Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas in the Military

This is my favorite time of year. I love the colors, the cooler weather, the goodness of people, the songs, the smells... I guess I like all of it. Recently I was asked what my favorite part of Christmas was and I didn't have to think long before I said,

"I love the excitement. Today, we went to the tree lighting ceremony on base. Before they lit the tree, Santa arrived on a carriage and pulled up right next to us. All of the kids rushed him in excitement. Initially I held my kids back so the man could get to the tree, but I saw how excited Theo was. He was waving and kept saying, 'Hi Santa' over and over. I gave in and walked with him closer to Santa, thinking that Santa would wave and we'd just stand off to the side as we greeted him. We got closer and Theo was so excited, he waved and shouted 'HI SANTA' louder and louder hoping to get a response. He didn't. Then he left my side and started following Santa as he walked towards the tree repeating himself and waving, over and over and over. I just looked at Santa, put my hands to my face and started to think, 'COME ON SANTA, JUST WAVE AT THE KID!' I guess my telepathic message worked, because just then, Santa turned around. Theo was maybe an inch away from Santa's red coat when Santa bent down and greeted Theo. He shook his hand, asked his name and said, 'Merry Christmas'. Theo's face lit up. Once the tree was lit, we were allowed inside for the holiday celebration and as we crossed the threshold, there was Santa, Henrik looked at him, and said 'hi' to him. He was so happy he was so close to Santa. Santa looked at my boys and said, 'I remember you! Merry Christmas, I'll see you soon!" Henrik was just in awe, he looked up at me and said, 'He remembered us!" It was the most magical moment of any Christmas. I just love the joy that kids get this time of year."

It's moments like that that make this time of year so wonderful, at least for me. It's the magic, it's the joy, it's the ability to believe in something that is bigger than you. If you remember my post from last year, you'll remember that Henrik was worried Santa wouldn't find them because we'd just moved and while we had our tree up and Toby, our elf was visiting, we didn't have lights up outside. So, I told him that of course Santa would find us, but I took him shopping to find something to decorate the outside. That was an easy fix to a very important problem, this year we've found ourselves in the same situation.

This year, we happen to be moving, in fact, we are moving out of our house tomorrow and away from Colorado in four days. When we should be putting up Christmas lights, and decorating a tree while we read The Grinch and dance around to Jingle Bells, we are putting away everything we own (in front of our children) in boxes, taping them up, and moving boxes around the house and to a storage unit. Our house has no order, it's complete chaos. This time of year the only chaos should be dealing with wrapping paper, and pine needles. Before we really started packing, I pulled out our elf, Toby, and had him do some less exciting things than he did last year, but at least he was around. And I pulled out our stockings because I thought Santa could bring our stockings before our road trip as a nice surprise. So even though the boys didn't know it, I was sort of thinking about Christmas. I even ordered presents off of Amazon and sent them to my mom's house so the boys could have a good Christmas. I was preparing them for Santa to visit them at their grandparents' houses and they seemed to understand that Santa wouldn't forget about them. But I was wrong.

We came home from a friends house and because we walked over there before it was dark we forgot it was Christmas, we were fooled by the 65 degree day. But on our way home, we were quickly reminded that it was Christmas. Every house had lights on, it was beautiful. Once we were inside and had taken our coats off, Henrik had this look on his face. He got quiet and just sulked as he lay on the Ottoman. "What's up bud? Why are you sad?" He was quite for a few minutes, but I finally coaxed it out of him, "I'm sad we don't even have a Christmas tree. Everyone else has lights and a tree and presents under it". He looked me in the eye. I didn't really know what to say at first. This is my sensitive kid, so when he tells me how he feels, I know it's really important to listen and decode the message, though this message was clear. "Well, Hanky, we told you that Santa was going to come to Mimi and Pal and Grandma's house. They are putting up a tree and they are all saving ornaments for you to help decorate it. We will be there in just a few days and it will feel like Christmas". He put his head down, "Okay" he said. I could tell he was still really upset. "Where's Toby anyway? He's been gone for weeks!" he said after a few moments of silence. I really didn't have an answer to this one. Toby was found playing golf one morning and then he really did vanish. Eric and I searched everywhere for him but it appears he's been packed up and put in storage. Eric looked over his shoulder from the kitchen and said, "I think that Toby probably went to the North Pole and is telling Santa that we are moving." I don't know if Henrik was convinced or not.

Eric took the boys up to bed and while I was feeding the baby I quickly texted my neighbors: "Does anyone have a small Christmas tree with lights? I have a sad kid over here worried that we are going to miss Christmas". It didn't take long for an answer: "I have one. Amanda said she would let the boys have hers". I started to well up.

As soon as the baby was done, I walked up stairs and mouthed to Eric, "should go to the store and get a new elf?" He nodded. He left their room, we had to whisper because they were asleep. "I got a tree from across the street," I said excitedly. "You're crazy, you know that?" he replied. I know I'm not crazy, I brushed off his comment and I went across the street and picked up the tree. I was greeted by my neighbor who was more than eager to help my boys, "Do you need decorations? Here have some candy canes! What else do you need?" I couldn't believe the kindness. Then she said, "Amanda wanted you to use it because she didn't want them to be sad about Christmas". I thanked her, a lot, and went off to the store to find a new Toby.

When I got to Target, I looked everywhere. They had changed the box since we had purchased our elf a few years ago so I didn't recognize it at first. I had to ask for help. I was taken to an elf display but it was a girl, "Is there anyway someone can look for a boy elf in the back? I really need a boy elf". The girl looked at me like I was one of those crazy moms. I knew I wasn't, but I didn't know how to explain myself when she gave me that "you're a crazy bandwagon mom and this elf thing is way out of hand" look. "What is the deal with the elf anyway? I just have dogs so I don't really get it" she finally said. I looked at her and let out a sigh, "Well, it's a story about an elf sent by Santa to watch over the children and report back to him about their behavior. It's a cute story and it's something fun to do for the month. We had an elf, but we lost him and my kids noticed, so now I need to replace ours". She didn't really care, I could tell by the look on her face. "Maybe I'll get it when I have kids," she told me. "You will. When your kids are sad at Christmas, you will do anything in your power to change that." Some one finally arrived with our boy elf and I was saved from the judgy conversation I had with an 18 year old about kids, elves and the limitless love a parent has for their child.

I quickly walked through the ornament section of the store, picked up Super Hero ornaments for the kids (they get a new ornament each year, why not put one on their new tree), and I went to check out. I was so excited on the way home. I couldn't wait to set it all up and to see their faces int he morning. Then I started to think about what Eric said. I wasn't crazy. I wasn't going to let the military screw up my Christmas. Hell, I LOVE this time of year and I missed the tree and the lights. I missed the calm and joy I got from staring at the tree and all of our ornaments that tell just as much a story about our life as the pictures I hang in my living room. I wanted it to smell like Christmas as I burn a candle, sip wine, and listen to Christmas music. I don't care about the presents anymore but I do care about the excitement that my boys have when they come down on Christmas morning. Just because I am moving doesn't mean we don't get to have all of that excitement. Just because the military has thrown a wrench in our life doesn't mean I can't enjoy this time of year with my kids and my family. No one should ever mess with a four year old and a two year old on Christmas. They should all be able to experience this time of year with joy, excitement and happiness. If you can't do that at four, when can you do it?

Then I thought about Henrik, he's already started to ask if Super Heroes are real, he's determined that mascots at sporting events are people in costumes, and while he has yet to ask about Santa, he isn't far from it. Next year he'll be in Kindergarten, he will start to hear his friends and classmates talking about how Santa isn't real. Then he'll ask us and we will be faced with the difficult decision of what to say. I'm not wiling to let the military ruin Christmas at the best ages of our kids' lives. I may not have many years left where Christmas is this exciting, where Santa is real, and where magic is something we can all believe in for 25 days, and I won't miss it because of a move.

After Eric went upstairs and acted as a look out, I decorated the tree, put a toy from their stockings under it, the elf book, a letter from Santa (Santa wrote back after we wrote him a letter at an event we went to for the Polar Express, it just happened to come that day and I just happened to check the mail before I got in the house), and our new Toby. I looked back at the glowing tree and just smiled. I knew I was doing the right thing. And I started to cry as I looked at how beautiful this all was. Yes, I realize I'm hormonal being four weeks postpartum, but at that moment I knew that there really was magic in the world.

It's amazing how an hour earlier I was cursing the military and acting all tough and powerful as I was on a mission and vowed to not let the military run my holiday, but the next minute, I was so thankful for it. This tree really means more than what it will mean to my boys when they see it. It is a symbol of the real meaning of Christmas, and a symbol of how wonderful a military community on a military base is. In a moment of hardship and worry because a military kid was worried about a move, in an instant, our community rallied together to make sure that he was taken care of. It brings me to tears just writing this.

In the morning, Theo woke up and asked for a drink. He walked down stairs, I couldn't stop him, I was nursing Nora. He stopped on the stairs, "HUH?! TOBY IS BACK?! HE'S ON A CHRISTMAS TREE?!" I could hear wonder and joy in his voice. Henrik, who was in bed with me, sat up. "Did Theo just say a Christmas tree? We don't have a Christmas tree". He raised his eyebrows, then he furrowed them. Theo ran up stairs yelling, "I GOT A NEW TOY!" That got Henrik out of bed, I quickly unlatched Nora and ran down behind Henrik. Eric had already turned on the lights to the tree and was waiting out of sight to see their reactions. Henrik had a huge smile on his face, "Toby!" he cried. He grabbed the present that belonged to him and just looked at the tree. He studied it up and down, he touched it and he looked at us. "It's really small... but it's so beautiful". I looked at Eric with a smug, I told you so smile. He smiled back. He got down on the floor and sat with the boys as they looked at the Elf on the Shelf book, their ornaments and their new toys. Eric asked them how it got there, Theo said, "Toby did it!" Hank said, "I think Toby brought the tree but Santa brought the presents". Eric said, "Do you think Toby was gone to tell Santa that you were sad about not having a tree?" Henrik looked at the tree again, "I guess so" he said with confidence. My heart was happy, my eyes started to well up. This is what Christmas is all about.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

November 12, 2014: Part Two

I wanted to wait until I could move my body better before the boys came to visit, so they didn't come to the hospital until the end of the day, around 6 PM. I was excited to see them. I couldn't wait to show them the sister that they'd been asking for for a year before I was even pregnant. I wanted them to meet their Sweetie Precious that they feel in love with before Eric and I knew we were having a daughter. I wanted to show them that our family was complete and better with her in it because they were here to help love her.  When we last saw them, Henrik said, "I'm happy that Sweetie picked today to have her birthday," and I hoped he shared the same excitement when he actually saw her.

When they came in the room, they looked around, I was sitting in my bed, I smiled, "Hi guys!!!!" I said excitedly. "Where's Sweetie?" They asked. There was no "Hi mom".  They actually walked right past her, she was in her hospital crib. I was hoping they'd be more excited to see me, but I understood the excitement of their sister, I mean, they had only been waiting a long 9 months to meet her and they saw me every day.  Eric intorduced them to Elinor. I loved seeing how excited they were. "Awww, she's so tiny", "Awwww, she's so cute" they kept saying. It was adorable how calm and careful they were as they looked in her bassinet. "Can I hold her?" Asked Theo. "Of course! Come sit next to me." He climbed up next to me with no worry or care even though Eric warned them before they came in the hospital that I had a big boo boo on my belly and that they had to be careful around me.

Meeting their sister! 
Here was Thornado, my wild, carefree, full of gusto child, sitting next to me taking his Big Brother job so seriously. He sat still, he used a calm voice, he touched gently. He smiled. He studied her up and down and loved every moment of her sitting on his lap. He couldn't get enough of it. The only reason he put her down was because Henrik noticed the Big Brother gifts from his sister and Theo wanted in on that action.

Henrik was more cautious, he of course wanted to hold her and he smiled a smile so big and said, "She's the best sister, ever". He was just so in love, but he didn't want to hold her as much as Theo did. He'd been a big brother before, and while this new baby was exciting, he's never seen me weak. As soon as he saw that I had an IV in my arm he didn't want to sit next to me. He opted to sit in a chair to hold his sister. When he saw that I had a catheter in, he looked under the bed and on my leg to see what was going on. He checked out all of the monitors, he looked around the room at all of the medical equipment and he asked to see my boo boo. It was covered in dressing, but I obliged and showed him the wrap. Because it was covered in gauze, it made my incision look much larger than it really was. He quietly asked, "does it hurt?" I answered "no" because I was pretty drugged up, I told him I just had to move slowly. He wasn't so sure I was telling the truth. He went back to looking at his sister with loving eyes and kept walking around the room to see what "the hospital" really meant.

At the end of the night, when they were about to go home I tried to hug and kiss the boys, but, they wouldn't come near me. Theo, of all people was scared, he didn't want to hurt me, Eric has pushed that pretty hard before they came into the room. Henrik just looked at me and said, "bye" it was like he wanted more but didn't know what to make of this mother that couldn't help him up on the bed, or bend over to give him a kiss. I was really hurt, but I completely understood. I just didn't like it. They said, "We'll see you tomorrow, mom". I corrected them, "actually guys, I'll be here at least three nights because I had to have a cut in my stomach". Henrik quickly replied, "But you said you'd just be here one night". "I know bud, but because Sweetie had to come out of my belly I am really hurt and I need to stay here so that the doctors can check on me and make sure I'm OK." Henrik just looked at me, Theo quickly replied, "Then we will take Sweetie home and you can stay here". "Well, honey, she has to stay with me so I can feed her, but we will be home soon, I promise". I could tell that my answers weren't good enough. I could tell I let them down, not that I did anything wrong, but because it wasn't what we were preparing them for.

Theo looked at the wall and saw the pain chart. Henrik saw it too. "What are those for?" they asked. "Those are so I can tell the doctor how much pain I'm in. I'm at a 0 right now. I'm feeling really great!" I answered, hoping that it would make them happier. Theo didn't like my answer, "But when are you gonna cry?" "Well, I hope I don't cry". "Yea, but when will you?" I didn't know what he was getting at. I think he was just as worried about me as Henrik was.

Once I came home from the hospital the boys were so excited.... to have their sister home. They made brownies, they made signs and colored pictures. They couldn't wait to take her on a tour of the house and to show her her room and toys, and their toys, and anything else they could think of. After they each got to hold her and love on her, I felt like things were going to settle down and get back to normal, but how could they? I was in pain, on day four, we came home and the pain really started to get to me. I couldn't move well and I was just exhausted. They wanted to sit with me, they wanted to play with me, they wanted to be with me, but I had to keep saying, no. It was the worst feeling in the world. I just wanted to pick up my boys and snuggle to watch a movie, but I couldn't. I just wanted to get on the floor and play cars or play hind and seek, but I couldn't. I wanted to sit at the table and have a family dinner with them, but I couldn't.

Reading his sister his favorite books
Giving her a bottle because he was dying to feed her
For days the boys kept asking me to snuggle them at bedtime and while I wanted to so badly, I also just wanted to sit and hold Elinor. I wanted to just enjoy a few minutes with this new baby that smelled good, snuggled right in to my body and made me feel whole. Here I was completely torn in half by my own children. I didn't know how to feel. For two weeks I tried to have a good attitude, but I felt horrible, was in pain and didn't know how to show the boys that I loved them while I also got what I needed and wanted out of Elinor.

Fortunately, after about a week and a half, I had stopped taking the pain killers and I was starting to move better and feel better. I was starting to feel like myself again. It was a huge relief. I was able to let the boys sit on my lap to watch a show or to read them a book. It became possible to hold all three of my babies in my lap so we could just enjoy one another. I was able to play cars, from my chair, and able to engage in their life a little more. My heart was finally starting to level out and I was able to feel like a good mom again. The boys' behavior started to become normal, the house started to regain order, and life was quickly feeling "right".

FINALLY! All my babes right where they belong! Theo even shared his blanket with her! 
It's been a month since Nora joined us, I have no doubt at all that having her was the best thing in the world. I'm still healing, but I'm able to go on outings with my boys and I'm able to hold them whenever they or I want as long as I don't pick them up. But the power of a mom hug means just as much to as it does them and we are doing well adjusting to the new life of three kids and a mom out of commission for four more weeks. The boys are asking for Dad more than me because they know that I'm either unable to do something for them due to injury or because their sister is eating. They don't show disdain towards her at all, and they just can't get enough of her. In fact, they get excited to see her every time they, or she, enters a room.
It doesn't matter what they are doing, they want her right by their side.
There is nothing more wonderful than having my whole family in my bed every morning while Nora nurses and the boys hang out. There is nothing better than seeing the smiles on their face when they see her every morning and there is nothing more important in the world than how much love there is in our house. Despite my internal setbacks, I can see that the whole time, I was a good mom. I was teaching them to be more independent, I was teaching them to love. I was teaching them to be open and caring and flexible. And I couldn't be more proud of the family that Eric and I have made. I am greatly looking forward to the next four weeks and, actually, the rest of our lives. These boys are going to be wonderful brothers and Nora is just an amazing baby. This is going to be a great ride.

Our whole family, complete.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

November 12, 2014: Part One

Today is the day I'd been waiting for. Not just because my body didn't want to be 9 months pregnant anymore, but because it was the day that my family would be complete. It was the day my husband and I would welcome a daughter to our lives and all that goes with it. We were pros at boys at this point, but the thought of raising a daughter has us excited, confused, terrified and madly in love. Here is the birth story of our daughter.

Saturday, November 8, 2014- 37 weeks, 5 days. 
The boys and I anxiously awaited Eric's arrival after having him gone for three weeks. I kept telling Sweetie that she had to stay in there until her dad was home. She listened, but reminded me with strong contractions that she was getting ready. My body was preparing in every way, I kept track of what was going on, but I wasn't counting or calculating contractions. I kept telling her not for five more hours. Not until 8 PM. She listened.

Sunday, November 9, 2014- 37 weeks, 6 days. 
I knew I was having contractions. I had been ignoring them for much of the morning, I didn't want to take Eric away from the boys. They needed him. We enjoyed our family time, got the boys to hockey practice and during hockey the contractions started to become stronger and more consistent. I didn't say anything because it wasn't time yet and I was really enjoying the day with the boys, knowing full well our days as a family of four were limited. By the time hockey was over, I was ready to go home and sit, but Eric and the boys decided that a trip to Bass Pro Shops was necessary, and I caved thinking, this will be a great story for her birthday, and walking won't hurt the labor process. That evening during dinner I couldn't eat. The contractions were stronger, they were every two minutes (normal for me) and I couldn't stop crying- there was just so much to be emotional about: my last dinner as a family of four, the fear of having another child, the excitement of having a daughter, the fact that I was in labor and about to have a baby, etc. After Eric and the boys finished eating, we packed up the boys' things and sent them to a friends house so Eric and I could be at the hospital. I was excited, I was ready. I knew we were going to meet this little girl and our family would finally be whole.

After checking me out- 3 cm and 70% effaced, they made me walk around to try to progress labor. They commented on how Sweetie's head didn't like it when I was getting checked and how she kept wiggling away from them. But after an hour, they sent me home because they said I wasn't full term yet and therefore couldn't help progress labor. I needed my water broken with both boys so I figured the same thing would need to happen this time. But they wouldn't do it until Monday. Seriously?! So I'd have to come back because hospital policy said so. I was angry that night. I couldn't believe that they'd send a woman home when on her third child she knew she was in labor, but just couldn't progress. I got stuck with both boys at 4 cm and my water had to be broken. I was 38 weeks with Henrik too, so this hospital policy just made me even more angry. I was mad I didn't get to speak to a doctor. I was mad that they didn't believe my body. I was mad that they made me question my instincts. Actually, I don't think there was anything I wasn't mad about that night.

Monday, November 10, 2014- 38 weeks. 
On Monday, after a third consecutive day of not being able to sleep due to labor, the contractions switched to back labor. I called the doctor (because I wasn't allowed to talk to one on Sunday night) and wanted to express my anger towards their policy and how I knew on my third child that this baby was trying to be born. The doctor calmed me and explained that the nursing staff had to follow hospital policy. I got that, but I was still upset that my doctor (who was on vacation) told me one thing and another thing happened. After getting checked again, the doctor confirmed that no more progress was being made still the same- 3 cm. I was told that this doctor would be the on call doctor on Wednesday so if things progressed or the contractions continued, we could come in and she would be there to break my water as long as the baby's head was on top of the cervix. She wouldn't do it if the head wasn't there because she didn't want the cord to come out before the head. I agreed that that would be the safest and best solution for us. So, still uncomfortable and still in IN LABOR, I went home. It was a very rough day full of some of the worst back labor I've ever had, and Theo was pretty rough on me.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014- 38 weeks, 1 day.
I woke up Tuesday morning and I was surprised to find that despite all the back labor, the mucous plug loss, and my own intuition that I was in labor for the past three days, that my contractions had stopped. My back labor was gone. I actually felt good. It scared me. Fortunately, I felt Sweetie moving around a little bit, but I was beyond confused. Maybe I was wrong all along. Maybe I wasn't in labor. Maybe I had made it all up? I had a regular appointment scheduled for this day anyway so I went in again and met with a different doctor. This doctor reviewed my chart and we talked about what happened and she noted that Sweetie's head had actually moved up and was no longer on top of the cervix. I was surprised, but new that something was up because all of the contractions stopped. She sent me home, but at least I wasn't upset or angry at this point, just confused. Tuesday came and went and still with no contractions, I went to bed and for the first time in a week I was able to sleep. Theo came in to our room around 11 PM. It was a sign, though I didn't know it at the time. I just figured he knew that the baby was coming and we told him he couldn't sleep in our bed once Sweetie was here. I assumed he was taking advantage of it, but gave in because who doesn't love snuggles when you know they are going to be limited?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014- 38 weeks 2 days. 
Around 2:30 am, I woke up to go to the bathroom, Sweetie was pushing on my bladder, and even though I didn't want to get up because I was finally sleeping, I woke up, stumbled to the bathroom in the dark, peed, and went back to sleep. I didn't want to be woken up, I just wanted to enjoy this great night of rest!  I was startled awake when I gasped and ran to the bathroom. My water had broken. I was in disbelief. No contractions, still. My water had to be broken with both boys, why was it breaking now? I woke up Eric and showed him what was going on. He just looked at me, it was only 3:15 am so nothing registered with him. In fact, he went back to sleep. I called him into the bathroom again, this time he got up.  Once he and I talked about what was happening, we agreed that I should call the hospital to let them know we were coming and to find out how long we had. But, I called my mom instead,  "Mom, I think my water broke, I can't stop it so it's my water right? Maybe you should get on a plane and come out here. She has to be born today". Then I called Labor and Delivery, they told me that I had to be there before 5 am. So, Eric woke the boys, I took a shower, did my hair and asked Eric what he wanted me to do about the leaking fluid. My water had never broken so I had no idea how to deal with it. He kind of looked at me like I was gross, but said, "whatever you decide". He's a real keeper. I decided on a pad and was grossed out the entire drive to drop off the boys and get to the hospital.

When we got to the hospital we got set up in a triage room where they calculate contractions and dilation, etc. I was still 3 cm, and still had no contractions. I was worried about it. I didn't want this labor to last long, I didn't want drugs, I just wanted it to progress normally, but with no contractions it's nearly impossible and I knew that. Finally, after monitoring me, and seeing that there were a few (not that I could feel or would complain about) contractions, they sent me to a delivery room. I was hooked up for about three hours before the doctor came. In that waiting time, Eric and I sent out messages to our family and let them know it was baby day. We updated our Facebook and just waited for some kind of progress.

It's Baby Day 
We had a wonderful nurse, Nicole, and around 7:45 she asked me what I wanted for today. I told her that I wanted a safe vaginal delivery, I didn't want drugs, I wanted an intact placenta, and I planned on having a healthy baby girl. She wrote it all down and we talked more about my other deliveries and things I liked and didn't like about them. It was all very comforting and I felt like I was really being listened to. When the doctor came in just after 8 AM, she said that she expected I'd be getting some pitocin and once the contractions really started she thought we'd have a baby pretty quickly. She did a cervical exam and immediately had this look on her face. Her eyes were huge, like she just saw a ghost. She shook her head and said to Nicole, "we're going to need an ultrasound in here, I don't think this baby is head down". Within a second there was an ultrasound machine in my room and Dr. Ryan put the device on my belly and just sat there with her mouth open. "This baby flipped," she said. "I can't believe it, and, look, there is no fluid in there, we need to get her out. I can't flip her". I didn't really know what all that meant, but I understood two things 1. She was breech 2. no fluid. I got all of that, but I didn't really have a chance to really comprehend the c-section that was about to happen. In an instant the anesthesiologist was in my room, I was signing consent forms and before I knew it, I was wheeled down into the OR without my husband.

Nicole assured me he'd be allowed in once I was prepped for surgery and once my nerve block was in. She held me and helped me breathe as the nerve block was done. "Breathe in, breath out. It's just like if you were in labor, you've done this before". I nodded. On the inside I was terrified. I never even read the c-section of my pregnancy books, it was something that wasn't even on my radar. Nicole kept asking me if I was OK with the c-section, "I know you wanted a vaginal birth, are you OK with this?" "Of course," I replied. "She has to get out. We need to be safe," I told her. I did understand that. I knew in my heart that I just needed to have a baby girl to hold at the end of the day, I just didn't know what to expect with a c-section and an operating room was absolutely terrifying to me, I'd only been in one one other time in my life when I had my appendix out, but I was knocked out before I actually saw the inside of it.

I looked around, the room was so bright and full of metal. There were at least eight people in there, nurses for me and for the baby, and two doctors. The anesthesiologist was there assuring me that I wouldn't feel anything. I kept telling him I could feel his touch as he tested my body. He moved up the block. Eric still wasn't there. An oxygen tube was put under my nose, there was this intense pressure up into my lungs and through my arms. I started to cry a little bit, just out of fear, and where was my husband?!

Finally, they let him come in, they opened the door and he didn't walk in right away, "COME ONNNNNNN" I was thinking, what was he waiting for?! I smiled when I saw him. It finally felt safe. He was wheeling a chair in so he could sit down, but I felt like it took him forever to get to me. They started to cut me open before he got in the room so he moved over to me carefully and slowly. To this day we haven't talked about what he saw. Eric was only by my side for a second when I heard, "There's her foot!" Then a cry, then "Oh no! Baby, don't cry yet, you're not all the way out!" Then I heard the nurses say how adorable she was, and her cry, it was so wonderful and so beautiful. They took her, and Eric over to a side of the room I couldn't see. I could just hear her cry and all I could do was wait. I looked around trying to see behind the curtain, but tears just formed in my eyes when I couldn't see anything except my own blood and insides being sucked through a tube. I said, "That's a horrible spot to put that container" as I watched this giant sucker pump up and down. No one heard me.
It's a girl! 6 lbs, 13 oz 18 3/4 inches long
I yelled, "Is it still a girl?!" "Yes!" the room replied. I smiled, and cried some more. The anesthesiologist came over, "are you OK? Just a few minutes more". I nodded. "What color hair does she have?" I asked. "Blonde" someone answered. I smiled again. It felt like hours before Eric walked her over to me. I looked at her and just smiled. I saw Eric and the pride in his face as he held his daughter. He's never held one of our babies first.

The first picture of Daddy and Daughter
They always give the baby to the mother. I think he loved having her for a minute. She kept crying. I wanted to hold her, to calm her and to have her on my body so we could finally meet one another, but that wasn't an option. I got that, but I didn't like it. "She did really well on her test, 9 out of 10," said one of the nurses. "That's really great for an early Colorado baby, we have full term babies that don't even get that! And she's breathing so well!"

My favorite photo of the whole experience
Eric was told to take the baby to the recovery room, he looked at me, sort of asking if it was OK, I nodded. Though really, I just wanted her in my arms. "Just a little longer," said Dr. Ryan.

My body started to move as the table I was on was shaking back and forth. I watched the blue curtain,  the shadow was just right and I started in shock as Dr. Ryan's arms moved up and down as this giant thread stitched me back together. It's really odd watching your body being stitched up. It was like a scene out of a move where I was supposed to be dead, but I wasn't. I felt like I was Frankenstein and wondered what exactly was going on over there. The table moved a few more times and then it was still. The curtain was taken down, I was lifted on to a bed and wheeled into a room where my husband and daughter were waiting for me.

I looked at a clock, it was 8:56 am. From when the doctor came to my delivery room to the time I was wheeled to recovery it was only 56 minutes. I felt like that was fast. I looked around this recovery room and there was my daughter, and my husband who had a beautiful smile on. I can't explain how comforted I was by seeing them. The nurse said, "we waited to give her a bath and weigh her so that you could see it all". I was honored. I had never seen any of my children get a bath at the hospital. They washed her up and did what they needed to do but I felt like it was forever.

Waiting for Momma
Nicole was by my side making sure all of the monitors were right and she kept checking on me to see if I could move different parts of my body. I just wanted to hold my daughter. And I didn't realize it at the time, but Nicole was trying to make that happen. As soon as I was able to move my arms she allowed the baby's nurse to place her on my chest. It was marvelous.

All is right in the world
 Finally, though it was almost an hour later that I was able to do that. I couldn't stop smiling. I couldn't stop saying, "She's so tiny! She's SOOOOO small". The nurse asked what her name was, as she filled out her birth record, "Elinor Kay Sweetie Precious". They looked at us funny. We told them that her brother's came up with this name before she was born and we just couldn't stop calling her Sweetie and we just wanted to incorporate it into her name.  I'm sure they thought we were nuts, but Nicole said, "I really love that. You can tell there's a lot of love in your family".

She was right. There is so much love in our family.