Saturday, October 5, 2013

You've got your hands full!

Yes, ladies in the store, I do. But you know, the moment I'm trying to suppress my two year old's meltdown after being torn away from the Dr. Scholl's machine, minutes after he decided to nosedive out of the shopping cart, and my poopy baby has also started to scream, having you come up and snicker that at me makes me want to go all Chuck Norris on you. "Now you've got your face full - of my foot!"

In other news, Damon has learned how to take off all his clothes, including his diaper. He's starting to potty train himself, so it's not too bad...except when he flashes my piano students. Sorry, guys.

Damon also discovered recently that his last name is Brown. Just a couple of minutes ago he came up and pointed to himself and said, "Damon Brown." He pointed to me. "Mommy Brown." He ran over to Miles. "Miles Brown." Then he started looking around the room. "Fish Brown. Book Brown. Chair Brown." Well, I guess so. Damon also recently discovered that Daddy is also Steven, and likes to occasionally interchange them. He hasn't figured out my name yet, though.

And, speaking of names, Damon is awfully cute at saying "Miles." I'm very happy that he has not acted jealous of his baby brother; on the contrary, he's been very accepting and chill about the whole thing. Damon is always very careful to point out where Miles' car seat goes in the car; he doesn't want to go anywhere without him. He also likes to get diapers for him - he grabs one (or many), tosses it at him, and says, "Here ya go, Miles." Miles is a good fourth child and has been very resilient to having diapers and many other things tossed at him.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Damon has figured out how to take his shorts off. He's also figured out how to put them back on again...sort of.
Yes, they are sideways and inside out, with the legs through one hole.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Our Olivia

Raise your hand if your child reads chapter books sitting in a Bumbo.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

More Miles

Our little boy is chubbing up! He likes to smile and coo and is just generally a pretty happy little guy. He gave me the gift of 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep the other day, and it was even at night, which makes him even cuter to me. He is still the most projectile baby I've ever had - no morning is complete until we both require a change of clothing.

Nice duck lips. He's ready for facebook!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

and today at lunch...

Olivia: The good thing about reading in my head is that I never have to go to the bathroom because I'm having so much fun, even my bottom is having fun and it doesn't want to make any poop.

1000 words

Monday, July 22, 2013

Our quotable morning

Today at the playground I heard Damon say "Mmmm!" We had not brought food, so I turned around and, just as I suspected, he was downing a scrumptious clod of dirt. I had to stop him from doing it a few more times.

At lunch:
Amber: What kind of fruit do you want, Carmen?
C: I would like blueberries and grapes and strawberries.
A: We don't have any strawberries.
C: Then I'll just have cheese.

I'm sure there will be more.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

RIP Stump

The week after I officially became functional again, Steven gave me a to-do list (I'm sure it was a nice role reversal for him). One item was to get rid of the stump in our back yard; it has always been there and is a pain to mow around, and I'm not sure why exactly it has taken us 5 years to take care of it. I made a 20 second phone call and someone showed up that afternoon to grind it.

As soon as he arrived, though, Carmen suddenly developed an inexplicable emotional attachment to the stump. I was surprised she even knew where the stump was. I tried telling her that the stump was excited to turn into a bunch of cute little wood chips, but she was unconvinced. The only way I was able to (sort of) console her was to snap a picture for us all to remember our beloved stump by:

(Please note that by the time Steven got home from work, she was happy and excited to show him where the stump had been.)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sunday Best

Yes, I love dressing little boys for church.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


 Here is the most amazing thing about April 30th: the months of all-consuming worry, intense physical and emotional hardship, a potentially life-threatening situation, just vanished in an instant.

Everyone, meet Miles Robert Brown. He’s the happy end of the story, and because he’s here and safe, everything that was wrong is now right.

Here’s the summary.

Bed Rest
Do you know how much fun it is to have your mobility taken from you, and live in a state of uncertainty and fear for two lives, for 6 weeks? (Hint: it’s not fun.) I hated having to put up virtual blinders up as I helplessly saw my life being run on someone else’s terms. Perhaps the most frustrating part was my inability to relieve stress (caused by the bed rest itself) by physical movement. I do this a lot – exercising, cleaning, etc. So many times I just dissolved (no, not literally) into tears because I had so much frustration inside and I just wanted to move to relieve it.

I am so very blessed to be surrounded by kind, helpful people. Between friends, church members, neighbors, piano parents, and family, I was probably the most cared-for bed rester I can envision. When I switched OBs, the new one asked, “You’ve been on bed rest?” Yes. “With three small kids?” Yes. “HOW?” Because the people who make up my world are so good and kind.

Even for me, reading, crossword puzzled, movies and TV get old really fast. A week or so into my bed rest, I discovered FamilySearch indexing. It was something worthwhile and productive that I could do from my bed. And it’s fun! I did 10,000 names in April alone.

One draw of indexing was the hope of being inspired with a name for our baby. However, between Mexican death certificates, Maori passenger lists, and Mississipian Enumerations of Educable Children, what I got instead was a personal compilation of names I couldn’t dream up. (Note: These were all listed as males.) My favorites:

Dealie Fortune
Bilbo Bufkin
Pussy Futch
Buster Wamsley
Horatio Zingerling
Buberd Baldwin
Aylon Putt
Mayo Grubbs
Leo Pope
Memory Leake Sprayberry
R B Irby
Tincie Rakestraw
Earsor Suddeth
Marzene Thrash

Amusing, yes, but inspiring...not so much.

My Kids
Were awesome. Olivia and Carmen were so calm and adaptable to being without a functional mother. They were unbelievably understanding of my situation, that that helped me so much. Explaining to them why I was bleeding and why I needed to rest, and their reacting so matter-of-factly, was so calming to me. Carmen in particular was tickled by the idea of someone cutting me open and sewing me up and getting to admire the big owie afterwards.

Damon had the hardest time, and that was hard to see. It’s been nice in the weeks since Miles’ birth to see him come back from his distant, confused haze. It’s also sweet to know that even vigilant caregivers can’t take the place of his mommy, and he missed me at least as much as I missed him.

Switching OBs
After many weeks of displeasure stemming from dismissive office staff and poor procedures, and my OB’s indifference to them (and to my feelings), I took the plunge and switched OBs at 35 weeks – just after my last appointment with the high risk OB (to ensure that the placenta really wasn’t going to move). Perks of switching included being able to deliver at the Woman’s Hospital downtown (probably a better option anyway for a high-risk pregnancy), being able to say I had a different OB and different hospital for every one of my children, and of course, sticking it to the doctor who didn’t think she needed to factor me into the scheduling of my c-section.

Family Reunion
My family reunion was scheduled to be at our local beach for the week I ended up having to have the c-section. This was less than ideal, and thinking about it tends to make me angry, so I’ll leave it there. The good thing was that at least my kids got to have fun at the beach while I was in the hospital, and I guess everyone was able to see the new baby.

So, on April 29th, Steven and I drove down to the beach with my parents and siblings and their families. I was glad to at least be able to have one day of reunion. The next morning, we took a family picture on the beach, and then Steven and I drove up to the hospital. We needed to arrive at 11 so they could prepare blood in case of a transfusion. Then we waited and tried to distract ourselves.

I felt okay, but that I was in a surreal dream, until a few minutes before 2:00. Then I started to feel scared. I prayed a lot. I wished for and dreaded a feeling of reality. Then the nurses came in and walked me over to the operating room.

The nurses were just really nice. They were laughing and cordial while they prepped the room. It made me start to feel better. Then the anesthesiologist came in. “So, why are you having a c-section?” I have placenta previa. “Did it move?” Well, no – that’s why I’m here. “Ah, good point.” Then he started to give me my epidural, narrating what was going to happen and what I would feel. He was impressively punctual – as soon as he said I’d feel a burning sensation, I felt it. “It’s like magic!” I remarked. “As soon as you said that, my legs got tingly.” He gave a smirk and said, “That’s not the first time I’ve heard that.” That set everyone laughing, and that’s when things got fun.

The nurses continued prepping, painting my belly, and I started feeling good emotionally and feeling nothing below my ribs. Then my doctor came in, the sheet was up, and they brought in Steven. He sat down and held my hand. I was smiling. The doctor poked me some more to make sure I was numb, then said, “Okay, we’re going to have a baby in a minute.” “You already started?” I said. I’d felt them moving things around (while the doctor commented how wiggly the baby was), but I hadn’t realized that they were already cutting.
Then Steven said, “Oh, he’s mad.” “You see him?!?” I said. Then I heard a nice, strong cry.

I was so, so happy. He was perfect.

6 lbs. 7 oz., 20.5 inches. Born at 2:39 pm. The surgery was perfect, with no complications for either of us. He was perfectly healthy. They kept him in the nursery for a couple of hours under a warmer because he was “grunting,” which I guess is common in c-section babies where the fluid doesn’t get squeezed out during birth. (They were also concerned about my ΓΌber-low blood pressure, but they eventually got over it when they realized that’s just how it is, and always has been.) He was able to join me in my room after dinner, and we’ve been together ever since.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Placenta previa

This is one of those things I never wanted to blog about – at least not until after the fact. Because I kept hoping it would go away (and it will, ultimately). But today I was thinking about it and realizing that it might be therapeutic to write it out, and it also might help someone else who is in my situation. Because, since the time I first heard “placenta previa,” the internet was a place I kept coming back to, and still do.

As you know, up to this point I have been a model of pregnancy and childbirth. My three children gave me no sickness or difficulty as I was carrying them and came easily into the world punctually and without incident. With such a track record, our joke this time around was that we would schedule conception by choosing the exact date we wanted to have the baby, who would, as had its predecessors, come out easily and naturally on its due date.

When I went in for my ultrasound at 21 weeks, it went pretty much as I had expected. The baby was indeed a boy, and he appeared healthy and whole. But. At the end of the ultrasound the technician suddenly asked, “Have you had any bleeding?” I hadn’t, and she informed me that it “looked like (I had) placenta previa.” She then told me that it looked like I would probably need a c-section at 36 or 37 weeks, and should talk to my doctor soon.

I left feeling confused and kind of irritated. I had anticipated coming out of my ultrasound and calling our baby’s grandparents and friends with the exciting news of our baby’s gender. Now I didn’t want to talk to anyone; I just wanted us to be okay and to be able to have the same great, healthy delivery I had last time.

I went home and looked up placenta previa in my “What to Expect” book. When it came up under the chapter, “When Something Goes Wrong,” I was not a happy girl.

Over the next few days and weeks, I read enough internet articles and message boards to scare the pants off of me. I was so opposed to the idea of having a c-section. At one point I read that 90% of previas resolved themselves, and then I was mad that people had even brought it up, since it was something that would probably be a nonissue.

My next OB appointment didn’t end up happening for another month, but when it did, I came home and bawled. I had been put on “pelvic rest,” which meant that I wasn’t supposed to lift anything or clean or exercise or do anything enjoyable with my pelvis until (unless) the placenta moved. I was also referred to a high-risk OB: I had been labeled “High Risk.” I was frustrated and felt like the diagnosis had taken the joy out of my pregnancy (and I really do enjoy being pregnant). I still didn’t want to talk to anyone, but I called my mom and told her so that she would be prepared in case we needed her sooner than expected. I hoped and prayed, not knowing even what to ask for.

Then, last Saturday, I woke up with bleeding. They had told me to go straight to the hospital if this occurred. I called around until I found someone who was in town and would answer their phone at 8:00 on Saturday morning during Spring Break, and within 5 minutes she was at my house to take care of the kids and Steven and I were off to the hospital.

Since I already knew my diagnosis, I was hoping they would say, “Well, that’s placenta previa for you,” and send me home. Instead, they monitored me, noticed (as I had not) that I was having some contractions, and kept me there for 2 days, or until I had not bled for 24 hours and they were sure that the contractions were Braxton Hicks (or our very active baby head butting his placental pillow). I was released to complete bed rest, and that’s where I am now.

As much as I hated my stay in the hospital and my interactions with the doctor who was on call, I think it was good for me. I had not previously grasped what the full risk was with my condition, and it was sobering to realize I really could bleed to death very quickly, or have a very premature baby. In comparison, bed rest and a c-section is much less aversive.

On bed rest, my life is reduced to thinking about what I have instead of what I am doing, and that’s been a blessing for me. I’ve been able to recognize the many things I’m grateful for: my husband and kids whom I treasure and crave being with; wonderful friends who have been taking care of me and my family; a comfortable home that I want to be in; a healthy baby boy who continues to grow, unfazed by a misplaced placenta; loving parents who, without a second thought, will drop everything so that my mom can come out and be my body for a month. I’m grateful just to be able to be here to see my kids in the morning when my neighbor comes to get them up, and home when people drop them off. I’m grateful to be able to read my kids books, or sit outside while they play with water, or comb their hair. I’m grateful to be able to do crossword puzzles and snuggle with Steven on our bed. I’m grateful for a good education that taught me to enjoy reading long, long books. I’m grateful for every moment that passes that I don’t bleed, for every day that ticks by where my baby can get a little more developed. I love my life, I’m grateful for it, and I want to keep it. That’s my motivation while I’m on bed rest.

On Thursday morning I went back to the hospital for a checkup with the high risk OB. Everything looks great with us – the placenta’s about as previa-ed as it possibly could be (almost 5 cm away), but the birth canal is still long and tight and closed up – bed rest has been doing its job. “Wow,” she said, “this baby’s measurements place it exactly on May 21st, its due date.” Well, of course they do – because that’s exactly what would happen if the placenta would cooperate. Even as it is, though, things are looking really positive for us to make it into full term. It was the first time in a long time that I’ve come out of an OB appointment feeling happy and optimistic instead of really ticked off. And I’m grateful for that, too.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The naughty list

I was cleaning the playroom yesterday and found this little gem (complete with hand-made envelope):

I'm sure it was made after I committed some gross infraction, such as telling Olivia to stop being mean to her sister.

(Frankly, I'm just shocked that Damon made the Good list!)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

All tied up

I got a sneak peek inside my belly today. Baby #4 looks nice and squirmy, digited, full-hearted, kidneyed, bladdered, aaand....male!

I suspected he might be a "he." While my pregnancies have all felt pretty similar, I have noticed a few differences:

Toothpaste in the morning made me sick
Carrying higher (watermelon belly)

Damon and Baby #4:
Indifference to toothpaste
No melasma
Not as hormonal, but more tired
Carrying lower (basketball belly)

I don't know that I was necessarily hoping for one gender or the other, but it will make our family nice and balanced to have 2 girls and 2 boys. At least it makes the room situation convenient (and, it means I should be able to hang on to my sewing room a little bit longer!)

Once again, feel free to send over any name suggestions. The girls are rooting for Hungry Hippos again.