Friday, July 15, 2011

One Month Old!

Charlie, you are one month old - where has the time gone, sweet boy? We have settled into an easy, simple summer routine, and it seems that you have been part of our lives forever.

At one month old, you are:

  • Our best sleeper out of the four! Hooray for a well-rested mama! You nurse around 9:00, then go down to sleep and don't wake until around 2:00 in the morning. Daddy goes to get you, changes you, and brings you to our bed, where you eat and then often bunk in, dozing peacefully between Mommy and Daddy until you wake again - this morning, not until 7:00! Believe me, co-sleeping was never part of the plan for us, but often you just are too cozy to move! I love drifting back to sleep staring at your little face in the quiet house. 

  • A total snuggler. Your favorite mode of transportation is the fantastic Moby wrap, because you are curled up close to Mommy wherever she goes. Forget the stroller and the carseat - you will have none of it! You prefer being close, and after three other babies, I finally realize that's how it should be! I've let go all of that "hold them too much and you'll spoil them" baloney, and I hold you as much as you want to be held, knowing all too well that in a few short months you'll be pushing your way out of my arms, eager to explore the world. I'm enjoying every moment of holding you close. 

  • Growing well! At your one month appointment you weighed 8 pounds, 10 ounces... you've gained almost two full pounds since you were born, and are starting to get deliciously chunky little cheeks.

  • A decisive little guy. You know what you want - and it's nearly always to either eat, sleep, burp, or cuddle :-). You cry pretty rarely, and stop as soon as your needs are met.
  •  So very, very loved by your two big brothers and your big sister. Daddy and I have taken to calling you "the little prince" because that is how they treat you. You are blessed beyond measure to have these three fantastic kids to grow up with.

  •  And best of all... already smiling!!  You're clearly gifted, since you're not supposed to smile until six weeks :-).


This is the verse we are praying for you this first year of your life, sweet Baby Charlie:
"And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him."  Luke 2:40

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Celebrating the Fourth of July!

We had a wonderful and relaxing July 4th weekend... we stayed home, played in the back yard with the kids, took long naps, and watched movies on Netflix. It was so nice to not be racing all over the place! On Monday, my sister had everyone over for a backyard BBQ. Great food, great family, great fun. We are so very blessed to live in the same town with my parents and my sister and brother-in-law. Here are some highlights from our picnic!

 Scrumptious food...

 Boys being boys...

Slip sliding away...

"Blessed be God
      he heard me praying.
   He proved he's on my side;
      I've thrown my lot in with him.
   Now I'm jumping for joy,
      and shouting and singing my thanks to him."
Psalm 28:6-7 (The Message)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Meeting Charlie

Chloe meeting Charlie...

Max & Sam meeting Charlie...

Aunt Cici meeting Charlie...

Nana meeting Charlie...

Pop meeting Charlie...

Grammy meeting Charlie...

Uncle Paul meeting Charlie...

James meeting Charlie...

So many more family members still to meet!! The rest of this month we are going to be blessed with visits from Aunt Rini, Uncle Brett and all seven cousins from Georgia, plus Aunt Carla, Uncle Steve, and all three cousins from New York, and hopefully Uncle Brian and Papa Tom!!  We can not wait to introduce Charlie to them.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Our Sweet Sam

A moment captured in the playroom a few days ago...

Our Sam is creative, thoughtful, sensitive and smart. This morning he read an entire Golden Book word for word from memory to his little bro Charlie. He loves animals and reading and putting on any sort of costume. This day, he was a doctor. He is such a cool kid... I'm so glad he's mine.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ballerina Girl

Two days before Charlie was born, Chloe had her ballet recital at Saint Stephen's Church in Sewickley, and we were so incredibly proud of how well she did and what a fearless little performer she was!

Grammy drove all the way from Cincinnati to be there, and of course, Nana, Pop, Aunt Cici and Max & Sam wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Chloe's ballet number was to "You Are My Sunshine," and her tap number was to "Put On a Happy Face."

Such skill!

Such grace!

At the end the entire dance school took a well-deserved bow...
And the critics were kind...

And we went home as a family to eat Graeters ice cream and lift our glasses in a toast to our tiny dancer.

Congratulations on an excellent performance, our dear sweet Chloe. You are a beautiful little girl, both inside and out, and you fill us with unspeakable joy.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Charlie's Birth Story

Charlie is almost four weeks old, and I am finally beginning to feel like myself again. Things are settling into a new normal for our family, and first and foremost, I wanted to sit down and write out my thoughts and memories on the day of Charlie's birth before I begin to forget them.

June 5, 2011 was a hot, sunny Sunday, and we went to church in the morning as we always do. I was feeling crabby and uncomfortable, anticipating all the "Wow, still no baby yet?" comments before I even waddled through the doors of church. I had a tough time paying attention to any part of the sermon - had the chairs in the worship center always been this uncomfortable? I was having lots of contractions, but didn't think much of it - I'd been having Braxton Hicks in recent weeks, and I was sure this just was more of the same. At communion near the end of the service, I told Greg that I was ready to go... I didn't want to have to sit back down again! I went to get the kids from their Sunday school rooms and ran into several friends as we made our way to the door. I think they could all tell I was pretty much over being pregnant at that point, and they promised me that they would be praying for a quick birth - and the sooner the better!

I was 38 1/2 weeks! The baby was moving and grooving all day long in my belly, and as the day progressed I began to realize that the marathon was almost over... this baby would be in my arms very soon. It's such a surreal thought - no matter how many babies you have, I don't think it ever gets old. The nursery was ready, the crib was up, the pink and blue clothes were cleaned and folded, and the precious, tiny diapers were stacked on the changing table. Physically I was starting to feel uncomfortable, but emotionally I felt peaceful and excited and joy-filled.

In the afternoon I decided to go vacuum out the minivan so it would be nice and clean when we brought the new baby home. "Do you really think you should be doing that in your condition?" Greg asked. "Why don't I go and do it?"  I insisted on doing it myself.  Who knew? Maybe all that cleaning would push me into labor. Little did I know!

I scrubbed that car to within an inch of its life! I remember thinking that all the people working at the carwash must have thought I was a total nut. It was so hot and there I was, as big as a house, vacuuming like a maniac. I stopped over at my parents' house after the carwash and we talked about how uncomfortable I was getting.  My mom said, "Well, maybe tonight's the night."

"Nope. No way. Not tonight," I told her. Little did I know!

I picked up Sir Pizza on the way home and we chowed down, and then as the kids went into the playroom Greg and I settled onto the couch to watch 60 Minutes, our Sunday evening ritual. As soon as I laid down, I felt the most bizarre, sharp pain like something had popped inside of me, followed by a long, hard contraction. I sat straight up and had to breathe through it.

"Do you think your water just broke?" Greg asked. I had never experienced my water breaking before, so I had no idea.

"No, I'm sure it's just another Braxton Hicks," I said. Within a few minutes, though, it became obvious that this was definitely not just another Braxton Hicks, as I started feeling painful, regular contractions. I called the doctor on call at Magee and told him I thought my water had broken, but I wasn't positive. It wasn't a big gush of water, but more of a constant trickle.

"Your water broke," he said. "Get your things and come to the hospital."

I asked him if I could take a shower, and he told me not to because they do a test to confirm that your water has broken when you get to the hospital, and showering can mess up the test.

"I'd rather you just came now," he said. Still, I decided to take my time. I guess I just wanted to make sure this was really it. I called my mom and she announced that she had her bag already packed (I didn't even have my bag packed yet!!)  and she was on her way over. I told her to just wait a bit... I had a few loads of laundry I wanted to fold and then I needed to pack. I think she muttered something along the lines of, "Laundry?? Laura, give me a break. I'm coming over." Greg was running around the house, getting last minute things ready. I remember smiling as I listened to him running up and down the stairs. He was so excited. I was glad one of us was, because I was beginning to feel pain, and anxiety was creeping in close behind.

It must have been about 8:30 or so when my mom came over and we told the kids what was going on.

Chloe came into my room and saw me zipping up my suitcase. "What's that for?" she asked. I wanted to be really calm, so she wasn't worried. "Well, it looks like Mommy is going to have the baby tonight!" I said, trying to sound excited. "Nana and Pop are on their way over right now, and Daddy and I are going to the hospital so the doctor can tell us if tonight is the night our baby is going to be born!" We sat down at the bottom of the stairs as my mom came in the front door, and my sweet little first born's face crumpled as she started to cry. I tried to reassure her but the truth was, I didn't have the energy to get upset myself. My contractions were coming every three or four minutes, and they were strong enough that I couldn't talk much once they started.

I remember a pretty quiet drive to the hospital; Greg was concentrating on getting us there as quickly as possible, and I was concentrating on getting through the contractions. We were ushered into triage once we arrived, and that's when the contractions became unbearable. Wow! I was just not prepared for that much pain. I kept begging for an epidural, and they kept explaining that I couldn't get one until they had a room for me. For a brief moment I almost panicked, thinking that the baby might be ready before the room! Luckily, a room opened up about 30 or 40 minutes later, which was about the time that the baby's heart rate started to dip with each contraction. I remember them briskly walking my bed down the hall while the doctor explained to me that if the baby's heart continued to dip like that, I would be having a c-section, and soon.

Things started to move pretty fast. When they first checked me in triage I had been 3 cm dilated, and about 45 minutes later, after they moved me into a room, they checked and I was 6 cm dilated. Praise the Lord, I got my epidural. The anesthesiologist did something wrong and they warned me I might get a horrible spinal headache after the baby's birth, but I didn't care at that point. I literally told her that I loved her as she left my room! I was so, so grateful to be out of that awful pain. I think my friends who deliver without epidurals are completely nuts! My mom and sister arrived, and I remember feeling so happy. Happy to see them, happy to be comfortable, and excited to think that soon, after nine long months, I would finally meet my sweet baby. The doctor and nurse came in and once again expressed concern over the baby's dipping heart rate. The nurse turned me on one side, then another, and put an oxygen mask on my face, but nothing seemed to work. Each time I had a contraction, the baby's heart rate would go pretty low, often below 100. She told me that she wanted me to try to take a nap, so my mom and sister decided to get a snack and left the room. They had been gone about three minutes when the doctor came back into my room pretty quickly, reviewed the heart rate chart again, and told me flatly that this was looking like a c-section delivery. He knew that was not what I wanted, so he said, "I'll tell you what. I'll check you, and we'll let your progress determine what we're going to do. If you have not progressed much, we're going to section you, okay?"

Greg and I looked at each other and knew that we had little choice at this point. He checked me, and to my surprise and absolute delight, he said, "Well, I've got news for you. You're complete!" I laughed out loud... Greg and I practically high-fived, we were so excited! Within about two minutes, they had set up and I was pushing. Man they move fast! My nurse was absolutely wonderful, and Greg, as always, was the best coach I could have asked for. He is so encouraging and so calm. No matter how crazy I got that night, he never wavered. He was my rock that night, as he always is. I am so grateful for him.

One of my very favorite memories was when the doctor said, "You're doing a great job! Keep pushing!"

"I am??" I said. When you have an epidural, pushing is such a weird sensation. You can't really feel what you're doing. "Yes, look!" the doctor said. He pointed up above my bed, and there was a huge mirror that they had pulled out from the ceiling when they set up. And there was the baby's head! It was crazy, but just so exciting too. I pushed eight times, and the baby was out. Greg told me to announce what the baby was. I looked up in the mirror and cried with joy as I watched him slide out.

"It's a boy!" I yelled. This fearfully, wonderfully made nine-month mystery erupted from my body in seconds and was placed into my arms. It has been, three times over, the single-most miraculous event I have ever been privileged to be a part of. God is so good.

I love this picture. Greg snapped it as soon as I saw Charlie for the first time. My face says it all!

Our beautiful boy weighed 6 pounds, 14 ounces and was 19 1/2 inches long.

Dr. Potus, Charlie, and I, about ten minutes after delivery.
From the moment I met him, I loved him.

We are so grateful that God has entrusted him to us. 

In the end, all my prayers were heard and answered by our most faithful God. Charlie's birth was such an incredible experience. Welcome to the world precious boy.

"But Jesus was matter-of-fact: "Yes—and if you embrace this kingdom life and don't doubt God, you'll not only do minor feats like I did to the fig tree, but also triumph over huge obstacles. This mountain, for instance, you'll tell, 'Go jump in the lake,' and it will jump. Absolutely everything, ranging from small to large, as you make it a part of your believing prayer, gets included as you lay hold of God."
Matthew 21:21-22 (The Message)