand, and wraps it around you with care and pats your tummy and tells you you're "soooooo cute". And by your sister, who talks to you like you're going to talk back and wants to hold your bottles to your mouth and if she hasn't seen you for two minutes will look around with alarm and yell in her outdoor voice (aka, her only voice) "WHERE'S MY BABY?" And don't get me started on daddy. If you could talk, and ask him for a thing, ANY thing, it would be yours. A pony, a car, the moon.
So happy due date, Mabel Gray. Feel free to take your time growing up, if you would. I'm fine with being tired, with dark under-eyes, with washing bottles and washing them again, and even with those thirty extra pounds (for now) .... because it all means we have you, that we're complete, that the family I dreamed of is mine. We are completely, ridiculously blessed.
It only took 45 minutes of preparations, J out in the driveway sweating and cursing as he installed three car seats and me sweating inside as I packed a bag and changed two poop diapers and sent Anderson to time out twice and tried to remember where I'd last seen my shoes (and phone, and wallet, and sanity) ..... but finally, we were all in the car. All five of us.
Bug needed shoes. And Bug, you guys? Having some serious mama attachment right now. I know it's normal, the kid's been through a lot of changes in one summer for someone who's not quite four and sensitive to start. But still, it's been a tough couple of days for him. J tried to take him out this morning to do man things - check in at the dealership, find some shoes to replace the ones that he outgrew/lost (aka, ALL of them) in the past few weeks, the like. Instead, they returned home well before I expected them, and neither of my boys was very happy. Since I'm still popping the occasional pill and not driving or lifting kids yet, not to mention not leaving the newborn yet, it was decided we'd all be going to get shoes.
I'm going to grade our maiden voyage as a family of five at a solid C+. Three of the five cried. Zero of those three were parents, so there's that. One cried because she's one week old and was hungry. Understandable. One cried because we wouldn't buy her a horrific pair of sparkly fuzzy tacky Disney princess boots, and because we wouldn't let her buy a pack of ponytail holders made for someone with more than 20 strands of hair, and because her daddy had the nerve to pick her up off the floor of the store and strap her into the cart while 30 people looked on in disdain (bite me, people). One cried because he's pretty much a dramatic pre-teen girl right now.
But, we did it. And it went better than our first outing with baby Vivi, when three of the four cried, one being a parent, and that parent cried off and on throughout the remainder of that day thinking I'd never, ever, ever be able to go in public again.
I'd like to think we're getting better at this parenting thing, but really, I think our standards of "success" are just at an all time low now.
And with that, I nap. That was really freaking exhausting.
So, I need to write out the story of Mabel's arrival. Partly because I don't want to forget the already-blurring little details of the day we met the baby of our family, and partly because I've got written out stories of the other kids' births in our blog books and you KNOW if I don't do it this time, she'll use it against me someday in that way that third born children with inadequate baby books/smallest bedrooms/hand-me-down wardrobes do. I can't promise this will be well written or witty or interesting to anyone who wasn't the one to birth the child, so feel free to skip it and come back when I have a more interesting tale to tell. Likesuchas the one where Anderson visited me in the hospital, patted my still-puffy tummy, and asked "when the other baby goina' come out?"
Mabel Gray. She's the only of my three to choose her own birthday, in a way. My c-section was scheduled for Friday, August 31. 38 weeks, 6 days, the earliest my OB would schedule a c-section. Having never labored or progressed at all before, I just figured that was the date. I had an OB appointment Monday, a spa appointment and 4 year check up for Bug on Tuesday, social plans on Wednesday. I made it to the OB appointment, at least! I left the kids with the in laws and headed down to Wausau to be at my 9:10 appointment. I figured afterward I'd go to a few stores, pick up some (totally unnecessary) last minute baby clothes, treat myself to lunch, then head back home. The only concern I had, pregnancy-wise, was that I'd been contracting throughout the weekend. Braxton Hicks, I assumed, with no real pain or pattern ... just lots of discomfort. Over and over again. We were on the dock, on the boat, relaxing with the kids, but something felt off. To the point that by Sunday afternoon, I couldn't be on my feet without my stomach turning rock hard. I assumed my doctor would be totally unconcerned and send me off with a dose of reassurance that it was nothing, because in the back of my mind, I was worried. We're an hour from the hospital, and the idea of a middle of the night VBAC on the side of the highway in my Suburban .... didn't sound ideal, to say the least.
So I got to the doctor's office, and as it turned out, he was a bit concerned, and didn't send me off with the "you're fine, see you Friday" I was expecting. It was more of a "use your judgement, but if they seem to get AT ALL serious, let's bump up your c-section. If you can't comfortably walk or talk, they're too serious to ignore." Well .... they HAD been too uncomfortable to walk through for a few days. He told me to watch it carefully and call if my instincts were telling me to call, and otherwise, we'd meet again on Friday.
I decided to go to the mall. Duh. Except, walking to the mall, more contractions. Through the mall, more. In Baby Gap, strong enough that I had to stop and concentrate on deep breaths. This is when the instincts fully kicked in and told me I'd be calling my doctor later that day. I was sure enough that I skipped the Erbert & Gerbert's lunch I was so craving - I knew the less I ate, the better. But first, I had to go see my bigger babies one more time. Back in the car, an hour trip back up north and a few phone calls to people I knew would calm me and encourage me, and then home to give a bunch of kisses and hugs to the kiddos who were about to take their naps. Knowing Anderson is sensitive to my absence, particularly if it's a surprise, I told him before his nap that daddy and mommy might have to go to Wausau (again) to check on the baby. After he was in bed, I went to my bed and tried to rest, but was still feeling the contractions and was not the least bit comfortable. So, I called. And an hour later, I was freshly showered and dressed and packed, and J and I were loading up our bags and hugging his parents goodbye in the driveway. I wasn't entirely convinced we wouldn't be back that evening, sheepish and disappointed, but we knew I needed to be checked out. On the drive down we agreed that if we ended up getting sent home, we'd go to dinner at Texas Roadhouse as a consolation prize.
We got to Wausau just before 4:00pm. They were waiting for me at L&D, and wasted no time getting me into a triage room and hooking me up to the monitors. Sure enough, some good contractions going on. I wasn't hallucinating! The contractions were causing the slightest bit of dilation, so the nurses called my OB to determine what we'd do from there. When they came back to hook up an IV, excitement mounted - was today really going to be Mabel's birth day?! Soon, my OB came in and confirmed that indeed, it would be. No sense sending me back up to the remote woods only to have this become a more emergent situation if the contractions turned serious and/or my water broke. BABY TIME! We sent out a few texts to our parents, and while we waited for the anesthesiologist to come in, alternated between watching the nightly news (Hurricane Isaac, front and center) and staring at each other with a mix of shock and giddiness - we were going to meet our girl! Tonight!
Soon enough, we were on the move. I loved the nurse anesthetist - it turned out he was a fellow UND grad, and a pilot, and a native of the Dakotas, so we had a lot to talk about. I felt pretty calm until we actually walked into the OR. The place was PACKED. My surgery time was set for 6:30pm, and apparently the 7:00pm shift change meant we had a mix of people who were about to leave and people who were about to come on and the result was 73 people in the OR. Probably more like 15, but at the time? Looked like 70+. All staring at me. In a bright room where I was about to be exposed and cut open and meet my daughter .... but all I could focus on was the "cut open" bit and hello, panic. They tried bringing J in to help me through the spinal poke part, but the poke turned into about 4 pokes and things started getting tense and next thing I know, J's admitting he felt light headed and was whisked away to put his feet up somewhere. Which was actually pretty hilarious and lightened the mood a bit, because, I mean, not like HE was about to be CUT OPEN or anything.
Finally, the meds hit the right spot and things got underway. J returned to my side, and my OB got to work. It seemed like slow going this time. I just couldn't wait to hear her cry and know she was out and safe. And finally, after some immense pressure and some lady climbing on top of the surgical table to shove down on the top of my belly to get the baby out (OMG, WEIRD) ..... at 7:05pm ..... CRIES!!! I heard hers and mine started immediately. Joy, relief, excitement, and SO anxious to see her face. Seconds later they moved her to where I could see her, wrapped her up, and brought her to her mama.
Daddy and Miss Mabel left the OR shortly after, headed to the nursery to get checked over, weighed, and wait for me to head to recovery for a reunion. This part, really, is the worst part of a c-section. I wanted it over and I wanted to be with my girl and I was not the most patient of patients at that point. I kept asking "are we done now? Can we go yet?" The North Dakotan nurse anesthetist told me I sounded like his kid on a road trip, and made up a little game to make the time go faster. "Okay, Mandie, we're driving from Bismarck to Grand Forks. We're going to get Red Pepper. Right now we're approaching Jamestown. See the buffalo?" and so on. Cheesy as it sounds, it was humorous and distracting, and helped pass the time and soothe my anxiety that something was wrong (it wasn't, there was a slight TMI issue they had to work out, but nothing bad). I'd NEVER been more happy to hear "okay! We're coming up on the ONE hill between Fargo and Grand Forks! I can smell the beet plant!"
bonding with daddy in the nursery.
Finally, done. The nurses wheeled me out and into the hall and we heard the lullaby come over the intercom announcing the arrival of a baby - MY baby! Exhaustion hit me right then as we rolled through the darkened hallways to my room. It had been such a long day and I just wanted my baby in my arms, to let our parents know we were both okay, and then, some sleep. We got to our room, and a minute later, Jonathan walked in with the proudest grin on his face, pushing our sweet baby in her bassinet. I asked him to come sit beside me with her - I was feeling really shaky at this point (I hadn't eaten since breakfast) and didn't trust myself to hold her just yet, but wanted them both as close to me as they could get. After some Jello and crackers and reassurance from my husband that he'd make sure I didn't drop the baby, she was in my arms. Bright pink and so, so tiny! I couldn't get over how tiny she was! Obviously, 7 pounds 14 ounces is a pretty good sized baby at 38 weeks and 2 days, but at a full pound lighter than her siblings, she just seemed so miniature.
We really cherished our hospital stay this time around, knowing that once we went home, our one-on-one time with the baby would be limited. Lots of snuggles, very little nursery time for the little miss, and a whole lot of "wow, we made a really, really great baby!"
So there it is. The story of Mabel's first day. Every day just gets better, and I feel so, so blessed to have my arms full of littles. Amazing.