Friday, June 29, 2007

while we're waiting

Let's see ... what's new?

I think I already mentioned that our refrigerator and freezer broke and that we've been living out of coolers for over a week.

I may have also mentioned that the repairman came by on Tuesday to fix the refrigerator and freezer and told us that we required a new compressor, which would need to be special ordered and he would come out and put the new compressor in - once it arrived.

Sometime next week.

When Charlie asked if replacing the compressor was something he could do, the technician asked if Charlie had ever welded or soldered or braised, and when I chimed in that Charlie had braised a lamb - the guy snorted and said he should probably do the work.

It will be several more days before our refrigerator is repaired, and until then - we're making daily trips to the grocery store to pick up "miscellaneous" items like two gallons of milk and a half a gallon of orange juice, because we don't have the space to store it.

Did I mention that our stereo died and we've been without music for the past month, and the stereo that Charlie wants is on back order?

Or, that our relatively new Macintosh computer has been crashing on us, daily, for the past week, and even though Charlie spent an hour on the phone yesterday with an "Apple Genius" the computer is still crashing, randomly throughout the day?

If it wasn't for "Blogger's" new feature of "autosaving" posts ... this particular one would have taken me two days to write.

How 'bout that our dishwasher, for the fifth time in less than five months, broke again, today?

When I called and told the Kitchen Aid representative our "story" adding in that I have two and a half year old triplets and am nine months pregnant and have family in town for the next month and that we are currently running our dishwasher twice a day and that I didn't know if I should scream or cry or laugh ... she told me that she would have someone here first thing Monday morning to complete the repair. She wondered how it was possible that I wasn't yelling and threatening lawsuits and I told her I tried that last time and it didn't work.

Alas, our troubles are not only limited to appliances and electronic equipment.

Yesterday morning, we woke up to Molly hacking.

Unlike hacking we'd ever heard before.


Charlie took her to the vet and based on a preliminary examination, the doctor thought that she might have congestive heart failure. But, he wanted to run a series of "tests" and would get a diagnosis to us by the end of the day.

All day yesterday, we were glum and absolutely certain that the phone would ring and tell us that our faithful dog of 12.5-years would need to be euthanized.

Throughout the day, the children would look at us with big eyes and worried expressions and inquire "Where Molly? Molly sick? Molly need boo-boo bunny?"

At 4 PM, the vet finally called with the results.

Molly has a severe case of bronchitis.

BRONCHITIS.

I've never heard of a dog having bronchitis before. But it's definitely curable, for the bargain basement price of $320.71.

When we're not on the phone with customer service representatives, or shuttling back and forth with doctor appointments, or playing at the local water park, we're spending an exorbitant amount of time sitting on the potty.

Thus far, nothing has happened during these potty events. But it provides us an excellent opportunity to sit and contemplate what will break next.

With any luck - it will be my water.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

well...

My c-section was scheduled for 3 PM.

I had to be to the hospital at 1 PM for check-in.

It's a 45-minute drive from our house.

My bags were packed.

My pre-op papers were filled out.

I hadn't anything to eat or drink since midnight.

I was totally ready.

But, not ready at all.

So, I sat in the bathroom and cried from 11:30 AM until 12:15 PM and prayed for wisdom.

I can't explain it.

I know the baby is ready.

Having had three babies born nine weeks prematurely - that are thriving today - I fully anticipate that a baby arriving a week early will have no problems.

But, I couldn't do it.

Everyone expected me to be at the hospital.

And I really hate to be an inconvenience.

But I imagined myself laying on the operating table - regretting to my very core - that I didn't at least go to my due date and see if perhaps I would go in to labor on my own.

I worried about the health of our baby. I worried about me. I worried about dying on the table and leaving four children behind. I worried about Charlie.

At 12:20 PM, I called and canceled my surgery.

My doctor insisted that if I wasn't delivering today, that I come in for an ultrasound.

When I arrived at his office, in place of the nice pants, shirt and tie he normally wears, he was donning his scrubs.

He was fully prepared to be in the operating room.

With me.


But there I was, in his office.

Feeling like I should have a laundry basket bag over my head.

But also feeling proud of myself that I followed my heart and didn't succumb to pressure.

(Keep in mind - this is a BRAND NEW doctor. My previous OB retired and I've only had this new doctor for a couple weeks. My previous OB never really discussed with me how our new baby would arrive and because I'm so "on it" I didn't really think of it, either. It just kind of snuck up on me. You know?)

Even if I said I would .... I never really wanted the c-section today.

My doctor said he knew that.

Now, I've got until next Thursday - July 5 - to have this baby.

If he doesn't come by then - and because I can't be induced - I will have to have a repeat c-section at 11:00 AM.

This afternoon, I talked with one of my friends who told me about her experience delivering vaginally. She said that when it was time to push, she felt this tremendous pressure, followed by a tremendous relief.

She looked to her doctor and asked "Is it a girl or a boy?!" and the doctor replied "It's a bowel movement."

Right there. On. The. Table.

Great.

That'll be something new for me to worry about.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

ready or not

I'm "tentatively" scheduled for a c-section tomorrow afternoon.

It's completely surreal.

When the hospital called this morning to tell me my pre-op instructions, I told them that I was mulling over canceling the whole thing and waiting until I go in to labor on my own.

They gave me the instructions and said "We'll just pretend that you're coming in tomorrow. Of course you can always cancel if you change your mind."

All these choices are driving me insane.

Doesn't anyone realize I can't even decide what I want on my damn pizza?!


People I know are telling me that I'm nuts and I need to just have the c-section.

My doctor said that it hurts his back to look at me and he is worried that this baby is going to be BIG.

My mother said that the swelling I have "isn't normal" and she ought to know ... since she's got seven kids of her own, 20 grandchildren, and worked as a delivery room nurse for years.

Charlie said that he wants to hurry up and hold our new baby - but this is entirely my decision and he'll support me either way.

Last night, I was up until way past midnight researching VBAC's. I went back and read, twenty times over, all the thoughtful comments from my post, 19 days ago. And then I freaked out wondering how it is possible that it's already been three weeks since I wrote that?!

The reoccuring theme I've seen and heard, by and large, is that women who have done a VBAC wish that they had instead done a repeat c-section. Unless I'm blind, I have yet to see or hear from someone who has had a positive VBAC experience.

I've had friends, neighbors and relatives who have done a VBAC either call or come by and every last one of them has told me I need to do the repeat c-section.

So, why am I being so stubborn?

I think it's because with our triplets, I didn't have the option. Not only because there was a litter of babies to be delivered, but because they were nine weeks premature and I was so sick. When our babies were born, I remember wishing more than the world that they were back inside. They were not suppose to come out, yet.

Now, granted, I've carried this here baby a whole two months longer than I carried the triplets and I know in my mind that when he is born, he will be perfectly capable (God willing) of regulating his own body temperature and eating and breathing, on his own.

But in my heart, I feel like delivering this baby by c-section is taking him out before he is completely ready and I don't want for that to happen again.

Yes, I am ready to sleep peacefully again.

Yes, I am ready to possess the ability to put on my own socks and wear something that doesn't resemble a king sized bedsheet.

Yes, I am ready to go for walks and frolic with our children, without worrying about where the closest restroom is.

But I'm not ready to give up being pregnant and I don't want to bring this little one out before "it's time." Plus, I've always thought it would be super fun to jolt Charlie awake at 3 AM and tell him "Oh my God ... my water broke!!!"

I only mention that because recently Charlie told me that my job with the delivery of this baby, is to make sure that he stays calm.

As if that would happen.

The thought of delivering a baby scares the bejeepers out of me. I've read enough books, seen enough movies and heard enough stories to have a glimpse of what labor and delivery would be like. But when you are actually carrying a baby in your body that very soon needs to come out - it's a bit nerve wracking.

To say the least.

In other news...

Nesting is just about complete. Although the $#^$*&#$ refrigerator is STILL broken and won't be repaired until Monday, the floors are completely finished.

Charlie is wrapping up painting in our bathroom and kitchen. We bought a new carseat and bassinet. We washed all of the baby clothes, towels and blankets in Dreft and neatly stored them away.

The children then pulled every last item out and dragged them through the entire house.

They know something big is about to happen.

William will come over and extend his hand every time I try to stand up from the couch and will sweetly say "Mommy, Willem hep you."

On the rare occasions I do put my legs up, Carolyn will come over and rub them, while repeatedly saying "Oh no, boo-boo Mommy, boo-boo."

The other day, while eating out, Elizabeth grabbed my shirt - and before I could stop her - pulled it all the way up to my bra and yelled at my bulging stomach "BABY! WAKE UP!" As if on cue, the baby started to flex and when she saw the movement, she gave me a panicked look and pulled my shirt back down and yelled "BYE BYE BABY! BYE BYE!!"

So things are definitely coming along.

It struck me that we will soon have FOUR children when I was placing pictures on our wall and made space for a frame containing an ultrasound of numero quatro. I then had panick attack and had to breathe in a paper bag.

Later today, I plan to give Charlie a tutorial on how to update the blog such that in the off chance I don't have my laptop with me in the delivery room, he can post details and pictures of our newest addition.

It's completely surreal. Not just that I'm at that point of having another baby - but that I'm getting ready to hand the blog reins over to my husband.

What if he deletes the whole thing?!

Where's that paper bag?!

Monday, June 25, 2007

the circumcision decision

Soon after I learned that we were expecting triplets - two girls and a boy - I started losing sleep over whether or not we would circumcise our son. And of course like just about everything else I do in my life, I decided to wait until the last possible moment to make the final decision.

Because we had no religious or cultural reasons to circumcise - I was at a loss.

From what I could tell, in my American family, circumcision has always been the "thing" to do. According to my mother, sisters and aunts, all the boys in our family were circumcised. Although Charlie's family, who hails largely from Canada, made the decision that their sons would not be circumcised.

But was there a medical advantage to this procedure that predates recorded human history?

What I recall is that the soonest the doctors would perform a circumcision would be on a baby born at 36 weeks gestation. Because our triplets arrived nine weeks prematurely, at 31 weeks, having our son circumcised following his birth wasn't an option. I also recall that the doctors wouldn't perform circumcision on a baby boy who is more than three weeks old, without completely anesthetizing him. So, even if we had wanted to have William circumcised while in the hospital, we couldn't.

Since we could not have our son circumcised in the hospital, our options were limited to having a Mohel come to our home, or taking our infant to see a pediatric urologist that would put him under general anesthesia and complete the procedure.

Neither option sounded too good.

So, we stopped thinking about it.

When William was just shy of 10 months old, he was diagnosed with a bilateral inguinal hernia. He was extremely fussy one afternoon and when I removed his diaper to inspect his abdomen, I noticed that he had a huge bulge just above his groin. After spending several hours in the emergency room that evening, I was referred to a pediatric urologist, who quickly scheduled surgery to complete the repair.

This would have been the ideal time to have our son circumcised. He'd already be under anesthesia for the hernia surgery and the pediatric urologist said that if we wanted to have him circumcised, he could complete it at the same time.

After voicing my concerns about a botched circumcision I'd learned about in sociology (that resulted in a boy being raised as a girl and later, reverting back to a boy), I was assured that circumcision is an extremely easy procedure. I was also told that there were no clear medical justifications to complete the procedure, it was largely done for cosmetic reasons.

We started debating what to do.

We researched the topic, exhaustively, on the internet.

We weighed the pros and cons.

We talked to our pediatrician.

We canvassed a large number of people who had sons regarding how they came to their decision to circumcise. Or not.

I posted the question to my triplet support group and several parenting websites I was frequenting at the time.

We even reached out to men that we knew had been circumcised later in life and asked why they did it. And more importantly, are they glad they did?

We talked to a friend who had chronic urinary infections as a child and was circumcised when he was 10. Other men that we talked to chose to be circumcised because their cultural or religious status changed. Or, they thought that it was more hygienic.

We talked to my dad, who had been circumcised just before entering the Navy and he told us that it was one of the worst decisions he'd ever made.

Just about everyone we talked to had a different spin on why we should or should not do it.

Ultimately, we decided that we were going to leave things as nature intended.

I was surprised that when we told the pediatric urologist that we didn't want to do the circumcision, he gave us a big smile and said that he wouldn't do it either, if it was his child.

Thus far, there haven't been any problems and I hope that as our son grows - he will be glad that we made the decision that we did.

It certainly wasn't an easy one for us.

But now, as we're preparing to meet our second son ... I'm happy that with all the other indecision we have swirling about regarding what his name will be and how he will make his entrance in to the world ... there is at least one thing we do know.

And I'm sure that as our boys grow older, they will be thrilled that I have written about this topic on my blog. Maybe they'll thank me if they ever find themselves debating what to do with their own child.

Or maybe not...

Sunday, June 24, 2007

dreams and vacations

Even though I'm now 9 months pregnant and am feeling uncomfortable, I'm not nearly as uncomfortable at this stage in my singleton pregnancy as I was at 6 months with our triplets. Which is interesting considering our singleton baby will probably be born weighing more than all three of our triplets combined.

My greatest (and only) complaint is that my legs and feet are more swollen with this pregnancy than they ever were with the triplets. For the past month, I've had to wear Charlie's socks and if I don't put my awesome Keen shoes on first thing in the morning, I can't get them on at all.

And I absolutely have to wear shoes.


I could wear flip flops when I was pregnant with the triplets, but they aren't an option this time. Not just because they don't fit - but because if I don't have something "containing" my feet, they get so swollen I can't walk.

I think the reason I've been having such a problem with swelling is because I'm on my feet all day long. When I was pregnant with the triplets, my primary responsibility was to lay around with my feet up and watch back-to-back episodes of "Judge Judy".

During my current pregnancy, I am Judge Judy.

"Who had it first?"

"You gave it to her. You can't have it back now. It's gone!"

"Do you hear the words coming out of my mouth?!"

"SILENCE! I WANT SILENCE!!!"

For the past week or so, I've come to dread bed time because it's really difficult to get comfortable. Last night I retired at 1:00 AM - and fell asleep at about 2:30 AM. At 3 AM, I had a dream that I was a turtle, stuck on my shell - and couldn't roll over for the life of me.

It's an interesting sensation when you wake up and forget for a minute that you are pregnant.

And then realize that you actually can't roll over and your dream isn't far from reality.

My arms and legs were kicking around in the air and I was reaching around in the dark for something, anything, to grab on to so that I could heave myself on to my side. And the first thing that I was able to wrap my hands around were my husband's neck.

Who had been sound asleep.


Charlie woke up gasping and after he confirmed that I wasn't angry and trying to kill him, he told me that he'd been having a lovely dream before I choked him awake. A dream about being on a tropical vacation, where people in grass skirts were serving us drinks with little umbrellas. We'd just finished our first beverage and were about to order our second.

Because there was no way I could fall right back to sleep, we I chatted for a while.

I told Charlie that if there was such a thing as reincarnation, in addition to coming back as a killer whale, bald eagle, or soul singer ... I'd like to come back as a tiger.

In a recent article I read, I learned that a mature female tiger, who is approximately 9 feet long and weighs approximately 400 pounds ... gives birth to between 2 and 4 cubs that weigh about 2 pounds each.

Think of that.

I am approximately 5'7" tall ... am currently topping the scale at 225 ... and will most likely give birth to a child that is at least 8 pounds.

I'll bet that gestating tigers never dream of being a turtle stuck on their shell. I'll also bet that they don't feel like someone is smacking them in the pelvis with a crowbar every time they lay down ... nor do they feel like their uterus is going to fall on to their paws every time they stand up.

Of course, on the flip side, male tigers don't help in raising the cubs ... so - I guess I'll take the discomforts of pregnancy with the knowledge that Charlie will be around to help once our new baby arrives.

Charlie surprised me by adding to the wee morning chatter.

He said that he's been thinking about the whole repeat c-section/VBAC decision I'm contemplating and one more reason that he wants me to have a c-section is because my hospital stay will be longer.

At first I thought he meant he wanted me gone for a longer period of time. But he quickly added that the longer I am in the hospital - the longer he can be in the hospital, with me. And since my mother is here to watch the triplets, this would be our first get-a-way, since we've been parents.

Kind of like a mini-vacation.

Sans the tropical drinks with umbrellas.

I thought about this for a while and decided he had a good point.

But when I woke up this morning, I decided that only a person with four children under the age of three would consider major abdominal surgery, the risks and recovery that go with major abdominal surgery, and the resulting four day stay in a hospital to be a "vacation".

Here, I've been thinking that one of the primary reasons I want to have a VBAC is because otherwise, I have to deliver this week. And although people keep telling me that one baby will be "easy" there is no way that this baby is going to be "easier" ex-utero than he is, in-utero.

It's warped.

Almost
as warped as an animal twice the size of me, giving birth to a baby that weighs four times less.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

false alarms

Today, during my doctor visit, I was told that there was a conflict with the OB's calendar and my "scheduled" delivery for next Tuesday will have to be rescheduled.

It's got to be a sign.

I've been really apprehensive about the whole scheduled c-section, so now, I'm back to "let's wait and see what happens."

Everyone is so overjoyed with my decision to forgo scheduling the delivery, I can't even begin to put in to words the happiness.

As for me, it's feels like there has been a huge weight lifted off my shoulders.

Although, that is only figuratively speaking because in the weight department - I weighed more today by two pounds than I did on Monday.

It's all in my toes.

The doctor said that he could reschedule my delivery for Wednesday, June 27 ... but the soonest they could get me in is 4 PM. That means I can't have anything to eat past midnight and no fluids for six hours before.

ME? Going 16 hours without food?!

Charlie, being the swell chap that he is (and extremely anxious for me to deliver this baby via c-section) said that if I couldn't eat or drink, he wouldn't either. Although, that kind of sounded like the way he promised me at the beginning of my pregnancy that if I couldn't drink wine, he wouldn't drink wine. Which lasted until we had filet mignon for dinner and he cracked like an egg ... and then inhaled half a bottle of Cabernet.

Currently, everyone in the house - spare my mother - are sick with a cold. I'm thinking that even if I did go the c-section route, it would be better to be over this bout of bronchitis first, because if there is one thing that will not compliment an abdominal incision ... it's got to be a cough that is strong enough to dislodge a lung.

Although mom is anxious for me to deliver the baby ... I think she was a tiny bit relieved that she may have a few extra days to get the children potty trained.

It's turning out to be a bit harder than she anticipated.

We've tried all kinds of tactics, including pumping the kids full of fluids and then letting them run around in cotton underwear.

Once they tired of drinking water out of their itty bitty tea set, we let them drink lemonade out of plastic champagne glasses. The end result was a lot of wet underwear and not so much as a tinkle in the pot. Although, they do like sitting on the potty AFTER they go.

Yesterday, we called in a recent graduate of potty training - with the hopes that she could communicate in toddler speak, to our trio, what we are trying to get them to do.

My friend Lorie and her little girl, Shayna came to visit. Shayna is two weeks younger than our trio and has been potty trained since her second birthday. Every time Shayna ventured off to the bathroom ... she was followed by our entourage of potty-trainees. Whenever Shayna did her thing - all three of our kids would clap enthusiastically and shout "Yay Shayna!!"

And of course, every time Shayna jumped off the potty, our entourage of potty-trainees had to climb on the potty and see if they too, could go.

They couldn't.

But they were really good at tearing off pieces of toilet paper and flushing the commode.

During the time that Lorie was visiting, a new rule went in to effect. When the kids are in the house, they MUST be in diapers.

Otherwise, it is a given possible that we will be stripping the covers off the couch and washing them everyday.

While we're on "baby watch" and "poo-poo watch" I'm enjoying pedicures and pondering how a diet that consists mainly of watermelon can result in a body weight of 225. Especially when that body belongs to someone who is running after numerous toddlers and hoisting them on to a toilet several times a day.

the countdown begins, T-6

My c-section has been scheduled for next week. Tuesday. June 26 at 1:30 PM.

Considering our triplets were born on my mother's father's birthday ... October 14 ... 125 years after my maternal grandfather was born ... I find it fitting that our fourth baby will be born on Charlie's mother's father's birthday ... June 26 ... 103 years after Charlie's maternal grandfather was born.

I'd been thinking how cool it would have been to have this baby on 7-7-07, which would be my mother's 74th birthday. Particularly fitting since I am her seventh child giving birth to our fourth child. Our triplets were born when I was 33 and mom was 71 ... which is interesting since mom was born in 1933 and I was born in 1971.

Maybe it's not interesting at all and I'm just a little too obsessed with numbers.

The way I'm feeling right now - I wouldn't be surprised if I went in to labor and delivered the baby tomorrow. Mom even said that she would be shocked if I was still pregnant by Tuesday of next week. It's clear that the baby has moved down and I'm certain that he is trying to launch himself out by pushing off my rib cage.

In the midst of our last minute shopping, painting, potty training bonanza, organizing the house, cleaning puddles off our new hardwood floors, wrapping up work details, and freaking out over having another baby ... we learned that Charlie's dad, Alex, took a horrible spill during his vacation in Costa Rica.

Apparently, he was walking up a road that was slick with moss when he lost his footing and tumbled backwards, landing in a concrete lined ditch. He broke several ribs and had severe internal bleeding from his kidneys and liver. This is a very bad problem compounded by the fact that he is on the blood thinner, coumadin, for his heart.

Fortunately, he is stabilized and was recently moved out of the ICU. Unfortunately, he is in a different country, thousands of miles away, and Charlie is worried sick.

Why our friends and family cannot realize that we have got a lot going on in our lives at the very moment, and remain in a bubble until we get through this patch, is completely beyond me. Is it really that difficult to stay at home and do nothing?!

We're sending lots of healing thoughts for you Poppa Alex. Please get well and come home, soon. We promise that your new grandson will be here and anxious to meet you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

reflections at 37w5d

Mom and Jim arrived on Saturday and mom let me know that it was her goal that our triplets would be potty trained before the new baby arrives. Which, I was informed today - will most likely be sometime next week, if not sooner.

The kids spent most of the day Saturday and Sunday, and again today, running around partially naked in the back yard. Although we made efforts to keep them in cotton training pants, after changing 15 pairs of underwear in as many minutes, we decided it would be easier to smother them in sunscreen and let 'em run free.

Everytime we saw someone with a puddle around their feet, mom would shout out "I just saved you $0.35!!!"

As if having a dog running around and pooping in the back yard wasn't enough work, today, I was cleaning up toddler poop from the yard, too. And then, someone decided to re-enact a scene from Caddy Shack, and pooped in the wading pool while everyone else ran around screaming and pointing "POO-POO!! POO-POO!!"

Mom's convinced that we're getting close. Although close to what, I'm not really sure. Insanity, maybe?

Let's see ... what else is new?

Within the past 24 hours, me and the kids have all come down with a lovely little cold.

And, then, today our refrigerator broke. Because the repairman won't be here until Friday, Charlie just returned from the store with 10 bags of ice so that he could salvage the $300.00 worth of food that he bought on Saturday, by packing it in every single cooler we have in our garage.

As soon as our water heater is repaired, our dishwasher breaks.

As soon as our dishwasher is repaired, our toilet breaks.

As soon as our toilet is repaired, our refrigerator breaks.

I'm expecting that the washing machine and dryer are next to go.

Make no mistake. I love being a home owner.

Unlike when I was pregnant with the triplets and Charlie attended every single doctor visit with me, today was the first doctor appointment that he's attended during this pregnancy. He told me he wanted to tag along because I was scheduled to have an ultrasound and he said that he needed proof that I was really pregnant.

As if seeing me gain more than 70 pounds in the past 37+ weeks wasn't proof enough.

I first learned that I'd packed on four pounds since my appointment on Thursday. I then learned that my new doctor is extremely concerned with my previous history of PUPPPS and HELLP Syndrome and the triplet pregnancy and my current swelling ... and wants to schedule a repeat c-section for next week. He stressed that there was a chance, however small, that both the baby and I could perish if I waited much longer.

At least that's what Charlie heard.

Because then the doctor left the room leaving me alone with my husband who started to hyperventilate and say that if I died ... he would kill me. Then I got upset because if I died, Charlie would have to go back to work full-time and who would raise our kids?

So clearly, I can't die.

Of course I still haven't scheduled the c-section, which is causing Charlie and my mother and my doctor and Jim a tremendous amount of grief.

Such indecision!

I can't pick out a name.

I can't decide how I want to deliver our baby.

I can't determine if it's worse to pick up toddler poop from the grass or fork out $12.00 a day in diapers.

All I know is that I don't want to have a tubal ligation, something the doctor asked me about, today. Not because we're planning on having more children, but because it is too final of a procedure. And after our history, this is something that absolutely hurts to think about.

I also know that the feelings I have about delivering this baby are quite mixed because I'm sure our current dynamic will be totally changed. I'm excited to meet the little guy and see how our toddlers react to him ... but I'm really enjoying these last few days of pregnancy and savoring only having three children in diapers.

Although mom tells me that she'll have the new baby potty trained before she flies home at the beginning of August.

It's so good to have her here because she brings much needed comic relief. Like when she takes our children for a chase walk around the neighborhood, just before bedtime to help them expel that last bit of energy that would otherwise be used climbing out of their cribs and scaling furniture.

You know they look so fashionable in their footed Christmas pajamas, with sandals, traipsing down the street.

In June.


Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day - 2007

"The world is blessed most by men who do things, and not by those who merely talk about them." - James Oliver

This quote struck me, not just because the names James and Oliver are on our list, but because I am so blessed that the father of my children is a man who does things. As our children grow older, I pray that they will see in their dad, what I see in my husband. Here are some of the first things that come to mind:

My husband is a man who made the decision to put his family above all else ...

A man who side-lined his career so that he could take part in raising our children ...

A man who has taken off the past month from work so that he could be with our toddlers, full-time, while I incubate our fourth ...

A man who respects his heritage and enjoys traditions ...

A man who loves and respects my mother - which is one of the greatest gifts he could give to me ...

A man who cooks and cleans and runs and swims and bikes and changes diapers and rubs my swollen feet and plays guitar. And can fix a broken toilet ...

A man who makes me laugh more than anyone I've ever met ...

A man who makes me excited about our future, together ...

A man that I admire and adore and am so blessed to have. Even on those rare events when he drives me crazy.

A man who never complains.

Happy Father's Day, Charlie.

What more can I say this year than I did last?

You make the world a better place.


Friday, June 15, 2007

the name game

I'm starting to get a little nervous. During a doctor appointment earlier this week, I was informed that with the number of contractions I'm having and my out-of-control swelling, this baby could come at "any time".

WHAT?!?

People have been asking me why in the world we tackled this huge renovation project a few weeks before my due date and the truth is - we honestly thought that we were going to move. And, aside from that > I've been in a bit of disbelief that a baby was going to come out of me. FOR REAL.

Since we decided not to move, and the baby isn't here yet, I knew that I absolutely positively wanted to get the house fixed up. Besides, there was no way I wanted to take on this project with a newborn in the house.

Perhaps it's because we're only now wrapping up everything - it seems that this has been the fastest nine months in history. The fourth of July is in less than three weeks. How is that possible ... since I was just organizing Christmas stuff, yesterday?!

The floors are finally finished and we have hauled FIVE truck loads off to Goodwill. Not to mention, I unloaded three huge bags worth of girl clothes to our neighbor who visits an orphanage in Mexico every month and we gave every last piece of lawn equipment (lawn mower, weed wacker, wheel barrow, shovels - rakes -spades) to our gardener in an effort to free up the storage shed for kid toys. (It'd been three years since we've used the stuff, anyway.)

I'm loving our new highly organized, dust-free space.

Now all that remains is painting two rooms, organizing our garage and purchasing an assortment of baby supplies.

And ... picking out a name for the new baby.

Because although Charlie could buy a carseat and bassinette while I'm in the hospital - and we can paint the rooms and organize the garage after the baby arrives - we need to have a name for the little one before I leave the hospital.

That's where all of you come in.

We have some ideas, but nothing firm. Here are a list of the names that we're considering, in no particular order. Those with an astrix (*) are family names. Our last name starts with an "L" so, we're trying to be cognizant of initials. For example, we'd prefer to avoid "HOL" or "HEL"

Edward *
Jack *
Samuel
Julian *
Coleman *
Henry *
Francis *
James *
Oliver *
Emerson
Robert *
Alex *
Matthew
Harry >> but I'm not too keen on the idea of having a "William" AND "Harry"

That's all we've got but we're open to other suggestions.

Ready, set ...

Game on!

"t" is for teamwork

Of course I had just put the camera aside when William walked up and knocked the whole thing down. The girls then did some kind of "wonder-twin activate" and knocked him down.

Not to worry, William.

Your little brother will be here soon enough.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

tutu boy strikes

Now that the children have acclimated to the "class" atmosphere, Charlie's been taking the kids to their dance class, by himself, the past couple of weeks. He'll usually bring along a picnic so that after the class, they can play at the park - have lunch - and come home just in time for their nap.

The dance class starts promptly at 10:30 AM and ends precisely at 11:00 AM.

Yesterday, Charlie called me at 10:55 AM to let me know that everything was going great.

Until...

William pulled the fire alarm, causing an evacuation of the entire recreation center and gymnasium. All told, there were over 200 children and at least 50 adults, that had to drop what they were doing and flee.

At the risk of sounding selfish - I'm so tremendously glad that I missed the spectacle. I'm sure that this one event would have sent me straight in to labor.

Charlie evacuated the building with our three children, while apologizing profusely to the teacher and class, and did his absolute best to blend with the crowd.

It's not like we stand out.

That much.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

my heroes

My mom and Jim are flying in to town this weekend and will be here for the next six weeks. The primary purpose for their trip is to watch the children during the time I’ll be delivering our fourth child and to help with the adjustment of having a newborn at home.

I am really looking forward to their arrival because it’s been seven months since they’ve seen the kids and so much has changed.

Yesterday, I was reflecting on whether or not my mother would be alright handling our three 2-year olds for the few days that I’ll be in the hospital or if I need to arrange for a fleet of people to come in and help. Then, I started thinking a little about my mother’s experience with children...

My mother’s first child was born 9 months and 3 days after she was married. She then went on to have five more children in the next six years. I came along 5 years after my brother. Somewhere between my brother and me, mom jokes that she finally figured out what was causing her to constantly get pregnant.

While my mother was home raising seven children, my father was working seven days a week as a pharmacist, trying to establish his own pharmacy. In later years, my parents were financially secure. But as is usually the case, it didn’t start out that way. During the time we were all young; mom was taking care of the house and the children … and … helping to get my father’s business off the ground.

Unless I’m forgetting something, we never ate out.

Nor do I remember that my mother had any outside assistance, with the exception of Kathryn, a 70’ish year old neighbor from Sweden, who helped with laundry and light house keeping. Kathryn didn’t even come along until my sister Janet was old enough to walk up to her door and say “Hi, my name is Janet. I live in the big white house down the street. My mother has children running everywhere. Can you please help us?”

The image of my sister knocking on some stranger’s door and pleading for help sends me in to a fit of laughter every time I think of it. I imagine my mother was so busy she didn’t even realize what was happening until an elderly woman, with broken English, showed up on our doorstep with a mop in one hand. But Janet did well. We absolutely loved Kathryn because every time she came to our house, she brought us a box of chocolate covered donuts.

Today over lunch, Charlie asked me how it was that my mother didn’t completely lose her mind raising all seven of us, by herself. This remains one of those great mysteries that eludes me.

Think of it…

My mother was at home, by herself, with a load of children – no help – and almost continuously pregnant for seven years, straight. She didn’t have a dishwasher, disposable diapers, dryer, nor a blog outlet. In contrast, Charlie and I have each other. These days, we’re within 100 feet of each other at all times. And when I’m not pregnant, we drink large quantities of wine … something my mother definitely didn’t do.

My mother once went away on “vacation” with the seven kids and our family German Shepard, on my dad’s new boat. My brother, at the ripe age of 12, was responsible for throwing the anchor. But, because my father forgot to check that there was sufficient line - when the tide came in – the boat rose up by several feet and floated away. When my mother woke up in the middle of the night and noticed that all the lights that had been on the horizon had vanished, she was the one that figured out that the boat had drifted out to sea. The only reason my father survived the experience is because my mother has the patience of a saint. In contrast, Charlie and I went to the beach a few weeks ago and he forgot to pack the sunscreen.

He’s still complaining about hearing loss in his right ear.

My mother lived in Massachusetts, where opening the back door and shooing your children out in their diapers, every day of the year, was not an option. In contrast, Charlie and I live in San Diego where we do open the back door and shoo our children out.

Daily.

Sometimes they’re wearing a diaper.

Sometimes not.

My mother’s mother had nine children that she raised in a 3-bedroom apartment, above a store, in Boston, during the height of the Depression. My mother slept in a crib until she was seven years old – because beds were scarce – and my Irish grandfather had to search very hard for work as a plumber. In contrast, Charlie and I work from our house part-time, frequently turn down jobs … and complain that our 3-bedroom house isn’t big enough.

My mother’s brothers and sisters had just as many children as she did … if not more. Everyone was in the same boat being tossed about in a crazy ocean of young children, cloth diapers and archaic appliances. In contrast, I am plucking poops out of disposable diapers and when our dishwasher goes out for 18 days, I threaten lawsuits, dress in black and burn candles.

While the challenges that my mother faced boggle my mind … I’m always in awe whenever I hear her say that she had it so much “easier” than her mother. At least she didn’t have to make soap from lye or buy ice in blocks for the ice box.

And my great-grandmother?? I shudder to think what she had to do to survive.

I suppose that now, like then - you do what you have to do to get by. But just how these women got by, makes me bow down in admiration. It also makes me feel like the world's greatest whiner.

"Wank, we only have one toilet!!"

Well, at least we have a toilet and aren't pooing in a pot that is kept under the bed ... or in a shed in the backyard.

Whenever mom comes to town, it always takes me a few days to remember that she knows what she’s doing. It seems that I forget the vast experience that she is drawing upon whenever she does something that is slightly different than how we might do it. It’s not that we don’t trust her judgment … it’s just that Charlie and I are set in our ways and tend to be a bit anal retentive when it comes to our babies.

But we’re learning to relax and take mom’s advice.

Administer poly-vi-sol directly to our babies? They could die!!
Fact: Why we ever mixed their vitamins with milk is beyond me.

Feed our toddlers raw corn on the cob? Dear God, they could choke!!
Fact: This has become a staple in our home.

Let our babies run around in nothing but a diaper … what’s next, our refrigerator on the front lawn?!
Fact: Little kids are a lot happier with less clothing.

With the exception of mom’s advice to stick all three of the kids in the backyard and close the door when they are having a temper tantrum (which resulted in a phone call from our concerned neighbor), my mother’s advice is spot-on. It just takes us a few days … or sometimes months … to realize it.

The other day, while I was talking with mom, she mentioned that I have her beat. What she meant is that she had six children in seven years and the fact that I’ll have four children in two and half is ahead of hers and my grandmother’s record.

But make no mistake … I don’t have either one of them beat.

Not by a long shot.

Monday, June 11, 2007

eyes wide open

Last night, as I was tucking our children in to bed after saying our evening prayers, I thanked each one of them for coming in to our world. There is nothing like the end of the day to make me appreciate just how wonderful these little people are and how truly blessed we are to have them in our lives.

And then the sun rises.

And a new day begins.

And there is nothing like the start of a new day to make me realize just how high-maintenance these little people are and if there was one thing I want more than anything other, it would be a supply of un-ending patience. And a tranquilizer.

It never ceases to amaze me how a little bitty, adorable looking and adorable sounding 30-pound person can fry your patience in such amazing ways.

For example, this morning, as Charlie set about trying (again) to fix our defunct toilet and the construction crew set about ripping the carpet out of William's room, while he cried "My cwib!! My woom!! OH NO!!!!", I tried my best to keep everyone entertained.

After playing in the house for a while, we moved the "party" outside. And while we were outside, I watched our children destroy the hydrangea that just recently erupted in to the most beautiful hot pink blossoms. I love this hydrangea and look forward with great anticipation to when it will bloom, so that I can enjoy it's beautiful flowers from our bedroom window.

Unfortunately, the plant stands no better chance this year then it did last.

This morning, I tried, once again, to stop our three children who were hell-bent on killing it.

I did.

I told them no.

I scolded them.

I redirected them.

But they were directed right back.

What I soon realized is that our children needed the hydrangea blooms for some special "project" they were completing. Apparently, they also needed buckets and buckets of sand - taken from their sandbox and dumped all over the patio, in to our planter boxes, and on top of their play kitchen.

Apparently, sand is no fun IN a sandbox.

Of course not!!

It needs to be carted around and dumped all over everything.

I really wish I could remember who told me purchasing a sandbox was a good idea for our children, because they need to be tarred and feathered. And sprinkled with sand and hydrangea blooms.

The dog, who was ousted from the garage because that's where the construction workshop has been setup ... was running around the yard and pooping in various locations ... and suddenly, I felt like my head was going to explode.

Rather than catapulting our children to the moon - I grabbed my camera. Because taking pictures instead of launching them in to space is always a better option.

Soon, Charlie heard my cries arrived on the scene and I retreated to get some work done.

Then, what seemed like no more than three minutes later, Charlie told me that he had fed the children lunch and put them down for a nap and was going to run to the store to buy MORE parts for the defunct toilet, because the line leading in to the commode cracked in two and water was spraying all over our bathroom.

When he returned home, Charlie was planning to hang the rest of the pictures that are currently scattered all over the floor in our dining room. AND, he was going to 'quickly' finish painting the 10x10 area in our kitchen and 10x5 area in our bathroom so that baseboards could be installed.

(At some point I need to write about "Charlie Time" - the incredible ability to believe that you can accomplish 72 hours worth of work in a mere 2 hours.)

My job was to finish working and keep my ears peeled for the kids. Who, just today, are all rooming together again - and will continue to room together for the next few months - because that's a drawback of having a three bedroom house when you'll have guests in town.

Seconds after Charlie walked out the door, I heard crying.

William was standing in Carolyn's crib.

Carolyn was standing in William's crib.

Elizabeth, was laying on the floor and bleeding, after having catapulted herself out of her crib and smacking her face on the dresser.

I remained in the room with all three of them for the next 45 minutes and actually fell asleep while on my feet, waiting for the kids to succumb to beautiful, heavenly slumber.

When Elizabeth and William were asleep and Carolyn looked like she was about to doze off, I stepped out. I picked up my laptop and began to work. Moments later, Charlie returned home with his toilet parts. Less than 10 minutes later, I heard William - a child who typically naps for 2 hours when in his own room - stirring.

When I went to investigate, I found Carolyn standing in her brother's crib, peeling open his eyelids.

After struggling with Carolyn and William for the next hour, it became clear that naptime was over. Even though Elizabeth was still sleeping, which means bedtime tonight will be horrific.

Tomorrow, I'm going to see about moving one of them in to our bedroom in a pack-n-play. Or, I'll just use a roll of duct tape to keep them all contained.

To recap:

The toilet is still broken.

There are still pictures scattered about our living room.

The bathroom still needs to be painted, as does the kitchen.

I haven't finished my project I was suppose to do while the children were napping.

However, I have updated my blog so that when my mother arrives in California this Saturday, her eyes will be wide open for what's in store.

Although, even if her eyes aren't wide open, I suspect Carolyn can help her out.

tips for the week

I have recently heard that by the time our children are ready to go to college, it will cost us approximately $200,000.00 per child for a 4-year education. Considering we'll have three kids going at approximately the same time, with a fourth child going two years later ... Charlie and I are planning that between 2022 and 2028, we'll be out $800,000.00.

That is ... in the off-chance all four of our children aren't valedictorians and outstanding athletes, with full-ride athletic and academic scholarships. In which case the money that we would have spent on our children's education, will be used to support Charlie and I in our early retirement as we jet-set around the world, first class. (I better start working harder on our colors.)

Charlie and I are pretty good about saving money for our children's education. Although, we're constantly on the look out for opportunities to boost our contributions ... especially since there's a slight chance we'll need to come up with $800,000.00 in the next 15 to 20 years.

Which leads me to my first tip of the week: upromise.

Upromise is one of those things that everyone should know about ... but very few actually do. In a nutshell - it's a college savings program. Once you set up a upromise account, you link your credit and debit cards to your account number. Anytime you buy a product that is sponsored by upromise, that vendor will put a certain percentage of the sale in to your upromise account.

For example: if I were to go to the grocery store and ... hypothetically ... purchase Nestle Toll House Cookie dough (a participant in the upromise program), and use my credit or debit card that is linked to upromise ... Nestle will put 3% of the purchase price in to my upromise account. And then, on the way home from the grocery store, I swung by an Exxon or Mobil gas station and filled up my car, using a debit card that is linked to upromise, ExxonMobil will put 1 cent for every gallon in to my upromise account.

And that's just the beginning.

There are thousands ... tens of thousands ... of participants in the upromise program that are standing by and ready to put money in to your upromise account.

As much as possible, I try to do our shopping online. Today, for example, as we are continuing to spend every last dime on this out-of-control nesting craze ... we purchased several area rugs through the Pottery Barn and a new stereo receiver through Best Buy. These are items we were planning to purchase, anyway. But because we bought them through the upromise website, we collected $75.00 in our children's college account.

Just like that.

So, if you have children ... or grandchildren ... or want children ... or know children, and if you think that it would be a good thing for those children to go to college one day - you should be capitalizing on this opportunity. Friends, family, grandparents ... you name it ... anyone can link their credit cards and funnel their contributions in to your child's account. Or, they can set up their own account and have the amount dispersed by whatever percentage they want.

Before our children were even born, I started a upromise account. And I can say that this program has got to be one of the absolute best and easiest ways to collect money for college ... and greatest of all, it's entirely free.

My other tips for the week aren't nearly as critical, but important nonetheless.

Tip number two: when your toddler sticks their finger out and says something that you think sounds like "booey" make sure that there is an actual "boo-boo" on said finger, before you give it a big kiss and realize that they were actually saying "boogie."

Tip number three: when you are preparing to fork out a small fortune on maternity clothes (that you can purchase through upromise), buy sizes that are much larger than anything you think you will ever need. Because there is an excellent chance that at some point - when you reach the dimensions of a hippopotamus - shirts will ride up to your arm pits and the drawstring from elastic waistbands will completely disappear.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

going, going ... gone

Have I mentioned that Charlie is from "big stock" and we have a nephew who was born weighing 13 pounds?

Have I mentioned that during my last OB visit, the doctor told me that it already looks like this baby weighs 8 pounds ... and I still have a month to go?

I can no longer see my feet. Nor can I see small children that hide under my bulging tummy and pop out to yell "Peek-a-BOO!"

Although I have reached gargantuan proportions, I'm glowing. This "glow" could be due to the fact that I have new life blossoming within ... or ... it could be that our bedroom floors are finally finished.

Two rooms down ... two to go.



Friday, June 08, 2007

supervisors

Oddly enough ... toddlers sitting on tool boxes, munching cheerios and yelling "I SEE YOU!" doesn't help make the installation of hardwood floors go any faster.

Nor does it make the installation go any slower.

This link is just one more reason I ought to avoid marijuana brownies.

I already feel like I'm stuck in time.

Note: Once everything is finished, at this pace - circa August 2008, I'll post pictures of all the rooms and provide answers to the burning question of which paint colors we used.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

the great VBAC debate

Did you know that a human gestation is actually 10 months?

It's true.

There are 40 weeks in a pregnancy. And since there are 4 weeks in a month, 40/4 = 10.

Currently, I'm 36 weeks pregnant, or 9 months.

With the exception of my edema, I've been doing really well. Infact, up until a month ago, I was taking the kids to the park everyday, carrying children around on my shoulders, grocery shopping, skipping, jumping and shaving my legs.

I have slowed down considerably in the past couple of weeks because taking care of three toddlers, all by myself, was damn-near impossible. And shaving? Forget about it. Although there's really not a whole lot to shave, considering my legs are swelling up faster then the hair is growing. I suspect that following the birth and administration of a diuretic, I'll resemble a chia pet.

As I've grown larger and less capable of doing everyday things, the reality of this new baby is starting to hit. And well, I'm not entirely ready. Ten months may seem like a long time to get yourself physically and mentally prepared for a new addition - but it's not.

Why, it seems like just yesterday I was looking at the two little lines on a pregnancy test and thinking "This thing has to be broken."

With the birth imminent - I've been pondering how I am going to deliver this baby. When I met with my doctor a few months ago, I was told that a VBAC was an option ... provided I went in to labor on my own. If I ran past my due date, they would not induce me, because the risk of uterine rupture following a c-section is too great. If, however, I wanted to have a c-section, they would schedule it a week before I am due.

In the past couple days, I've been contacted by a few of my girlfriends who have been there/done that and told me that I might really, really want to reconsider having a VBAC. One of my friends told me that four years after she delivered her almost 10-pound son vaginally, she still wets her pants every time she sneezes.

Talk about the gift that keeps on giving.


When you add that bonus on to the hemorroids ... and the tearing ... and the numbness ... and the potential of a uterine rupture, internal bleeding and death ... and the two additional weeks of medical leave that you get with a c-section, I'm wondering why in the world would I want to try and squeeze a baby out??!!

I can't come up with any good reasons, except that I will have an extra week to get ready. If I do opt for a c-section, that only gives me 20 days ... from now ... to finish our hardwood floor installation, paint our bathroom, move all of the furniture back in to the house, hang up our pictures, pick out a name, buy a carseat - swing - bouncy chair - and clothes, transition our triplets in to "big" beds and potty train everyone.

Maybe it's a pipe dream, but I'm thinking I could do all of those things in 27 days.

I'm not so sure about 20...

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

the inconvenient truth

We're still in the midst of construction, which means our house is still an absolute disaster. It's such a torturous treat not being able to find a single thing because not a single thing is in it's place.

Everything that had been in our living room is in a random pile in the middle of our dining room. Our sprinklers have been turned off and more items are scattered about the yard. I would post a picture of the wreckage, but our home computer, desk and cables for the digital camera are somewhere on the back lawn.

Our bedroom floor was completed yesterday, but the majority of our furniture is still in the garage. Because Charlie is totally paranoid to put anything on our new hardwood floors unless the pressure-bearing object is coated in felt ... it has been an extremely slow process moving anything back in to the house. (Think continental drift = 4 to 20 centimeters a year.)

And to think, on Monday - we're going to rip out the carpeting in the children's rooms and embark on another "5" days of improvement hell.

Last night, I insisted gently encouraged Charlie to set up our bed. He was resistant because our queen pillow top (translation = 500 pound) mattress was too heavy for him to carry alone.

So I helped.

Because at 36 weeks pregnant, there was NO way I was going to sleep on the pull-out couch in William's room another night. Although I really enjoyed our toddler son climbing on top of us every morning at 5:30 AM, the configuration of my feet being at a higher elevation than my head and sharp springs sticking me in the back made sleeping a wee bit difficult.

While we were carrying the queen mattress in to the bedroom Charlie noticed that it smelled like a barn. More specifically - a horse. Probably because it had been in the garage for the past week, coated in dog hair and quite possibly trampled on by a rat. Even still, I slept better last night than I've slept for the past week.

Today, Charlie did his best to move more furniture in to the house, but items like our solid cherry dresser and bureau are too heavy for him to move, even with the assistance of his coordination-challenged 36-week pregnant wife.

After several hours, I finally convinced my husband to call on one of our neighbors for help. You'd seriously think that I was asking him to invite someone over to wax his chest. I could sense his angst as he picked up the phone and placed the call. And then - he was barely able to choke out a request for assistance.

"Hi, I really hope I'm not catching you at a bad time. I was wondering if perhaps you might have a few minutes to help me, very quickly, move a couple dressers back in to our bedroom."

He clenched his teeth and held his breath.

And then, he closed his eyes and let out a sigh.

"Oh no, no, no, no, no, no!! Not now - it doesn't have to be now!! I really hate to bother you. Whenever you have a couple minutes - oh tomorrow? That would be great! I'm so sorry to interrupt."

As he hung up the phone he told me that he had caught our neighbor in the middle of preparing dinner. And although our neighbor had said that he would gladly turn the stove off and come over to quickly lend a hand, Charlie didn't want to put the guy out.

Even though he accepted our neighbor's muscle strength for tomorrow afternoon, within minutes of hanging up the phone, Charlie grabbed his coat and car keys and took off for Home Depot - where he was planning to purchase a device that would allow him to transport our heavy furniture back in to the house ... all by himself.

Although I was encouraging Charlie to call on someone else to help - so we could at least get the rest of our bedroom together - I totally understood his hesitation.

Because I, too, hate to ask for help.

Why is it that although we feel no greater honor than when people ask us for assistance - we feel like such a tremendous inconvenience reaching out to ask for help, ourselves? I know I'm not the only one that feels this way and I can't help but wonder why this condition affects so many people?

Currently, I feel like the greatest burden not being able to do so many things by myself and it's hard enough reaching out to my own spouse. Which makes me wonder if this self-induced perception that we are an inconvenience, is aggravated by pregnancy?

Even though we have had several friends and neighbors come forward and tell us that they want to be put on our "call-list" if I were to go in to labor before my mother arrives next week (quite likely if I am moving around 500 pound mattresses) ... I suspect that if this baby decides to come early - his brother and sisters will be there for the birth.

If you can believe it ... I have an easier time with the image of delivering a baby, with our three toddlers in attendance, then I do with the image of calling someone and asking them to drop everything to come over and watch our children.

The truth is - reaching out for help is not in my nature. I cannot stand the thought of being an inconvenience and if anything, being a mother has made it that much more difficult to reach out and ask for assistance.

And I'm not sure why.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

a diaper rant

Before the babies were born, we began stockpiling diapers. Every time we’d go to the store, any store, we would buy two or three boxes of Huggies. By the time the babies came home from the hospital, we had over 250 boxes of diapers, in varying sizes, in our garage.

We quickly learned that a newborn goes through approximately 10 diapers a day and the newborn sizes in the brand we’d purchased 100 boxes of - had less absorbency than a paper towel. Before we even finished the first box of diapers, I was infuriated that I had spent a small fortune on a product that did no better keeping my child dry, than if I’d stuck a sheet of Bounty in my baby’s onesie.

I believed that my leaky diaper fate was sealed … unless, I wanted to spend another small fortune on the world’s top selling diaper brand.

My mother, however, is a stickler for customer satisfaction. So for five days, she went through the process of loading 50 boxes of diapers in the back of Charlie’s truck and set out to make exchanges at every diaper-carrying store within a 10-mile radius of our house. I had my doubts regarding how successful she would be on this journey, considering she didn’t have a single receipt.

But minor details like that never stop my mom.

First, she drove to Target. She put as many boxes of diapers as she could fit in to the cart and walked in to the store. Mom told the manager that all of the diapers had been purchased at that store, and they needed to be exchanged for Pampers.

Then she drove to Wal-Mart and loading up a shopping cart with as many boxes of diapers as she could fit, repeated the process. Then she drove to Safeway and repeated the process, again. Much to her dismay, she was informed that Safeway didn’t carry that particular size and brand of diaper and they called her on her tiny white lie. But she was not deterred. She showed the manager a picture of her newborn triplet grandchildren, played off his compassion and quickly made the exchange – before he changed his mind.

Mom then went on to Ralph’s, Albertson’s, and a multitude of pharmacies. Then she went back to Target and repeated the process, skipping over Safeway a second time, until every last box of Huggies had been replaced with Pampers.

Ever since then, we’ve been Pampers people - even though they are the most expensive diaper on the market. Not only do Pampers work better than any other diaper I’ve tried, the fact that we are entrenched in the Pamper's Gift-To-Grow Rewards Program, is enough to keep us loyal customers ... despite the fact that entering the tiny codes from packages is one of my least favorite activities. EVER.

We currently have over 800 points and once I get around to it, we’ll be the proud owner of two Kettrike tricycles.

Yet even with Pampers, there was a time when we suffered from frequent breakthrough. But because I didn’t believe that our babies could have outgrown a diaper – when they still had five pounds to go before reaching the “upper weight limit” – I tried everything imaginable to keep them dry.

I created “pee-pads” from sacrifical diapers, cut in to small squares for extra absorbency within the children’s diapers. When that didn’t work, and tiny moisture absorbing beads from within the sacrificial diaper coated our children from their navel to their knees, I used a super absorbent maxi pad.

That didn’t work, either.

After a desperate call to Proctor and Gamble, I was told that maybe I needed to go up a size. And lo and behold, the babies stayed dry. (Here I am with a master’s degree and I couldn’t figure that one out on my own.)

Even though we went through a lot of diapers in those infant days, our diaper bill is more expensive now than it’s ever been. Although we get fewer diapers per box with the larger sizes, they cost more. I suspect that the high price for larger diapers, is intended as a financial motivation for parents to potty-train their children before they reach 50 pounds.

In my case, it is making me more resourceful because I don’t see our toddlers becoming potty trained any time in the near future. And since we’ll soon have four children in diapers, it’s a matter of weeks before our monthly diaper bill will constitute 35% of our income.

Because we are spending an exorbitant amount of money on diapers, I’ve become extremely thrifty with our diaper supply. Whereas I use to change the children every 3-4 hours, or whenever they would have a poop, now I do a “squeeze” test to evaluate if the maximum absorbency potential of the diaper has been achieved. There was once a day when a poop automatically warranted a new diaper. These days, if I catch the poopetrator before they sit down and squash it, I can usually remove it from the diaper without so much as a smudge.

And really, why replace a perfectly clean, dry diaper that costs $0.35?

Because Charlie is as much of a stickler for cleanliness as my mother is for customer satisfaction, it drives him positively mad when I don’t give our children a brand new diaper for every scoop-able poop. The other day, Charlie put it in perspective when during the course of plucking a poop out of someone’s diaper, he commented “You know, Jen, there’s an excellent chance that one day our children will be changing your diapers and how would you like it if they got cheap with you?”

He’s right. I probably wouldn’t like it.

But I’d also understand if I found myself wearing one of these garments.

Monday, June 04, 2007

the HEIGHT of unproductivity

Time => 9:15 AM.

Charlie takes the kids to three separate stores, leaving me at home - in a quiet house - to get some important things completed.

I will: Clean up from breakfast, hang approximately 25 pictures on freshly painted walls, water the plants, fold three loads of laundry, prepare lunch.

Time => 11:45 AM.

Charlie returns from three separate stores with three hungry children.

I have: Gone to the bathroom five times, ate a chocolate chip cookie, drank a glass of milk, flossed my teeth, nailed 64 holes in the wall, hung three pictures, removed the same three pictures, sat on the couch and cried because the indecision about where to hang a picture or what I'll prepare for lunch is causing me physical pain.

When Charlie sees the 64 holes in his freshly painted walls, he is in physical pain, too. But when he tells me that the job I'm doing of incubating a baby is more important than anything else I could or should be doing ... it makes me feel a little better.

But not much.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

dealing with a playground bully

Charlie took the kids to the park yesterday.

While they were there, a little boy that Charlie guessed was four, darted across the playground and pushed William away from the swings. Charlie being the gentle soul that he is, told the little boy that there were plenty of swings and no need to push.

When the same little boy came out of hiding and ambushed Carolyn and Elizabeth as they tried to climb on the merry-go-round, knocking them down and making them cry, Charlie being the gentle soul that he is, found the child's mother and told her that although her son's behavior is probably normal for a four year old, if her little brat boy pushed one of our babies again, he'd break him in two.

And then, he laughed.

But I'm not sure he was kidding.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Home Improvement

"Things are going to get worse, before they get better."

That's what our foreman told us, yesterday. Since I've never seen our house in this kind of disarray before, I can only hope that things will start getting "better" today.

What I didn't anticipate going in to this project is that everything would take three times as long as we thought it would and the mess generated would be ten times greater than expected. It's taking two days to lay down the hardwood floors in our family room. The bedroom hasn't even been started, yet. Because although I don't work on weekends, or 24-hours round-the-clock ... I fully expected that our contractors would.

Until our bedroom is finished, probably not until the middle of next week, Charlie and I are sleeping on the fold out couch in William's room. My sincerest apologies to anyone who has ever slept on it, I really had no idea how uncomfortable it was, until now. Although, until we move in to a new house - you're stuck with it.

Yesterday, the kids enjoyed eating, while standing on random furniture, directly off the counter. But when the contractors started giving me funny looks, I ultimately decided that a "better" parent would let their children sit down to eat. So we cleared the 5-feet worth of junk off our kitchen table, moved the table back in to the family room, securely strapped them in to their booster seats and let them eat their breakfast while watching television.

Because there was kid-unfriendly machinery scattered about (i.e. saws, nails, sanders) we kept the kids in their booster chairs until we finished cleaning up the kitchen from breakfast, packing a picnic lunch and preparing to leave for the day. I'm not sure why I felt the need to justify my actions - but I was compelled to tell the contractors that our children hardly ever watch this much television. You can imagine my embarrassment then, when when our kids would shout out every show that came on to PBS "HI CAILLOU!! HI BARNEY!! HI TEWETUBBIES!!!" And then, they tapped their legs, along with the kids on "Little Einstein's" so that rocket would go "SUPER FAST!" I think maybe they're super smart.

This embarrassment only slightly rivaled what I felt when I stepped on the scale at the doctor's office and learned I'd packed on 15 pounds in the past two weeks. With five weeks still to go, I'm afraid I'm going to gain as much weight with this singleton pregnancy as I did with our triplets. My blood pressure is fine. But I can no longer wear any of my own socks, thanks to the swelling that has morphed my legs and feet in to something unrecognizable.

Without further complaining, here are some things that have brought me great joy over the past few days:

1) The arrival of Wyatt Charles, my nephew and grandchild number 19. My brother and sister-in-law gave birth to twin boys, nine months to the day, after our triplets arrived. Soon after I learned that I was expecting our fourth child, my sister-in-law told me that she was expecting their third. On May 30, a healthy little Wyatt joined our family. His "big" brothers Walter and William, will turn two on July 14.

The thought of seven grandchildren, from two people, in less than three years is overwhelming. The fact that more than 50% of them coming from me is mind numbing.

2) After a brutal 18 days, the dishwasher has finally been repaired. This makes life so much easier, on so many levels, I get choked up just thinking of it.

This is very unlike the kind of choked up I get when I think about sleeping on the couch in William's room for the next five days.

Or, the inconvenience that will result from putting hardwood in the children's rooms, too. Because it looks so gosh darn beautiful.

From what I've been told, this will only add another week, to our project. Drawing upon my experience with home improvements, that means they'll be done in July.