Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Annual Spring Photo Shoot

Our photographer, Heather Swanner, has outdone herself again with some incredible pictures of Caleb, Ethan & Lydia.  Follow the link to enjoy!


Friday, April 22, 2011


We've been a family of five now for two weeks, and we are all adjusting to our new roles.  From the first moment he saw her in the hospital, Ethan has been in love with Baby Lydia.  His love is so exuberant that there always has to be an adult nearby, but we love watching his affection for his sister.  Caleb was less excited about Lydia during the first hospital visit.  Surprisingly, it was Caleb more than Ethan that had a hard time with me being away in the hospital.  He really missed me being around, and was struggling with some resentment about several other things.  It wasn't until we'd been home for a couple of days that we really got to see Caleb's love for and fascination with his new baby sister blossom.  Now, he spends even more time with her than Ethan does.  She'll be laying in her bassinet and Caleb will hop in bed next to me and stare and stare at her sleeping.  Ethan talks her ear off, bouncing into her face and out of it just as quickly, but Caleb stays still beside her for long periods of time.  Sometimes, he'll come up and "count" for her when she is awake and alert: he just lays there, looking into her eyes and counting into the hundreds to his rapt little audience. Thanks to his steady presence, Caleb was blessed with Lydia's first social smile yesterday.  She was in my arms and he came up to us with a huge smile. She took a minute to bring his face into focus and then broke out into a huge newborn grin.

Lydia is doing great.  She was jaundiced, just as the boys were, for her first week.  We ended up deciding to treat her jaundice with a portable bili-light during her first few days at home.  She slept on the bili-light for five days, and her numbers fell the first day but then stayed about the same for the next few days.  The pediatrician decided to take her off the phototherapy treatment when she was a week old.  She has continued to gain better color every day this past week, so it looks like the jaundice has resolved itself.  She is a good nurser and eats every two hours during the day and every 3-4 at night.  Her nights have been going pretty consistently like this: sleep from 8:00 to around midnight, feed for 10 minutes, sleep until around 3:30 am, feed for 10 minutes, sleep to around 5:30 or 6:00 am.  There have been two nights that she's been up more than that, but this is the pattern.  As far as temperament, she is still so sleepy during the day that it's hard to tell for sure.  She seems to be awake for no more than 2 or 3 cumulative hours a day.  Neither of the boys were sleepy newborns: Caleb was alert and happy & Ethan was awake and unhappy from the start, so we aren't quite sure what to do with this sleepy girl.  When she is awake, she is very content to look around and take everything in.  She fusses a tiny little bit when she is tired of being awake, but somebody always jumps right in and rocks or nurses her to sleep, so she never gets really upset.  I know she is only two-weeks-old and she could still develop into more of a wailer, but so far she is as sweet as can be :)

Marcus and I are adjusting as well.  Marcus had the foresight to put in for two weeks of paternity leave, since we didn't have any family members who were able to come and help with the kids while I recovered from the delivery.  It has been a lifesaver to have him at home, especially that first week.  I really don't know what I would have done if he'd had to go back to work right after I was discharged from the hospital.  He saved the day by doing 100% of everything the boys needed until I got back on my feet.  The first week, all I was able to do with them was invite them to sit in bed with me and read books or cuddle.  As I got more of my strength back, I've been able to do much more with and for them.  (Though Ethan is still frustrated that, even though the baby has "popped out" and my tummy isn't big anymore, I still can't pick him up and carry him.)  Now at two weeks postpartum, I feel about 90% normal, and I am ready for my new job as a mom of three, which starts first thing Monday morning :)

Saturday, April 16, 2011


Here are a few pictures of the kids (mostly Lydia) from the past few days.  That contraption in Lydia's bassinet is a portable bili-light to treat her jaundice.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Lydia Katherine Wagner

I've been working on this post since Lydia was born, but nothing is getting done very fast around here right now :)

Last Thursday afternoon around 2:00 pm, I noticed that I was having regular contractions and started timing and recording them.  They were coming about 10-15 minutes apart and were not painful at all yet.  I had a doctor's appt later that afternoon, and my doctor said I was 4 cm dilated and 75% effaced.  We talked about it and decided to go ahead and strip my membranes (which is very different from rupturing membranes), to encourage things to keep moving along toward a delivery that night. 

The membrane-stripping procedure was even more painful than I remembered it being with Caleb, but, it only took a couple of minutes, and soon the contractions were coming even more frequently.  I started making phone calls to Marcus, Mimi, Wendi and the Pollard's to plan the rest of our evening and work out childcare for the hospital stay.  I also stopped at Walmart to get dog food, which we were completely out of :)  Marcus had the boys at the park while I was at the doctor, so we all got home about the same time.  He bathed C & E while I tidied the house, made the boys' dinner, and finished packing our bags for the hospital.  My friend Quenta arrived around 7:00 pm, just in time to finish up the boys' bedtime routine with a few books and them down for the night.  Marcus and I headed to the hospital when she arrived.  My water had still not broken and my contractions were still not painful, just a little more intense, and they were coming steadily every 5-6 minutes.

We were checked in to a labor & delivery evaluation room around 8:00 pm.  They started monitoring my contractions and the baby's heart rate, and asked the usual 100+ questions.  The OB resident came in and checked me, saying I was still about 4 cm dilated, but 90% effaced.  A little bit later my doctor came in and cleared me for full admission to a LDR room.  She would have broken my water then, but I tested positive for Group B Strep, so I needed to complete a round of IV antibiotics before things progressed.  (We were actually glad for the slight delay because it gave Mimi a few more hours to make it here from Florida for the birth.)  So we got into our LDR room, the nurse started my IV, and Marcus and I watched a movie for a couple of hours.  Meanwhile at home, Wendi arrived at our house around 9:30 (after she got off work) and relieved Quenta of babysitting duties for the night.

Around midnight, anesthesia arrived for an initial consult about the epidural.  For whatever reason, I was exceptionally freaked out by the idea of the epidural this time around, even though I had one both times before with no complications.  I'd been toying with the idea of going without pain relief this time, but Marcus thought that was a bad idea, so we went ahead and gave the thumbs up for anesthesia to do their thing.  Again, I don't know why, but I was completely and totally spazzing out mentally about having the tube inserted in my back.  It didn't help that the anesthesia resident was entertaining me with a verbal barrage of risks and possible negative outcomes while she worked.  I cried a silent but steady stream of tears all the way through the 5-10 minute procedure of numbing my spine & inserting the epidural.  I was already shaking from the cold of the IV fluid in my arm and being mostly naked in a cold hospital room; add to that the fear I was experiencing about the epidural, and I was trembling rather violently.

But she finally finished.  I could tell immediately that something wasn't right.  My right side was going very numb very quickly, but my left side was normal.  I told the resident, and she started messing with my back again, attempting to adjust the tube so that it would deliver anesthetic to both sides.  (Whatever she did didn't work, at least not very well, because the numbness remained lopsided through my entire labor.)  After the anesthesia resident left, the nurse came in to put in a catheter.  Unfortunately, the combination of turning over onto my back with the newly-introduced anesthesia caused a wave a nausea; almost immediately, my blood pressure started falling and I started to black out.  Everyone started to fade away and I could hear them talking to me, but couldn't respond.  They turned me back over on my side, and my head began to clear but my BP stayed low.  All I remember about this part is that there were a lot of people in the room.  They put some meds in my IV to help with my blood pressure, and soon we were back on track.

My doctor arrived and broke my water sometime between 1:00 and 2:00 am.  In the past, I have enjoyed the epidural and slept through the last part of my labor, but the epidural wasn't working well enough for that, so I was wide awake feeling contractions for the next few hours.  Marcus was able to sleep for about an hour and a half.  Marc's mom, "Mimi," arrived at the hospital around 4:00 am.  The doctor checked my progress not long after that, and I was still only about 5 cm dilated, fully effaced.  I was discouraged that more progress hadn't been made, and very, very tired from a long day and then staying up most of the night, so I finally fell asleep for about an hour. When I woke up, Marcus was watching a movie, so I watched it with him for a little while.  I had not pushed my anesthesia button for hours and hours, since I did not like the one-sided numbness, so much of the original numbness had worn off and I could feel every contraction pretty intensely.  As I was breathing through a contraction, I suddenly felt a lot of pressure and immediately told the nurse that I thought I was ready to push.  Sure enough, she checked me and declared me to be complete.  It was time to deliver our daughter!

My doctor here in Birmingham had a very different approach to this part of the process than my doctor in Florida.  She wanted the baby to be born at a slower pace to reduce the trauma to my body, so she did not have me push at every contraction.  I pushed a few times, rested, then pushed a few more times until the head was out.  Then she had me wait and not push through a couple of contractions, giving my body time to adjust to the baby's passage through the birth canal.  Even with things slowed down a bit, Lydia was out in less than fifteen minutes.  I delivered the placenta immediately afterwards, and my job was finally done.  I was much more exhausted from this labor than from either of the others, mostly I think because of the reduced anesthesia, and because I labored all night and delivered in the morning, instead of laboring all day and delivering in the evening.

So, our lovely daughter, Lydia Katherine Wagner, was born on Friday, April 8th at 7:16 AM.  She weighed 7 lbs, 7 oz and was 19.5 inches long.  She had a good amount of light brown hair and beautiful dark blue eyes (which we did not see until later in the day).  They put her on my stomach immediately and I was able to breastfeed her just minutes after birth.  I was overwhelmed with how tiny and delicate she was: both her body and her facial features.  She was just a little bit smaller than Ethan was as far as birth weight, but much more delicate and feminine in every way.  She was so very beautiful to me from the first moment, and I was again amazed by how the heart expands to love each additional child just as much as it loves the others, with unexpected nuances for each child.

A couple of random memories from the delivery...I remember being absolutely starving all through the second half of my labor, and I was very frustrated that it took an hour or two for the hospital to change my dietary status so that I could order food from the hospital cafeteria.  I also remember being taken aback the first time I changed Lydia's diaper: after changing little boys for the past five years, it was very odd to open up a diaper and see no penis :)

Our family of five, taken when Lydia was just over one-day-old
 Mommy holding Lydia just moments after she was born.
Getting weighed (she was 7 lbs, 7 oz at birth) 
 Looking so sweet in big brother, Ethan's arms.
 Being admired by both big brothers :)

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Ethan's 3rd Birthday

Ethan turned 3-years-old yesterday, and I sort of ruined his birthday.  It all started a couple of weeks ago when I called the pediatrician to make appointments for the boys' annual well visits.  It turned out that Ethan's birthday was the only day this week that we could see their doctor in the well clinic.  I asked if Ethan would be getting any shots, and they said he would not, so I went ahead and made the appointments.

Ethan's birthday dawned around 6:30 am when he rolled out of bed.  The rest of us got up and loaded up in the van for breakfast and presents with Daddy at Krispy Kreme, just like we did for Caleb's birthday a couple of weeks ago.  Everything went smoothly...Ethan loved his donuts and his presents, and we all had a good time.  We left Krispy Kreme when Daddy had to go to work, and the boys and I headed to the pediatrician for our 8:30 appt.  Everything went pretty smoothly there, too, until I was told that Ethan had to get two immunizations (I knew ahead of time that Caleb was getting some, but it wasn't his birthday).  Ethan actually took both the finger prick and the shots really well, not crying at all for the prick and only for a minute or two after the two shots in his thighs.  (I won't go too much into the drama of Caleb's shots, but let's just say that he had to first be dragged out from under the exam table and then they had to call in an extra nurse to help hold him down.)

We left the doctor's office for our first stop, the McWane Science Center, around 9:00 am.  Both boys seemed to feel fine and had a great time playing together for about an hour-and-a-half.  They spent a long time playing a dodge ball game & then a squash-the-bug game together.  We left McWane around 10:30 for Ethan's second destination of choice: I-Jump.  Unfortunately, I got some bad info from a website and we discovered upon arriving that I-Jump isn't open on Monday's.  By now, Ethan was getting a little whiny and complaining of being tired, so I decided we would head home for some food and a nap.  Ethan was almost asleep when we pulled in the garage, so I carried him upstairs and put him down for his nap.  I was particularly tired yesterday as well, so I got Caleb started with a Lego set and I took a nap as well.  Ethan woke up crying around 1:00 pm, and said that his legs were hurting so much.  I should have given him ibuprofen before his nap, but Caleb had gotten two more vaccinations than Ethan and he hadn't complained at all, so I thought Ethan wouldn't need any either.

Regardless, Ethan was feeling too crummy after his nap to proceed with our afternoon plans.  So I fixed the boys some leftover spaghetti for a late lunch and then we sat in the play room and unpackaged his new Imaginext Toy Story toys from Nanna & Papa and his very first "real" Lego set from Mimi.  The boys played with these new toys for a couple of hours, though Ethan wouldn't walk b/c of his legs...just crawl.  Ethan was so sad about his legs and not being able to go anywhere in the afternoon that I suggested he choose a movie for he and Caleb to watch.  They rarely get to watch movies at home, so he brightened right up at that treat.  They settled onto the couch in the living room and cuddled up under a big blanket to enjoy their movie together.  (I was still feeling exceptionally tired and lethargic, so I did an unprecedented thing: I left the kitchen and play room a mess, ignored my to-do list for the day, and went upstairs for a second nap while they boys watched their movie.)

Shortly after the movie was over, Daddy arrived home from work.  Ethan was feeling better (thanks to the ibuprofen), so we hopped in the van and headed to Chuck E. Cheese to finish off his birthday fun.  Ethan had a lot of fun playing games with Daddy & Caleb.  His favorite thing there is always the roller coaster.  Unfortunately, it was also the favorite thing of a couple who looked like they were in their late 50's.  They sat there on that roller coast ride for four consecutive turns while Caleb or Ethan and I waited patiently beside the ride.  At the end of each ride (they last about 4 minutes each), Caleb or Ethan would pipe up with a polite, "Can we please have a turn now?" which was completely ignored by the couple.  Even if they were deaf, they would have seen the boys mouths moving as they looked at them, so I can't excuse them with even the possibility of not hearing the question.  They just figured they would take the word rude to a whole new level by hogging the roller coast ride and completely ignoring the kids who were waiting.

After their third turn, I spoke to the manager and explained the situation.  She waited out the fourth turn with me, and, with beautiful aplomb, stepped in full view of the couple and said, "Would you guys mind getting off and letting these children have a turn now?"  The woman looked annoyed at first, but the guy looked sheepish and they both got off without a word.  Then the manager handed me about ten extra Chuck E. Cheese coins and apologized for our wait.  The boys had a great time on the roller coaster, and I stood by to make sure they got off when anyone else came for a turn.

We picked up some pizza on the way home, fed the boys, and tucked them in.  In spite of the ill-timed shots and the closed I-Jump, Ethan's birthday wasn't too bad.  And, the good thing is, he probably won't even remember it :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

Wagner Family Visit

Last week, seven members of the Wagner clan made the trek from Melbourne, Florida to visit us during their Spring Break.  In spite of the yucky change in weather that left us with five cold, rainy days in a row, we still managed to have a good time.  I was actually pretty impressed with how well the six cousins did, especially considering the confined space of our house and the other limited indoor activities.  And even with eleven people sharing one bathroom for five days, everybody stayed clean and we rarely had to wait to use the potty.  At least once a day, we were able to mobilize the whole crew for some time out of the house; during those times, we enjoyed the McWane Science Center, Chuck E. Cheese, an indoor McDonald's, Caleb & Ethan's birthday party, and, on the last day when the weather warmed up a bit, some time at Moss Rock Preserve.  Marcus had to work every day except Thursday, so he missed out on most of the big breakfasts we enjoyed together, as well as the outings, but he caught up with everyone in the evenings.

I think Mimi (Marc's mom) had the best time of all, simply because she had five days with all six of her grandchildren under one roof, which is sort of a euphoric experience for her :).  She also spent a morning  going to a prenatal appointment and ultrasound with me and then touring the school where Caleb will be attending kindergarten in the fall.  That may not sound fun to you, but she said it was a perfect morning for her.  And the next day, she got to spend the morning with Marcus, first going to one of his presentations at a local cancer conference and then shoe shopping together.

Caleb and Ethan did a really amazing job sharing their home, their toys, their Mommy & even their bedroom with their cousins.  There really wasn't one territorial meltdown the entire week, even when 3-year-old cousin Kylie stood guard at the door to C & E's bedroom and emphatically informed Ethan that this was HER room and he could NOT come in.  Ethan just gave her a long look and then said, "It really is my room, but I am letting you use it," and then headed back downstairs.  Caleb and Ethan have always been taught that all of their toys and other things actually belong to God and they are just being permitted to use them for a while, but this is the first time this teaching has been tested out over a series of days like this.  There were of course the expected altercations when one child snatched a toy out of another's hand, but there was no general possessiveness expressed by either Caleb or Ethan about their space or their things.  Any toy on the shelf or the ground was free game for anyone, and the boys didn't even fuss when their cousins sat in "their" eating seats and slept in their bunk beds.  Uncle Mike and Mimi are not early risers, so it was usually Aunt Traci and I doing kid duty and preparing breakfast in the morning, and C & E were generally patient as I served their cousins first.  Caleb would occasionally get overstimulated, in which case he would go to the quietest room he could find and play by himself for a little while.  Ethan started acting out when he was overstimulated, and he had to be sent up to his bed (a pallet on the floor in our room) to regroup.  Overall, all the kids did great together, especially considering the unfortunate weather conditions.

 My newest nephew, 4-week-old Dallen McGough with his Mommy, Aunt Traci.
 All six Wagner cousins: Kylie & Chase Wagner, Maddie & Dallen McGough, and Caleb & Ethan
 Aunt Wendi on our deck with Caleb, Kylie & Ethan
 22-month-old Madelyn McGough 
 Chase, Caleb & Ethan at Moss Rock Preserve