Erika Grace – Her Name and Birth

Erika Grace
March 27, 2017
9lbs 8oz   –   22″

We are so pleased to welcome our daughter into our world! Our family has been waiting for her for such a long time, and we are so glad she is now here! 

I thought I would share the story of her name. It is a name Tim and I have had in our back pocket for over 6 years, since before we were married. In some ways it is really strange to say the name out loud now, since it has been such a huge secret for such a long time. 

Erika is named after my Oma. My Oma is a dearly loved woman by everybody who knows her. She is a dedicated worker, beautiful singer and the best baker I know. To be known by her is to be loved, to be fed, to be prayed for. We are sadly losing her quickly to the grasps of Alzheimer’s/Dementia, and it breaks our hearts. We hope the memory of her and her legacy will live on for a long time. Sometimes I feel like God meant for us to wait as long as we have to use the name, so it came at a time when the family needed it. 
Grace is a middle name shared with my sister, Rosalynn. My sister is a such a special person to me. She is a strong woman who loves fiercely and is completely devoted to what is in her heart. For a few months earlier in my pregnancy, I contemplated changing the middle name to Rose. It still would have honoured my sister, and roses are pretty flowers that smell lovely, plus, it would have been a reference to our time here in Alberta: Wild Rose Country. However, Tim never really came over to my side, and whenever I thought her name in my head, my mind always went to Erika Grace. And the meaning of Grace is so special; a rose may be lovely to behold, but there is nothing more beautiful than the free gift of Grace given to us by our God.


And now the story of her birth! 

With each passing pregnancy, I seem to convince myself harder and harder that THIS is the time I will have my baby early. I just simply can’t be late with ALL my births! So I totally thought she would come a week early. But she didn’t. She just hung on, and hung on. At my 39 week appointment, my OB said “we will discuss booking an induction during your next appointment.” I thought to myself, “Yeah, sure. I won’t need it!” My 40 week appointment came, and she booked me in for a week later. I thought to myself, “I definitely won’t make it that far!” I did. And with every day my nerves grew and grew. 

I was called at 7:45 on the morning of Monday March 27 asking how soon I could come. I had already showered and just needed to eat, so I said I could be there by 8:30. I packed up my last minute stuff, ate half a breakfast, and headed off to the hospital. I was anticipating a super quick delivery since Patrick was only 2 hours of labour. I asked Tim if he thought it would be an AM baby or a PM baby. He thought PM, but I wasn’t so sure. It took a while for them to get us started. I wasn’t hooked up to the drip until 9:50. They started me off on the lowest amount and slowly upped it every half hour. It was around 11:45 when I finally started to feel things happening. As in, I guess stuff is starting, but I can totally ignore them if I wanted to. Tim and I walked around a bit after the first half-hour period of being monitored, and I bounced on my ball. Getting induced is so boring. I just wanted them to break my water already. I knew that would really get things going! 

Just waiting, listening to the heartbeat on the monitor for the first half hour of being on oxytocin. His view, my view.

Nothing happened or progressed for another 2 hours. At 1:45 the OB on call finally came to break my water. I was mostly anxious to learn how dilated I was. At my OB appointment a week earlier I was 2 cm, and I was hoping to have dilated a good amount from the oxytocin in the past 4 hours. But I was barely 3cm. Womp womp. So he broke my water. With the very next contraction, I could tell that that was all I really needed. They went from being painless and barely there to being noticeable and getting more intense as time chugged on. Also, when they broke it, there was a ton of meconium in the water. It was actually really gross. I will spare you the many visual comparisons I have thought of since then. They continued upping the dose a bit every half hour. Just before shift change I had a huge gush of more green goopy fluid, so from then on I was to be monitored at all times. I had mentioned to my nurse that I used the nitrous oxide in my previous labours so she got the tank set up before she headed out so it would be ready for me when I felt like I might need it. 

Shift change came at 3:30. At this point my nurse told the new one that she thought I was still in pre-labour and not in real labour yet. I am going to disagree with her and say that my labour started at 1:45 when they broke my water. And I also have to say, nurses are so great. There are so many different kind of personalities you can get, and I happened to luck out and have the best kind of personality for each stage of labour. My first nurse was around my age, kind and sweet, she brought in two different newborn hats for me to choose from, and she recognized the Lauren Daigele and Jars of Clay I was listening to. She was a pleasant person to have around and joke with and get comfortable with while setting me up and getting me going. My second nurse was very different but equally amazing. She was older and you could tell she’d been around the ward a time or two. She really sounded confident in everything she was doing and made me feel confident in her skills and abilities. She didn’t mess around, but she wasn’t like a drill sergeant either. She listened to my requests with complete respect and gave me the benefit of the doubt in a couple situations. 

At this point my contractions were still getting stronger and stronger. Not quite bad enough that I needed the gas, but I had to close my eyes and breath through them. At some point I requested to be checked again, so see how much I had progressed. Probably around 4:30? This is one of the times the nurse listened to me as somebody who had been through this a few times before. I knew that in my last labour I had gone from 7cm to pushing in 3 contractions. So she had no problems checking me so she also could know what was going on and get the other necessary parties prepped for delivery (they needed to have the neo natal team there because of all the meconium, to make sure baby was breathing okay when she came, and also an extra nurse or two because Patrick was born with mild shoulder dystocia and she wanted to be prepared in case that happened again). When she checked me, sure enough, I was at 7cm. I thought to myself “Amazing! only three more contractions to go, and I haven’t even used the gas!” Of course things don’t go like that. I had more than three contractions. They did get stronger from there and I did need to use the gas. The great thing was that I still had the down time between contractions. I never got to the point where I was completely out of it and unaware of what was going on around me. I went into this labour wanting that. I wanted to be more aware of my surroundings, the people, and the feelings, than I had in the past because this was the last time. I enjoyed those in between moments, interacting with the nurse, welcoming the hoards of people to my room and smiling at them. I was happy. In pain, but happy. 

In the zone. Happy feelings once a contraction passed!

I suppose it was around 5:25ish when I started feeling “pushy”. In the past I remember my contractions going from normal ones to “okay, I’m pushing now” ones instantly. This time they came on more gradually, in about 4 or so contractions. That was good because it gave the nurse time to get the people she needed there, there. So everybody filed in, and like I said I smiled and said something like “Hello everybody, welcome here!” like I was teaching a class or something. The OB got situated and started directing my pushing while my nurse directed my other responsibilities like pulling up my knees and pushing down my chin.Within just a few pushes, she was there! I said, “And she IS a girl, right??” and it was so amazing. She was breathing just fine (I think; they didn’t say otherwise), and there was also no mention of any shoulder problems, so I think the whole crew was just there for a good time. 

Now since she was so big, and the delivery was quick, and this was my fourth child, the odds were against me on having no problems afterwards. My body kinda went into overdrive I guess. I had a significant amount of bleeding and clots post delivery. They kept me hooked up to the oxytocin to help with that, and also attached a catheter (as annoying as those are, it was kind of amazing not to have to go pee at all until the next morning when they removed it). They abused my poor uterus so hard with all their pushing on it to get stuff out, and I had to stay in the delivery room a little longer than normal, just so they could keep an eye on things and make sure the bleeding settled down, which it did, and there aren’t any more problems. Expect my second degree tear and the discomfort associated with that. But it’s definitely not as bad as the second degree tear I had with Calvin. 

The boys and my mom were able to come meet her that evening yet, before visiting hours were over. Apparently Calvin had been bugging my mom all day to be able to go to the hospital. It was hard to get sleep that night, what with the IV attached on the left and the catheter hanging down to the right, and the nurse coming in to check me and change me and restock the IV. But I managed a few hours of sleep, and so did Erika. We got home around noon the next day and we are happily getting to know one another. Calvin loves to hold her all the time, for 30 seconds at a time. Victor is exercising his new tendencies to act like a pesky older brother, and Patrick loves to point and gasp at her. We are all in love and are excited to get to know her more and more and time marches on. Just don’t march on too quickly!

These Last Few Days

Here I am, just a few days from my due date with Baby Girl. As per usual, it has taken forever to get here but somehow it hasn’t felt like forever. 

The question of the trimester is “Are you ready?”
Truthfully, I was ready since the day we found out we were expecting. It never takes me any time to get my mind wrapped around the idea of adding another person to our family. In regards to having what we need, yes, we have more than enough. The only thing we really needed was some girly clothing. As okay as it would have been to have our daughter dressed in everything our boys have worn, I am so ready for some feminine touches. And we have been so blessed with hand-me-downs from friends and of course I had to do some of my own shopping. I think she is set for the first year at least! The pack-and-play is set up in the corner of our room. I have a couple things I want to hang on the wall above, and maybe figure out a way to hang a curtain or canopy of some sort around her bed to block some of the light from Tim getting ready in the mornings. I never really felt the need to decorate the corner of our room for the boys, but I’m feeling it for this girl! My backpack for the hospital is packed and the tiny diapers are bought. Yes, we are ready.

I have fallen into a rhythm the last couple months. Our mornings are spent either shuttling Calvin to preschool and back, running errands here and there in between, or hanging out with friends. Our afternoons usually see me taking a doze on the couch while Patrick naps and the other two play with Lego on the kitchen table. I’m actually quite amazed with them. It took a while, but they can spend up to an hour and a half or longer just playing happily and amicably. When I first started trying to have these afternoon naps, it definitely did not look like this. The fought, were disobedient, and Victor was also in the very early days of potty training, so I would often have to get up and intervene or clean messes. But gradually we have gotten to this point where I can zone out for a while and come out feeling refreshed. I’m hoping this can continue in some form once the baby is actually here. 

I don’t think the older two will be phased much when their sister arrives. Since they have gotten so good at playing together, I think that will help immensely. And they are so used to babies from all our friends that it won’t seem new! and wonderful! and the most special thing! They are not super excitable like that. They do, however, enjoy blowing raspberries on my belly. Calvin gets really good “blurps” and has a 100% success rate at making his sister respond. Victor tries hard, but his raspberries are just a bit too timid. Patrick succeeds only in spitting in the general direction on my belly button. I’m not sure how Patrick will react to having a baby around. I was actually holding a three-week-old the other day, and he didn’t seem to mind. Just kept pointing at her and making sure people knew she was there. I am afraid he will want to nurse more. Currently he only nurses at bedtime, but I am so ready for him to be done. Victor only nursed twice after Patrick was born, so maybe that will happen with him too. But he is quite cuddly and might think he’s entitled to more when he sees it being offered to somebody else more often. We will see. 

In the past little while I have been really feeling this as the end of an era. Unless we change our minds, or if God decides to surprise us, this is our last baby. This is my last pregnancy. The last time I get to grow a human inside me and feel them kick and squirm. I am really going to miss those movements. I’m going to miss the boys interacting with my belly. I think I’m going to miss my belly in general. I have especially been thinking about the newborn stage and almost mourning the fact that it will not be the same as having your first newborn at all. I never really thought about it with the second and third, but it’s really on my mind now. With the first, you have so much time to just spend with your newborn child. cuddling with them in bed, watching them sleep, nursing them with zero distractions. I wish I could have that again. But life still chugs on. I will have this new baby, but I will still have to make breakfast for the others, make sure they are dressed before we have to leave for somewhere, be places on time (I don’t let much get in the way of my punctuality :) ), cook dinners for an entire family. How do you enjoy these fleeting newborn moments when your attention is needed in so many other areas? 

Looking towards the delivery, I get nervous sometimes. It sucks when you’ve been through labour and know what to expect. I have quick, fairly easy deliveries, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t suck! Because they do! I’m afraid this labour will either continue the length pattern and be born in exactly zero amount of time on my bathroom floor (my labours have been 6, 4 and 2 hours), or just throw all my history out the window and I’ll be in agony for over a day. Whenever I get anxious about it though, I just skip forward to thinking about the moment they place that baby on my chest. It’s the most amazing feeling. Ugh. Can’t wait! 

Tomorrow evening my sister and brother-in-law and nephew are coming. That means there are two days left for us as a family in our current state. I actually hadn’t thought about that until typing it out just now. We probably won’t do anything special because that’s how we roll. I am hoping to get out for a couple hours on my own tomorrow though. Don’t know what I’ll do, but it will be the last time for a while that I can do that easily. What do you do when you just want to leave the house on your own? I’ll probably end up grocery shopping or something. I need one ingredient for the last freezer meal I want to make. And taking three kids into a store for one ingredient sucks. Not that they are bad shoppers, because they aren’t. I just dislike the taking-outs and putting-ins of the car seats. Especially with their winter stuff on and my physical state. Annoying. Anyway…what did I say before about likely missing my belly when this pregnancy is done? Ha! 

So just a few more days. Or, you know, a week or two. All the boys were late, so it wouldn’t be surprising if she held on past her due date, but she’s the girl! She’s supposed to break the mold! I have definitely become one of those women who say “I carried my boys this way and my girls this way”. This pregnancy has seemed different. I feel her pushing in different areas, my belly looks differently-shaped, and my first trimester food aversions were something new to me. But only God knows when she’ll come. And I’m grateful that he is in control. I just hope he lets me continue my afternoon naps! 

On Having 4 Kids in 5 Years

It’s a common debate: What is the ideal spacing between kids, and what is the ideal number of kids?

I have never heard anybody say they regret waiting so long to have another child, or wish they would have spaced out their kids a little more. The fact is that you are used to what you have and see all the benefits of your own situation. Sometimes the spacing is unavoidable, but usually couples have a plan for how their family will be built.

Come March, we will be adding our fourth child to our family. She will be here a couple weeks before Calvin turns 5. That means 4 kids 4 and under for a tiny bit! It sounds crazy when you say it like that. It sounds crazy when I think that my oldest will still be in preschool when I have three more back at home. But in practice, it feels natural and not at all weird. Overwhelming at times, yes, but not necessarily crazy, as some people like to tell me.

Here are some benefits we see in having our kids so close together:

Friendship
Our boys play fairly well together. When they’re in the right mood. And it gets better and better as time goes on. When kids are around the same age, their play levels are more equal and they understand each other. Perhaps even as they grow up, they will share friend groups at school or youth group. 

Less to Purchase/Store
There isn’t enough time between kids to have plastic baby things crack, or paint peel off the furniture, or for car seats to expire. Our original bucket seat is still usable through this year. It’s done us well! We don’t have to store things for as long. Once this baby is done with the swing or the Bumbo or the jolly jumper, out it goes! It’s only been around for 5 years, and then no more soon after!

My Sanity
I don’t necessarily enjoy toddlers and preschoolers. I don’t know how to play with them. I didn’t even enjoy playing when I was little! They don’t have common sense yet, and they don’t know how to keep their faces clean when they eat. They require me to talk too much because they don’t listen.

So I’m glad that our years going through these stages are condensed. We may have to deal with more at once, but it’s for less time on the timeline. 

Other Things That Will Be Condensed
My hormonal ups and downs – I can say that my hormones have not been normal since being married. First the pill, then pregnancy and breastfeeding ever since. Does Tim even remember who he married?! 

My physical ups and downs – pregnancy and breastfeeding change the body a lot. I’m glad I’ve not had the in between moments when everything is the size and shape they will be from here on out, only to have it change once again. My body is just always changing! And once it’s done, then maybe I’ll have the time and energy to put some focus on my physical health. I know I could have been doing that all along, but I’m a one-thing-at-a-time person. Get one thing done then move on to the next! Right now I’m working on being done child-bearing.

Time spent in diapers, car seats, bath tubs and bibs – I certainly wouldn’t want to be done with a stage only to have to start it all over again a couple years later. Car seats are probably the most annoying. At least Calvin is now in a booster and can buckle himself. Victor needs to grow faster! He’ll probably be in a regular car seat until he’s 6.

On the flip side, there are some things that are not ideal about having our kids so close in age:

Energy Drain
Many aspects of raising young children requires a lot of physical strength and energy. Multiply that by 2 or 3 or 4, to the power of pregnancy, it’s hard. At the end of the day, I am the happiest if I can just sit on the couch and watch some TV, preferably with a bowl of ice cream. It requires no mental or physical input, and that is just fine by me. Sometimes I wish I had the drive to do some sort of hobby type thing, but there’s just no energy for that right now.

Less Couple Time
Tim and I barely gave ourselves time in our marriage to be just us. We will be celebrating our 6th wedding anniversary in April, and aside from our honeymoon, we’ve had two weekends away together. And a 5-month-old Patrick tagged along on one. Breastfeeding babies certainly limits the time you can spend away from them (yes, okay, you can pump and leave baby with somebody, but I’m not going to be pumping enough milk for a week-long vacation, and I’m not going to pump while on that vacation). But I will tell you that we have big dreams for when our last baby is weaned. Dreams of sitting in one spot somewhere warm for 7 days. And how glorious those 7 days will be.

Kids Aren’t Much Help
If you have older children when you have a baby, they can likely help you out with baby duties. I wouldn’t quite trust my oldest yet with even holding a little baby unassisted. It would be quite amazing to have another person around who could help change bums or retrieve toys or even clean the bathroom that has little boys learning to pee in it. 

I’ve heard it said like this: It’s better to run through the fire than to walk through it. And at least this particular fire has lots of pockets of cool, fresh air. 

One last pro: it’s easier to fit all the kids into a selfie frame when they’re still all little!

What do you like or not like about the spacing of your kids?

The Girly Things Box

In my last post, I showed you a picture of our child clothes storage closet. In the bottom corner of that closet was a box labeled “girly”.

The Box. And my teddy bear from when I was little.

The Box. And my teddy bear from when I was little.

That box was filled with stuff when Calvin was born in the hopes of pulling it out again in the future. Now, 4.5 years later, I get to use the contents! I have only looked at the stuff a couple times in the past years, and nothing has really been added, but now you get to look with me! Some of the stuff is unremarkable and I’ll probably get rid of it. But some of it is kind of special!

I received these mini Chinese lanterns from a friend for a birthday, and thought they would make a great mobile! I had them up in the nursery before Calvin was born, but took them down and replaced them with some blue tissue poms my cousin made for a ¬†shower decoration. They are yellowed and fragile now, so they’re likely destined for the garbage.
The pink wash cloths were a throw-in in when I purchased my diaper bag online, so I could get free shipping. I’ll probably get rid of them. There is really no need for specific baby cloths.
And then there are a few handmade items. The hat is from a family friend; keeping. The blue sweater I believe was given to me by a coworker who bought it at a random market in Victoria; not keeping. The yellow one I don’t remember who made. Maybe Tim’s mom? I’m keeping that. It’s cute!
girl-box-1 And then a random assortment of clothing. The blue one is the free onesie from Thyme Maternity, the pink one I believe was a shower decoration, the sleepers were from my Oma who thought they could be boyish, the green stripes came in a hand-me-down box, and that plaid shirt….no clue. Not keeping that, but all the rest is staying!fullsizerender-1 And here are the special items. We have my own blankie from when I was a baby. Still in pretty pristine condition because that was the child I was. Also my piggy bank.
And a couple more blankets. The white crocheted one is from my great aunt, before Calvin was born. She asked what colour I wanted for the trim, and when I replied “purple!”, I was met with “Are you sure you don’t want something more gender-neutral?” I said “No way! I like purple!” So now I have a beautiful, fresh hand made blanket for Baby Girl.
Under that one is a flannel blanket from Tim’s Aunt, when Calvin was born. The colours are boyish, but the pattern is butterflies and flowers. I could have easily used it, but we had so many blankets already, I decided to keep this one back to stay fresh for a possible future girl.

Baby me in a bonnet, with my blanket and my aunt.

Baby me in a bonnet, with my blanket and my aunt.

And that’s the box! Other than this, I’ve already been blessed with a handful of hand-me-downs, and of course I’ve made a few purchases of my own. Just waiting on them in the mail!

Girls are fun!

It’s a Girl!

It’s a girl! It’s actually a girl!!

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Today we had our ultrasound and the tech confirmed it. We are so thrilled to be adding a daughter and sister to our family! The boys are excited too, although they probably don’t super understand what a girl actually means. Here’s a little video of us telling them. They aren’t the most excitable or expressive children, so don’t watch it with too high of expectations. Haha!

Only a few people know, but this was actually our second ultrasound. Our first one was last week, and the tech then said the thought it might be a girl, which is probably the worst answer you can get. A definite Boy! or Girl! would have been better. But he showed us something on the ultrasound (three lines…if you know what that means, great…if not, google it) that had me pretty convinced, so hearing it confirmed today wasn’t an ultra amazing experience, but we are so happy to have a girl to welcome into our family! One part of me is saying “of course it’s a girl, was there any other option??” and another part is saying “we get a girl? For real?!” It’s a weird experience.

And then there’s this…I get to dig into this box in the bottom corner of the closet that has been sitting around for 4.5 years.image2