31 Days of Infant Photos and Musings

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Hi all.

Annika here.

I’m dictating my thoughts on life to the mom-lady telepathically while I nurse.

THAT’S RIGHT. I AM THAT GIFTED!

This is how I usually look when I’m giving the mom-lady the 4-1-1 on this thing called living:

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To the untrained eye, I look like any other sleeping baby, but really I am a ninja of the mind. This is just my disguise.

Incidentally, I’m also hungry all the time, which means mom-lady and I are basically attached to one another. This gives me ample amounts of time to let her know all about how life is rolling along as I see it.

This mom-lady is actually handy to have around because all I have to do is let out a short wail and she’s at my beck and call. It’s awesome. So far it’s the best thing about living on the outside.

Eight days ago, I was wrapped tight in a  cocoon. It was quiet and safe. No one poked me or stuck thermometer in my rear end (that was…different), or expected me to sleep for hours on end without nourishment.

Life on earth is scary.

But mom-lady is nice. So’s the guy they call “dad.” I like how he smells, but he doesn’t give me food, so he’s not my number one favorite. I have a feeling, though, that someday he will be super fun to hang around.

There are also three other people in this house with us. And a dog, but the dog ignores me, which is fine by me because from my vantage point she is just a giant hairy monster waiting to eat my face off.

I think I’m going to like the other three people, too. They kiss on me a lot, which is nice. Everybody likes to be kissed, right?

So for the next 31 Days, I’m going to be sharing what life looks like from my viewpoint. And mom-lady will be sharing pictures, because from what I can deduce, one of her hands has a built in camera attached to it.

My mom might be a robot…

31DaysmdJoin me in this 31 Day series as I survive the newborn haze of sleepless nights, endless nursing, and squeezing in life in twenty minute increments throughout the day. I’ll share photos every day, some of them good, and some of them mediocre, because baby leaves me little time to worry about taking and editing the perfect photos.

I’ll also be sharing my daughter’s thoughts, as dictated to me telepathically while she nurses, because she has informed me that she is a mind ninja, and I am merely her portal to the outside world.

Her words, not mine.

*wink*

Annika Rachel: A Birth Story

It’s probably too early for me to attempt to put into writing the events of the day of Annika’s birth, but while it all still feels so fresh, I’m going to give it a try. Anni1

In some ways, I wish we had better documented the day, but a part of me is content to keep those moments a sacred memory. This birth was different in a lot of ways from my other children’s, and I’m glad. The fourth child deserves a unique story, doesn’t she?

My first three children were all born in the hospital. I’ve always chosen to give birth naturally, not because I’m strong or brave, but because I’m scared of needles and the epidural literally sends me into spasms of fear just thinking about it. I’m that annoying girl who gets dizzy every time she gets her blood drawn. Nurses love me.

I also have always had the benefit of having very, very quick labors. My longest labor before Annika was 5 hours. Apparently I was made to birth babies.

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This time around we decided to give birth at a birth center with the assistance of a midwife. Since moving to Florida, I haven’t found an OB that I like, and because I’d never needed much medical assistance anyway, this route just made sense to us.

It was such a unique experience to give birth in the birth center. Lee and I were really left alone for most of the labor, which allowed me space to work through the pain on my own time and in my own way. I liked this freedom, and the atmosphere was so quiet and peaceful and serene that I almost felt like we were in a fancy hotel room.

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And the fact that we got to go home just four hours after she was born was such a blessing. As we drove home that evening, Lee looked at me and said, “I’ve had rounds of golf that lasted longer than that!”

Around 1:00 am the night before she was born, my contractions started. They were manageable, and not really all that painful, but they were strong enough to keep me up. I also felt almost certain that my water had broken, so I spent much of that night preparing myself to welcome our baby soon. Because labor has gone so quickly for me in the past, I was given strict instructions not to wait too long before calling the birth center.

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No one wanted to see me deliver this kid on the side of the road.

Around 5:00, I decided that the contractions, though still not very painful, were regular enough to warrant a phone call. We were told to meet at the birth center at 7:00, so we called my mom, woke the kids, and told them that they’d have a baby sister by the end of the day.

That was so much fun. It was awesome to see their excitement as it only fueled our own.

Fast forward three hours, and we returned home from the birth center…without a baby. I was in tears, frustrated and embarrassed that after doing this three times before, my body seemed to be completely unresponsive to labor this time around. I wasn’t dilated, my contractions had slowed considerably, my water actually had not broken, and the baby was not laying in an optimal position, which was probably the cause of the hold up. Her head wasn’t centered, so she wasn’t moving down like she needed to.

This was so different from anything I’d ever experienced and it threw me off a little. So I went to bed and took a nap, still hoping that we could ramp things back up later.

When the kids got home from school they were naturally disappointed that I hadn’t had the baby, but while they played around me, I felt the contractions kick back up and, true to form, they started to come fast. This time I knew it was for real, and we rushed back to the birth center, arriving even before the on-call midwife.

I was 5 cm dilated at that point, and things happened very quick. Within two hours, it was go-time, and after only six minutes of intense pushing (because my labors happen so quickly, I often describe them as violent. I go from nothing to BABY in a flash, and the pain goes from a 4 on the pain scale to a 52 in seconds), Annika made her debut.

At 4:32, the midwife laid Annika Rachel on my chest I had the same intense feeling that I had with all my kids:

I knew her.

Her face was so familiar to me, and not just because she looks exactly like Tia did at birth, but because it’s as though she has always been here. I think God does that on purpose. He leaves this tiny impression of our children on our hearts long before giving them to us so that when we finally hold them, it just feels perfectly right.

I feel like I’ve known this little girl all my life.

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We are one week in, and things are going relatively smoothly. I forgot how much work newborns are, which has been an adjustment. But other than feeling like I can’t get anything done, things are moving right along. She could not be more loved or cherished by her brothers and sister. To be sure, she is a blessed little girl.

I will hold tight to the memories of September 22, 2014 for the rest of my life, filing them away in my heart next to the births of my other three children. What a privilege it is to be the mother of these four spectacular little humans. I am truly in awe of this calling placed before me.

Lordy, Lordy! Look Who’s 40!

When my due date was pushed back to September 30, I was disappointed for the obvious reason of knowing that I might have to wait longer to meet Annika. And also…you know – I’d have to be pregnant longer.

Lee was disappointed for another reason.

“I want to be able to say I had all my kids before I turned 40,” he admitted. And who can blame the guy, right?

Today my husband hits a milestone birthday, and I have to say – he wears 40 well.

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I am 40 shades of thankful for this man. Last night I approached my first new-baby meltdown moment. After only 5 hours sleep in almost three days, I was so tired I physically couldn’t keep my eyes open. He whisked the baby out of my arms and took her to the other room, and though I didn’t sleep much, I was able to rest enough to get through the night as I listened to him croon his love for his new daughter.

I love being married to Lee Stuart. After fourteen years together, he still makes me laugh every day. He and I could not be more perfectly suited, and yes, sometimes we drive each other crazy, but mostly we just have a lot of fun.

There are so many things I want to say, so many ways I want to honor this husband of mine, but new-baby-lack-of-sleep-recuperating-from-childbirth-birth syndrome has left my brain fried. So I will simply leave it at this:

I am beyond blessed, and it all starts here with this man. He’s funny, kind, wise, brilliant, kinda dorky and, according to Tia, REALLY COOL!

Happy Birthday to the love of my life, and the father of my four babies.

All of which he had before he turned 40.

Introducing

I kept on swimming, friends. Right into labor and delivery.  Our daughter, Annika Rachel, was born yesterday at 4:32. The labor was a different one for me. But that’s another story for another time. Right now I’ll just share a few pictures. They aren’t great pictures, mind you. I haven’t had the wherewithal to try and create perfect photos just yet.

But that day’s coming because I have a closet full of RIDICULOUS hair bows waiting for this child.

Thanks for all the encouragement after my last post. I survived pregnancy! I’m not pregnant anymore.

Glory!!

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Just keep swimming – HULK SMASH!

I’ve never been what one might call “patient.” I was the kid who snooped for Christmas presents (maybe even unwrapping and rewrapping the gifts a time or two. Sorry, Mom…) While I enjoy surprises, I don’t like knowing a surprise is coming then having to wait for it. That’s just mean.

When a big event is coming, I feel nearly tortured with the wait. A holiday, a big trip, a life event, you name it, and I’m most likely bouncing up and down in anticipation.

This means that the end of a pregnancy is just short of torture.

What makes these last few weeks even more torturous is that there is no real set time. I could go in to labor tomorrow, or in two weeks. I don’t know. THIS MAKES ME INSANE!

And by insane, I mean angry. Imagine the Incredible Hulk in the final stages of pregnancy.

HULK SMASH!

Now, logically, I know that I should cherish this time. Right now life is still easy. The kids are in school all day, and I have free time to accomplish things. We can still easily get from here to there, and I don’t have to worry about juggling feeding and nap schedules as long as she remains nestled snug in my womb.

I am working on a new book, and still trying to pitch my novel, and I have time to focus on both those endeavors right now. This is good! I know the logical arguments for why I should be cherishing this time.

So why am I so frustrated?

First, I blame hormones. I can already feel those wily little chemical imbalances toying with me, pushing me into tearful escapades over silly little nonsense.

Incidentally, NERF guns should be banned from planet earth when one is at the end of her pregnancy, because NERF guns with all their clicky loudness and insanity inducing bullet shooting are enough to turn ANY hormonal pregnant woman into the Incredible Hulk.

HULK SMASH!

Second, I’m just uncomfortable. My hands and feet are swollen. I can’t sleep. I see a million things that need to be done (that I have the time to do), but they’re hard because I have a 20 pound bowling ball protruding from my gut.

Finally, I’m just impatient. I want to meet her. I’m ready to move to the next phase in our family. I’m ready for the nighttime feedings and the crazy, because clearly I operate better under crazy than I do under being stalled.

Some days, I approach full on HULK SMASH mode, overflowing with frustration at all of the world. And it’s so silly, really, because I know – I KNOW – I should be grateful. This is the last time I’m going to do this pregnancy thing. I want to cherish it. I’m trying to cherish it.

So I’m working on channeling my inner Dory, which is so much more pleasant for everyone around me than my inner Incredible Hulk.

There’s no point to this blog post. None. No lesson to be gleaned. No wisdom to be imparted. I tried to think of a really cool way I could turn it around and offer you something deeply profound about motherhood and life, maybe even relating it to creativity.

But I’ve got nothin’.

All I can say is that as you and I head into our weekends, let’s just keep swimming. Swim right on through this crazy life with all of it’s joys and frustrations. Let’s channel our inner Zen, avoid the dreaded HULK SMASH, and swim the heck out of this life.

Aren’t you glad you stopped by this place for a visit today?