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 Importance of Reading

Reading - Usborne Books

I love to read. I love to be ensnared by a great book that begs me to read it all night, staying up way too late with a wholly inappropriate amount of respect for how quickly morning will come. We have an absolute ton of books in our house, bookcases in every room with books spilling out, waiting for us to buy and fill another bookcase.

I’ve been reading to my kids since before they could comprehend what they were hearing. Lakin’s first book was The Hobbit, read aloud when she was 4 months old, and followed immediately by Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Of course we owned dozens of board books and borrowed even more from our local library, and these were read throughout each day and at bed time every night. It seems to have worked, as my girls learned to read at a very young age, and have become eager aficionados of the written word.

I kept our very favorite books from the older girls’ baby and toddler years. I was pretty sure I was done having kids, but I just couldn’t part with my favorites — Sandra Boynton books, Is Your Mama a Llama?, and That’s Not My Kitten. I still have The Going to Bed Book memorized, 13 years later. These books are a little bedraggled-looking now, from being well-loved and then carted around in boxes and on shelves for a decade or so, but when I pulled them out for Katie, they were instant hits.

That’s Not My Kitten is the book that started me on my current path, actually. I have such amazing memories of reading it to Lakin and Addah, with such inflection in the words to create excitement — “That’s not MY kitten! That kitten is toooo fluffy!” and finally, on the last page, we would all say “THAT’S my kitten!” and then take turns feeling it’s fuzzy ears. I didn’t realize there were more books in that series… or I’d have bought them all!

I was in the bookstore not long ago with Katie, perusing the baby/toddler board books, when I saw That’s Not My Monster. I bought it immediately, and it was just as much fun to read as its’ kitty cat counterpart. Imagine my surprise when a Google search turned up more than 30 books in this series now, all available through Usborne books. I clicked through to a consultant’s Usborne shop, and proceeded to spend a whole lot of time window shopping, just amazed at how many great books there are. More than 80% of the books for sale through Usborne are under $10, which is definitely good news for our book loving family.

Seeing just how many new books there are on the Usborne book’s site made my wheels start turning… and I felt inspired! Maybe I could sell Usborne books? I certainly feel passionately about books and literacy, and the importance of reading to children as often as possible. The more I thought about it, I realized that it’s really the perfect marriage of my love for books and my desire to stay at home with my kids and still bring in an income.

I kicked around the idea for a week or two, and finally decided that yes, I can sell Usborne books! (And you can too… and if you’re interested in talking about the benefits of doing so, please feel free to send me an email!)

Book Party Invitation - Usborne Books

So there it is… and I’m excited to offer you all an invitation to my very first e-show (and a giveaway)! If you place an order through my show link between now and March 31, you will automatically be entered to win a free book! The winner will be randomly selected using a random number generator, and if you don’t have the funds to shop now, don’t worry, because I’m planning to make this a monthly event and giveaway!

This new business venture couldn’t come at a better time for little Katie, who is just starting to develop a love for books that I know will follow her throughout her life. Earlier today, she was sitting on the floor at my feet, turning the pages of one of her First Words board books, having a lovely baby-babble conversation with the kitties and puppies on the pages. I think she actually plays with her books more than she plays with her multitude of Little People… and that’s just fine with me.

Follow my Usborne Books and More page on Facebook for updates on shows, sales, and giveaways!

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.

Katie's Birth Story

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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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.

Happiness

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!