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I’d Like to Thank the Academy…

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

The time has come the walrus said…to bring this blog to a close.

While I have loved chronicling and sharing this pregnancy and birth, I also feel it deep in my bones to press pause on blogging and give more undivided attention to my family.

There is nothing like a newborn to remind me of the brevity of time.

Baby girl’s cheeks are already starting to get nice and jowly. Her chicken legs are starting to plump up and everyday I see her I’m reminded that this season, the middle of the night feedings, the diaper changes, the laundry, the dinners, the baths and repeat, doesn’t last long.

And Harper. That girl. Harper is a few months away from preschool and only a couple of years from Kindergarten. It’s basically like she’s met a man, “and he’s wonderful and brilliant, and they’re getting married.”

Time please stop already. She’s all sorts of personality these days, both mind bogglingly adorable and frustrating at the same time. After three weeks of close inspection, and I mean CLOSE, she’s determined I feed the baby through my belly button. Interesting Harper, very interesting.

These are our days now. Answering a hundred toddler inquisitive whys and newborns with rolls that are trying so hard to make an appearance fitting perfectly into the crook of my arm.

Life is currently watercolors on the kitchen floor, family naps, and one blowout after another.

It’s late night peeks to ensure everyone is sleeping, rearranging covers, and ghosting through rooms for one final kiss. It’s simple. And exhausting. And wonderful.

I don’t want to miss any of these unpredictable readjusting to life days.

And so, I bid adieu.

One of the greatest realizations that has come from this pregnancy is how blessed I am in this life. In all honesty, the complications of Finley’s birth scared me to my core. It is rare to really glimpse all that one has to lose. It is also a miracle. One that reminded me how grateful I am to be here with my family everyday. I haven’t talked too much about my recovery from preeclampsia because it was a deeply personal life changing moment for me. One that immediately brings me to tears of gratitude.

I realized I have an entire village that helps me raise these babies and I owe so much to the people that helped me and continue to do so.

Before I say goodbye to blogging, I want to give some proper shout outs to the people who have so generously aided me the past nine months.

Thank you to my baby daddy, a great husband and father. There are not enough words to adequately tell you how grateful I am everyday that I chose you as my partner. There is no place I’d rather be than by your side, forever. You have my heart and soul.

Thank you to my in-laws for being the most genuinely helpful and caring people. They influence our daughters’ lives for the better. I hope they grow up to follow their example of service. I know in-laws get a bad wrap but honestly, I hit the in-law jackpot. My mother-in-law made my pregnant lady dreams come true by cleaning our house before Finley’s arrival, throwing me a surprise shower, and babysitting Harper countless times. I am grateful everyday to live near such a selfless, supportive family. We couldn’t do it without them.

Thank you to Parents Magazine for the incredible opportunity to write about pregnancy, birth, and really, whatever the heck I wanted. Thank you for encouraging me and never silencing my hemorrhoids and over shares. It was a gift to be able to work for such an amazing staff.

Thank you to my mother for coming into our home after Finley was born and helping me recover. A girl just needs her mom sometimes to help her navigate sleep deprivation, post birth meltdowns, and juggling multiple kids. Thank you for teaching me so much about embracing and loving parenthood, and enjoying whatever moments it brings.

Thank you to my pregnant posse for taking my questions, pitching ideas, and helping me feel less like a stereotypical crazy pregnant lady.

Thank you to the family, who although far away, called, texted, and prayed for us. It made all the difference.

Thank you to our friends who supported us, congratulated us, and were excited with us. Pregnancy is doubly thrilling when shared.

Thank you to both of my girls for teaching me instantaneous and unconditional love. I am forever grateful for these babies that make this life so grand. Thank you for simultaneously teaching me how to have courage and vulnerability as a mother. I carry you both in my heart.

Thank you Internets for being kind and allowing me to capture the magic, hilarity, and unpredictability of pregnancy. Thank you for not judging too harshly and letting me write of my love for pregnancy, babies, and family.

Thank you to all the people who read, commented, and shared this blog.

I have a feeling we’ll meet again Internets, but for now, I’ve got babies to snuggle, spit up onesies to launder, a toddler to coerce to bed, dishes to clean, imaginary friends to play with, bruises to kiss, and other ordinarily extraordinary things to do.

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Update: Breastfeeding, Post Birth, Being the Mother of Two, and Other Random Overshares

Monday, February 25th, 2013

The other night I asked Harper, “What can baby Finley do?” She precociously replied, “She can take a pooh!” Nailed it.

If naming the short list of Finley’s achievements is paramount to adjusting to being a big sister, Harper is doing fine. Juuuust fine.

Lesbehonest, the first few weeks months after having a baby are all about low expectations. I know this blog is called Great Expectations, but to survive the postpartum mayhem of emotions, change, and sometimes downright chaos, I’m remembering that I have to be kind to myself and someday I’ll be like Stella, and get my mothering groove back. For now, we’re just trying to take it slow as we adjust to our new life.

Even though I’ve only been a “mother of two” for a little over two weeks, I thought I’d share a little of how me, my favorite 2T, and our teeny tiny are adjusting to life.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty first: breastfeeding round two.

Finley knew her way around a boob from the minute she was born. Hallelujah. Unfortunately for my girls, the engorged C-cup wonders, she took lessons from a piranha on the art of suckling.

Knowing in advance that breastfeeding hurts worse than the humiliation of the 80s bangs I rocked until the year 2000, I have not been detoured. It’s hard out here for the mother of a baby piranha though.

In the spirit of full disclosure, the info you don’t want to know but need to know, my lovely lady lumps cracked so bad my white bras turned crimson and my teeny tiny was gulping pink milk. If she grows up to be a vampire, I’ll only have myself to blame.

Crisis averted though, thanks to my savior, the nipple shield, and even though I’m still curling my toes a bit at the initial latch, breastfeeding is going well. Rest assured that the only pink milk my littlest girlfriend will get in the future is strawberry.  I overshare this info as encouragement. Breastfeeding is rough at times but doable.

In fact, until I started nursing again I didn’t realize how much I missed it. I missed tiny, wrinkled hands grabbing at my shirt, pulling me closer, asserting to the milk, “Get in my belly!”

Newborns are ravenous, grunty little things, who carry an intoxicating smell of spit up and showcase adorably gassy smiles. Sigh. I love me a newborn. Especially my little piranha.

Nitty gritty overshare numero dos I’m happy to  report is not as graphic: the aftermath.

There was less of an explosion in the ol’ baby parts and recovery has been much less difficult. I’ve already said goodbye to my love, the donut, (but not stool softeners, we’re bros for life).

I took a friend’s suggestion to rock an ice pack from dawn until dusk and I believe it’s made all the difference. Sure this road less traveled by requires I wear an adult diaper and the hospital’s version of an ice pack, a newborn diaper packed with ice at all times. With two diapers strapped to my chonies, success is mine. Although you can hear the sound of my diapers coming from down the hall, I have the last “my stitches don’t even hurt when I laugh” laugh.

Thank you friend for the advice and you’re welcome for the tip to the two people still reading this overly informative post.

Now onto the real star and the person I get the most questions about: Harper.

Harper is adjusting well. She’s interested in the baby when she wants to be and the rest of the time just goes about her toddler business. She has realized mom’s hands are a little more full with the new babe so that means her toddler business now includes running around naked and untamed as much as possible. Her mantra, everything is better nudie.

Honestly, the girl sure is sweet to her sister. Sure, she’s going through a little “all the attention all the time” detox, but she doesn’t have a mean bone in her body. Instead, she calls Finley “my baby.”

Finley was crying the other night when I asked Harps to come to dinner. She replied, “I can’t. My baby needs me.” Shoot girl, you sure know how to make your post-birth hormonal mama cry even more. What can I get your sweet little heart? Cookies? Ice cream?

The first night Finley was home Harper woke up and immediately asked, “Where’s my baby?”

Even though I’d like a little credit for birthing this baby, I’ll take her protectiveness and baby hoarding over resentment any day.

She chatters to her in the car, which again, cues the tears, and is really not safe for driving. Whoops. How am I supposed to hold it together though when Harper is telling her sister, “It’s okay my baby, we’ll be there soon. Don’t cry.” You would cry too if it happened to you.

I welcome the tears for the sweet, thoughtful, birthday suit rocking big sister Harper is becoming.

Finally, I wanted to share a little about how I’m managing my newly divided attention.

Right now, two feels overwhelming at times, but each day we’re trying.

The moment I dreaded the most, when my girls needed me at the exact same time, happened. It’s actually happened several times. Occasionally, this moment of not knowing what to do and who to help first has left us all crying. It breaks my heart not being able to have enough hands for both of them. Sure, I’ve mastered the art of the one-hand, nurse while eating, cooking, cleaning, dance partying, and mail grabbing but sometimes, that’s not enough.

As both girls lay sleeping in their beds tonight, identical snores escaping from their rooms, I remembered that even though I don’t always have enough hands, I do have more than enough love for the both of them. That’s really what they need.

It is difficult to relearn how to balance my time and attention between the people I love the most. I am trying to set my expectations low. There are a lot of things that can wait. At the end of the day, the things I need to get done are to take care of myself and my family.

There will be a day when “routine” is a word in our vocabulary again, when sleep is not interrupted, and I’ll feel less frazzled by which crying babe to help first.

Today though, I want to welcome the fact that I don’t have all the answers about how to mother two. That’s the crazy, hard, wonderful part about motherhood; it is a constant learning process with new dilemmas each day. It requires growth, uncomfortableness, tears, love, forgiveness and a lot of laughter.

Being a mother to two is stretching me in new ways. For as many times as I’ve cried exhausted, helpless tears the past few weeks, they’ve been matched by joy and gratitude for our new life.

We’re taking it one day at a time over here and so far we’re surviving. Actually, we’re doing pretty swell.

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Healthy Promises to My Daughters

Friday, February 22nd, 2013

This post is sponsored by Little Remedies — makers of children’s medication without artificial colors, artificial flavors, or alcohol. 

To My Daughters,

As I think of my limitations to protect you from all of the hurt in this world (and I don’t necessarily want to since there is a lot to learn from pain), I think of the things I can control and the ways I want to protect you.

I want to raise happy, healthy children. I want to teach you both to love your body. I want you both to understand that being healthy aids in your happiness.

I can’t promise you that you’ll always be healthy or go without physical pain, but I can promise that I’ll teach you both to be healthy the best I know how.

I promise to keep you healthy by teaching you the little things: wash hands, wash fruits and veggies, drink plenty of water.

I promise to keep you healthy by researching and protecting you from unnecessary fillers and ingredients.

I promise to keep you healthy by introducing you to lots of whole foods. Yes, I also promise I’ll sneak vegetables into many a meal and smoothie, but I also promise to teach you to try new foods and which foods make you feel good.

I promise to keep you healthy by reminding you that your body feels good when it moves. We’ll dance party by day and probably by night as well. I won’t tiger mom you by over-scheduling, but swim, soccer, dance, running, you can try them all until you find something you love.

I promise to keep you healthy by telling you your body is beautiful. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and loving your body for what it is and what it can do is one of the greatest ways to stay mentally healthy.

I promise to keep you healthy by fostering balance. It’s unrealistic to think you’ll never eat a french fry or ice cream. I want you to enjoy those foods too because you know that balance is an important part to health.

I promise to keep you healthy by laughing and being silly. They say laughter is the best medicine for a reason and I want our home to ring with the laughter of healthy, happy kids.

I want to promise you so much my little ones. I can’t promise you everything, but I can promise to do my best to keep you healthy and to teach you to be healthy.

Our health is one of the greatest gifts we have.

I love you both with all of my heart.

Love,
Mama

Feel free to leave a comment of the healthy promises you’ve made to your kids.

Please visit Little Remedies to learn more about this campaign.

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Finley’s Birth Story

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

We all have stories to tell. Within each story, there are smaller stories, the details as we remember them and felt them. I firmly believe in the sharing of stories. Some parts of our stories we share. Some parts of our stories we keep sacred. Whatever we decide to share, the stories we tell are evidence of the moments we are blessed to live. Some moments are trying. Some moments are humbling. And some moments are ones where our hearts nearly burst with love.

Finely’s birth was all of those moments.

Below are the stories within in the story that comprise Finley’s birth. These are the moments from her birth that I hold in my heart.  I’ll tell her these stories little by little, unfolding each detail, each fabric in the tapestry of her tale, when she asks me to tell her about the day she was born.

I’ll tell her how her sister awoke the day of her birth with eyes only for my belly. Instead of asking for her typical morning show, she wanted to hug my belly, smother it in kisses, and continually ask when “sissy boo” was coming. In a sweet exchange, we cuddled and talked, the three of us, unbeknownst to me, the last time “the three of us” would still mean one was in my belly. It’s as if in the language reserved only for sisters, they both knew, today was different. Today was important.

I’ll tell her how I’d planned a “pregnant lady day out.” A day that started with a routine doctor appointment and was supposed to be followed by a manicure, pedicure, and shopping. I’ll tell her how I drove away from the house that day with the bed unmade, dishes in the sink, and the vacuum out for some cleaning. I naively thought I’d be back shortly.

I’ll tell her how the nurse began with her usual check of my blood pressure and promptly noted it was too high. As I sat on the cold, thin paper of the exam table, it didn’t even register that this could be a problem. As the nurse checked and rechecked my blood pressure, leaving the room quickly, I heard the quiet whispers between doctor and nurse exchanged just outside the door.

I’ll tell her how the doctor came in and said my blood pressure would not come down and I needed to go to the hospital. I’ll tell her how I called her dad and delivered the news a bit too flippantly, certain it was only a blip in the day’s plans. He immediately began to make plans to meet me at the hospital at which I protested, again, convinced it would clear up soon.

I’ll tell her how her dad, the most caring man I know said, “but what if it doesn’t get better? I need to be there.”

I’ll tell her how the nurses in the ER were the first to use the word, “preeclampsia.” In all honesty, I didn’t know the exact harm of preeclampsia and when they replied, “seizures,”  it suddenly registered that this was more than a blip in the day’s plans.

I’ll tell her how the doctor came in to confirm the preeclampsia and that while we were all healthy and only 6 days away from my due date, she wanted me to deliver that day.

I’ll tell her how the tears of worry poured from my eyes but despite that worry, her dad told me that as scared as we were, we were going to meet our beautiful baby that day.

I’ll tell her how they started me on anti-seizure medication, magnesium sulfate, and it gave me an instant headache, as if someone had placed the fuzziest of clouds around my head from which I could not surface.

I’ll tell her how they started the induction and I asked the nurses to turn down my medication because I wanted to be more present, more alert, more in the moment when she was born. They obliged.

I’ll tell her how at 6:45pm we were on the phone with Grandma, laughing, waiting, distracting, and guessing the baby would probably be born around midnight.

I’ll tell her how at 7:00pm I grimaced in intolerable pain and told her dad, “I think I want to push.”

I’ll tell her how her dad ran into the hall to find a nurse and suddenly, their hurried voices declared me ready to deliver. I remember asking the nurse, “you mean I’m ready to push?” She confirmed, but told me not to because I needed to wait for the doctor.

I’ll tell her how the next 30 minutes were the most painful and excruciating of my life as I tried not to push. I know I only survived those minutes because her dad grounded me. He looked into my soul in a way that only childbirth allows and cheered me and coached me out of a place I thought I couldn’t overcome. We were a team, more than we’ve ever been before. I needed him not only because I love him, but because I could not do it without him. His courage, his optimism, his support carried me through. And when it was over, and he tenderly kissed my forehead and told me I was incredible, I told him we were incredible.

I’ll tell her how  the doctor finally came and said I could push.

I’ll tell her how she must have flow furiously from heaven because with four pushes she was placed on my chest at 7:59pm.

I’ll tell her how her dad kept saying how beautiful she was and how I kept crying because she was here, safe, healthy, and the sweetest sounds of angry first cries.

I’ll tell her how there is nothing comparable to the first moment when the baby one carried for nine months enters the world. It is a hallowed experience, a moment so rare and precious I hold it deep in my heart as one of the best moments I was blessed to live.

I’ll tell her how her dad and I cried happy tears and excitedly shared her stats as I lay IV ridden in the birthing bed.

I’ll tell her how she nursed like a veteran, a happy and welcome blessing considering the other complications I was facing.

I’ll tell her how the news spread rapidly that she was already here and family came to visit and hold her hours old bundle of sweet self.

I’ll tell her how famished I was post delivery and promptly devoured a sandwich, cheeseburger and fries, the only food still available. I’ll tell her how for the first time in history, someone likened hospital food to the nectar of the gods.

I’ll her how after all the visitors cleared, her dad gently rocked her to sleep and she looked so peaceful in his arms, ones she’d only recently met, but so clearly fallen in love with. We both tried to get some sleep but I stayed awake that night as she lay sleeping at the foot of my bed.

I’ll tell her how I stared and stared and loved her with the matchless love of a mother who just met her new babe.

I’ll tell her how my arms ached for her, but because of the preeclampsia and the sulfate, I wasn’t able to continually hold her. I cried because it wasn’t supposed to be like that and after the adrenaline of her triumphant birth, the letdown of my limitations and illness were crushing.

I’ll tell her how I cried giant, hot, frustrated tears to her dad and he listened to my disappointment, but wisely calmed me as he told me, “I can’t lose you. And neither can our girls.” He gave me perspective. I knew I needed to do what was required to get better.

I’ll tell her how in the wee hours of the morning, I asked her dad to bring her to me, and as I held her in my arms, warm and soft and tiny sounds of contentment, the light slowly, quietly brightened to morning. I snuggled her and whispered to her the dreams in my heart for her life.

I’ll tell her how that quiet moment between mother and daughter got me through many lonely and painful moments as the hospital stay, bed rest, and medications dragged on.

I’ll tell her how I was afraid that the moment I had been waiting forever for, the first meeting with her sister, being together as a family of four, would be too clouded by medication.

I’ll tell her how as drained, medicated, and swollen as I was, despite my worries, their meeting, that moment, was one of my favorite moments on earth so far. Her sister came in, a slew of questions, “Why are you in the bed mommy?” “Is that her baby?” (referring to a friend in the room), excitedly announcing, “I brought baby Finley a present!” And even though presents, the thrill of the hospital, and me being in the hospital bed competed for her attention, as I held my two girls, I felt my heart expand with love and gratitude for the two tiny souls I’d been entrusted to raise. Her big sister tenderly examined her with curiosity, declaring her eyes to be her favorite part of her new baby sister.

I’ll tell her how in a moment of blessed clarity, I felt more complete, more love as our expanded family interacted for the first time.

There are so many stories to tell Finley from that day and birth stories are some of the most important stories to tell. They encapsulate so much love.

As she ages, and perhaps as the stories get a little less clear, I hope that she remembers how we told her of the instantaneous love of her father, the curiosity and tenderness of her sister, and the humble gratitude of her mother.

I hope she remembers that we needed her that day, we needed her in that unpredictable delivery to bind us with more love and courage than we have ever known. Her calm little soul brought so much love to our family and continues to do so every day.

We deeply wanted our sweet Finley, but until she came, we didn’t know just how much we needed our Finley too.

 

 

Images: Courtesy of my friend Jana

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She’s Here and She’s Pleased to Make Your Acquaintance

Monday, February 11th, 2013

I’m typing one-handed as the little cherub we’ve anxiously been waiting for sleeps nestled in the crook of my arm, mouth agape, purring like a tiny cat. I just wanted to take a quick second to let everyone know that baby girl arrived fast and furious and healthy on Thursday, February 7th.

Finley Juliet Besich weighed in at 6lbs, 6oz and 19 3/4 inches.

In regards to my previous post, I thought I’d let you know, I’ve unlocked the secret to going into labor naturally. Lean in and listen close. Plan something.

I had planned a very indulgent “pregnant lady’s day out” complete with manicure/pedicure, shopping, and partaking in whatever sweet treats my heart desired. Girlfriend had none of that. She chose “pregnant lady’s day out,” to come out.

I’d like to go on record and say she is better than any treat this pregnant lady had planned to procure instead. In fact, a few hours after she was born, I told the delivery room full of family, “I can’t wait to do this again.”

And it’s true. As much as pregnancy and delivery are hard at times, there is nothing like a newborn to help remind me of all that is beautiful and hopeful about this world.

We love her deeply. She looks markedly like her big sister did, is covered in some serious newborn fuzz (who knew baby ears could be hairy?!) and for a lady, works her newborn male-pattern baldness quite well.

My cup runneth over with gratitude for a healthy baby, a devoted spouse, a loving family, and the many tender moments she has already brought into our life. I cannot stop the tears when I consider all of these blessings.

I have so much to say about this little lady. For now though, I just want to snuggle her sweetness and enjoy her as she rests perfectly in the hollow of my neck reserved for babies. I can’t get enough of her skinny little legs tucked high and tight on my chest just like they were doing in my belly only a few short days ago.

I’ll be back sometime in the next week to share her story, but for now, I just want to spend my time kissing what little hair she has on her head right off.

Image: Black and white image courtesy of my friend Jana

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