Prayer Request

The neonatologist had some concerns over the shape of Owen's head. He did an x-ray and found that the top plates of his head seem to have fused prematurely in one spot. Obviously, they still need to shift and expand as he grows, so on Monday we are going to see a pediatric neurosurgeon at UMC to do some further tests and see if they are truly fused. If they are, a "minor" surgery will be done and the plates will be separated again. Naturally, we are concerned because no surgery is minor when it involves your baby!

Tuan ran into our friend Jon Davis who is a neurosurgeon and asked him about this. Jon assured Tuan that this really is a simple sort of procedure so we are hopeful either way but would greatly appreciate all of your prayers!

The Birth Story

This is the birth story. I am sharing it with the world, but you know, this is a birth story and birthing babies is not necessarily clean nor pleasant. Read at your own discretion!

My Mama always said, "be careful what you ask for, you just might get it." Over the past few days I've been laughing at the way the Lord answers our prayers by giving us what we want and then some.

When I saw Dr. Breeland on Thursday, she checked me and I was still 3cm. "You're not going to go anytime soon" she said, and asked to schedule an induction. I agreed since we'd be past the due date by then. I'd also been feeling very unwell and was feeling quite ready to have the baby. Before Dr. Breeland left the exam room I asked when I should come to the hospital (just in case, ya know). She said to come in at seven minutes apart--"we want you to make it on time and we don't want a Twin Lakes baby." (this is in reference to a baby born in the lodge many years ago on a rainy night during a women's retreat). She also said that she really didn't want my water to break while I was at home.

Off and on for days I'd have some contractions in a row. They were never regular, usually at night and while painful a tolerable pain. Every night I'd get a bit excited and then they'd stop.

Thursday night, we ate at out with Zack and Kristen and they started and stopped. Friday night, Matt and Virginia came over to play Killer Uno while they were hosting. I had several in a row and then they stopped.

Early on Friday I realized that I had lost my mucous plug. I was excited because I'd never had any signs of labor like that, yet I wasn't really hopeful about labor starting, either. We drank coffee that night while playing cards and went to bed wired. I took a bath and then a shower and Tuan and I were just kind of hanging out in the bed reading and talking. When we realized it was 1:40, we quickly turned the lights off and went to sleep. As I was drifting off I had another contraction and grabbed the cell phone so I could time them if they started up.

Around three, I woke up to a rather painful contraction and got up to use the bathroom. I realized I had had another ten minutes earlier and decided to time them. They were five -/+minutes apart then (3:00/3:08/3:12/3:19). Around then, I decided to finish packing the bag "just in case" and then one hit that HURT. I went over to Tuan and woke him up. "I'm having contractions, honey, they are close together, just so ya know." He mumbled and rolled over. I went back into the closet and decided to put some clothes on. Then a second PAINFUL one hit.

"Tuan! I think you need to get dressed, babe!" He jumped up and started dressing. I called my practice and was put on hold. Then one hit and I dropped to the floor by the bed while Tuan took the phone. The fact that I was banging my head against the bed while on all fours convinced him and the on-call nurse that it was indeed time to go.

I was trying to find a jacket before we went downstairs and Tuan was like, "Paula, you don't need your jacket, let's get in the car." Our neighbor Andrew, and Virginia were coming over (thank goodness Virginia was here!). They were around four minutes apart at that point so I had these moments of lucidity and pain free bliss in which I would get distracted. I was using the bathroom, getting water, grabbing a hair brush and lotion all the while Tuan was propelling me out the door.

We got in the car and left TL and they hit four minutes apart. This was around 3:40. Tuan was driving rather speedily and when we hit Florence they were three minutes apart. I learned quickly that the best way to cope with this pain was to scream loudly and primal. You know the "barbaric yawp?" That worked for me.

He ran red lights and hit 90 as we rushed towards the River Oaks. When we pulled into the parking lot around four am, they were at two and a half. We had to stop in the parking lot and I hung onto him for one. Then at the door, he called to be let in while I was wailing and screaming in the background. The security guard got me a wheelchair (God bless him, I couldn't stand up anymore) and Tuan wheeled me upstairs. When we got to the nurses' desk I was in-between contractions so they asked for my card and ID. I gave them my Sam's card in confusion and then one hit and I let out my barbaric yawp. Tuan said all the nurses immediately jumped up and went running.

"We'll check you in later", someone said, and I was being wheeled straight to a room that was quickly filling up with nurses. They got me into a gown and I went to pee. Had two contractions in the bathroom and almost refused to get off the toilet I was in so much pain. They somehow got me to the bed and started all the stuff they needed to do. Contractions were two minutes apart then and I was screaming and asking for an epidural.

"9 cm" no epidural. "Page the doctor right now." As luck would have it, the doctor wasn't there. Seriously!? I needed to push.
They started monitoring and realized that every time I screamed I was taking away oxygen from the baby. "Breathe, Paula, breathe" the chief nurse by the bed was saying. I had cotton mouth, was begging for ice and had a mask on.

In between one of those AWFUL contractions, I said, "I need to push!" The nurse said, "don't push, the doctor's not here." "YOU CAN CATCH A BABY!" I informed them. "Yes, but we're not supposed to, please wait!" (I was pushing a little bit each time--impossible not to)

I have to say in defense of the nurses, they were only covering their bums. I can understand that although they know how to do it all, they probably get grief when the doctor doesn't make it in time. Nevertheless, both they and I know that when your body is telling you to push that you have to push.

The nurse at that point was muttering off to the side, "where is she!? We don't need to know that she's coming, we need to know where she is!" How I heard her was beyond me. My bottom felt like it was on fire, I was trying desperately to breathe and not scream and the nurse told someone to call the ER doc and get him in there. At that point I pretty much rebelled against all rules and regulations and authority. Someone said, "she's in the elevator" and a contraction hit. I pushed as hard as I could and number three plopped out onto the table. Yes, he and I surprised the whole room. 4:41 pm.

The doctor ran into the room pretty much right after that. Providentially, they had not taken the bed apart or Owen would have landed on the floor. "I tried not to push" I said to head nurse. She said she was amazed that I made it that long.

I got pain medicine after it was all over and laying there in post-natural childbirth trauma that I wasn't planning on, they asked if I were getting my tubes tied. "YES, YES!" I wanted to cry out, no more childbirth for me ever! Fortunately Tuan was there to hold me back. : )

I have to say that while I have often (fleetingly) thought about natural childbirth, I'm pretty much an epidural kind of girl. I believe increased pain in childbirth is a result of the fall and that epidurals and pain medicine are truly a grace and a blessing. I had a friend (who'd never had a baby, but worked in the hospital) talk about how much better the "natural" women looked after birthing than the "epidural" women.


This recovery has been a bit more difficult than the first two and I would never choose to go through this again. That said, I'm sure if labor had not come on so quickly that natural childbirth could have been a wonderful and lovely process--for someone else. I will leave picturing the "cervix opening like a flower" to a stronger and braver person.

So that's my long story of a short birth. In all, we started having contractions at 3:00 and he was born at 4:41. If the Lord blesses us with another baby I plan to check into the hospital at 38 weeks and as soon as the first real contraction hits, I will be asking for the epidural.

Our baby boy is beautiful and we are so grateful that he is doing well. I have a prayer request for him, but will share it in another post.


Making Plans and a Call for Ideas

We are scheduled to induce on Tuesday if the baby does not arrive before then! I am having intermittent contractions that never hit sufficiently regularity or last long enough. (Does that wording make sense? I'm having trouble with the English language today.) I've hit this awful drought of energy. After Bible Study on Wednesday, I came home and crashed on the couch while Tuan got lunch together, then crashed in bed during naptime, then called Tuan around five and begged him to come home and take the kids and promptly crashed in bed again. Got up, ate supper (which he cooked) and then after the kids went to bed went back to sleep. Yesterday was a bit better since we had a doctor's appointment, but we ate lunch out, ate supper out and picked up lunch today. If I went to the grocery store, I'd have something easier to prepare than the roasts and frozen chicken and other items I keep neglecting to pull from the freezer in order to thaw, but I am also extremely lacking in energy. Folding up some clothes or running the vacuum is pretty much the exertion of the hour. Our bathroom really needs cleaning, but I keep hoping I'll just go into labor and it will be "magically" cleaned when we return home.

I had a bit of this when pregnant with A and felt so immensely better after she was born that I felt like I could conquer the world or at the very least rearrange furniture. I was still exhausted, but comparatively speaking, I had the energy of an eighteen year old!

So I'm thinking ahead about the post-baby days and need some meal ideas. Tuan is home every day for lunch and supper and I need some very easy suggestions for things to buy and keep that don't require lots of prep/cleanup and are somewhat nutritious. Frugality is out the window (or can be). I think the money saved from not eating out will easily justify boneless skinless chicken and whatnot. Suggestions? I perhaps have a chance to run to Sams and Kroger on Saturday or Monday.


Movie Time!

I wish I could write that we never let our kids watch videos and that they didn't know what a TV was for . . . but that's not realistic and I'm so glad there are some good things out there that they can watch when need need them to be distracted. Currently, these are our favorites that both kids love:

*Milo and Otis
*Toy Story
*Mary Poppins
*Robin Hood
*Berenstain Bears
*Bob the Builder
*Peter Pan
*Thomas the Tank Engine

They like some Veggie Tales and Johnny loves Cars. At Christmas time, Charlie Brown and the Claymation Christmas were huge hits. There are some movies, however, that we have learned they are NOT ready for:

*The Incredibles
*Finding Nemo
(the live version)

I'm sure our choices could have a little more "Focus on the Family" in them, but Milo and Otis, Babe and Berenstain Bears are our top picks right now. Does anyone have suggestions for us?


One Eighty

Well, so much for all of that energy! The energy required for all this super-serious nesting is gone and while the desire is present the actual ability to do it all is gone. I could sleep late, get up, eat breakfast (more like elevenses), if I had my druthers and collapse again after lunch with not a smack of hesitation were it not for, you know--responsibility and little people under my care! I actually did that when pregnant with J, but the times they have a changed. I'm still a bit obsessed with the house, but it's a much slower process. This morning's housework required lots of stops and I was frankly relieved when A needed some rocking and J wanted some story telling!

We bought a van last week and are really enjoying it! Lisa, our camp registrar and all-around-wonderful person is married to Neil who really enjoys detailing cars and does a FABULOUS job. We hired him to detail the van and he totally wowed us. I had this weird aversion to driving the van until the previous owner's "cooties" were gone and now we are enjoying driving not only the newest vehicle we've ever owned, but the cleanest! The kids are learning that mama and daddy are a little bit obsessed about keeping the van clean!

We decided to keep the Land Cruiser and sell the Honda, which I already wrote about and the Honda was detailed by me last week. I don't mind detailing and cleaning my own dirt--just others'!

Tuan has been "nesting" in the yard and is feverishly working towards getting some grass planted. Our side yard has been this muddy bog of "chocolate milk" and he's put so much time and energy into digging and installing a french drain, amending the soil, grading the soil and doing everything in his power to help our yard drain and hopefully grow grass! I'm so proud of him and look forward to dealing with grass stains from our kids forays into the yard rather than caked on clay. : )

I saw the nurse practitioner last Friday since my Ob was on vacation. NPs are the best. They are so much more holistic about care and so personal. I love my Ob, don't get me wrong, but once it's time to deliver who my L&D nurse is is far more important to me. I had the same one with J and A and am praying that she'll be working when this one comes. I digressed a bit, but the whole point of this was that I made NO progress and was still 3 cm. Since then, I've had longer, more intense contractions, but nothing consistent. The NP said that my Ob will probably want to schedule an induction at this week's appointment. I'm okay with that because she induces on Tuesdays, usually, and I'll be past my due date then. Maybe it's an old wives tale, but most folks say that "little white boys" benefit from going full term more than other genders and races. Who knows, but expect number 3 to arrive no later than next Tuesday!

So, the bag is packed, we bought a new camera yesterday and the house is partially clean in some areas (I have this fear of going to the hospital with a messy house and returning home to a messy house). I'm going to keep slogging along this afternoon in hopes that any and all activity is bringing us closer!


The Word of the Day is "Detail" I shall use it in a Sentence.

I am detailing the Honda today and getting it ready to sell. The weather is just perfect out here and the kids have been playing outside the last two hours. I was trying to let A skip her nap, but no such luck. We are taking an inside break and waiting for her to go to sleep so the detailing can continue. I hope I don't run out of steam before we go back out--it's starting to feel that way!


The Wind Out of Our Sails

Yesterday, I was an insane woman stubbornly determined to get 5,000 things done. The motto of the day could have been, "stay out of my way, get with the program, pick up that couch and no one gets hurt"! The living room was re-arranged, a love seat evicted from the house (Tuan was able to reason with me that we could just move it out and that a chain saw, followed by burning the said couch was unnecessary). I organized our armoire full of art and sewing and "school" supplies, made room in our bedroom for the crib and rocker, vacuumed the LR about seven times and after the kids went to bed mopped the floors. It felt so, so good to get all of that done.

Today, however, there is no wind in these sails. There is no organizational gleam in my eye. I woke up early, forced myself to stay awake for quiet time (reading and prayer), blogged and read blogs until the kids woke up. They had PBJs and watched the Berenstain Bears while I organized coupons. A "helped" me and had her own stash of expired coupons to sort. "I playin' the game!" she kept exclaiming. After a trip to Kroger, lunch on the road and a quick toss of the perishables in the fridge, all three of us went down for naps. That and putting away some clean clothes is the sum total of the day. I've been in bed since 1:15 and it is now 4:05. I desperately need to: Finish putting away groceries, locate a USB drive in Tuan's pant pockets so I can wash a load of clothes, put away dishes and empty the dishwasher, clean out a car, pack a hospital bag, put away some linens, get supper ready. Okay, not "desperately", perhaps more obligatorily. It's so much cosier to stay upstairs and pretend that a baby will not be arriving in hopefully a week and a half. Yes, the wind has left the building.

Also: why is it that when I let the kids eat a sandwich in the living room with a movie on that they are so, so much cleaner than at the table? We don't do it often, but its so nice to keep the DR clean for a meal. Shouldn't it be the other way around?


Terribly Awkward

About two weeks ago, Tuan and I made plans to meet another couple, Matt and Sheila for lunch. I had an OB appointment scheduled after lunch, so I drove into town by myself. We'd planned to eat at Aladdin in Fondren, which is one of my favorite places to eat. Arriving early, I decided to go over to the Rainbow co-op to browse and get some tea tree oil. Since the earnest vibe of Fondren usually rubs off on me, I got the bright idea to leave my car parked at Rainbow and walk over to the restaurant. Aladdin's parking is so limited I figured I'd help them out and Tuan could run me back to the car after lunch.

Long boring back story aside, as I'm walking through the parking lot towards Old Canton Road, I realize there is a guy standing on the side of the busy street holding a sign. He was dressed in what looked like blue scrubs and wearing a mask. Since his back was to me, I had no idea what the mask was, but being in Fondren, I thought, "Oh no, this guy is probably an abortion protester and now I, with my huge pregnant belly am going to have to stand beside him and wait to cross this super busy street." I could actually see through the sign and the word choice was visible (albeit backwards). Whether he was protesting for or against abortion, it was just going to be awkward. Nevertheless, I kept walking and thought something along the lines of, "I will stand for truth and life and if he is pro-choice, this will be very interesting."

As I step up onto the sidewalk, I can finally see what the mask is and read the sign. The blue scrubs were a perfect companion to the GENIE mask that the guy waving a sign about making a choice to eat at Aladdin was wearing. It was awkward--just not in an important values kind of way. I had to stand there FOREVER waiting for a chance to cross the street and being Southern, I was compelled to make small talk with the person next to me--no matter how ridiculous the costume or the sign. So, we stood there, the pregnant lady earnestly trying to do the Fondren thing and cross a busy street at lunch, while making chitchat with a masked stranger dressed as a genie and waving a sign. The WALK sign never changed, but I did find a group of brave souls to cross the street with and cross it I did, breathing a sigh of relief and glad for the Genie-free oasis shelter that was waiting.


Thirty Eight Weeks

"Yeah, you're not going to go anytime soon." So said my Ob-Gyn on Thursday. For some reason this was a relief and a an exasperating "throw you hands up in the air" kind of moment. I have lots to do before he-who-is-almost-named arrives and physically feel great. However, at night, I get this kind of excitement and reluctance to go to bed because this could be the night. (!) I was induced with J and A, but with this one I'm not over-eager to induce, at least not early. Give me a week, though, and I may be begging for Pitocin.

J was induced a day after his due date. I wasn't making any progress in labor and had been 3cm for weeks. Since I probably shouldn't write out birth stories in the early hours, I will just say that at 8lb 11 oz, he was ready to arrive. My doctor induced us with A a week or two early because J had been so big and she was worried that A would be, too. A was 8lb 5 oz and arrived like lightning. My body seems to love pitocin and since I never had contractions with either of the first two, I am so, so thankful that option is there and it is a good one for us.

But A's coming quickly and early (even by a week or two), then ending up in the NICU with issues that we never fully figured out except that she "got better", has made me less than eager to induce early. I don't know if the early and quick labor was a factor or not, but I would rather not take the chance. I'm also not worried about having a baby that is "too big" this time around. Sparing the gory details, my nurses told me when A was born that I was "made to birth babies" and when I go into labor and my water breaks with Number 3 to rush to the hospital. Should I have shared that information or kept it to myself? Who knows.

So between those concerns and the personal desire to just "go into labor", I am willing to wait. I've expressed this desire it to my doctor (not very well) and she's been very co-operative about it, but leaving me with the option to schedule an induction after next Friday's appointment.

Now the excitement only grows, because each day is a day closer--two weeks left! Time is flying and we cannot believe it is so soon! Please keep praying for us that we would deliver at the right time and most importantly, have a healthy baby boy in the end. Secondarily, please pray that he comes on his own, but you know, with time to make it to the hospital!


Did ya hear the one about the goat, the wolf and the sack of grain?

Well, that's kind of what we're dealing with right now--except it involves vehicles and carseats and gas mileage. We've been pondering our vehicle situation for a while and if I've ever wanted to conference call with Dave Ramsey and Klick and Klack, this is the time.

Our station wagon gets great gas mileage (20-30 mpg), runs great, I LOVE to drive it (leg room I usually only dream of) and so on and so forth. We tried putting all three carseats in it last night with very dubious results. They fit, but it sure didn't seem comfortable. So . . . the station wagon may be on the way out. : ( This makes me so sad.

Our Land Cruiser can hold the carseats and then some, but it needs some non-mechanical work, lacks the leg room I desire and has terrible gas mileage (16 mpg, I think). When every drive you take is at least twenty miles round-trip and usually more like forty-fifty, you've got a LOT of gas being burned--and we seem to drive a lot. The plusses are that it has four-wheel drive, can tow, can haul and it's such a cool car.

We are committed to being debt free with an emergency fund, which means driving very used vehicles. This also means that it's a good idea to be a two-car family even though Tuan walks or takes the bike/golf-cart to work. Ideally, we'd have a snappy fuel-efficient model and a family car, but if one car breaks down, we need a three carseat vehicle just in case.

So . . . right now, we're thinking sell the Honda Wagon and get a Honda or Toyota van. Better gas mileage, driveability, multiple car seasts and so on. The sale of the wagon would not cover the cost of a new (to us) van, but we can afford to make up the difference. Keeping the Land Cruiser means we have two family vehicles and Tuan can use it for towing, times when we do need a 4x4 and generally making up for the fact that we'd be owning a van and he sold his jeep so long ago. : ) We'd still have to do the superficial repairs the LC needs.

We actually have a buyer for the Land Cruiser, but there's no point in selling it and keeping the wagon and getting a van. Selling the LC would nearly cover the cost of a van, though we'd end up with one car that wasn't useable for all of us.

Why is this so confusing? Why is this so hard? Why is it also so hard to find the type of van we're looking for that is for sale? It's an issue of cost/safety/financial prudence/vehicular reliability/future repairs and cost of running. Crazy stuff. Any input?

Tuan and I are a bit counter-cultural. We are not afraid of good, used high-mileage vehicles. 150,000 miles is cake. We've also found that the cost of the few repairs we've made to our older cars has never exceeded the amount of cost, depreciation, insurance and tags that newer models would have run us. In fact, we've hardly done any work to our older cars apart from batteries and starters. He's also able to do a lot of minor repairs himself and we've found a great mechanic in Graves and Stoddard (HIGHLY RECOMMEND them).

Humbly awaiting advice, input and leads on vans for sale.



I intended to share my couponing experience, but grabbed the wrong camera! Instead, I'm sharing the boys' room. The kids stayed with my mom and dad last night and today which gave me some time to paint the shelves and get things a bit more organized. Tuan built the shelves and I'm not sold on the color, but can live with it for now. If you click on this link you can view my Facebook album with more photos of the room and happenings in our family.


Interesting Trend

So, there seems to be this pattern later on in pregnancy where I am hit with insomnia and stay up half the night. I did it with the previous two kids and here I am again. I've had some contractions, some hicks and the coffee after dinner tonight isn't helping. Plus, no. 3 enjoys lodging his foot in my ribs, back and pelvis simultaneously when I lay down.

We are thirty six weeks and five days. As I understand it, we're in the clear for proceeding with labor and anytime is a good time. I have been having contractions with this baby and I never had any with J and A (not the painful kind, at least). They are welcome--funny as that may sound.

At four o'clock in the morning, I could get up and be productive, but that just seems so wrong. I don't like to go downstairs at night anyway and don't have my Kroger receipt upstairs or I could share all the wonderful coupon bargains I got this week.

This pregnancy has been less fatiguing than the others--no choice, really. However, these last two weeks I've been so tired and in need of a nap. I've wanted to nest and madly, madly wanted to deep clean my walls and baseboards and kitchen cabinets. The spirit may have been willing, but the flesh was too weak--until this afternoon. After a post-Bible study nap, something got me going and I cleaned from four thirty until nine-thirty pausing only to eat supper which Tuan kindly cooked lest I have to surrender my magic eraser and vinegar! Okay, there were baths, too. It was so deeply satisfying to make this kind of progress. Is the laundry put away? no. Are my cabinets thoroughly clean? yes. gotta keep my priorities straight, here.

Also, this is so weird, but I have discovered that the Sonic Chicken Club Toaster is the most amazing food ever invented. It is not nourishing, nor is it low-carb or low-fat--wonder why it is so good? There is something phenomenally good about this sandwich: two slices of white bread (gasp! goes Sally Fallon), slathered with mayo (yuck says my non-prego self), and ketchup, cradling a large, fried chicken patty, tomato, bacon, lettuce and plastic cheese (again Sally Fallon gasps). I'm craving it right now as I write. I could eat two at a time, they are so good. I don't think I actually would eat two at a time, but I could if all self-control went out the window. Hmm . . . isn't Sonic open all night?