Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Homecoming outfits

This was a great "preparation for baby" project that helped me focus my attention on a gift for Julia and special little outfit for each of them to wear as we transitioned home from the hospital.  It did not fully work out as intended as the onesie that I made for Charlie is way too big for him and I forgot to put the dress on Julia with all of the activity of leaving the hospital. 
Surprise! Surprise! - yet another lesson that the more children you add to the mix, the less likely things will go as planned.  Regardless, neither one of them noticed and Julia has since modeled her new dress for all to see.  When she wears it, she also announces, "BIG SISTER" with her fists in the air.  Once Charlie puts a little weight on, we can have them pose in their outfits together. 
Despite his inability to fit into his outfit, I believe that he has felt very welcomed since his homecoming!  He has had a flurry of visitors - his very own welcoming crew, which has been so helpful beyond essential!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The BIG SISTER award

- The Judds

In the last post I wrote that love has multiplied in our home.  As I thought about that statement, I realize how true it really is.  Not only have we opened a new place in our hearts for this tiny boy, but we have opened ourselves up to love in a new way within our family.  My love for my husband has grown as I watch him take on a million different roles while I focus on Charlie.  His relationship with Julia has always been precious and hands on, but they have changed together over the past couple of weeks as he has spent a great deal of one-on-one time with her.  She has his individual attention and she is well aware of this.  She is now crying for "daddy" when she is upset, which is a reflection of this shift.  In some ways I am craving more time with her, but I am also acutely aware of the need for their time together. 
The other transformation that I have seen since Charlie's arrival is Julia's love for her little brother.  I love Julia in so many ways, but to see her as a big sister is absolutely heartwarming.  She is a nurturer, she loves him and describes it in the most precious toddler-like ways like, "ohh, he's so cute" and "I love him so much!".  She always says "he's so little!" and she loves to be helpful when he is crying or needs something.  She has always had these nurturing qualities (we call her the aggressive nurturer as she often gets a bit overly demonstrative with her hugs), but having a brother allows her a lifelong ticket in this role as big sister.  There is nothing like having a sibling to share your childhood (and beyond) with.  I think about my relationship with my sister and I can't imagine my life without her.  She understands me like nobody else in the world and I cherish her advice and support in my daily life even when she's miles away.  What a gift to watch their relationship unfold! 
In reality, Julia has spent more time in time-out in the last 10 days than she had in the previous 10 weeks, which is a reflection of her strong grip on the need for attention during this transition.  It has been helpful to hear that this will get better and we are doing all of the right things to make sure that she feels part of these changes.  Despite these attention seekng behaviors, we have had some of the sweetest moments together as a family.  This morning Julia, Charles and I danced to our wedding song (Pachelbel Canon in D), which plays  on Charlie's bouncer seat as he sat and "watched" us.  Julia loved this!  It was a striking reminder of how much our lives and our love has evolved since I walked down the aisle to that song on our wedding day 4 years ago.
So here's to a GREAT big sister, who I'm sure feels a little bit slighted with the new arrival in our home, but at the same time is about to embark on one of the greatest adventures of her life as role model to this wonderful little boy!
We are so proud of you Julia Claire!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Our first week

Charlie woke up for a middle of the night feeding at promptly 2:36am on Wednesday morning.  What better way to celebrate his one week birthday than with a late night milk-fest between mommy and baby?
Call it lack of sleep or the haze of being on cloud nine since Charlie's arrival, but I'm not feeling very profound.  I have so many thoughts about this first week, but they don't seem to translate into words.  I do believe that experiencing the birth of your child does enter into that realm of not being able to find the right words to describe it.  We are still adjusting and I assume that we will be for a very long time.  We have had a ton of help and I wonder how Charles and I will be able to balance this on our own.  I have learned that life with a newborn is not the hard part - it gets tough when you throw a toddler into that equation!  I have also learned that breastfeeding does not necessarily get easier the second time around, but at least you know that there is an end in sight to the initial pain and discomfort.  This time around, I can get through the tough part with the anticipation of this next year of precious bonding time.  Though I hadn't given a whole lot of thought to the age-old question, "How could I possibly love this child as much as my daughter?", I have definitely learned that the moment I laid eyes on Charlie it was never a second thought. 
Love has multiplied in our home!  (Julia's love for her brother needs a little containing, but is very cute!) We have learned so much from this little guy already and are excited to continue to grow together as a family! 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Charlie's arrival

I thought I should write about Charlie's arrival while it is still fresh in my mind.  There is so much happening in the much to store away for later or cherished among my husband and I, but there is also so much that I want to remember before it gets lost in these other details as we get accustomed to life as a family of four.  I will spare each of the details, but wanted to just share his awesome entry into the world.
On July 12th we went in for our weekly appointment.  I told the midwife that I was hoping that the baby would make his arrival in the next few days.  She gave us some insight into the "natural" ways of inducing labor and assured us that she thought he would be coming within the next few days based on the fact that I was 3cm dilated (though I had been for over a week).  As she was leaving the exam room, she patted my belly and said that the real trick to starting the labor process was the "touch of a midwife".  Little did I know, that just might have been the trick :)
I went on to have one of the busiest days at work that I'd ever encountered, which left me little time to think about when this baby might choose to make his arrival.  When I came home from work, my husband, mom and I decided to get some Chinese food to help jump start things.  We went to Charles' parents house and Charles took Julia for a swim while my mom went to get the food.  I remember thinking that I hoped that it wouldn't happen anytime soon because I wouldn't want my "last meal" to be curry chicken.  As we were watching Julia swim, I started noticing the contractions.  I say "noticing" because I had been having contractions on and off for about a week and a half.  I started timing them in my head and began to realize that I was really uncomfortable every 2 minutes.  I could no longer concentrate on anything else going on around me.  By the time my mom had arrived with the food, I was really uncomfortable and pacing through my in-laws house.  Interestingly, everyone else around me thought that this was a great time to enjoy their Chinese food while I was wondering if I was even going to make it to the hospital.  Finally, my mom brought me back to our house while Charles packed up Julia.  Throughout that 45 minute stretch I was so intent on having Charles time my contractions, but by the time we were organized enough to do this, we realized that they were every 1 1/2 to 2 min and this meant we should probably head to the hospital.   Charles pulled the car around to the front of our house and I proceeded to have a contraction that brought me to my knees in the front lawn.  In that moment I found it hard to believe that I was going to be able to sit in a car for the 25 minute drive to the hospital.  The grass felt like a perfectly good option.  We have this great image of me in the front lawn and Charles trying to coax me into the car.  Finally, he gave up and decided to take a few pictures.  I told him that this would be the last of any "labor" pictures and finally worked up the strength to get into the car.  The next 3 hours feel like a blur.  We made it to the hospital and had to wait to get evaluated.  We were finally rushed in after a nurse observed how quickly the contractions were coming.  I labored in a random room for an hour before we could be admitted to be monitored.  I remember asking the nurse if this baby would hold out until his due date, the 13th (at that point it was about 9pm on the 12th) and she nicely responded that this baby was obviously going to do whatever the heck he pleased.  She thought that he was going to come pretty quickly.  We were able to finally secure a bed in Labor and Delivery after a few hours of winging it in the evaluation unit and I was beyond relieved.  After about 4 hours of active labor I opted for an epidural, though it didn't take effect.  After a great deal of debate, an hour later, I recieved a 2nd epidural.  I wish I would have discussed this more with the midwife because at that point things really slowed down and I lost touch with the process of labor.  As painful as it was, I could at least take an active role in what was happening.  It is much easier to make that assessment when you are not in those active throws of labor and so I can't be too disappointed.  After some time, the midwife came in, announced that I was 10cm and he literally was delivered within those 4 minutes of my water breaking.  My precious little boy literally came flying into the world!
I remember having a conversation with a friend who discussed being in the moment and enjoying the process of her child's birth.  I was conscious of this desire to take in every part of labor and I recall saying several times throughout labor, "I can't believe that this is happening."  Once he arrived, it seemed like time stopped for a while.  The room was a buzz, but I just remember soaking in every sound and surveying every ounce of this new life.  I loved announcing his name as Charles held him and feeling this great sense that it fit him from the very start.  We loved him during the pregnancy, but seeing him solidified this overwhelming love that I have only encountered when Julia arrived. 
Charlie's birth was so different from Julia's.  Since the moment that he was born, there is a greater sense of certainty that everything is okay in the world.  Things may be uncomfortable, but everything feels a bit more natural.  He is so content and when he is awake he looks around with these curious, deep eyes.  He makes it easy to relax in his presence.  I would have to say that this is a great quality in a baby!  
And as much as labor can feel like a blur, I realize already that the first few days are an even bigger blur of activity and visitors and adjustments.  We documented on video the moment that Julia met him.  She confidently walked in the room with her hands in her pockets and stopped next to the bed.  She was initially a bit overwhelmed, but about 10 minutes later was teaching him songs and wanted to tickle him.  She has adopted her baby brother into every part of her day and talks about him non-stop.  She wants to see him as soon as she walks in the room and is anxious to hold him with some help.  We opted to come home on Thursday the 14th, which was about 30 hours after Charlie's arrival (as soon as we possibly could!).  Julia had come in that morning, but was home having lunch when we pulled up to the house.  She came running down the walkway and proudly yelled, "Happy Mother's Day!"  Yes, it does feel like mother's day, what a great way to capture the joy of bringing home a new baby. 
Here are a few pictures of these moments throughout our first few days with Charlie.  We are excited for our family and friends from near and far to meet this little one!
July 12, 2011 - our last appointment
 8 hours later - the one and only labor picture
And a whole lot happened in the 6 hours between thse two photos, but he's fnally here!
Proud Mimi
Big sister's first meeting
Julia, Charlie, and their Grandpa
First photo as a family of 4 (5 including Scout)

Happy unofficial Mother's Day :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Charles Ethan Gray
born July 13th 2011 at 2:36am
6lbs, 14 oz
18 3/4 inches long. 
Our little peanut.

Julia has embraced big sisterhood from the very beginning.  She wants to touch him constantly and wants to know where he is and what he is doing at all times.  I think she is waiting for a miraculous burst of energy out of her potential playmate, but for now she is content yelling "wake up Cha-ley" just to see his eyes open.  It brings tears to my eyes to see her connection with him already.
And now we are home.
And settling in quite well.
Charles - "free man"
Ethan - "firmness, longlived"
More details of his arrival to come...

Monday, July 4, 2011

The waiting game

Baby Gray is due in just over a week and we have been in pure nesting mode. Nothing seems clean enough, our list of projects will never be fully checked off, but it is pure bliss. Discomfort aside, waiting on the birth of your child is quite awe inspiring. Everyday feels like a new adventure as we plan out the little things, but always anticipate "Plan B" should baby choose to arrive in the midst of our adventures. Nothing is concrete, there is no magical bullitin that arrives in your 9th month that gives you a slip noting the date and time of delivery. He will come when he chooses. I love it. I love that every moment keeps us guessing and each is one step closer to meeting this child. Knowing that the birth of a child is a moment that will forever be etched in our minds makes the anticipation that much more exciting.
Until he arrives we are sort of holding our breath and not going very far. The last few weeks could be classified as quite simple in our household. Here is a little glimpse:
A visit from Chrissy
(37 weeks and 33 weeks)
My midwife informed me that I needed more calcium, so we have now adopted an "Ice Cream every night" rule.  It's going over quite well in our home, especially when sprinkles (or "frickles" as Julia says) are involved.
A trip to our local zoo
 Calling all camels (but really she was just as content seeing the fish and bunnies!)
 Adria and Clara teaching Julia the fundamentals of big sisterhood
 And celebrating the 4th at our town parade this morning
As I sit here this moment, the "to do" list in my head grows longer, though I realize that at the end of your pregnancy your only given the energy to complete what truly matters. 
 And so we wait....