Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reece's First Week

As many of us know, you take a minute where you can get it when you have a newborn! I got 2 posts written and 5 pictures edited the other day while Reece napped in the car seat. The next day, I got pictures imported and started sorting a little bit while he was in the Moby wrap, leaving me hands-free, for the most part. When this was written last week, the boy was actually napping in his crib! This was the first time he'd slept more than about 20 minutes in there since the first week we were home!

And, of course, when you actually get this hands-free time, you're at a loss as to what to do with it. Should I eat first? No, I can eat one-handed; I've gotten pretty good at it. But, I should prepare the food, because sometimes that's hard to do one-handed. I should definitely go to the bathroom. A shower would be nice. Oh, I should start some laundry. I don't want to take a cold shower, so I'll just do that later. I should do the dishes. No, Eric can do that when he gets home. Ugh. I've left the dishes for him every day for the last week; I'll do the dishes. I should edit pictures....and on and on it goes. You get the picture.

Because Reece was born on a Thursday, Eric ended up having only one full week off, and there was a lot to do in that time. He got to work early Monday morning on insurance stuff because we had paid in cash for the hospital stay, and he was eager to get our reimbursement. He was also pretty busy with grading and preparing lessons for school. With the older kids in school, I'd had visions of how calm and peaceful our days would be, how much we would get done, and how much quality time we would all spend together, but one's dreams rarely turn out in reality. The days flew by and with Eric leaving in the early afternoon to pick up the kids and meet with students every day, we really didn't seem to get much accomplished at all.

On Tuesday, we spent the day taking Reece's passport pictures and preparing the documents for our trip to the embassy. (If you are needing to take infant passport pictures at home, this link was really helpful for us!) As it turned out, the trip and interview would actually be pretty easy, but we didn't know that at the time. We were pretty stressed figuring out some of the documents we needed, though I thought I'd done everything I could to prepare beforehand.

On Wednesday, we took our first trip out of the house since returning home from the hospital. It was refreshing to get outside, and it was surprising just how much it had cooled off in the past week. I had still been sweating when going for a walk the week before Reece was born! We walked down our hill to get Reece's passport pictures printed and then went to a local coffee shop where we sat and had a cup of coffee and continued the debate on whether or not to stay in Korea for another year. Reece did great and only started crying as we walked up to the apartment.

On Thursday, Eric was able to go with Cade on his field trip in the morning, since he happened to be on leave. They just went to the park near our house to explore the fall leaves, and Eric loved hanging out with Cade and the other boys in his class and observing their friendships. Reece and I were on our own for most of the day.

Friday, we had to venture back to the hospital for a postpartum checkup for me and Reece's one week doctor's appointment. Unfortunately, the appointments overlapped, so I wasn't able to actually see the doctor with Reece, as I was waiting for my own appointment. The bonus was that I missed his shots, though I was stressed the entire time because I hadn't brought a bottle for him (he hadn't had one yet), and I wouldn't be there to nurse if he was really upset. Eric said he barely let out a cry. He still had a little jaundice in his face, but he either was much better than the other two in this regard, or his doctor is much more relaxed about it (seems unlikely in Korea!). He hadn't quite returned to his birth weight yet, but the doctor didn't seem too concerned about it, and he doesn't have to return until December. In this regard, Reece has been much easier compared to Cade and Kennedy who both struggled to nurse and had to have supplement bottles for the first several weeks of life.

That afternoon, while Eric was at school, I did Reece's first round of newborn pictures, which explains the tape on his heel...I was afraid I'd wake him if I removed it!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Reece's First Days at Home

Those first few days at home were interesting. We left the hospital on Friday around noon, so Eric was able to go to school to pick up the kids a couple of hours later. Our first few days at home as a family of 5, the kids did not have school. I think it was probably a good thing, though.

Both of the kids got to hold him on Friday afternoon when they returned from school. Cade was actually pretty excited about it, now that he didn't have quite the audience. Kennedy, of course, would have held him all night if we'd let her! They also would go in and check on him while he slept in the crib. (I already can't believe how quickly that stage went! The one where he would actually sleep in his crib, rather than my arms? Oh, that newborn lethargy!)

On Saturday morning, Cade came into our room (around 8:00!) and wanted to know where Reece was. He wasn't in his crib! Haha! No, he was in the bassinet in our room, of course.

I am willing to bet that Kennedy called Reece cute about 212 times over the weekend...actually I don't know that she's stopped yet. But, I have been encouraging her to come up with other adjectives she can use to describe him. Maybe something a little more specific!

On Sunday evening, they got to watch and help him take his first bath, which was quite the event for them! And even now, after 2 weeks, when I mentioned that he needed a bath last night, they both wanted to watch (but he ended up showering after they went to bed). They also still like to watch him get his diaper changed, and they still argue over who gets to hold him first. I figure it will be important to remember this because it may not last too much longer!

This is just a little sneak peek of Reece's newborn photos. I'd been preparing and planning for these for months, but when the time came, it was so much harder to do than I thought it would be. I did them on days 8 and 12 because my body needed time to heal before that, but of course, that meant it was harder to get him to fall asleep and stay asleep to pose him. It also meant that baby acne had hit in full force, and I just don't have the time to edit them as much as they need. We will definitely be remembering him as he really looked!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Hospital Stay

Well, the only problem with using the blog as a baby book is that everyone (including Reece) will know how bad I was at keeping up with it! Kennedy and Cade will never know how long it took me to record events in theirs because I didn't have to record a date each time I did it! I've been making notes in my calendar, though, in hopes that I won't forget everything before I include it here. And, of course, the blog has the added challenge of editing photos before I post them. I suppose it's not too surprising that when I actually have two hands to edit or type, they are busy eating, doing laundry, taking a shower, or sleeping. So, phone photos will have to suffice for now...

Hospital stays are never enjoyable, so I suppose that really it wasn't quite as bad as I thought it was going to be. There were definitely some things that were different about it, though! First of all, apparently even when you want the baby to "room in" they take that to mean that you should have a few hours to rest and therefore take the baby from you, whether you want them to or not. For 4 hours. The 2 mornings we were there, they took him from 5am to 9am, on the precedence of weighing him and giving him a bath. Four hours seems a bit long for that! And of course, especially on that first morning, with my child only being hours old, I was not able to relax much during that 4 hour period. I'm sure I still had some adrenaline running through my veins (I kept replaying the entire labor in my mind...yikes!), and I was worried about what he was eating and the fact that I wasn't nursing. So, not too relaxing for me. The doctor came back with him at 9am and informed us that he looked really good, but that he had spit up quite a bit after taking a bottle. He was concerned about how much and let us know that he thought he may need a chest x-ray the next day if it continued for the next 24 hours. After Cade, we couldn't possibly imagine how Reece could spit up so much that he would need an x-ray, but we decided not to worry about it yet.

Not long after he finally returned, they moved us to another part of the hospital. Apparently there is no maternity floor, just a labor and delivery ward. They stuck me in a wheelchair, got a cart to put our stuff on, and whisked us through the halls (at an alarming rate!). I had never had to ride in a wheelchair, and it is not an experience I would like to repeat! Once we arrived in our room (which wasn't too bad, by the way), I realized that again Reece was not with us. Apparently, they'd taken him back to the nursery again. Only this time, they hadn't bothered to tell me when he would return! In spite of the fact that I was now on the hardest bed ever made, I was finally able to get some sleep this time. I simply couldn't stay awake any longer.

Our friends who were watching the kids were able to bring them to the hospital to visit us that afternoon (another benefit of choosing a hospital so close to home and school). Kennedy could.not.wait. to hold her little brother, and Cade was more interested in checking out the hospital room, the food, the bathroom. Pretty much anything but his little brother. He didn't hold him at all, but I don't think either one of us were surprised by his reaction. Reece had "brought" books for each of them and Cade was totally engrossed in his as they walked out the door to have dinner and get to bed.

The "Western" menu in the hospital was not as bad as I'd thought it was going to be, though I found it strange that they had me fill out what I wanted for each meal, and then that was not what I was served. Nonetheless, Eric was not thrilled with my leftovers, so he headed out to get a pizza that evening for dinner after the kids left. After eating, we fell asleep watching men's Korean professional volleyball on TV. I was able to sleep for an hour or two before another nurse came in to take Reece for his hearing test. She promised me he would only be gone an hour because he needed to nurse again, but he was gone for 2 hours. Then, he was only back for an hour or 2 before they took him back to the nursery again. (Can you tell this stressed me out?! Kennedy and Cade never left our room unless we went with them, so this was all new to me!) I tried really hard to sleep this time, but there was a nurse coming in to check something at least every hour.

Finally, he arrived back at 9am, and the doctor made no mention of his spitting up this time. My doctor came in and said we could go home (even though most Koreans stay for 4 or 5 days), and we were ready to walk out the door at 10am when they said the nurse from the international clinic would come in to help us get discharged. It was almost noon before we were finally pulling out of the parking lot--after a long spiel from the nurse about newborn care, realizing that we didn't have the Korean birth certificate that we needed for the embassy, and finally getting the bill paid--we were finally headed home! (Well, except for stopping to get cash to pay for the parking that we thought we'd already paid for.) Hallelujah! (And praise the Lord that Reece actually slept in his car seat, after our trip to school this morning, long enough for me to write this!)

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Reece's Birth Story

The other kids have baby books, but I didn't think about picking one up for Reece this past summer, so the blog will have to take the place of his baby book. This post, in particular, may provide way more information than you wanted to know about my labor and delivery, but I tried to go for the PG version. There's no talk of mucus plugs, bloody show, or any of the other not-so-pretty aspects of delivery here. That being said, read at your own risk!

I suppose labor with Reece technically began at 4am on October 29th. That was when I woke up to go to the bathroom and couldn't go back to sleep because of the contractions. They weren't very strong and after days of having contractions, they weren't too alarming. Nonetheless, I wasn't able to get back to sleep until everyone was off to school. I had been tempted to tell Eric that today might be the day, but I didn't want to get his hopes up. We’d been waiting for this for weeks!

The day before was the day after my due date. I decided to finally finish all of the little things that I had been saving for right before the baby came. I got up and wrote a very optimistic to do list. I had already sprinkled the baking soda all over the bathroom floor when a pregnant friend of mine texted me asking if I wanted to go on a long walk with her. I really wanted to say no, and it seemed like scrubbing the bathroom floor was a good enough excuse. Not to mention the fact that after going on a long walk, scrubbing floors was not going to be an easy task. I went anyway, though. I arrived home just in time to get dinner prepped and into the crock pot. Then, I had some lunch and laid down for a little while to rest. Eventually, I got back to work and managed to complete some of the tasks that had been weighing on me. The evening ended with finally scrubbing the bathroom floor, and then I was ready for bed.

I had written off my due date. Everyone knows that you can’t possibly have a baby on its due date, but I was hoping that scrubbing that floor would start things. It didn't happen right away, but as I said, I woke up early the next day with contractions.

I continued having contractions through the morning and early afternoon, but they weren't getting stronger or consistent. The only positive factor was that they didn't stop regardless of what I was doing: sweeping, cooking, or just laying in bed. I was optimistic. Today could be the day. I watched a few episodes of season 8 of Friends…the ones where Rachel is pregnant and waiting to go into labor. Misery loves company!

In the afternoon, I managed to get up and get a couple more things done. As I’d rested, my contractions seemed to be getting a little more consistent, so around 4:00 I finally started timing them. As I started working on finishing up dinner, they started getting stronger. I was still walking and talking through them, but some of them were definitely distracting when trying to get something accomplished.

By the time we sat down for dinner, they were getting harder to talk through, but at this point, I was afraid to get too optimistic. I laid down on the couch, reading articles about labor, certain that the contractions would slow or get weaker. They still weren't lasting much more than 30 seconds, so I didn't think labor was imminent. They remained consistent. I laid down in bed and downloaded a couple of episodes of The West Wing to distract myself. I wasn't able to get very comfortable, though. A friend texted me asking how things were going. I told her that I’d been having contractions, but I still thought I would probably make it to my doctor’s appointment in the morning. I still wasn't confident that what I was feeling was strong enough to be real labor contractions.

By 10:00 though, most of them were about 3 minutes apart and lasting 30-45 seconds long. I started to think this could be the real thing. I went in and started straightening my hair. I think that was Eric’s first inclination that we would be going to the hospital that night. He laughed at me, but I didn't want to have to worry about washing my hair for the next day or two. You know, the important things! He took some time to clean up the house a bit more. It took me a ridiculously long time to straighten my hair, though, because every 2 or 3 minutes I would have another contraction and have to lean against the bathroom sink to get through it. I was almost done when I decided that I should lay down for a few minutes to see if they started to slow down. There was one 5 minute gap at one point, but it didn't take me long to realize that it didn't matter what I did, they were going to continue!

I finished up my hair (quickly!) and had Eric pack the last minute stuff and start loading the car around 11:30. At 11:45, I told him he needed to hurry. He called our friends who had agreed to watch the kids, and started loading them into the car. He had been moving pretty slowly, taking his time, as I hadn't given him any reason to think we were in a hurry. I had just been straightening my hair moments before, after all. At this point, he started jogging as he loaded the kids and loaded the car.
After helping me to the car, we were finally ready to leave. In the last hour, I had no longer been able to remain silent during my contractions, and I had started to worry about how I was going to be able to keep quiet in the car in front of the kids. After waking them up at midnight, listening to their mother yell in pain did not seem like a good way to drop them off with friends. I didn't want to terrify them! Thankfully, I was able to keep quiet (from what I remember) and tried to focus on breathing instead. Cade still asked me if I was okay, so I definitely wasn't hiding my pain, but I don’t think he was scared.

Thankfully, our friends were out on their doorstep when we arrived. Eric was able to get the kids (and all of their stuff!) handed off quickly without even having to run up to their apartment, and we were quickly on our way again. I was with it enough to give him directions out of their neighborhood and to the hospital the quickest way, which was a saving grace. The contractions were never more than 3 minutes apart now, and I wasn't quiet now that the kids were out of the car. I remember staring at the clock through each contraction, knowing that each one would end.

My biggest fear about going into labor naturally was that we would end up at the hospital with a false alarm (or two). I did not want to have to get the kids out of bed in the middle of the night, get them excited that the baby was finally coming, only to return to get them a couple of hours later. At this point, I was pretty confident that this was not false labor, but I was still concerned that I may not have labored at home long enough. I told Eric as we neared the hospital that I was going to be really mad if we arrived, and I was still only 4 cm.  I wanted to be admitted. And I was ready for an epidural! I remember clearly that it was 12:25am as we drove down the hill toward the hospital. We were probably walking through the parking lot (with contractions) at 12:30.

Eventually, we made it up to the 3rd floor maternity ward. I’d made it. I was at the hospital. We walked in the door and the admitting nurse had us change our shoes. I was ready to hit her over the head with mine. I could barely hold myself up (I leaned against the door jamb), but she wanted me to change my shoes! It didn't take her long to figure out I wasn't going to be able to do it myself. (This is one of those "only in Korea" moments--no one wears their outdoor shoes indoors here, and apparently that applies to L & D rooms, as well. Soon, I was laying on a bed in a room. I was ready to relax, but of course, that wasn't going to happen. For some reason or another, a couple of minutes later, they made me move into a different room.

I laid down, and the doctor informed me I was 8 cm already! Apparently I’d labored at home long enough! Of course, now my second biggest fear was a reality: I was too far along to get an epidural. The doctor had first told me that I would see my baby before the morning, and I was terrified as to how many more hours I was going to have to endure these contractions. The morning was still a long way off as far as I was concerned. Soon though, she said it would be 45 minutes to an hour before baby arrived, and my doctor would have time to get there. Not long after, she said it would probably be closer to 15 minutes and wanted to know if I wanted to wait for my doctor to arrive before I pushed (as if I had a choice at that point!); waiting was not an option! Eric had been down in the emergency room getting me admitted for much of this time, so I was relieved when he finally returned. The wall was all I’d had to hold onto during contractions that seemed back to back, and it wasn't very comforting.

Without getting into any gory details, I will say that I remember squeezing Eric’s hand during contractions in the beginning and quickly realizing that wasn't going to do it. The nurse kept trying to get me to do these obnoxious breathing techniques that I thought were a giant waste of energy. She was so stinkin' calm! I was content to scream. Soon, I had Eric in a headlock, as that gave me much more to hold onto and squeeze to try to counteract the pain. I think Reece ended up coming out in about 3 pushes, but I’m pretty sure I started pushing before I was supposed to, so who knows? I just remember feeling a huge amount of relief when I finally felt him slide out. After 5 minutes of screaming that I couldn't do it, he had finally arrived. I’d done it. Our baby boy was here!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Welcome to the World!

Reece James arrived at 1:15 am on October 30th, weighing 8lbs 2oz and 20in long! We are so excited to welcome the newest member of our family!

More pictures and details to come as soon as things settle a bit around here!
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