Friday, May 30, 2014


This week, in recognition of the approaching summer season, and of the fact that I was going to go absolutely insane if I spent one more day inside with Aquaman and The Dude doing cannonballs onto the couch from the desk

(they just have too much energy to be cooped up inside all day), I braved the beach on 3 separate occasions with all 3 kids.

Once I did it the first time, I realized that it was much easier than I had thought it would be. The sun is what scares me the most with a tiny infant who can't wear sunscreen and has such sensitive skin. But I was able to time it correctly during the daytime visits so that Greystoke slept most of the time under the shade of his carseat, and only came out to nurse under a cover, and it was actually a pure hour of relaxation.

The older boys entertained themselves...I could see their energy being released while my body relaxed, and it was absolutely perfect.

As I sat there watching the way the sun kissed and the wind blew red sandy curls, I thought about how everyone always says that before you die your life flashes before your eyes.

And it occurred to me that most of those flashes that go by for me on that day are going to be set at the beach.

Boogie boarding in the sunshine with my twin sister as a child. Having mud fights at dusk with my older sister. Laying in the sand with a seventeen magazine as an awkward teenager. The way the perfume scented pages mixed with the salt air into a smell I can still remember like it was yesterday.
Throwing our "hopes and dreams" into the ocean, tucked into a glass bottle on new year's eve with my closest friends.

Mixed up late teens and early 20s. Melting my confusion into the chaos of the waves and finding home during a time when otherwise I felt so lost. Racing home from work for a lunch time surf session.
Night time prayer walks with one of my best friends.

Falling in love over hurricane swells.
Dancing together at our wedding reception.
Putting each of our babies' feet in the sand for the first time.

Countless early morning, midday, evening, and night time visits to the beach as a family. Watching lifeguard training. Cheering on JT at competition.

One of my favorite things about the beach is how it is always changing. Every time you go there is a new dynamic to it, a conduit for all things creative. There is water...and sometimes it is quiet, sometimes it is wild. Sometimes the waves are big and clean, and sometimes they are small and choppy.Sometimes they break right on shore, and other times they are gentle on your feet.

 There are rocks to jump off of, and sand cliffs to scale, and you can never be sure what you will get on any given day.

Change is one of the most beautiful things in life, despite how we often resist it.

So many more memories are still yet to be made in the life of my family. I have no idea what they will be, but I know, always, there will be the backdrop of the sand and sea.

Last night I made an evening visit to the beach with the kids since JT had a competition meeting at our house. It was cool and beautiful and I didn't have to fear the sun. And since evening is Greystoke's most alert time, he got to really see the beach for the first time. I watched his grey eyes looking out over the ocean, and wondered what he could see.

Not much.

Not far. Baby vision is limited to about 20 inches in front of their faces, which is no coincidence. That is the exact distance to Mommy's face when she is feeding him. And at this age, most things are overwhelming to a baby. But Mommy's face isn't too much. It's just what he needs.

I thought about how so often we long to see further than we can, but how God lets us see just enough. There are beautiful things in the future. And there are some things in the future for Greystoke that would be too heart-breaking for me to see now. Not now, when he still has sweet and sour milk breath, and feet so soft from never touching the ground.

A chapter of our lives is slowly closing, as our last baby rapidly changes before our eyes. But mostly I feel like a new chapter is beginning.

There is more pleasure in the infancy of the 3rd child, and less pressure. Each day passes and he sits a little straighter, and his neck gets a little stronger, and his eyes focus a little better, and I soak it in because I'm good at that. Because I've never really been in danger of being a workaholic, because what I really am, in my heart, is a dreamer and a writer, and someone who sees things.

But I don't feel that same pressure that I felt, holding Aquaman's tiny hand in mine. Everyone told me, soak it in, this is the best time of your life. But now I know that it's not.

Every day is the best time of your life. Every stage is the most amazing one. Watching your kid go off to school by himself and become his own person is as beautiful and different as the first time you catch sight of him in the hospital.

There are as many amazing and painful moments in the future as their have been in the past.

And that's the incredible part.

Today is the first day of summer break, and marks one month until I return to work from maternity leave. My paychecks have stopped, and we're officially starting the slow dig into savings.

But I don't feel afraid today. Every time I go to the beach, inevitably, someone stops to smile at my 3 boys and tell me that I "have my hands full", and I guess my hands are full. But mostly, they're open. It's my heart that is truly full.
 God has given me just enough vision for today. I can see 20 inches in front of my His face. The rest may be overwhelming, but His face isn't. It's all that I need to see. It's enough.

Friday, May 23, 2014

3 weeks, 3 kids, And Turning 33.

Greystoke is 3 weeks old today.  Right now he's sitting in his Rock n Play, the slightest bit of curdled spitup dripping from his chin. His beautiful blue eyes are half crossed. He has the hiccups which make him furious, and also make him hungry, despite his just having finished eating. So I'm back to typing with one hand.
The other 2 boys are playing with Hot Wheels cars on the floor. One of their favorite missions is to take their cars "to 7-11 for a slurpee". I am enjoying their pleasant voices, because lately they have been having one fight after another. Especially this time of day, when The Dude loses what little self control he has from exhaustion.
It's only the end of May and it's 95 degrees today. We can't play outside. And the 79 degree house is a bit stifling when you"re nursing a hot little infant, shaky from coffee and lack of sleep, and 2 little boys are running wildly around you.
Still, I'm looking forward to summer. To early morning beach lifeguard competition practices instead of school dropoff, and summer reading, and swim lessons and trips to our pool, and cutting up pool noodles to roll marbles down the stairs, and making oobleck.
The end of year at school has been fun.
Mother's Day Tea.

Greystoke lay blissfully asleep during the whole thing.

Aquaman turned his back to all the parents while the kids sang.
I finally got him to take a picture with me at least. But he refused to open his eyes.
He has been challenged to read 150 minutes this summer. And I explained that that is only like 3 minutes a day, but he was still devastated: "I have to WORK in the SUMMER?"
At his school picnic, he got the football award for "tackling difficult tasks this year". He enjoyed the award. He hates football.

He enjoys more original sports.

Greystoke is only 3 weeks, and to be fair, other than some marathon afternoon nursing sessions and some periods of gassiness, he's a pretty laid back baby. 

And I know it will get harder when he gets more mobile.
But so far, transitioning from two to three kids has been no harder than transitioning from one to two, or none to one.

None to one was still the hardest.

It's a transition for sure. A newborn has a completely unpredictable schedule. They don't sleep. And mine don't like for me to do much else when I am nursing them, which is most of the time. They want me to CONCENTRATE.

But with each child you just find a new normal. You learn to let more go. If the bathrooms don't smell like a hamster cage, you figure you"re doing ok. You stop and read stories even when the laundry is unfolded on the couch.

I don't have time to watch any tv or movies anymore.

I don't really feel like I'm missing anything.

Still, while 3 doesn't feel any more overwhelming to me than one: ( this morning as I tried to figure out when to fit in a minute to pump, to start building up a supply for when I return to work, I remembered feeling that exact same way when Aquaman was 3 weeks old.)

3 feels full.

It feels right.

Tomorrow I turn 33. It feels like the prime of life, and I feel like I'm really living it, even in my half-asleep, surrounded-by-matchbox-cars-and-crumbs state.

"Sometimes God is better found in turbulence than in security; calm may be a stagnant backwater for the faithless. Others may hold back, stick a toe in the water, or splash around to test the temperature. But let us lunge into God's love and be swept away in life abundant and eternal." -David Swartz

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

A Birth Story

I almost didn't think I'd make it to our scheduled induction. The exam on my Thursday appointment set of cramping that felt like the real deal was coming. Having come so close to the "convenient" daytime delivery, I wished it away. And after several hours, and a warm was gone. I surprisingly slept all night before waking to the 4:45 am alarm. JT seemed pretty stressed the morning of, which was unexpected, as he had been so calm the day before. (Turns out the dog had spent the evening puking on the closet carpet. He didn't  want to stress me out by telling me, and didn't have time to go back and clean it up until midway through my labor).

By 6 am we were sitting in the labor and delivery waiting room. And by 7 am, the doctor was there to get things started. First thing he said was: "I was hoping you'd move him down a little bit....well, there WAS a head there."
For what seemed like an hour, but was probably only a few minutes, an epic battle was waged, between boy and doctor, with I the unfortunate middle woman. I was not even sure exactly what was happening, but I knew there were many valiant efforts being made.
In the end, and many fingernail marks into JT's skin later, the doctor won. The cervadil was placed, my water was broken, and baby was in launch and load position.
The nurse later told me that baby Greystoke had turned to transverse, and the doctor was turning him back and pushing him down.

After that, the registration process was completed, and were left to watch The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and wait for something to happen.

For the two hours I had to stay in bed, nothing did. So when the nurse came and told me I could start walking, I began in earnest.
After a couple loops around labor and delivery, pausing a moment to peek into the nursery for inspiration and watch the tiny little products of labor blinking under the warming lamps, dodging wet paint signs and ladders, I was bored of the circles we were doing. Since we had the "cadillac" L+D room with the jacuzzi tub that we couldn't use, and lots of room for pacing, we decided to turn back on the Hunger Games while I circled the room at a rapid pace. Except for a 20 minute pause for monitoring an hour later, this is how we spent the next 2 hours.
At the end of Hunger Games, we turned on Thor, but by then I didn't know much about what was going on. The contractions were coming 3-5 minutes apart, lasting a minute, and I could no longer keep walking through them.
When it was time to get back in bed for monitoring, I decided I couldn't get up again. I had once again dodged the dreaded pitocin.
I knew I wanted the epidural, and I knew I was making progress, so after trying to tough it out through a few more contractions, we called the nurse. The anesthesiologist was called. I was ecstatic.

I sent JT out to get lunch because I could tell he was fading, though it turns out he just went home to clean puke out of the closet.

And within half an hour, I was thrilled to have a needle placed in my back. It took forever. All of my epidurals have gone extremely well in the past, and I assumed it was because I was thin, but this time he told me I was "too thin" and kept asking if I "felt like he was going in the right place" (!!).At one point he struck some sort of a nerve, and I involuntarily kicked the nurse. It was very strange. But at last it was in place, took effect speedily, and within a few minutes JT was back.

Other than some blood pressure drops requiring ephedrine, and other than how much slower the labor went than I expected (since it was the 3rd, I thought it would go faster than the Dude's, but ended up taking 2.5 hours longer) the rest of the labor was amazing.

We talked and laughed, and invited my parents in. I barely knew when I was having a contraction. Finally at about 3:30 I called the nurse in because I was shivering, and was declared to be at 9 cm. She advised me to call when I felt more pressure, but I could feel nothing. 15 minutes later she came back and said "he was right there".

5 pushes. 2 contractions. A head emerging that was not red. It all happened so quickly. And then he was there on top of me, with his face all screwed up looking just like Aquaman.

At 3:58 pm, Ezra Dean McVicker "Greystoke" was born.

He looked so small, I didn't think he could possibly be 7 pounds, but he was 7-7 and 20 inches. Absolutely perfect.
He was as grey as his nickname when they placed him on my stomach, but he refused to cry. He looked a little disturbed, but not nearly as angry as I thought he'd be.
Since he refused to scream, it was about 30 minutes before he would eat, because his lungs were still saturated, and he was working very hard to breathe.

So I just held him. Wondering at the mystery of it all. That you could walk in to the hospital with someone inside of you, and just like that he could be outside. But instead of feeling just you've never been so full.

Long slender fingers and big ski feet.

 "He gots blue eyes and a facifier" is how The Dude described him to Aquaman's teacher this morning.

The boys are adjusting well. The hospital stay was grueling, and the separation from the other 2 difficult. I forgot about how hard the 2nd night is. The baby blues hit just when the little ones at home are starting to fall apart. I shed many a tear, alone, in my hospital room with Greystoke on that last night, as JT spent the night on the couch at home consoling The Dude. I prayed: "God, you told us through the name You gave us that with this child: "help is here." Where is your help? Help us." And He did. The sun rose with pink hope, and we were going home.

Aquaman is thrilled to be "the biggest brother", and does not understand why he can't carry Greystoke all over the house.

The Dude, following his cues, is equally thrilled, though slightly more terrified. He hovers over me during diaper changes, when I am putting Vaseline on Greystoke's circumcision, and lectures me not to hurt him. At one point yesterday, he tried to pick up the baby and rescue him from me, because obviously I was hurting him.

The Dude's very slight stuttering problem has suddenly worsened from the anxiety of it all, which is incredibly endearing.
And somehow or other, he is sleeping better than ever, and so far I have not had any middle-of-the-night "what am I going to do with both of these crying boys' scenarios.

We seem to have hit the baby jackpot with Greystoke. He cries pretty much only if he needs something, and even then it is not a terrible convincing cry. When he wakes at night, I usually get to him when he is grunting and moving, and he never cries at all. This is a new, easygoing breed of baby that I am not familiar with, but I am terribly thankful for.

JT is off for 2 weeks, and has been a lifesaver as I adjust physically post-birth and to our new addition.

I live for the "skin-to-skin" naps I've been able to take almost every day since we got home.

These days are so precious. Our family feels truly complete, and even in the busyness of it, I don't know how it ever felt full without our littlest boy.

I am short on eloquence and long on fatigue, but couldn't let another day go by without writing it all down.

The beginning of another beautiful chapter.