Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Maiden Voyage

Over the holiday weekend we went on our first-ever camping trip with toddlers. And a newborn. As you might imagine, the trip was fraught with hiccups...

We had planned on going to a state park that was practically night in our backyard, but when we got there (much later than we planned and everyone was wanting dinner and a bed) we discovered we'd accidentally made the reservation for the NEXT weekend and the park didn't have any sites available! After a few tense minutes the lovely park ranger called the county park up the road a bit and found out that they had one spot left, so we hurried down there before someone else could snap it up.

We had a rough time getting it parked--I mean, look at all those trees!!! What are they doing in a park, anyway?

But we got settled in just enough time eat a quick dinner and then enjoy a lovely sunset.

 We got the kids IN bed around 8pm, which is much later than they are used to, but due to the new experience of sharing a bed, they were up until all hours, Noni giggling and CJ saying things like, "Stop getting in my space, Noni!".

Nemo, Ender, and I played gin in between going into the bedroom to shush the big kids. I lost every hand.

Really, mom? Every hand?

Despite the very late bedtime, all the kids were up before 7am. Nemo had been up in the night attending to Ender, so I fed everyone, put the baby in the Boba carrier, and took them all out for an early park exploring expedition.

You know how in the movie "Cars" all the characters are anthropomorphic vehicles, so instead of "Cow Tipping", McQueen and Mater go "Tractor Tipping"? Somehow that turned into Noni calling construction vehicles "Twactor Tippin's". She is always excited to see one, even when sleep deprived.

The park had a nice playground on site.

And all the camp sites were numbered, so obviously that was CJ's favorite thing about the whole trip.

A Little Library too! 

After Daddy got up we hauled out the bikes.

Then we had lunch al fresco.

 Lunchtime gymnastics. Because she's two.

We pulled out stakes soon after so we could get Noni home in time for a much-needed nap.

We still have some kinks to work out, most notably in the sleeping arrangement department, but the kids didn't notice all the things that went wrong; as soon as we got into the house they were asking to go back in the RV again. Mission accomplished.

 photo signature2_zpsszvmmitg.jpg

Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Finally! Ender's Birth Story

**Warning! Warning! Birth story! Bodily fluids! Female anatomy! Proceed with caution.**

So there I was, 40 weeks and 2 days pregnant. I had SPD, intense ligament pain, and varicosities that made getting around extremely difficult. My insomnia had been acting up, I was the most pregnant I had ever been, and I was not feeling labor-y AT ALL. I was a real peach to be around, let me tell you.

Portrait of a woman who has just about had it.

I was fairly certain that Baby Ender was in the Occiput-Posterior position, which meant that the back of her head was pressing against my tailbone. Said tailbone gives me trouble even when not pregnant, due to it being broken four years ago during labor with my other O.P. baby (CJ). Notsofun.

I had spent most of the last several weeks lying uncomfortably in bed, watching weird vampire tv shows and reminding myself that it is biologically impossible to actually be pregnant forever, while my wonderful mother-in-law wrangled the kids.

That afternoon I decided to take the kids up the block to the library, and it was during that walk home that I felt the first honest-to-goodness contraction. I mean, I had had some uncomfortable Braxton-Hicks contractions on and off over the past week, but this one crossed the line into painful, (but productive!) territory.

I got a lot more of them while I was making dinner, intense enough I had to stop what I was doing to breathe through them, and once the kids were in bed I sat down to time them--but they were disappointingly irregular and eventually I got bored and went to bed.

The contractions came through the night. They were taking me in my back, and they got so intense that I had to get out of bed so I could sway through them...but they were anything from 15 to 30 minutes apart. So annoying! Luckily, even through I hadn't been able to sleep all week, I was able to sleep like a rock between the contractions.

I got up at around 6:45am, clued Nemo into the situation, and ate some breakfast between contractions (which, although still irregular, were getting so intense that I left the kitchen whenever I got one so I wouldn't scare the kids with all the oo-oooooing). After finishing a plate of eggs and fruit I retired to the bedroom to bounce on the exercise ball which helped me get through the contractions without cussing. As the contractions got more and more frequent (though still irregular) and the pain in my back that came with the contractions got worse and worse, I knew that this was the REAL DEAL. Not only was I in labor, but I was in BACK labor. Again. Shit.

Now that I have survived two back labors, I feel I am qualified to offer an analogy. Back contractions feel as if a grenade is lodged in your lower back and it is exploding, in slow motion, for as long as labor lasts. And, since back labor is often caused by O.P. babies, and O.P being a crap position for birthing, they often taken their sweet time being born. So that grenade could be exploding for quite a while. 

By 8am I could barely focus enough to push the start/stop button on my contraction timer app, and Nemo joined me in the bedroom to coach me and, more importantly, to apply counter pressure to my back. At 9:45 my mother-in-law brought the kids up to give me hugs and kisses (so sweet!), then she took them to their favorite indoor playground to keep them occupied while I was busy birthing their sister. I understand they had a marvelous time:)

At around 10:15am we hit that magical "contractions less than 5 minutes apart that last for one minute" mark. Nemo announced we were headed to the hospital, and I didn't argue.

It's pretty hard to get everything packed and get out the door when you have to stop every 3-5 minutes to squat down in order to get through a contractions. We left the house around 10:30am, only to discover half-way through the 25 minute drive to the hospital that I had forgotten my purse, which has important stuff like my ID and insurance cards in it.

You can imagine my chagrin at effectively doubling the travel time of the most uncomfortable car ride of my life.

We pulled up to the hospital valet counter around 11, and when we finally made it up to the triage unit (whose genius idea was it to put triage so far fro the entrance? and how did Nemo and I both manage to forget that wheelchairs exist? I'll never know.) I was whisked off to an exam room immediately after the clerk told the nurses that I was multiparous, a fancy medical term that means "not her first rodeo". When a woman with other children shows up and says she's in labor, medical professionals tend to take her very seriously. At least, that has been my experience.

And, what do you know! I was at 6cm! And the doctor said, get thee to a labor suite. 

At this point I was seriously considering pain relief. I'd had two unmedicated labors, one that very painful and one that wasn't. I was seeing many similarities between the current labor and my (very painful) first labor with CJ. And as much as I love the result of that experience, the labor itself wasn't an experience I was dying to relive. Still, the thought of needles in my spine was squicking me out, so I opted to have the nurse install a hep-lock so I could get a dose of Stadol if and when I felt it was necessary.

By the time I got to the labor suite, the contractions had become so powerful that the muscles in my back were continuing to spasm (painfully) between the contractions. If I couldn't get any relief between contractions I knew I would burn out, so we continued to discuss pain relief options again with the nurses and eventually decided that I would try the jacuzzi for an hour and then see if I had "progressed". The jets worked wonders--during contractions I was still swearing under my breath and wrenching poor Nemo's arm right out of its socket, but BETWEEN them I was feeling pretty darn fabulous.

Unfortunately, after the proscribed hour I hefted myself out of the tub (with a lot of help) and onto the bed to be checked, and I'd only dilated about half a centimeter. Bummed doesn't even begin to describe my feelings at this point.

When I was out of the tub the back pain became unbearable again, so I got back in. We discussed the back pain with Dr. Megan, who had just arrived. She announced herself to be an expert baby-turner, so she gave us the option of breaking my water so she could basically grab the baby by the head and turn her so she was facing the right way. This would hopefully take some of the pressure off my back, but it would also probably make the contractions more intense.

I went back and forth on this for quite some time. On one hand, less back pain. On the other hand, harder contractions! Eventually I got to a point where even the tub was no longer taking the edge off the pain, so I opted to allow the Expert Baby Turner to do her thing. She broke my water at 1:15pm, but the dumb baby absolutely refused to be turned. Each of the three or four times Dr. Megan got her in an appropriate position the baby would instantly turn back--clearly she liked the O.P. position, thankyouverymuch.

So I was still  having back contractions, and now that my waters were broken they were much MUCH more intense, as advertised. I started progressing very quickly at this point and I was cursing my indecisiveness about pain relief. Why the HELL didn't I get the epidural when I first showed up? Having a needle in the spine is much better than DYING because oh my God, I can't do this, I'm DYING.
(Transition much, Eva? Gosh.)

One of the fun effects of back labor is that your back  hurts so much it's  hard to feel any thing else, so pushing is much less effective. It seemed to take for.ev.er, especially since my most recent experience was Noni being born after 2 hours of easy labor and one push.

It was also had to focus on pushing because, even as much pain as I was in, I was still able to feel a little self-conscious that there were no fewer than four people who were apparently trying to win a staring contest with my lady parts. I mean, the doctor, the resident, and two nurses were standing there at the foot of the bed literally STARING while I pushed. I'm UP HERE, people. And I hated the resident's glasses. So irritating.

Then it was the last push--I was almost done--and the doctor said, "Her shoulder's stuck!". She didn't sound panicked, but everyone started moving very quickly. I wasn't worried at the time, but later research revealed that shoulder distochia can be a very real concern.

Up until this point I had been reclining in the bed to push and--you know where you're at that point in labor when it hurts to move even the barest centimeter and someone abruptly drops the bed back down flat? That.

Oh, and then? The doctor MANUALLY EXTRACTED the baby's shoulder from my body while I was in mid-contraction--which is just as nice as it sounds--and at 1:56 pm Ender was born!

 Boy did that feel good.

A few hours later we were all cleaned up and clothed and ready to meet the family. My kids, man. They are super cute.

That evening we got a  surprise--my sister Emily, who blogs at Living in the Green, who was due with a baby girl two weeks after me--was headed to the hospital to be induced for medical reasons. After a long induction Ender's cousin was safely brought into the world the next day. God is good!

 photo signature2_zpsszvmmitg.jpg

Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Mobile Humblebees

If you know me in person there's a good chance I've talked your ear off about our plans to convert a school bus to an RV. The point being to have an RV so we could visit our now far-flung family and friend--and we thought it would be fun to do build our own. With three kids in the mix it seemed very unlikely that we would be able to complete such a huge project in a reasonable amount of time, and we wanted the benefits of  having an motorhome NOW. So we changed the dream ever so slightly. When a used motorhome in our price range that suited our needs showed up on Craigslist, we bundled all three bambinos into the minivan and drove about 1.5 hours south to take a look at it. And after poking around on the inside and taking it for a test drive, we decided to go for it!

It's a 1998 Georgie Boy with low miles.

 It has a dinette on which a math-obsessed little boy can count his coins. Or, you know, where the family can eat dinner. Whatever.

Teeny kitchen--that's all you really need for camping, right?

Noni pointed out that the commode resembled CJ's training potty. 

It's got a queen bed in the master bedroom, which will probably be the kids' domain so we can have the run of the rest of the place after they go to bed.

(I've got grand schemes of recurtaining the whole vehicle because those drapes---yuck.)

 The kids had a great time pretending to drive us to the zoo, the indoor playground, and the beach.


 There are enough seat belts for everyone.

Ender had a good time too.

Never fear! There will be carseats involved whenever the vehicle is in motion.

 It measures 33 feet from bumper to bumper. Luckily our driveway is 34 feet. Whew.

We plan to go on our first camping trip next weekend. With a six-week-old baby in tow. Oy.
 photo signature2_zpsszvmmitg.jpg

Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Monday, April 27, 2015

State of the Anxiety Address

First things first: A picture of a really cute baby.

As many of you know I experienced debilitating anxiety and depression after Noni was born. This puts me at a much higher risk of developing PPD this time around, and during these first few weeks with baby Ender, Nemo and I, as well as my friends and other family members, have been watching closely for signs of PPD. The goal being to deal with it early, before it becomes a crisis.

The first week went really well. The weather was warm, my MIL was entertaining the big kids, and Nemo and my mom were splitting night duty so I could focus on getting lots of rest. But during the second week I was starting to feel anxious--about the future, about whether or not Ender would develop colic, about how I would handle sleep deprivation once night duty was mine again--there are so many "what ifs" with a new baby, and unfortunately for me I have a tendency to let the what-ifs rule my life. I started to show some of my tell-tale signs of PPD--not being able to sleep and losing my appetite. I was feeling like I was on the edge of panic, and the trouble with me is if I let in one panic attack, it paves the way for many many more. Fending off that first attack was becoming a full-time job, and I was exhausted.

I had a prescription of Sertraline (Zoloft) prescribed by my OB "just in case", and I started to take it at that point. However, the side effects were just as bad as I remembered. My insomnia became so bad I was only getting about an hour of broken sleep a night, I was experiencing tremors, muscle spasms, tics, and heart palpitations, and worst of all, it increased my anxiety about a zillion times. The side effects are supposed to wear off eventually, but last time around I had to be hospitalized while I adjusted to the meds, and I wasn't willing to risk that again. With the blessing of my doctor, Nemo and I decided that I would stop taking the Sertraline and attack my anxiety and depression symptoms from other angles.

1. Sleep
My doctor gave me a prescription for Mirtazapine, which is an antidepressant that at low doses is known to have a positive effect on sleep patterns and appetite. I used it (in conjunction with Zoloft) during my first PPD experience and didn't experience any troubling side effects,  so it seemed like a good choice. So far, so good. The only downside is it gives me the munchies like you wouldn't believe.

2. Diet
When Nemo and I did a Whole30 for Lent, I noticed that my anxiety and sleep both improved markedly.  So now I am doing my best to follow a sugar-free, low-grain, and low-dairy diet. This is kind of difficult to do right now, given that I am postpartum AND I am doomed to get the wicked bad munchies mentioned above, but I'm hoping that the payoff will be worth it.

3. Reminders
This is temporary
I think the newborn stage might be ruined permanently for me. I do enjoy the snuggles, but the uncertainty and craziness that comes with a new little one really stresses me out. Whenever I feel like I can't handle the next three months, I remind myself that it is only three months. The newborn period is special, but also fleeting! There will be a time soon when I will feel more at ease with Ender. I will know her personality, she will be able to smile and laugh and be entertained by something other than a bottle or being held. She will be on a more regular schedule so I can count on some "me time". It seems like such a long time away, but when I remind myself of the temporary nature of the newborn period I am more able to enjoy it for what it is.

Different baby, different situation
One of my main anxiety triggers is the thought that Ender will be just like Noni was when she was a baby. I'm afraid that she will cry constantly and I won't be able to soothe her. That I'll be trapped in the baby carrier, walking in circles for most of the day. That I won't be able to get her to sleep, and if I do, I won't be able to put her down without her waking up immediately. Well, Ender is a different baby. So far she has been fairly easy-going--but there is still time for her to develop colic or reveal a high-needs personality. But even if she does, this is a different situation. I have more coping strategies than I once did, I have a wider support system, and better safety nets. 

Don't over-think things.
This is probably the most important thing I can do to fend off anxiety. When my brain wants to think about things that make me anxious, it can very easily snowball, so whenever a potentially troubling thought pops into my head I have to remind myself to SHUT IT DOWN. Just don't even go there, Eva.

4. Mind games
Looking forward to things
When I think about the future, I tend only to think about the BAD things that might happen. Obviously that isn't helpful, but it's where my mind naturally goes. To try to break this habit, every day I try to identify at least one thing that I am looking forward to--even if it's just the next episode of Game of Thrones. Don't worry; I can actually think of much better things than that, but when all three kids are crying at the same time it's hard to think so far ahead as our summer trip to my parents' lake house. But counting down the days until my next dose of GoT is totally do-able.

Last time I experienced PPD it got to the point where the activities I once enjoyed the most not only no longer interested me, but they actually disgusted me. This time I am making a conscious effort to hang on to my hobbies so I don't lose that part of myself. I can't do them the same way I used to--this isn't a season of life when I can just paint a room or refinish furniture--but I can certainly watch as much HGTV as I can handle, look back on all my favorite projects here on the blog, and plan future projects with Nemo.

The Best Medicine
The act of smiling can fool your brain into being happy. Nemo has been telling me this for years, and I am finally willing to concede that it's true (shhhhhhh! Don't tell him!) Luckily, 3rd Rock from the Sun has recently been added to Netflix.

 photo signature2_zpsszvmmitg.jpg

Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Just a Quick Note to Say...

...that Baby "Ender" finally emerged! Five days ago. Oops. We are delighted to add this sweet and chunky beauty to our collection.

Thanks to all the friends and family who encouraged me throughout this pregnancy. Your kind words and prayers have been invaluable to me.

I'm working on the birth story but for a five-hour, mostly-uncomplicated labor there sure does seem to be a lot to say! So that might take a while;)
 photo signature2_zpsszvmmitg.jpg

Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

{Project} Facelift for the Eat-In Kitchen

The rumors are true. I am what they call "extremely pregnant".

Today is my due date, and tomorrow I will be the most pregnant I have ever been. I really didn't expect to be pregnant this long, as CJ was born at 40 weeks, Noni and 39 weeks, and I foolishly assumed that Ender would also be in the "40 weeks and Under" club.

What is it they say? Two data points do not make a trend. Also that babies do not care about your plans. Lesson(s) learned.

Anyway, all this sitting around waiting for labor to attack for the last two weeks has me absolutely dying of a combination of boredom and insomnia. I just went to Target for some Tylenol PM, so I guess it's time to fend off the boredom by cranking out a blog post. I never finished telling you about my recent kitchen spruce-up!

Our house has a formal dining room, but alas it is carpeted and thus is not practical for us to use it for dining at this stage in our lives. Luckily, there is an eat-in kitchen. 

So we put our lovely dining room set in there, but it soon became apparent that it was just the wrong shape and size for that space.
Whoops, forgot to take a proper "Before" picture. This is the best I could find!

Even with all the leaves removed, it was very difficult to maneuver around the table--for me especially, given my rate of growth over the past few months.

During my first thrifting excursion after I had decided to retire the table (for the time being) I came across the perfect substitute! I love when that happens.

Rectangular, perfect size, and cheap ($65)! All major criteria met.

It had the additional bonus of being handmade, and the chairs and table legs were all solid wood. I didn't realize until I got it home that the tabletop itself isn't solid, but you know, the kids are just going to draw on it anyways so maybe it's for the best.

I also liked that the chairs were upholstered, as I've been meaning to try my hand at upholstering for a while.

We used the new set for several weeks before I actually got around to the upholstering, and by that point (after countless spilled cups of milk) it had become very apparent that VINYL was the name of the game.

I didn't really like any of the printed vinyl at the fabric store, so I ended up choosing a cotton upholstery fabric and a clear vinyl to go over top of it to protect the cuteness.

So every evening for a week I took a chair:

Then after detaching the seat I got to work prying off millions of staples used to keep the old fabric in place. Once it was off I used it to cut the new fabric and vinyl to size.

Next came the actual upholstery. There are some tutorials with pictures here. I found it worked better if I layered the vinyl over the fabric and attached both layers at the same time, rather than first attaching the fabric, then the vinyl.


I really love the fabric--and it goes so well with the new paint in the kitchen!

It is sooooo nice not having to perform a contortionist act 1,678 times during every meal to get more milk/ketchup/salt/water/whatever the heck it is the kids want.

 photo Signature1_zps6ee36174.jpg

Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.

Friday, March 27, 2015

{SQT} The Gift of Gab: Toddler Quotes

How much do I love having two verbal toddlers? SO MUCH. While there is still the same amount of screaming as when I had two non-verbal toddlers, at least now there is some entertainment to be had as well.

Here's some of their best material from the past few months:

When he saw me wearing foundation for the first time in, like, ever--

"Uchhh, Mom, what's all over your FACE?"

While reading the titles of the songs in the hymnal before Mass started and coming across one called "Shout to the Lord"--
CJ [shouting]: "Hey! We don't shout in CHURCH!"

On walking into the living room and noticing that we had finally mounted the tv on the wall--
CJ: Hey! Did Sandra Boynton do that???
Me: ?

Discussing Saturday plans--
Nemo: Noni, do you want to go to the gym with me?
Noni: No! Mall! MALL! MAAALLLLL! Mall, mall, mall, mall, mall, mall, mall! MALLLLLLLL!

While riding in the car--

Noni: Arrrrrr! Arrrrrr!!!
CJ: No, Noni, no growling!
CJ: No, don't say that to me, I don't like it!
Noni: changes tactics, starts singing the alphabet song to herself but (intentionally?) skips the letter "R"
CJ: No, Noni, you did it wrong! You forgot the "R"!!!

While giving a wiggly three-year-old a haircut with only a two-year-old sister as backup--
CJ: Nooooo!!!! Not my thousands and thousands of hairs!

After the aforementioned haircut--
Me: Well, CJ? What do you think?
CJ: Ummmmm. Bad.

On passing a particular radio tower in a field on our way to the grocery store--

Noni: Mommy! Dat's mine wocket ship! Noni's going to da mooooooon!

Linking up with Kelly today for Seven Quick Takes. Head over to her habitat for more SQT fun!

 photo Signature1_zps6ee36174.jpg

Postscript: There's more Humblebee on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Hope to see you there! Especially on Instagram. I love Instagram.