January 26, 2012

One month old . . .

One month old!

At one month old, Claire . . .

. . . loves to be awake from 3 AM - 6 AM.
. . . smiles a lot, but makes you work for it first!
. . . is 22 1/4 inches long.
. . . is adored by her brothers. She will quiet to their voices and they always need to know where she is and what she's doing.
. . . has grown fond of bath time . . . when her parents actually find time to bathe her.
. . . likes to be held or worn. All. The. Time. Her mom is happy to oblige.
. . . is starting to like her swing.
. . . has darkish hair, the the nurse today commented on how red her hair was.
. . . has a bassinet in mom's office right next to her desk.
. . . still has no birth announcement.
. . . would sleep all afternoon, if her parents let her.
. . . has slacker parents who don't make her do nearly enough tummy time.
. . . weighs 11 pounds even.
. . . has parents who haven't had to cook a single meal since she was born until this week, thanks to friends and family.
. . . sleeps in her crib mostly, to prevent her from being woken from her brothers' barging into Mom and Dad's bedroom at random hours.
. . . has only been to camp 3 or 4 times - way different than it was with her brothers.

More photos from Claire's first month here and here.

January 25, 2012

99 in 2011

I'm blogging today. Not because I have time to, but because I happened to notice that I only posted to my blog 99 times in 2011. The statistics read something like this:

2006 - 22
2007 - 238
2008 - 284
2009 - 263
2010 - 164
2011 - 99

I know what you're thinking: Who cares?! Admit it. The thought was going through your head.

I care. For every few days that I don't blog, there are memories and anecdotes that I will likely not remember in a week (much less 10 years) and I don't want these things to go by undocumented. I want to be able to look back at our life as it is now and reminisce about both the good and the bad.

It's not that I don't have anything to write about. Actually, the amount about which I have to write is inversely proportional to the amount of writing that actually takes place. If I had time, I'd draw you a fun little graph. I can see it in my head.

I compose lovely posts in my head as I drive, shower, make dinner, change diapers . . . they are all equal parts eloquent and witty and share our everyday stories in ways that are honest and amusing. But then I sit down in the front of the computer . . . and I've got nothing. I even tried to keep a list throughout the day of things that I want to write about, but when I sit down and look at this list, I find that I've put the same thing down 4 times, not remembering that I had already listed it. On top of that, I can't remember what that sentence fragment is even referring to now.

I think the third child has wiped any lasting bit of short term memory that the other two left behind, and any remnants that might be straggling behind are being overtaken with minutiae about which side Claire last nursed and which boy's turn it is to choose their afternoon tv show. Oh, and how important it is that I take a shower soon.

SIDE NOTE: Jack will always make some sort of ridiculous argument that it's his turn to choose the afternoon show, often insisting that Ben traded his turn for use of Jack's crayons, books or other miscellaneous toys . . . yeah, right.

So that's where I am . . . longing to blog more, but lacking the memory or time to do so. OK, Ben's on the other side of the basement saying "Sticky, Mama . . . help me!" Off to see what mess resulted from me sitting down long enough to write this.

January 15, 2012

Claire vs. the Giraffe

WARNING: This clip may not be suitable for anyone who isn't a grandparent, aunt, or other relative of mine. It's approximately 1 1/2 minutes of my 3 week old batting her hand at a stuffed giraffe.

Some viewers may get easily bored.

Claire vs. the giraffe from Sara on Vimeo.

January 11, 2012

I drew picture

Ben: MOM! I drew picture!

Me: Wow, thanks Ben! What color did you use?

Ben: One, two, three, four.

Me: No, what color did you use?

Ben: This one.

Me: What color is that?

Ben: Circle and triangle.

Me: No, tell me the color of the marker that you used.

Ben: On white paper.

It felt like he was doing it on purpose . . .

January 10, 2012

Claire Bear

Claire, 2 weeks old

I dare you to name your child "Claire" and not call her "Claire Bear." No matter how hard you try not to, I promise you that you'll find it slipping through your lips multiples times a day.

This beautiful girl might never have a birth announcement. With both of the boys, I'd already had them in the mail. But I just have no inspiration for hers! Ironic, right?

I do have lots and lots of photos of her, though. See a few of them here.

January 8, 2012

Almost 2 weeks old

OK, she's almost 2 weeks old now, but here's a photo of Claire at one week.

Claire, one week old

She gained 9 ounces over the last week, so at 2 weeks old, she's 9 pounds, 3 ounces. It's a good weight gain, but it's so much less than it was with the boys, that it made me worried at first. She doesn't nurse as well as the boys did, but it is getting better every day. The doctor assures me that she's perfectly healthy.

She's such a great baby . . . she only cries when she has a dirty diaper or if she's hungry. She's super snuggly and will happily sleep in her sling all day.

It's the boys that are giving us a run for our money. Especially Ben. I don't know if it's having a new sister, or being two . . . maybe a combination of both. But he's been especially feisty lately.

I'm healing . . . slowly but surely. It's been slightly more difficult this time around than it was with either of the boys. I've been emotional and tired, but that's to be expected, I suppose.

I'm so thankful for three healthy kids. So far, I think the adjustment to having Claire has been easier it was when I had Ben. Well, maybe not easier, but less of a shock. Last Wednesday and Friday were probably the two low points of the first week home. My mom made a comment about just taking it one week at a time. She reminded me that in a week, things would be a lot better (and they were) and in a week after that, things would be better still. It's been a helpful way to look at things.

January 7, 2012

Choo choo, Bennett is two!

Bennett's birthday party was back in September. I'm just now writing about it. Yeah . . . I'm a little bit behind.

We had it in a private room at The Beach Bar. It's decorated with a lot of vintage train memorabilia and t was perfect. We had a pizza and soup buffet and some of Maria's cupcakes. With all of the vintage decor, I didn't have to do much decorating at all!

I had a video slideshow with photos of Ben, but I couldn't get it to work. That was the one disappointment of the day. Everything else went pretty smoothly and I think Ben had a good time.

Here are a few pictures from the party . . . see more here.

Bennett is 2

Bennett is 2

Bennett is 2

Ben is 2

Ben is 2

Ben is 2

Ben is 2

Ben is 2

Ben is 2

Ben is 2

Ben is 2

Ben is 2

Ben is 2

Bennett is 2

January 6, 2012

The first week

Even without a newborn, the week after Christmas tends to be a stressful time. The number of toys with tiny little pieces seems to increase by a multiple of 12 and there's no routine whatsoever. It drives me nuts. In Claire's birth story, I mentioned that when we left for my parents house on Christmas day, we left everything spread all over the house. I told Kyle that the boys and I would work on sorting and putting away on Monday morning when he went in to work. My intention was to take down Christmas decorations that day, too. But we all know that it didn't happen quite that way. So, we came home with Claire on Tuesday to a disaster of a house, with laundry piled up and toys spread everywhere.

On top of that, I was dealing with the whole "healing from childbirth" thing that was much more difficult this time around than it was with either of the boys. The pain medication was great, but caused other issues that caused me to cut it out earlier than I would have liked. There were health issues that caused me to have to do things that will never be spoken of again, or will at least remain secret until Claire is one day complaining that I don't love her or have never done anything for her. And then I'll proceed to outline how much I love her in every painful detail.

On top of that, I'm crying over everything. Every day. I got an Old Navy maternity ad and cried about never needing maternity clothes again. I was folding laundry and folded the clothes I was wearing when my water broke and broke down into tears. I catch a glimpse of my reflection in the mirror and cry about the fact that I'll probably look pregnant until Claire's first birthday. Silly things, really. I think about my kids and I cry. I think about how tired I am and I cry. I'm not sad about these things . . . just emotional.

Also, breastfeeding has been a lot more painful this time than it was with either of the boys and Claire's had a more difficult time latching on. I told myself I was going to give it until this last Monday and quit if it hadn't gotten any better. It didn't get any better, but other circumstances did, which made the breastfeeding issue less stressful. It still hurts, and I may not make it as long as I did with the boys, but I'm going to stick with it a while longer.

Jack hasn't really seemed to change much or need to adjust to anything much. I think he wants more time with me. And he still refuses to nap . . . he hasn't napped in months, yet we still try to get him to, so that's more our fault than it is his. He loves his sister and does really well with her.

Bennett has really acted out quite a bit since Claire was born. He's much more defiant and ornery. I think he's just testing his limits. He's really good with Claire too. Lots of hugs and kisses for "Baby Tare." He's very inquisitive about breastfeeding, much like Jack was when Ben was born. Just yesterday was the first time I saw any jealously come out with Ben . . . I was nursing her and he kept nudging her and saying "Sit on mama's lap!" I let him climb up as soon as I was done and that seemed to satisfy him.

Both of the boys seem more tantrum prone over the last week, but I don't know if that's had as much to do with a new baby as much as it has the lack of routine, less sleep and junk food that came over the holidays. They've also watched more television over the last week than usual, and that sometimes causes a little more disobedience.

Kyle is incredible. Like that's a shock to anyone. Last week, he took over all household responsibilities, including dealing with the boys. On top of that, he changes Claire most times she wakes up and brings her to me to nurse. I know he's frustrated by the boys' antics, and tired, because he gets about as much sleep as I do at night, and by child #3, there are no naps during the day. Plus, he has to deal with me and the emotional mess I've become.

I don't mean to sound like I'm complaining . . . I know that this is all a part of the first few weeks with a newborn and I'm so thankful for three healthy kids. Overall, so far, I think the adjustment to having Claire has been easier it was when I had Ben. Well, maybe not easier, but less of a shock. Last Wednesday and Friday were probably the two low points of the first week home. My mom made a comment about just taking it one week at a time. She reminded me that in a week, things would be a lot better (and they were) and in a week after that, things would be better still. It's been a helpful way to look at things.

January 5, 2012

It seems so far away

Sleeping in her crib . . .

I had forgotten how far away the crib feels from our bed.

Sleeping in her crib . . .

Claire sleeps for the first part of the night in her room now. I remember when we moved Ben out of the crib, it seemed so small for his toddler body.

Sleeping in her crib . . .

But now the crib seems huge!

Sleeping in her crib . . .

January 4, 2012

First bath

This week, I'm starting to get Claire into a little bit of a bedtime routine, including bath, nursing and consistent bedtime. We hadn't done a bath since the hospital, and I was excited to give her one.

And she just loved it.

Claire, the first month

Can't you tell?

Claire, the first month

January 3, 2012

Meet Claire

"There's nothing that says 'Merry Christmas' like your water breaking on your parents' nice furniture." That was the text I sent to a few friends on my way to the hospital on Christmas Day.

Let me back up a little . . .

For the week before Christmas, I told people that I had been so anxious for Claire to come, but now that Christmas was so close, I just wanted her to hold off until after Christmas morning. I just didn't want to miss out on having that time with the boys. And she listened to her Mama!

Our Christmas morning was perfect. The boys woke us up at 6:30. We tried to have them cuddle with us in bed for a while in order to get just a few more minutes of sleep, but that was useless. I mean, it was Christmas morning and they had already seen the silhouettes of their new bikes leaning against the Christmas tree.

We decided to not go to church so that we could just spend the morning together, let them play with their gifts and not have to rush. The each got a new bike from Santa, and then a few miscellaneous gifts from us. Kyle made breakfast and we just let them play while we relaxed the entire morning. I folded a basket or two of laundry, but for the most part, we just kind of let things go and didn't worry about any sort of organization or order. I even commented to Kyle that it was one of the best Christmas mornings I could remember.

As we were packing up to go to my parents, I told Kyle not to worry about picking anything up. He had to be back early Monday morning and I told him that the boys and I would work on organizing when we got home. As we were packing our stuff, I threw the pile of clothes that I had started putting together "for the hospital" into our suitcase and commented to him to grab the boppy. We both kind of laughed and I rolled my eyes at the thought that in the 18 hours we'd be gone, 4 days before my due date, that I'd need them. We didn't bring any of Claire's things or the car seat because that just seemed silly. I hadn't officially packed for the hospital yet, so I really didn't have much together anyway.

Here's how the next 48 hours went:

11:30 AM We left for my parents house. We listened to Christmas music on the way to my parents house and both boys were so sleepy. Ben fell asleep about 10 minutes before we got to their house. We tried to transfer him to a bed in their house, but he woke up as soon as we got him out of the car.

1:00 The first thing we did upon arrival was to eat lunch. Everyone could tell I was hungry because I kept commenting on how amazing the simple turkey sandwich was.

2:00 We exchanged gifts. The boys got some really neat toys and were consumed with those almost immediately.

3:00 My brother, Jeff, and Jack were in the living room putting lego cars together and Ben was in the family room playing with his new train set. Claire was just kicking away and I commented on how nice it was because she had been so quiet the last week or so. I made a trip to triage exactly a week before that because her movement had slowed so much. But she was happy and healthy! The nurse said she was a picture of fetal health. That was reassuring, but feeling her move was even more reassuring.

3:15 I moved upstairs to the living room to see what Jack and Jeff were doing and sat down. My mom brought a gift for Claire down. She said she had intended to save it for the hospital, but was just going to give it to me now so that I wouldn't have to worry about packing it up and taking it home with me then. I looked through the cute clothes and snowsuits. I started putting them back in the bag and felt some sharp cramps really low.

3:30 My mom walked back to the kitchen. I sat back to relax and laughed at something Jack said . . . and the floodgates opened. I jumped up and ran/galloped to the bathroom trying to leave as little of a trail as possible.

My mom asked what was going on and I said, "Either I wet my pants or my water just broke." After the episode when I was pregnant with Ben, I really thought I had probably just wet my pants and was SUPER embarrassed to the point of tears. Kyle asked what I needed and I said, "A pair of pants, underwear and a little bit of dignity." I was laughing and crying all at the same time. I put the new pants on (yoga pants . . . the only other pair I had with me), stood up, and knew immediately that I had not wet my pants.

My water had broken.

I just looked at Kyle and felt a little bit frozen. I was shocked. I searched for the number for triage. I had been thinking that week that I needed to get it programmed into my phone, but thought I had time for that. My mom looked up the number for me, I called and then waited for the call back. I felt nauseous, nervous and excited all at once.

My sister had gone up to take a nap after we opened gifts, so I went up and said, "Uh, my water broke, so we're leaving. Merry Christmas."

Leaving for the hospital
After my water broke - before we left for the hospital - 39 1/2 weeks

Leaving for the hospital
Our last photo as a family of four - doesn't Jack look thrilled?

4:00 We started for the hospital in my parents car (so they could keep ours with the car seats for the boys) before the triage nurse even called back. But when she did she instructed us to come right in.

4:30 We got there and the labor and delivery floor was EMPTY. There were only nine other laboring women that day. No one schedules induction or c-sections for Christmas, after all.

5:30 We were moved from triage into a room. That's when the waiting began.

6:00 I was having contractions, but nothing painful or productive. Kyle and I roamed the halls of the 9th floor several times. I didn't have any socks or slippers with me, so I was wearing my hospital gown and a pair of gray flats. It was super classy. The hospital opened on December 4 so everything was new to us. It was kind of fun to explore and look around, but it did nothing to help with contractions. The doctor offered pictocin to get things moving, but I really thought that maybe things would pick up on their own. We went back to the room and watched some tv. Kyle watched football because I wasn't really interested in anything that was on.

7:00 Shift change. Our new nurse (Renee) said she had two patients, and she was pretty sure she'd be sticking with me since she thought I'd probably go into hard labor sooner than her other.

9:00 Renee came to tell me I'd be getting a new nurse since her other patient was in hard labor. I was bummed because she was so great. Our new nurse (Kim) enters the picture and is great, too. Relief. You never know how happy or helpful the staff will be when they have to work on Christmas day.

12:00 AM The doctor checked in and I told her we could go ahead and start the pitocin, much to my dismay. I finished the book I was reading (The Help).

12:30 Kim starts the pitocin and I just sit and wait. I couldn't sleep, but Kyle didn't have much trouble.

12:45 I hear the baby crying from the lady who's water broke around the same time I did. Awesome.

3:30 Contractions became painful. The nurse asked if I was ready for an epidural, but I didn't think I needed one yet. Kyle was still sleeping. I probably should have woken him up, but I figured one of us should get some sleep, right?

4:58 I texted my mom and said contractions were 3 - 4 minutes apart, but still bearable.

6:00ish I woke Kyle up, called the nurse and said I was ready for an epidural. I was dilated to 6 and it was time. The anesthesiologist was in my room within what seemed like seconds. Like I said, the floor was pretty empty that night. The difference between this epidural and the one with Ben was that with Ben, I was between an 8 and a 9 when I got to the hospital. At that point, I was in so much pain and had no breaks between contractions, so I wasn't even aware of what they were doing to give me the epidural. This time around, the contractions were painful, but I had about two minutes between each one and was keenly aware of the pressure and pricks in my pack. It made me nervous and nauseous just thinking about it.

6:30ish Euphoria. The epidural was glorious. I actually was able to rest a little bit.
It was at this point that we finally decided on her middle name.

7:30 The doctor checked me and I was dilated completely. I had zero urge to push though. I wanted to wait a bit.

8:00ish I felt like I was ready to push. One problem . . . Kyle had gone to find a bathroom. In that big, new hospital, they were hard to find. I texted him to tell him that I was ready to push and he got back pretty quick. The doctors were all there and I started pushing at about 8:15. Pushing was quick, but it was a lot harder than I remember it being with Ben. A week later, my muscles are still sore from it.

8:22 Claire Grace Luke entered the world. I was overflowing with emotion and couldn't believe what a beautiful mess she was. They wrapped her in a blanket and gave her right to me and I just cried and cried. As they were cleaning her up, I asked, "She is a girl right?!" And they confirmed that she in fact, is a girl.

Brand new

Brand new

I was overwhelmed with emotion . . . just like I was when the boys were born. We couldn't believe we had a daughter. I couldn't believe that I ever wanted a boy, because she was so perfectly ours.

She cried and cried and cried for the next hour or so. They had guessed that she was 9 pounds, 9 ounces, but she was only 8 pounds, 13 ounces and 21 inches. To us, she was a petite little thing. I nursed her soon after she was born, and she'd nurse for a minute and then cry for a minute. Her lower lip would stick out (much like Ben's) and would quiver as she sobbed. If she had been my first, I probably would have been a little overwhelmed by it, but by this point, we know how to soothe crying babies and we did eventually.

When the nurse took her to bathe her, I just remember being SO tired. I hadn't slept much on Christmas eve or at all that night and the whole childbirth thing just sucked every bit of energy right out of me. But I didn't want to fall asleep and miss anything.

First bath
Claire's first bath . . . water running over her head was the only time she stopped crying. Doesn't it look like she was trying to steal the nurse's pager?

Brand new

Our parents, my siblings and the boys all came up to meet her that morning. The boys were pretty comfortable around her and each held her. Ben even climbed up into bed with me for a minute, though Jack wouldn't. He was a little freaked out by my IV port. Both boys cried a lot when they left, which was hard on us, but we know it had more to do with all of the change that was going on than anything else.

Big brothers

That afternoon and evening, Kyle and I just took turns holding her and staring at her. She didn't open her eyes much that first day, except for about 10 minutes that evening. She looked back and forth at each of us and we told her how much she was loved. We just marveled over her. It was one of my all time favorite moments.

Brand new

There were so many things on my mind and heart when we were at the hospital . . . things that aren't necessarily blog-suitable, but that left me overflowing with emotion. I'll never forget how much time I spent praying that night. The nurses kept asking me if I was okay, and I kept assuring them that I was fine . . . just emotional.

Ready to go home

We were in the hospital until the following morning and were home in the early afternoon on the 27th. We stopped by Target to pick up my pain medication. She didn't make a peep for the entire drive home or the trip to Target.

The last week has been challenging, for sure. I've had some healing issues and for various reasons, my emotions have been off-kilter far more than they ever were with the boys. But we're adjusting and we're blessed. I'm so thankful.

January 1, 2012

What I thought I'd be doing this week . . .

I had this whole list of things I intended to write about and do this week . . . things we did leading up to Christmas, funny new things that the boys have been doing, photos, etc. I thoroughly expected to still be pregnant. I thought Claire would come January 4 . . . exactly one week past her due date.

But I'm not doing those things. Instead, I'm settling into my role as the mother of three, with all of its blessings and challenges.

I wanted to write about Friday, the 23rd, and how I cooked/baked all day. Trays of lasagna, macaroni and cheese, tons of shredded/cubed chicken for future recipes (thanks to my friends on facebook for the tips on doing that), gingerbread cookies, sugar cookies, cheater cake pops, chocolate mint cookies . . . you could say that I overdid it. Kyle took the boys to the Treehouse that day, but even so, I was hurting and exhausted by the end of the day. I had a few contractions that night that made me think we might be headed to the hospital, but they amounted to nothing.

I wanted to write about how Jack helped me with my baking earlier in the week and told me before he went to bed on Wednesday night saying, "I loved baking with you mom, and I'll never forget this day." And how with that statement, the frustrations of cooking with a 4-year-old were almost totally erased from my memory.

I wanted to write about Ben and how he's picking up on all of the phrases Jack uses, including, but not limited to "That's disgusting," "It's not fair" and "I hate this." And how if we ask him a question he doesn't want to answer he looks and us and says, "shhh!" Make no mistake . . . none of those are appropriate responses, and they almost always come with consequences, but it still cracks me up when I put the news on in the morning and Ben says, "No! News is nisdusting!"

I was going to write about how the intense pain that I'd been having for the last 2 1/2 months had almost completely gone away that week and how it felt like a Christmas miracle. In retrospect, Claire had just dropped far enough down that it eliminated the pain.

My plan for the week was to edit all of the photos I've had building up since October and get those posted. I had hoped to have them all done before I edited the tons of baby pictures I knew I'd take once Claire arrived.

I wanted to finish the word art that I'd started for Claire's room and have it ordered and up in her room before she was born.

I had one last big project for work that I wanted to complete before she came.

I wanted to get all of the Christmas gifts put away and Christmas decorations down. I know this is kind of "bah humbug" of me, but it stresses me out to have Christmas decorations up. For the entire month of December, I feel like I'm kind of in limbo, just waiting for my house to go back to normal. I'm sure that says more about my control issues than it does anything else.

I wanted to get a 40 week picture.

But I don't control these things and Claire's arrival 3 days early was a reminder of that.

Instead, I'll be tackling these things over the next few weeks. I've also been jotting down notes on her birth story because even though it's only been a week since my water broke, memories are fading. And just typing that made me cry if it's any indication as to where I am emotionally right now.

I'm grateful for our friends and family who have made this transition a little easier. I'm incredibly grateful for Kyle, without whom I would be completely unable to cope. I'm grateful for Jack and Ben and how much they love us and their little sister. While they've presented challenges this week, my love for them increases daily, if that's even possible. And I'm grateful for Claire . . . that she's a good sleeper (knock on wood) and that she's changed me more in the last six days that I ever could have imagined. Even though I've already been through this twice before, I had no idea how fast and hard I'd fall for her. It's astonishing to think that God has entrusted us with another little life to take care of . . . I pray every day that He'll make us equal to the task.