Katie is One Years Old!

Our darling Katie is one years old today! At 10:55 in the morning one year ago, this precious rainbow baby entered our lives and changed them forever. She’s eased the pain of my greatest loss in a way that I didn’t think would ever be possible.

Katie is a funny and wonderful little piece of our hearts, and to use an overused cliche, she’s the light of our lives. She weighs 25 lbs and is 30″ long… 90th percentile, pretty much across the board. This makes me incredibly happy, especially because she had such a hard time gaining weight when she was younger, prompting the frenulectomy that released her very tight tongue tie.

 

Katie took her first steps this past Sunday, but she can walk easily and quickly when holding our hands. She crawls like the wind and speeds up when we chase after her. She laughs and it sounds like everything good in the world. She makes jokes and blows bubbles on our arms because it makes us laugh, which makes her laugh. She is happy, incarnate.

 

At one years old, Katie can say all of our names: Mama, Dada, Ay-a (Addah), and Laylay (Lakin). She knows our kitties are “Cat” (Miss Kitty Cat) and “At-at” (Atlas). She points and says “go” and “dat” (that). She loves to play Pat-A-Cake and turn her music box on and off. She mostly sleeps in her crib, side-car to my side of the bed, but always ends up cuddling up with me before the night is over. She eats just about everything we eat, but still thinks “bubu” (her word for nursing) is the best ever.

 

I won’t say it’s not incredibly hard sometimes, wondering what it would be like to have Katie’s big sister Clara running around, almost 3 years old now. I would absolutely love to watch my two youngest daughters playing together… building with blocks, splashing in the bathtub, arguing over who gets to play with which Little People. I envision how it could be (should be); sometimes it makes me smile, and sometimes it makes me very sad. I would be lying if I said that I didn’t wish it could be so, every single day.

 

If I’ve learned nothing else in the last 3 years, it’s to be grateful for every moment that we are granted with the ones we love and treasure, and I have tried to soak up each tiny second with this wonderful rainbow baby of ours. She is amazing.

Happy 1st Birthday, sweet Kate!

 

The First Seven Months

I wish that I had done a better job of blogging about the first seven months of Katie’s life, because I am finding it hard to recall all the little details, in hindsight. A large part of these months has been a blur of sleepless nights and very busy days.

The best I can do is to give you a pictorial timeline of how much this darling little baby has changed over these seven months. Since she was born, she has gone from a quiet happy baby who loves nothing better than to nurse and cuddle with her mama, to a bigger (and less quiet) happy baby who loves nothing better than to nurse and cuddle with her mama, when she’s not trying to master crawling, or pulling up to stand, or giggling like a wild thing at her big sisters.

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Seven months seemed to fly by in the blink of my eyes, and then yesterday, Katie turned eight months old. She is fun, and funny, and gets very excited when we sing “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and count her piggies as they’re going to the market. Her first word was “Addah”, followed quickly by “Dada” and “Bubu” (when she wants to nurse). She has two bottom teeth and is working on the top two.  She sleeps well, once she’s done fighting sleep each night, and her favorite place to sleep is curled up with Mama or Daddy.

She is a joy, truly and completely.

I won’t say it’s always been easy, these past seven months. In fact, it’s been pretty hard at times. I’m not the energetic early-twenty-something I was when my big girls were born, nor am I the more relaxed version of myself that I was when I was pregnant with Clara. In some ways, I feel like a first-time mother again, worrying over every tiny cry or bump, checking her breathing a hundred times a night to make sure that she is, in fact, still breathing. Her sister Clara’s death has made me a more vigilant parent than I was, even with Lakin and Addah. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, or a bad thing, but it is who I am, as a parent, now.

I am also more aware of what a treasure Katie is, and I make a point to appreciate the little things: her tiny fingers curling around mine, and the way her bottom lip quivers when she falls asleep after nursing. Packaged along with the pain of loss, I have discovered the gift of appreciation for every moment with this wonderful baby.

She’s growing up so fast, and so healthy, and that, too, is a gift, one that makes every day feel like Christmas morning.

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The Birth Story of Katherine Jean

It’s been seven months since Katherine Jean joined our family, and I’ve had plenty of time to reflect upon my pregnancy and her birth. I can honestly say that Katie’s birth was the best, the perfect final act in the story of my children’s births.

Pregnancy After Loss

With multiple miscarriages, a preterm birth, a full-term stillbirth, and multiple c-sections under my belt, this pregnancy was obviously considered high risk. I was seen at my doctor’s office once a month until 24 weeks, and then every two weeks until 32 weeks, and then twice a week from then on — once for an ultrasound and once for a non-stress test.

It was a very different experience for me, because I haven’t seen a doctor for an entire pregnancy since my first baby in 2001, and after my previous experiences, I have not been the biggest fan of the medical profession. That, coupled with the extreme anxiety of being pregnant after Clara’s stillbirth, gave me a lot to work through, and I was fortunate to have David to lean on for every appointment.

NST Anxiety During Pregnancy After Loss

We were told pretty early on that I would need to deliver by c-section at 36 weeks. The high-risk doctors did not feel comfortable allowing me to progress past that point, and I had already promised myself that I would do what I was told, for a change. As the scheduled date drew closer, I became more and more nervous. I was just sure that our baby would die too, like Clara. I was certain that in the 2-3 days between ultrasound and NST each week, something terrible would happen. The feeling was so unwavering that I refused to sign the final paperwork for the tubal ligation I wanted, until I knew for sure that the baby has been delivered safely.

We arrived at the hospital at 6:30 in the morning on April 2, 2014. I was both excited and terrified. I’d never done this before, walked into a hospital with the intention of undergoing a cesarean section, but surprisingly, as much as I fought the very idea of having a c-section with my three other girls, I was not anxious at all about the surgery. I had made peace with needing a repeat cesarean, and I felt like I knew what to expect from the surgery and recovery, which took away that fear almost completely.

No, my fear and anxiety were all for the health of our baby. I was admitted and taken to a pre-op room, where I changed into my gown and socks. My vital signs were taken, I met all of the nurses and my anesthesiologist, and an IV was started. A nurse came in to put a heart monitor and contraction belt on me, and she had trouble picking up the baby’s heartbeat for just a minute… and I could feel my mouth go dry and my blood pressure going up. The nurses knew our history, so they were very reassuring, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong.

We were bumped four times for emergency c-sections, which amounted to an extra two hour wait in the pre-op room, and I held tight to David’s hand throughout that time. I kept saying, “but the baby’s fine right now, we need to get her out now, while we know she’s okay”. Nothing could convince me to calm down. I was obsessing with whether I felt her moving, whether the monitor’s beep was a good one or a bad one, and I watched the minutes tick by so slowly.

David, on the other hand, was a little nervous, but mostly he was so excited. He couldn’t wait to meet our baby and he felt confident that she would be fine. He was infinitely patient with me, petting my hair, rubbing my feet, and talking to my belly, telling our baby how excited we were to finally meet her.

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My dad brought Addah up to the hospital around 9:45 in the morning, and she came back to the pre-op room for a hug and kiss. Having her there calmed me down too, and very shortly after she came in to visit, the nurses came to get us. It was baby time!

David changed into his surgical clothes, while I was wheeled into the OR and prepped for spinal anesthesia. The room was full of doctors, nurses, the anesthesia team, and the NICU team (just in case, since I was only 36 weeks along). I asked for my husband, right as a nurse was bringing him in. He held my hand so tightly, and the surgery began.

The surgery took much longer than the three previous, because it was my first non-emergent cesarean. There was a lot of scar tissue to get through, and she was in a breech presentation, so the doctor had said they wanted to take their time. Finally, after what felt like a million years, the doctor said “here we go”. David stood up to look over the curtain that fell across my chest, and I felt the pressure of our baby being pulled from my body.

I didn’t hear her cry at first, and I asked if she was okay over and over. David said, “she’s moving, they’re just suctioning her a little”. Finally I heard her tiny cries, and all at once I could breathe again. The nurse called David over and handed our baby girl, Katherine Jean, to him. He brought her to me, and all I could think to say was, “I have been waiting so long for you, sweet girl”.

Katie was the most beautiful baby in the entire world, as all of my babies have been. I kissed her chubby little hands and whispered “I love you” over and over, to her and to David. Breathing, healthy, alive… everything I had hoped for. She was 6 lbs 7 oz, 20 inches long, born at 10:55 in the morning on April 2, 2014.

My surgery was not yet over, because I had opted for a tubal ligation, so a nurse guided David and baby Katie out of the OR and into a quiet room with a rocking chair so they could bond and wait for me. The rest of the surgery took far too long for my liking; I couldn’t wait to hold my tiny sweet baby. When I was stitched up and put back together, I was taken to my hospital room, where I was finally (finally!) able to hold Katie. I’m not even sure if I can describe the wild range of emotions I was feeling — elation and wonder at this perfect little one, mixed with grief and sadness, remembering the last time I held a tiny baby in a hospital bed.

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Mostly I felt peace. My previous birth stories had always started off with the end goal of natural birth and ended with the disappointment of a c-section. I tried, every way I could think of, to bend birth to my will and make a natural birth part of my story, but as it turned out, my most peaceful birth was a planned c-section. I would change nothing about my last birth story. I realized, after Clara died, that the end goal of any birth story should be “healthy baby” — it’s not how the baby gets here that matters, but that they get here safely.

The rest… really doesn’t matter, in the end.

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I’m Back, Baby! {Returning From A Blog Hiatus}

It’s been 7 months since I took a blog hiatus, and almost a year since I blogged on a regular basis. I had gotten bored with it, to a degree, and I was feeling confused about the direction my blog was headed.

I enjoy writing sponsored posts that tell a story that is relevant to my family, but I do not enjoy feeling like a sell-out, or like I’m just doing it for the money. I like writing about my kids, but I do not like their punk classmates using my stories to tease and bully. I like being honest about the mental health challenges my daughter and I face, but I don’t want to compromise her privacy either. I wanted to share my pregnancy and write about the anxiety and fear I felt, carrying a baby after Clara died, but I had too much anxiety to even write those fears down.

Basically, I just felt paralyzed when it came to blogging, and my short break turned into a long hiatus. After I while, I didn’t even miss it anymore… too busy with the new baby to have time for anything “extra”.

Well, fast forward to this week… I sat down at the computer to do some basic maintenance on the blog. I kept getting weird messages that my blog went down for 2 minutes at a time, and I figured I’d better check it out and see if something needed updating. It turns out that my theme was outdated, and I needed to fix a few things, clean up the dust of abandonment… and somewhere in there, the writing bug bit me, once again.

I’m still not 100% sure of how I’m going to handle all of the things I mentioned above, but I’m working on it.

So…  I’m back, baby, as much as I can be with a 7 month old and the tweens’ schedules to juggle. I can’t promise there won’t be quiet weeks, but I can promise that I won’t disappear for months on end again.

I love this place too much to stay away.

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A Rainbow After The Storm

I am so happy to announce that our beautiful rainbow baby, Katherine Jean, was born on April 2, 2014 at 10:55 in the morning. Katie is strong, healthy, and lovely. She was born at 37 weeks 3 days gestation by scheduled c-section, and weighed 6 pounds 7 ounces.

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Her birth story will follow at some point in the near future, but these days I’m spending most of my time soaking in her milk-drunk smiles and appreciating every ounce and moment of her.

Thank you to every one who has sent us prayers, warm thoughts, happy vibes, support, hugs… I am so grateful!

A Stolen Few Minutes… And A Gender Announcement!

It has been two months since I last wrote for my blog, and I have missed it sorely. We are currently without internet access at home, and my schedule has become dense with various appointments. I’m not sure when I’ll be able to write again as often as I would like to, so for now, a stolen few minutes with McDonald’s free wifi will have to suffice.

I am nearly 21 weeks pregnant with baby #4, and we are both doing very well. We’ve had several opportunities to see our little bug via ultrasound, as I am under the care of our city’s best high-risk OB-GYN doctors. This is the first time that I am submitting to so much medical care in pregnancy, but I will take no chances with this baby’s life. I cannot fathom losing another child — and so I smile and listen to the doctors in whom I have put my faith and hope.

We had a 3D/4D ultrasound three weeks ago, and our tech gave us 90% odds that this baby is a little girl! I’ve seen two other little girls via ultrasound before (Lakin and Clara; we did not find out Addah’s gender until birth) and it certainly looked like little girl parts to me! We couldn’t be happier; truth be told, it doesn’t matter to us what gender our little bug is, as long as we get to bring home a healthy baby this time around.

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We’ve picked out a name, though we won’t reveal her name until she is born… just a weird superstition of ours. She’s bumping and kicking inside of my belly, and it’s just as amazing as it was the first time I felt Lakin move inside me. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever have a chance to carry a baby again, and as this little one will be our last, I am soaking up every moment with this little one.

As for the rest of the family, everyone is doing well and recovering nicely from an extremely difficult couple of months. I’m not sure that anything is going to be truly back to “normal” for at least a few more months, financially or otherwise, but all we can do is hang in there and be grateful for what we have — namely, each other.

I wish you all a wonderful December and a happy holiday season filled with love and warmth!