Sunday, March 27, 2011

Jacob turns THREE!

This past Saturday, I threw together the poorest planned birthday party we have ever thrown. I blame the pregnancy, but I just could not get it together. Usually I have these things planned out months in advance, but I have just been so tired and so sick that a party was the last thing on my mind.

Those of you who know me know I live for my kids' parties and it is all about the details. On Friday afternoon, I still had no clue what we were going to eat, what I was going to do about cupcakes and what I was going to bag for favors. All I had was the cupcake wrappers, cupcake toppers and favor bags. That's it.

I must say it all came together pretty quickly and everything panned out okay. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than a Winter birthday party. Our Gambrel is only a little over 1500 sq ft total so when you have 8 kids running around the downstairs it can get pretty hectic. I am pretty sure this is the last party we'll have at home. We have looked into a few local indoor options and think that next year when Jacob turns four it will be a good year to venture out. The options we had this year were rather expensive considering you had to pick one of their themes and couldn't bring your own food/cake in. The toys at this place for Jacob's age group are mostly things like Step2 playhouses and cozy coupes and we have all that stuff at home so paying a couple hundred bucks, plus extra for food for the adults, didn't seem worth it.

This year we went with the Toy Story theme and the party was all things Buzz and Woody. Jacob was up at the crack of dawn (6 AM) and started yelling, "Party! Party!". We tried to convince him to go back to sleep, but no such luck. Jacob usually sleeps in until at least 7 and doesn't go down for a nap until 1:30 or 2. His party was scheduled to start at 12:30 and he got up so early we attempted to put him down at 10:30 for a short nap and he ended up sleeping until noon! We were good to go!

Here are a few pics of the day. Jacob received so many nice gifts, many Toy Story related, and really seemed to enjoy himself. This is the first year he had any interest in opening gifts and he actually ate the pizza we had for lunch! He never eats pizza!! He also blew out the candle for the first time so it was a banner year!

Can I also mention that I was pregnant for Jacob's first AND third birthdays?! Grace is turning two most likely THE VERY DAY we are tentatively scheduled to have this baby and seeing as I, a.) have to deliver early b.) was hospitalized with her around 30 weeks and c.) have hideously disgusting, throbbing cankles around week 33, I am planning her party already and throwing it a month early. I cannot get stuck in the rut I was for Jacob's party! Not to mention this is the last party Grace will ever have that is all about her. Since she and baby-who-does-not-yet-have-a-definite-name will have the same birthday they will be having a joint party!

First Day of Preschool!

This past Wednesday, the 23rd, was Jacob's 3rd birthday! More on that coming in another post scheduled for tomorrow! That means as of Wednesday, Jacob was officially discharged from Early Intervention and was eligible to transfer to the public preschool program on the day of his third birthday instead of having to wait until the Fall.

We went for our Orientation on Tuesday and I had a tour of the school, even though I technically didn't need it since I went to that school for first through fifth grade, while Jacob stayed in the classroom with his new friends and participated in circle time and story time. The school has changed A LOT since I went there in the late 80's and early 90's. I was surprised to learn that not only is my fifth grade teacher now the principal, but the music and art teachers are still the same! Jacob is also in one of two preschool classrooms and one of my very good childhood friend's Mom is one of those teachers! Did you get all that?

When I left Jacob on Tuesday, to take the very brief tour, I came back to find a very distraught Jacob trying to escape the grasp of the aide who was hired to guide him around for the first few weeks and help acclimate him. As soon as he saw me, it was cries of Mama! and tears. I was nervous for Thursday which was his first real day, but come Thursday I dropped him off, he held his teacher's hand and turned around a couple of times to say goodbye, but he separated well.

I picked him up at the end of the day and they said he did great! The report was the same on Friday at pick-up! I am very proud of him and although I know this is just a coincidence he hopped in the car after his first day and promptly asked for, "Twinkle Star" which is his favorite song on the children's CD we sometimes play in the car. He never uses two words together so I was thrilled and told Ian, "See! He's a genius already!". He also had his birthday party this past weekend and was more vocal than he has ever been so hopefully this is only the beginning of great things to come.

The day at school is very structured, much more so than the group he attended for EI, and I know it is going to be good for him. There is a certain way we drop-off and a certain way we pick-up at the end of the day and everyone has to adhere to it so they are getting Jacob into the routine and hopefully he will learn it quickly. Right now he just wants to sprint to me as soon as he sees me.

I have attached a few pictures below from his first and second day. When I picked him up the first day and he walked outside with his coat, hat and backpack on he looked like such a big boy. I almost cried. ALMOST! I would actually like to preface this by saying he DID most certainly wear a coat, but for one or two pictures we took him outside briefly due to lighting issues in the house which you'll notice in the indoor pictures.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jacob!

Three years ago today, I gave birth to a 1 lb 7 oz baby boy who forever changed my life.

We had some struggles getting pregnant and there was nothing I wanted more in life than to have a baby. When I saw those two little lines pop up on the pregnancy test in October of 2007 I was overjoyed. Knowing I was going to stay home with my baby, I started daydreaming of all the fun stuff that we would do together. Trips to the park, story time at the library, trips to see the puppies in the pet store at the Mall, walks downtown to get an ice cream cone, etc. I had so many dreams for this little being who at the time was no bigger than a grain of rice.

This was my first child and nothing terrified me more at the time than the thoughts of having a child with a disability. While flipping through the pages of my pregnancy book I imagined what life would be like with a child that had Cerebal Palsy or Down Syndrome and the thought terrified me. This was my first child. I didn't even know how to be a mother to a child never mind one with special needs.

The morning Jacob was born was a cold day in March. It was relatively quiet in the Mother Infant Unit where I had been living for the past 6 days. I was due to be checked out and go home at 10 AM and instead I was down in Labor and Delivery at 5 AM begging the doctors not to let my baby die.

They had told me all the statistics earlier in the week when I first arrived. A 24 weeker has a 39% chance of survival. The closer they get to 25 weeks the more their chances increase closer to the 50% range. He could be born with any number of disabilities (physical and/or mental) and be impaired for the rest of his life. He would definitely spend the first few months of his life in the NICU.....if he even survived. It didn't matter what I had been told all week by neonatologists. I wanted my baby to live and I begged that poor doctor wheeling me into the OR to save my baby. I didn't care what was "wrong" with him. If he was able to have any quality of life then I wanted him here with us. All of my fears of having a child with special needs went out the window. I just wanted my baby to live.

The next thing I remember is waking up in the recovery room shaking violently (side effect of the general anesthesia) and seeing Ian standing next to my bed clutching my purse. "Is he okay?" I asked. "He's pink and he's breathing" was Ian's reply. I really didn't know what that meant at the time, but Ian had assured me they had wheeled him by and Ian had seen him on his way to the NICU, all 1 lb 7 oz and 11 inches of him. His head was the size of a clementine. Our wedding bands easily slid up and down his limbs. He was as big around in the middle as my wrist. He was tiny, but he had survived. For now, my prayers had been answered.

The day of your child's birth is supposed to be the happiest day of your life and that is simply not true for those of us who have had premature babies. In fact, most of us celebrate the day they came home from the NICU more than we celebrate their actual day of birth. Those first few days are numbing. I spent all day in my hospital room crying and staring at the one picture I had of Jacob while Ian was at work and the rest of the world went about their daily lives unaware of what had just happened to us. I was too scared to go see Jacob alone those first few days so I hid out in my room until Ian got to the hospital and he would wheel me down to the NICU to see Jacob. I would usually last a good 10-15 minutes before I started hyperventilating and had to leave. He was so tiny, so bruised, so SICK looking. I couldn't stand the thought of losing him and was worried if I spent too much time down there I would get attached and the loss would be ten times greater.

Slowly, but surely our miracle boy cleared major hurdles. He never developed a brain bleed or NEC, two very serious conditions which can often be death sentences for micro-preemies. His PDA (which nearly all premature babies have) closed with medicine and did not require surgery. He steadily gained weight and we celebrated every milestone, from ventilator to CPAP, 2 pounds, 3 pounds, nasal cannula, 4 pounds, first bath, open air crib, 5 pounds, and three months to the day after he was born, a transfer to a hospital 10 minutes from us. It was there he was weaned off all his medications, monitors and oxygen and sent home three weeks later at 7 lb 9 oz and only 10 days after his original due date.

Today he has officially been discharged from the Early Intervention program and is only in need of speech therapy and wears glasses for farsightedness. Random people on the street would never know the struggles we went through to get Jacob home and now that he is here I make sure everyone who is willing to listen hears Jacob's story. To me, there is no denying in this little child that there is a God and that miracles happen every day.

Happy Birthday, Jacob! We love you!

Monday, March 14, 2011

The countdown has begun....

Now that we know for a fact it is a boy, the Type A planner in me has already reorganized both bedrooms in my head and made a mental list of the things we need to do before the baby arrives and the things we need to buy.

Fortunately, there is not much we need to buy as far as big ticket baby items and clothes go. We were very fortunate that our family hosted a shower for us when we had Jacob and we received 90% of the things we would need and we registered for all gender neutral items since we were hoping for at least 3 kids. Sitting in our basement, we currently have a swing, a bouncer, a Chicco car seat, a Snap N Go AND a double stroller ready to go. This is all I need to keep baby entertained and to transport him around the first few months. Since Jacob was also due in July (and came home from the hospital in July at 7 lb 9 oz at 4 months old) all of his clothes are the appropriate sizes and seasons for this child. No need to buy anything in that department although I am sure we will be picking a few things up for this baby so he can have some things that are just his.

Now for a list of things we DO want/need:

A crib. We took a hand-me-down crib from my SIL that belonged to my niece. It was great at the time to get something like that for free, but it is a rather cheap Delta crib and has now been through 3 children (my niece, Jacob and Grace). It has been rattled to the core so that it is not as sturdy as it once was and has been chewed to bits by my little beaver Jacob. The paint has practically chipped off on one whole side of the drop side and oh is a drop side. A double drop side to boot. Basically even with the recall kit installed to immobilize the drop side it is a death trap. We are buying a new crib. I was leery of this crib from the beginning since it received a D rating in the Baby Bargains book, but it was free and seemed like a good option at the time. Since the boys will be sharing a room, I am about 95% sure I am going with a Da Vinci crib in oak. The crib has great reviews, is rather inexpensive as far as quality cribs go and I have purchased two Da Vinci toddler beds that are great quality and were very easy to assemble. Since this is most likely our last baby I do not want to spend a fortune in that department. If I am able to find a rather inexpensive one I like in Oak it will match Jacob's bed since his bed is a Da Vinci in the Oak color. For the time being, I am thinking of going with this one:

Next is a Miracle Blanket. These are rather expensive (about $30 a piece) but it is the only thing that would keep my needs-to-be-swaddled-at-all-times-for-the-first-few-months babies IN the swaddle. We registered for the Swaddle Me with Jacob, but the velcro is awful and he busted through that thing every single night. Same with Grace. We ended up tossing them in our yard sale pile and purchasing a miracle blanket. It guarantees us all a full night of sleep! I need another:

Boppy Newborn Lounger (or something of the sort). We are anticipating a lot of on-the-floor play and interaction with the older kids and the baby (supervised of course) and thought this might be a good option so that we can sit on the floor with the kids and they can interact with the baby. It is also a good option for when the baby is cat napping next to me (again supervised!):

Aden and Anais swaddler blankets. These are our back-up to the Miracle Blanket and they also make great lightweight receiving blankets for throwing over the baby in his car seat or in the car. I didn't discover these until after Grace was 6 months old, but I wish I had discovered them sooner. I had a whole bunch of Carter's receiving blankets and they are awful. The material is great and they wash well, but they are the oddest shape and it is impossible to swaddle a baby in them since they are more of a rectangular shape then a square. We always had little baby feet hanging out of them. These are expensive, but Target has a new Aden and Anais line for Target that I might try out. They are sold in packs of 4 for $29.99 instead of $45 for a four pack on the A&A website. I hear the quality is not as good as the traditional, but we will see:

Picky Sticky stickers! I LOVE these stickers and although not a necessary purchase it is definitely something I will be purchasing for this baby. Remember this post from Grace's first birthday? I love looking back through these pictures and seeing how much she grew over her first year and these stickers are just a genius idea. I had to tape pieces of paper to the wall behind Jacob when I did his pictures since I was not aware of these stickers:

When Grace was born, we moved Jacob into a big boy room and Grace took over the gender neutral nursery which was yellow/green and full of bumble bees! The nursery is being transformed into the room the boys will share since it is the bigger of the two bedrooms the kids are in. I LOVED the way Jacob's room turned out so I plan on just transferring that entire design over to the new room. We even have a half gallon of paint left in the basement so it should be rather easy to complete. I am not a fan of cheesy character themes or licensed kids' bedding so we went with a color scheme and just worked around that (sky blue/navy/chocolate brown). We bought the Kasey striped toddler quilt from PBK for Jacob's toddler room and did the entire room around that and those three colors. It is very modern and neutral and the room can grow with both boys. We will just change out the accessories as they grow to cater it more to their age.

I am excited to get started!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

It's A Boy!!!

I am so excited! We have so much to do as far as switching the kids' bedrooms around and agreeing on a name, but I am very excited at the possibility of experiencing a full-term birth with a boy. I am also very happy for our budget which most likely would have suffered severely is this was a girl. I have a "things I want/need for the new baby" list and let's just say the girl list was twice as long as the boy list.

We weren't supposed to find out for at least another week or two, but I ended up in the ER last night due to some mild cramping and light spotting. I was 100% sure the baby was fine and it was my stitch, but I wanted to make sure nothing was happening with the stitch (dilation, funneling, tearing, etc.) so I went to the ER to play it safe. The baby is fine, the stitch looked good and I left with orders to drink more water....lots of it. I am really terrible about getting my fluids in and I am the first to admit it so I really have to stay on top of that.

My u/s tech was AWESOME and I think she sensed how nervous I was about the whole situation. We started talking about Jacob and why I had the cerclage and I think she ended up feeling bad so she decided to give me an impromptu look at the baby. I told her how everyone was so concerned about my cerclage with Grace that I never got an u/s pic of her at my anatomy scan and how we didn't get to really see anything. She went over everything with this little guy and the baby was so active! He was drinking amniotic fluid (you could actually see him chomping/gulping away!!!) and sucking his thumb the entire ultrasound. It was so cute! Unfortunately, baby boy is breech and was sitting indian style right on top of my cervix so she wasn't sure she'd be able to see anything, but when she got it to the right angle it was VERY clear to me that this one is a boy. She said she can't say with 100% confidence, but she would guess boy based on what we saw.

The baby is getting bigger and in the past 4 days I have felt him every day so I think it is safe to say that I will be getting punched/kicked a lot in the future. Yesterday, it seriously felt like he was practicing karate in there. I was getting kicks and chops every few seconds.

Ian is working today and I am trying to contain my excitement about buying all things blue. I have a $25 coupon to Gap that is worth $50 so I am trying not to sprint to the Mall and pick this baby up a few new sleepers/onesies so he has something to call his own. I am also excited to pull all of Jacob's clothes down from the attic and start going through them to see what we have. Luckily, Jacob was due in July and this baby is scheduled to be born in July so all the clothes we bought for Jacob should fit this baby unless he ends up being a monster! I can only remember a handful of the outfits Jacob had so I am sure it will be fun sorting through everything and remembering when "Jacob wore this" or "Jacob came home in that".

Let the planning/painting/name game begin!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cabin Fever

Well, in case you didn't hear, Spring is officially on the way!

We are well into March now and the forecast for the next week has all 40's and 50's as highs which is good news in New England. Most of our storms have been rain (no more snow!!) and the snow has all melted.

I am eager to get the kids out of the house and out in the fresh air. Unfortunately, since I am high risk and have a cerclage, I am not going to be able to chase after two active toddlers at the park every week. When I found out I was pregnant with Grace, Jacob was only 8.5-9 months old and adjusted he was only 5-5.5 months old so needless to say he wasn't doing much. Even when I had her in July he was 16 months old (12.5 adjusted) and wasn't even walking yet never mind exploring parks and playgrounds.

This time around I have a very active (almost) 3 year old and a not-only-walking-but-already-sprinting 19 month old. You'd think they might run in the same direction at least once, but that never happens. Needless to say we spend lots of time going for walks in our double stroller. I was trying to think of ways to get out of the house with them once the weather gets warmer and had been contemplating buying a slide and maybe a kangaroo climber to keep them busy in the back yard. Most playground equipment in this area is catered to older children and the one park that does have a toddler equipment section is overrun by small children, their mothers and tourists on a daily basis. A casualty of living in "America's Hometown" in the Summer months, but I digress.

Ian and I had decided not to purchase a huge swing set mainly because they are such a pain to set up and move and we are not sure if this is our "forever" house yet. We purchased it fully intending for it to be a starter home, but who knows if we'll ever leave with the real estate market the way it is. We figured we'd give it a few years and if the kids are old enough to really enjoy a full swing set, and it doesn't look like we're going anywhere anytime soon, then we'll take the plunge.

A couple of months ago Ian was working on a job in Braintree doing a pretty time consuming renovation for this couple with small(er) children. Ian sent me a text message with a picture that said, "The homeowner is getting rid of this stuff and said if I want it I can have it...for free. What do you think?" The picture included all of the items below:

ALL OF THIS!!! I also want to add that all of it is in EXCELLENT condition. I could hardly contain my excitement and said YES!! Quick! Before they change their minds and decide to try and hock it on Craigslist. The homeowner was even generous enough to let Ian BORROW his truck overnight to haul it all down to our place since Ian would obviously not be able to fit all of that in the back of a Honda Civic.

Now I'll be able to fill the kiddie pool and water table in the morning and take the kids right out into the back yard for some fun without having to worry about chasing them through parks in two opposite directions or trying to supervise them on equipment that is far too big for them (and very dangerous for a high risk pregnant woman to maneuver). YAY!

P.S. Did I forget to mention that this homeowner's wife knows I'm pregnant and sent Ian home with Girl Scout cookies for me....for free?! I love these people! Maybe they want to adopt another child (meaning me)?!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

....and baby makes FIVE!

I can't believe I have not updated this blog in almost two months. Then again, when you are pregnant and suffering from Hyperemesis, spending hours hovering over the toilet praying you can keep enough fluids down to stay away from the ER and IV fluids, blogging is the last thing on one's mind.

That's right! The third (and most likely FINAL) addition to our family is due this Summer. Ironically, I am due August 16th which was Grace's due date two years to the day. Even more ironic, it appears my scheduled c-section will fall on Grace's 2nd birthday! The scheduling is still up in the air, but seeing as my doctor can section me on Wednesday or Friday only, and she plans to do this around 36.5 weeks, it appears Friday, the 22nd may be the only option.

With this pregnancy comes the same fears and nerves that one would expect after delivering a 24 week micro preemie. We were very blessed to be able to carry Grace to 36 weeks and we are praying for the same blessing this time around.

This past Wednesday, the 2nd, I had a McDonald Cerclage placed to help give my cervix the strength it needs to carry the pregnancy. I am also receiving weekly progesterone shots on Thursdays which will hopefully help my body stave off labor. Although research has not proven that these shots actually help there is nothing to prove they do not. Since we had incredible success carrying Grace with both the shots and the cerclage we are repeating everything we did that successfully helped me carry her to 36 weeks.

We find out in less than a few weeks now what the baby's sex is and to say I am growing impatient is an understatement! I am very lucky to have one of each so I really do not care what the baby is as long as he/she is healthy! Of course there are benefits to us having a boy or girl:

GIRL: Since Grace was our last baby all of her clothes are out and readily accessible. She is currently in the bigger of the two bedrooms and the two kids that are the same sex will obviously be sharing a room so if this is a girl there would be no swapping of children and rooms. We have a name already picked out, Annabelle Chloe, so no problems there! I never had a sister and would absolutely LOVE for Grace to be able to have a sister.

BOY: I would be very fortunate to *hopefully* get to experience a full-term birth for a baby boy. We were able to experience full-term with Grace and it would be nice if we got to enjoy the same experience with a boy. Ian never had a brother and would love for Jacob to be able to enjoy having a brother.

The only downside to a boy is we cannot agree on a name for the life of us. I finally was able to force Ian to sit down last night and make a list of baby names he would even consider (not just liked) and out of the website's TOP 500 baby names of 2009 he was only able to come up with 9!! Also, I want to add that one of them was a joke (Francisco....anyone see Elf?!) and I immediately scratched Reuben off the list (I am not naming my kid after one of his favorite sandwiches).

That being said we have a list now of the names he'll consider with the ridiculous ones scratched off and the ones I would consider and we have: Joshua, Micah, Jonah and Adam. Personally, I only LIKE two of them so we still have our work cut out for us.

Now that I am feeling better and well into my second trimester (16w4d) I will try to catch up on my blogging. I have so much to update! Jacob starts preschool in 3 weeks and he also turns THREE! We will be celebrating Toy Story style later this month. Grace is a talking machine. This girl takes after her Mama and amazes me every day with the things she can do/say. She is currently learning her alphabet (right now she knows every 6th or 7th letter) and she knows the words to her favorite books by heart! That's all for now though. Ian is back to work today and I am fresh off a 48 hour mandated bed rest due to my surgery so it is back to the grind!
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