Saturday, October 26, 2013

One Month

It's really hard to believe Adalyn is already over a month old!  Now that pregnancy is over (still rejoicing about that one, btw), time has resumed its normally fast pace.  Besides, there is nothing like a new baby to make you aware of the passing of time, since they change so much every week.  One day I say, "Adalyn doesn't focus on faces very long" or "She hasn't started smiling," and then a few days later she does.

This month has gone by quickly even considering all the difficulties of life with a newborn.  It wasn't helped by the fact that I had two bouts of mastitis, complete with high fevers and feeling horrible.  I was super grateful for the extra help of family when I was feeling really sick.  (If you wonder when you will ever out-grow taking care of sick children, the answer is never!)  I think everyone should live with family when they have a new baby - it makes things so much easier to manage!  It has definitely helped Juliana's transition to still have lots of people around to give her attention.
Reading with Grandma Yaya
Adalyn is now weighing in at 9 pounds, so she is still a little thing, but she's growing well.  She is sweet and cuddly - you can't beat a newborn for snuggliness.  She still sleeps a whole lot, but she has longer alert periods when she likes to observe the world with giant eyes.  She is generally a very content baby; she just gets fussy in the evening as most babies seem to do.

Nursing is going well - much better now that the mastitis is over with.  Baby Addie nurses about every two hours most of the day.  It seems like a lot sometimes, but reading breastfeeding books is a good reminder that it's perfectly normal and healthy for a baby to eat often.  I know that it won't be long before she is waiting a little longer between feedings, which does make it easier to go out and plan activities.  Besides, she is going for much longer spells at night, so it's hard to complain.

We are continually amazed by Adalyn's sleeping!  When she was firstborn and then when I had mastitis and then again when I had mastitis, I had to wake her up to nurse frequently, but now that I don't have to wake her up, she routinely sleeps for 3-4 hours at a time.  Last night she actually slept for 5 hours straight!  At 5 weeks old!  It's really hard to believe.  I've heard of babies like this but never thought I'd actually have one.  We were happy if Juliana did that any time in the first year.

Adalyn still prefers to sleep cuddled up next to mama (what baby wouldn't?), and that is where she spends most of the night.  I enjoy cuddling with a sleeping baby, but we have been trying to get her okay with sleeping in her bassinet some of the time as well.  She is usually pretty restless in her bed, squirming and grunting and spitting up a lot, but sometimes she does okay.  We raised the head of her mattress, so hopefully that will help with all the spitting up.
We are enjoying her recent smiles
I keep remembering how things were with Juliana at this age and being amazed by how "easy" Adalyn is in comparison.  Of course, partly the second baby is much easier because everything isn't as stressful and perplexing, but I can already see a big difference in their personalities.  Juliana had the most expressive cries - even from birth she was pretty adept at letting you know exactly what she was thinking.  And mostly she was a happy baby - as long as someone was holding her.

With lots of willing arms around, Adalyn certainly gets plenty of holding in throughout the day, but she is also okay with hanging out in her bouncy chair looking around or sleeping.  She likes being cuddled in the wrap but she is content in the stroller as well.  I feel like Juliana was unhappy almost anytime she was put down.  Which is in keeping with her current desire for continual interaction with others.

Juliana has done well adjusting to her role as big sister.  She calls her "my baby" and likes to hold her and give her hugs and kisses.  She talks to her a lot and says things like, "Don't cry baby!  Don't cry!" and "You're a cute baby!  You're a cute baby!"  She also likes to sing, and if baby is crying she just sings louder.  Adalyn finds all Juliana's noise soothing.  She has also already perfected her "resigned" face for when Juliana holds her or doctors her or sings very loudly in her face.
Sister love (can't you see the resigned look?)
We are really enjoying baby Addie.  Juliana is great fun and has brought lots of happiness and energy to our lives.  We love her vibrant personality...but we're also pretty happy to have a more laid-back baby this time around.  It will be interesting to see how Adalyn's personality develops as she grows.

Monday, October 7, 2013

He Ran Through an Airport With Me

A few months ago I read a blog post which referenced this quote:
"My love life will never be satisfactory until someone runs through an airport to stop me from getting on a flight." - Teenage post of the week via Huffington Post
(The post talks about what love really looks like in real life - well worth checking out).

At the time, Kevin pointed out the absurdity of waiting until the last minute when the girl has already spent lots of money on a ticket and may never see her luggage again - not to mention the guy would have to buy his own ticket to get through security - couldn't the guy make up his mind before then?

Kevin and I have had a lot of airport moments in our relationship, but in 3 months of dating, 8 months of engagement, and 6 years of marriage, not once has he begged me not to get on an airplane while romantically declaring his undying (if somewhat belated) love.  And I'm okay with that.  Because...

He has run through an airport with me.  More than once, in fact.  Most recently after a ridiculous delay, he ran ahead through the airport to convince the airline employees to hold the flight for us while I ran behind (pregnant and sick) balancing Juliana on top of a cart full of luggage.  They held the flight and we avoided spending $1000 on new tickets.

This sixth year of marriage may not have involved a lot of crazy romantic gestures, but it's been made up of many real life, small moments of commitment and care.

He made me breakfast in bed during the weeks when I was too sick to get up in the morning.  When I couldn't handle walking in the kitchen and wouldn't even let him bring Chinese food in the house, he found something for him and Juliana to eat every day.  He put Juliana to bed every night when I was busy throwing up, and he kept doing it after I had stopped throwing up and was just tired.

He cleaned up throw up - mine and Juliana's - on multiple occasions without complaining.  He was thrown up all over by a sick Juliana and he still kept holding her.  (This year held a lot of throw up.)

He went to the supermarket and vegetable market and to buy milk and carted Juliana around on his bike when I was sick at home.

He packed boxes and repacked boxes when a certain small person unpacked them.  He sorted through stacks of papers and got rid of things he would rather have kept to satisfy my desire to purge.

He relinquished more and more of the bed as I took it over with increasingly large numbers of pillows in an attempt to get comfortable.  He got up with Juliana in the mornings so I could sleep longer.

He fixed the toilet and the light and the vent and put back up the classy plastic in the broken windows.

He occupied Juliana on long plane flights and walked with her in airports so I could sit down.

He drove really fast without endangering any of our lives so we could get to the hospital on time for the baby to be born.

He searched out good deals on plane tickets and found a way to get us extra frequent flier miles for our trip back to China.  He figured out all the logistics for getting passports and visas.

He was patient when I was snappy, difficult, critical, and unappreciative.

He never stopped me from getting on a plane.  Instead he got on the plane with me and has stayed with me ever since.

Happy sixth anniversary, Kevin.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Birth of Adalyn Lucia

Note to the reader: This is a birth story, and while not at all graphic, if words like dilation and placenta make you squeamish or you think storks will be involved in any way, don't say I didn't warn you.

The Birth of Adalyn Lucia
A contraction woke me up shortly before 1am.  I had been waking up to painful contractions for weeks, but this one felt different - deeper and more intense.  I tried to ignore it and had almost drifted back to sleep when the next one came, strong enough I decided I'd better start timing.  They were coming at 7 minutes apart, and I knew I should rest during this early labor but it was already hard to lie down through the contractions.  I went to the bathroom and when another one hit I thought, "Man, this is already painful and I'm just getting started!  I'm not sure about going through all this again..."  I came out and knelt on the floor for one more contraction, realizing they were now 5 minutes apart.  When I got my breath back, I pulled myself up to the bed to tell Kevin we'd better get ready.  As he stumbled out of bed and began collecting our things, I called up to my mom, who was coming with us to the hospital.

I didn't feel a huge rush yet, but I knew it would take a few minutes to get ready, and I was thinking of the 40 minute drive to the hospital.  It didn't take long, but I had to pause several times to moan and sway through contractions.  I told Kevin to drive (the seat was already adjusted for him, so I figured it would be faster), so mom climbed in the backseat behind me.  Mom told Kevin to relax and drive carefully; I told him it was okay to speed.  I vaguely watched the clock and noticed the contractions were now 4 minutes apart.  Kevin noticed as well and picked up his speed; in the backseat mom called the midwife to let her know we were on the way.

Moments after we pulled out on the 55mph highway, the blue lights appeared behind us.  "It's okay," I said, "Surely he won't give us a ticket!"  In mercifully short order, the cop was walking toward the car shining his flashlight toward us.  Kevin started yelling out the window, "My wife is in labor!  We're trying to get to the hospital!" while mom called similar things from the backseat.  The cop apparently decided there was no other good reason for a largely pregnant lady, her mother, and her slightly frantic husband to be barreling down the highway in the middle of the night.  "Well, I guess I can't verify that, but I'll let you go.  Just try to keep it to 70 instead of 77mph."  As he walked away he called back, "Congratulations and good luck!"

We were back on the highway, crawling down the road at 70mph.  There wasn't much I could do during contractions, being restrained in the car, so I just gripped the door handle and moved my head slowly back and forth as I moaned through each one.  I tried to compare to my last labor - these contactions seemed somewhere in the middle - close and intense but still manageable.  At my appointment the week before I was 5cm dilated (incidentally the same starting point for my 16hr labor with Juliana), and I hoped I would be at least 6cm when I got to the hospital.

I couldn't make sense of the clock anymore, but Kevin was watching the contractions go from 3 minutes to 2 minutes apart.  Between contractions I was mainly aware of traffic lights and tail lights.  Fortunately the roads were pretty empty at 2am.  We turned off the highway into Athens - the hospital was tantilizingly close but we were stopped by a red light.  The road was deserted.  I was going to tell kevin just to run it, but he swung right, made a U-turn, and turned quickly back on the road.

Less than a mile from the hospital a pack of cars suddenly pulled out in front of us, blocking the whole road, driving under the speed limit, and waving their UGA flags. "They are probably drunk and don't want to get pulled over!" Kevin groaned.  I've never been less of a UGA fan than at that moment.  Honking, tailing, and loud swearing all seemed like appropriate responses, but I guess you don't want enraged drunk people blocking your way.  A few frustrating minutes later we turned off into the hospital.  I was very glad to have finally arrived, and I didn't feel a huge sense of urgency.  The contractions were strong but still manageable.  We pulled up to the ER; Kevin jumped out, I heaved myself from the car, and mom moved around to take it to park.

The moment we reached the registration desk another contraction hit and I gripped the edge, moaning.  The registration nurse started asking questions which Kevin answered since I obviously couldn't speak.  Suddenly I felt it: that unforgettable, overwhelming need to push.  "Pressure!" I gasped, and Kevin immediately moved to put pressured on my lower back.  "No," I cried as my water broke, "I feel PRESSURE!"

The nurse kicked into high gear, calling again for transport.  "Don't push!" She said, "You don't want to have this baby right here - don't push!"  Which I imagine is kind of like telling someone having an ashma attack to"just breathe," but I tried my best.  Childbirth books should really include more information on how to keep from having a baby.

A few minutes later a security guard, apparently the only person around, came running up and told me to sit in the wheelchair.  "I can't!" I cried.  Movement at this point seemed impossible.  It felt like she was crowning, but I thought, "No, that's ridiculous.  Not already!"  I managed to lower myself into the chair and we were off.  Kevin stayed behind to sign some forms (he has no idea what he signed) and ran after, catching us just before the elevator closed.  Which is fortunate, since otherwise he would have missed the birth.

As I gasped and panted and tried not to push through another contraction, the security guard said in a slightly panicked voice, "Don't push!  Don't have this baby on me!  We're almost there."  We raced through the back hallways and I heard her yelling for the nurses as the labor and delivery came into view.  (The waiting nurse later said she thought I was the one yelling, until she saw me sitting there calmly while the security guard ran up hollering.)

The nurse led us into a room and began getting the IV antibiotics ready, asking me to get on the bed.  It felt like an impossible task - only the second time this labor that I felt like, "I can't do this!"  I heaved myself onto the bed and landed on all fours just as another contraction hit.  The nurse was saying, "I just need you to lie down so I can get in the IV."  Before I could comply or even reply, I felt the force of my body bearing down and cried, "I feel the head!!"

And sure enough, I reached down and felt that the head was out.  The nurse immediately abandoned the IV saying, "Oh goodness!  Lie down!  I need you to lie down!"  In the third semi-impossible move, I managed to flip over onto my back.  The nurse shoved my skirt out of the way saying, "Okay, give me a little push," and out came the rest of the body.  The baby broke into lusty cries.

The feeling of relief was overwhelmed by the shock of seeing the baby lying on the bed.  I couldn't believe it had happened so fast.  Less than 10 minutes of trying not to push and here she was!  It was 2:35am - less than 2 hours since the first contraction, 10 minutes since we arrived in the hospital, and less than a minute since we got to the room.  The nurse was excited because it was her first delivery, but it happened so fast she didn't even have any equipment.  She put Adalyn on my chest and a moment later another nurse brought in the supplies.  We waited for the cord to stop pulsing, then Kevin cut it.

My midwife and my mom arrived at about the same time, both rather surprised to see the baby already there.  "I should have met you in the ER!" my midwife exclaimed.  As she delivered the placenta the nurse asked when my contractions had started.  When I told her it had been less than two hours she said,  "Yeah, I'd call that a precipitous labor!  Next time, if you even think about going into labor, you'd better head for the hospital!"

Mom and Kevin didn't get to play their labor support roles quite as they imagined, but they ended up playing other vital parts like driving fast and parking the car.  And while I'm sure mom was disappointed to miss the birth, she was probably glad she didn't have to deliver the baby herself!  It was a shockingly fast labor and so different from Juliana's, but I'm grateful for both.  The last one taught me a lot about strength and perseverance and how even a very painful experience can be very positive. And this one, well, it does make for a good story to tell!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Adalyn Lucia

Likely you've already heard through some other means, but she's here!  Adalyn Lucia was born on September 21 at 2:35am.  I was only two days overdue, but it felt like weeks, and I was so happy for her to come.  When she was ready though, she sure came quickly!  The whole labor lasted less than two hours and we made it to the hospital with just 10 minutes to spare.  It was very different from Juliana's birth (16 hours with intense back labor) and a little shocking!  Stay tuned for the full birth story which I am working on writing up.  It's an exciting one.

I discovered the name Adalyn after we found out we were having a girl.  I had never heard it before but I really loved it.  It took us until a few weeks ago to finally settle and agree on the name, though.  Kevin came across the name Lucia and I especially liked the meaning and that it wasn't super common.  Finally at about 37 weeks I said, "We have to decide on a name!  I don't want this baby to come and we still don't know what to call her!" (This was back when I still thought she'd be early.)  I like her name more and more and I think it's very fitting.

We have considered calling her "Addie" as well, which I think is a really cute nickname, we just haven't gotten around to it yet.  Juliana had a hard time remembering "Adalyn" at first and I told her she could call her Addie, but she has decided pretty definitely, "It's NOT Addie, it's ADALYN."  She also likes to call her, "my baby," "my sister," or in moments of less enthusiasm, "that baby."

Adalyn (ADD-ah-lyn) means "noble."  We want our daughter to remember that her lasting heritage is one of nobility - not in a cheesy "you're a princess" sense, but in a sense of both identity and responsibility.  Her primary loyalty is not to a country or a religious or political ideal but to a King and a kingdom.  Lucia (loo-SEE-ah) means "bringer of light," a meaning I especially like.  Wherever Adalyn Lucia grows up and wherever she goes in her own life, we want her to be one who brings light into every situation.  We don't want her to just settle down in places that are easy and already filled with light but instead to seek out places in need of light.

Our Chinese friend Charis helped us choose a Chinese name for Adalyn.  We became friends with her over the past year and she spent a lot of time going with me to doctor visits during the pregnancy.  I joked that she should either charge commision or we should name the baby after her.  We didn't actually do that, but I appreciate having a name chosen by someone special.  Adalyn's Chinese name is 林晏清 (lin2 yan4 qing1).  林 is the family name, which means "forest." 晏 means "brightness, serenity" and 清 means "purity, nobility."  I appreciate that the name has a similar meaning to the English name, and Adalyn will appreciate that the name is not too difficult to write!

Adalyn is now a week old and off to a good start.  After overcoming the intial barrier of incredible sleepiness, she is nursing well and her weight is good.  She has even shocked us by sleeping well!  She has been giving us some 2 and 3 hour stretches, something we rarely saw from Juliana.  She likes sleeping with mama but doesn't seem to suffer from a strong aversion to her own little bed, unlike some previous children we might have had.  She is pretty contented most of the time, just sleeping or hanging out quietly looking around.  She certainly looks different from Juliana, with all her dark hair, and it will be interesting to see her different personality emerging as well.  Juliana has changed a lot since she was a week old, but I don't particularly remember her ever being described as "chill" or "mellow." :)

Overall I have found recovery to be much easier this time around.  Of course, the labor was about 14 hours shorter and a lot easier, so that's not too surprising!  I have had an unfortunate encounter with mastitis, which left me with a high fever and feeling miserable.  It is starting to improve, though, and I think once I can get past that I'll really feel better.  And even though I've already had a nasty encounter with mastitis, almost every day I think, "I'm so glad not to be pregnant anymore!

Juliana is making the adjustment to big sister pretty well.  The first few days she was absolutely wild with excitement - imagine Juliana at three times her normal energy level.  It was quite spectacular, really.  When we came home from the hospital Juliana came out to greet us jumping up and down and yelling with all her might.  She likes to give Adalyn kisses and hugs; otherwise she is realizing babies are actually pretty boring.  She is proud of being a big sister but even more happy to be a 姐姐 (jie-jie...big sister), probably because she is used to everyone else being the 姐姐.

My grandmother brought Juliana a new baby doll which she named Jovus (just like the only other doll she has actually named, so now she has "Big Jovus" and "Little Jovus.").  The doll came with a bottle, which is always fun, but when Juliana saw it she said, "The baby doesn't need that!  I can feed her," and she pulled up her shirt to nurse her.  She learns fast. :)  Then she ran off to her room to sleep with Jovus.  She was very strict about us all being quiet and spent a lot of time rushing back and forth to her room because Jovus was crying.  We took our babies out in their slings and had a nice little walk around the yard.  I think Adalyn enjoyed her ride more than Jovus, however, who was discarded before the end.

We are really appreciating being with family and having lots and lots of help, particularly with me being sick.  With so many people around there is always someone ready to hold the baby, and fortunately Juliana still gets lots of attention.  And I have been glad we have been in America during this time, since medical complications always seem much more difficult to deal with in China.

So far we are are one week into this and about 1000 pictures behind where we were with Juliana.  We also haven't even applied for the passport yet, which will hopefully get taken care of next week.  It's nice to not have quite such a rush as last time and strange to think this one will be nearly five months old before her first international excursion.  She's going to have some catching up to do!   In the meantime, we are just focusing on sleeping and nursing and keeping relatively happy in between.