Monday, October 26, 2009

born free

"The future is not something we enter. The future is something we create."
L. I. Sweet

Holden Brady Schafer
Born October 26, 2009 at 9:20 AM
9 lbs 2 oz, 21" long
14" head circumference
Apgars 9 and 9
Labor of 2 hours, 35 minutes

A certain little someone at last decided to join in the chaos of our household!

Just when I was starting to feel certain this would be the first and only time I got to experience being "overdue" (which I know is quite silly because medically speaking a woman isn't post-term until she is 42 weeks and 1 day, but still - we do give some sort of magic to that little due date, don't we?), and after several false starts including one that had us almost fill up the birth pool a week ago, this morning I woke up far too early with Emerson at 5:45 AM and promptly lost my mucous plug in a gush. After doing a litmus test to make sure it wasn't my membranes rupturing (it wasn't), I woke Matt up to tell him the gross - but nonetheless exciting - news.

I felt a bit crampy and my lower back was aching and about 6:45 the cramping fell into contractions. They were uncomfortable enough to have me wandering around the house whining to myself while Matt tried to get the birth pool filled as quickly as possible. Whenever he had the audacity to ask, "Are you sure THIS is it?" my uterus responded by turning up the discomfort. About 7:45 the pool was ready and I threw myself in LOL, still sort of expecting the fast hour that greeted that action with Dawson. I ended up with 1 hour and 35 minutes instead and just like the additional 1/2" of Holden's head circumference, the extra did not go unnoticed.

Dawson's birth was not what I would call "painful," though I think the fog of forgetfullness makes it easier to say so now, but his contractions were short and sweet and quite predictable. He was in a rush to get out and it made the whole experience much easier on me. Holden, however, seemed perfectly content to stay put as long as possible and the contractions were random and often very long, sometimes piggy-backing on one another and leaving me in a constant state of suspense. This time they HURT and from about 8:30 onward I was one long string of whines and chants of I-can't-do-this-I-need-an-epidural. I think it must have been around 8:50 when I stood up and shamelessly proclaimed that I was going to the hospital and would get that epidural - only to realize I was incapable of walking at that moment and dropping back into the water with the next contraction. Somehow through all this I did manage to monitor his heartrate twice, noting good variability and no concerning decels.

Pushing with Dawson was a breeze - it was 7 minutes of calm relief. Pushing with Holden was rough - still just 15 minutes, but there was no relief, just awful pressure and at last that mythical Ring of Fire I've always been able to avoid. He was nearly a full pound heavier than Dawson so I'm sure that had something to do with it - he also decided to keep his membranes intact until his head was out and I felt like I had to hook a finger around his shoulder and help him rotate his body. And then it was over and he was in my arms and pink and screaming with the slightly shocked faces of three of his siblings peering down at him from our bed beside the pool. (While I labored most of the time alone, we decided to let Cade, Parker and Macy witness the final few minutes with Matt while we listened to Dawson and Emerson playing happily in the baby room on the monitor. They thought it was the coolest thing in the world for about 2 minutes, until they heard the theme song for Dora the Explorer on the living room TV heh!)

He scored great on his Apgars and this time the placenta came easily 20 minutes later. And despite his bigger size, this time I had not even the slightest skidmark! Pretty quickly afterward we were all cleaned up and resting on the couch while Matt took care of the rest of the little ones. Holden nursed great and then promptly went to sleep LOL.

Overall a great birth, though one that left me extra-positive that IT WAS THE LAST!! ^_^

Tomorrow's agenda includes Holden's first pediatrician visit (which is another story for another day involving our malpractice-paranoid pediatrician), a visit from my parents and sister, labwork for Dawson, a field trip for Parker and back to normal for everyone else! :)

Oh and he looks EXACTLY like Macy did as a newborn!

Saturday, October 10, 2009


I have many excuses for my (seemingly unusual, if you were reading my blog this time last year) long silence... they start with Busy and end with Busy, with two colds thrown in between and an awful lot of pregnancy-induced moodiness that has me wanting nothing more than to spend the few hours after the kiddos are in bed curled up on the couch zoned out to and/or ranting along with my favorite left-wing liberal media shows on MSNBC. :P But with our lives about to get even busier, it was time to sit myself down and get this posted!

Cade is doing very well in Kindergarten - he didn't have a hint of nervousness that first day getting on the bus; he's a pretty independent and adventurous (albeit shy and quiet) kiddo so I guess I should've known better than to worry over him. Social skills are his weakest link but he does seem to be opening up more with his classmates and interacting. He's so funny, he seems to know how important this issue is for us - yesterday while heading out the door to the school bus I called after him, "Have fun!" and he responded with, "I will! And I'll talk to a lot of kids!" Hehe. :)

Parker screamed for 15 minutes the first day we dropped him off at PreK. 5 minutes on Day 2. Not at all by Day 3 and he's been fine ever since. He really loves it and is a much more social creature than his big brother so he's not having nearly as much introverted trouble as Cade did early on in PreK. There is a disproportionate number of girls in his classroom and I think they may have noticed his adorable dimples - the other morning while dropping him off three little girls were chiming, "Hiiii Parker" as soon as he walked in the room.

Macy was a bit depressed the first couple weeks of school - it was obvious she really missed having her older siblings around and there was a lot of extra fighting going on when the boys got home from school. She seems to be adjusting now though and she likes the Mommy & Me tumbling class we go to each Saturday (no, no tumbling from this mommy LOL) and we're very glad we signed her up for it as it's become clear that she is going to be our toughest send-off to PreK next year; she has all of Cade's shyness combined with all of Parker's clingyness and though she's now happily jumping around the gym course, she won't really interact with the other kids and prefers to wait until they've moved on to another area before she plays.

Dawson got the brunt of our latest cold, down in his chest for over a week. He has another psych eval coming up next week since we declined adding a Special Education teacher to his services last eval. I'm guessing about a 6 month delay or so. He's doing so many neat things, it's easy to forget where they say kids his age are "supposed to" be. He has a great vocabulary, over 50 words, but he only uses it when he feels like it. He has a few two-word combos like putting "a" and "and" in front of words and "thank you" of course. He understands a few commands and this weekend followed his first complex one when I asked him to go get Emerson's shirt (which he'd tossed a few feet away) and give it to me. He just looked at me sheepishly at first but then I repeated the command and added "Look!" with a point at the shirt first and that did the trick - he scooted over and grabbed it, scooted back and handed it over. He is a doll baby. :)

He has been giving tons of his open-mouthed kisses, grabbing my face and covering me with drool LOL. He has really started to show how much of a sweet and sensitive little soul he is - if one of the other kids is crying he gets very concerned, leans over and looks near-tears himself. The other night Emerson managed to cut her lips on the sharp edges of her teeth worse than usual and as I was holding her trying to stop the bleeding Dawson was leaning over and planting kiss after kiss on her cheek. It was so sweet and it made me feel so much smaller than him, as I think I've grown a bit immune to all of her self-injuries.

Em is doing... pretty well, I think. Physically she's progressed so much - she pulls to stand on anything she can, even climbs up on top of toys and boxes and tries to get up on the couches LOL. Mentally we are getting there, though she has days where she really regresses. She has definitely become more aware, especially the last few weeks; she has very few moments now where she sits and stares into space as if she were the only person in the universe. She still has a lot of institutional-like behavior, i.e. banging her head against walls, banging toys into her head, poking herself in her eye repeatedly and pulling her hair very hard (especially when eating.) It feels like just in the last week we've turned a corner as she has been so THERE with us, doing less teeth grinding and much more babbling and happy vocalizing. When the therapists come into the room she gives this adorable joyful greeting that sounds very much like "Hi-i-i-i-i!" complete with inflection at the end. The little girl who hated to be held initially now opens her arms up to strangers.

We were still having so many problems with feeding - she basically figured out that the bottle was always an option, so she started refusing all baby food including ones she seemed to like, and then wasn't eating the bottles consistently either - we decided to take away the bottles completely one day. It was a tough decision because I am always so (maybe overly) concerned about her weight gain, but we just couldn't go on like that anymore, especially with a new baby coming. The first week was a bit bumpy and she lost a bit of weight, but now nearly a month later she is a baby food-eating champ. She eats between 8 and 10 jars of Level 2s each day, exceeding 1000 calories the last several days. She not only gained back what she lost but has broken the 19 lb mark. :) Our new challenge is liquids - she basically refused any at all the first couple weeks and we ended up forcing her to get a few ounces sip by sip throughout the day. She's doing better though and now drinks several ounces of apple juice through a straw on her own.

I hate to jinx anything, though I try to keep my expectations for tomorrow and beyond safely neutral, but today was the first day since the behavior began that Em did not grind once. :)

She had her second appointment with the ENT earlier in the week to see how the drops had worked on the impacted ear wax. Good news is the wax was cleared, bad news is she still failed her hearing test, even considering her as a 6-month old. Meaning, she has to have tubes placed. The surgery is under general anesthesia and is tentatively scheduled for 10/28. I'm nervous about that and luckily she has a cardiology appointment next Wednesday so we can talk about the use of anesthesia with her heart defect, but mostly I'm scared the tubes won't solve the problem. If it's not a matter of built-up fluid, we will then be sent to a "super" specialist in Syracuse or Philadelphia for her to have a brain-stem test to see if there are bigger issues behind her lack of responses. We will hope the tubes are all that is needed though.

I think I am coming more to terms with her delays and her specific issues. Dawson had an EI meeting this past week where I got the customary progress reports on his development. And it is always hard that first day to see the delays in print, to see them growing larger as he gets older. And for just a few short hours I can feel the wind knocked out beneath me and the fear of the unknown of Down syndrome creeping back. But then as I am rocking him to sleep and he is tickling my hand and smiling up at me with those big brown eyes, the reports get burnt up in the radiance of just how much I love him, and I don't care how big the number is before the percentage sign and know that I never will and the fear is defeated anew. And though I will always be so much smaller than him, he once again pulls me up a bit taller by reminding me of what is really important, and telling me wordlessly to feel the same way about Emerson. I am so lucky to have Perspective come in such a beautiful package. ^_^

Wednesday, October 07, 2009


Just a quick one - we are all alive and doing well and I have been working on a proper update post with new pics over the last two days - so far. I'm running low on time (and energy) these days, so sorry for the blog winter.

Holden is still cooking - we are now full-term! ^_^ Hopefully I'll get an update posted before I have to write up a birth story LOL! :)