So, Ryan had two weeks of paternity leave (plus 1 week of extra vacation) for the first time ever and we were just so excited. We envisioned these quiet days while the big kids were in school during which we snuggled our new baby, I napped and Ryan got some projects around the house.
Basically none of that happened.
Because Levi was born so quickly, he was super bruised. His nurse on day 1 came in and said, "That baby is so bruised that I promise he will be really jaundiced, so be prepared for an extra day in the hospital." Her prediction came true. I've blocked out all of his bilirubin numbers but he was too high on his second day of life, so he had to hang out under the blue lights all day. Jaundice sucks for two reasons: 1) heel pricks 1-2 times daily during which your sweet newborn screams and 2) your dying-to-be-swaddled baby has to be naked and free all day to maximize light exposure. He couldn't sleep, I couldn't sleep and it was miserable. Ryan came in and sat with his hand resting on Levi to calm him for 2 hours so I could nap and I also just slept all night with him on my chest on a bili pad and the blue light streaming over us so we could get his numbers down and head home.
It didn't last long. His numbers started climbing again despite 10 feedings a day (my milk hadn't come in, but that's another paragraph) and so we had to rent a billi pad and have him attached to it all day and all night. We had daily heel pricks at the hospital till he was 3 weeks old. Crazy time drain and such a bummer. We were glad Ryan was home to manage every one else in the house.
Without going into too much detail on the Internet, I was losing a lot of blood. By 10 days post-partum my midwife realized I had retained placenta and she prescribed me a medication that was supposed to cause the placenta piece to come out on its own, through INCREASED bleeding. It didn't work and I was pale and hardly able to walk up the stairs from all of the blood loss. And pretty much had my most embarrassing moment of my life at sacrament meeting that Sunday. When we met with the midwife at 2.5 weeks post-partum, she let me know I'd need a D&C. We were so grateful that Ryan's mom was scheduled to fly into town. She was able to stay with Levi and the other kids while I had the procedure and recovered. I felt better as I walked out of the hospital. I had no idea how draining that blood loss had been.
Due to the blood loss, D&C, retained placenta, and not nursing for a day--I pretty much had no milk. I'm a determined girl, so I spent the next 6 weeks pumping, drinking mother's milk tea, doing the SNS system, gulping down fenugreek and blessed thistle, meeting weekly with lactation specialists. I did get my milk supply to about 75% of what Levi needs and felt good about it, but I think I spent 20-30 hours a week on nursing related activities.
And then, at 4 weeks, we took our sweet baby for a walk. I bundled him up in a hoodie snowsuit and when we came home, Jane pulled him out of his carseat. She was 2 feet away from me as she tripped over a baby seat on the floor and fell to the wood floor...Levi in her arms, his head hitting the floor first. I could tell he was hurt, and spent some time comforting him. He calmed down and I thought he was okay...until I removed the hood from his head an hour later and he had a bump the size of a cue ball on his head. I began to shriek for Ryan, called the after hours nurse who told me to go immediately to the pediatric ER downtown.
The next 6-8 hours were the most scared I've ever been for my child's health. The cat scan showed a skull fracture and bleeding. They did a full body scan for what seemed like hours (found out later that it was to check for child-abuse related fractures) while he screamed. We had to wait 6 hours for a follow up CAT scan that would indicate whether the bleeding was worsening and whether he'd need surgery or whether we should be concerned about brain damage. It was horrible. Ryan had blessed him and felt like he'd be fine, but it was so hard to have faith in that blessing when we just kept getting bad news.
The second CAT scan was the best news. The bleeding had gone DOWN (which is atypical) and things looked really good. We ended up spending 3 days in the PICU because he was so young and they needed to watch him. We got excellent care and all follow up visits have shown zero residual effects. We are so grateful.
Two sweet events from the night. For some crazy reason, Levi gave us his first REAL smile. And the BYU basketball team was in town playing. My good friend is the head coach's daughter and she hooked Levi up with quite the BYU gear: a shirt signed by all the players.
You're wondering about Jane, aren't you? Well, through a true tender mercy, she was completely unaware that she had caused the injury. She thought that it had happened an hour later (when I found the hematoma and started freaking out), upstairs in my room. We were so shocked that she wasn't acting upset AT ALL. It wasn't till we came home and were reviewing Levi-care with the kids that she said "Wait?! HOW DID HE GET HURT??" (it had started to dawn on her as we discussed carrying, falling, etc.) and began to sob as we told her, that it was due to her fall. We were so grateful that we were able to tell her that he was completely fine, that even though she did it, she didn't need to worry because he was going to be okay. Heavenly Father is kind both to my baby as he was healed and safe and to my 10 year old as he protected her during a weekend that could have been miserable for her.
So yeah. That was the first month of Levi's life. Not much in the way of lazy snuggling and "enjoying the baby". I still found time to take a billion pictures. And we had plenty of time to fall in love with the best idea Heavenly Father ever had for our family.
(And in case you can't tell, here's a few from his photo shoot by our favorite, Randi Brunt):
This such a huge milestone that would hate to not have some record of it in our family history.
Seth has been a teensy bit spacey during his life. He's in his head a lot and you aren't always sure what he's hearing and comprehending. Of all our children, he's seemed the least plugged into gospel conversation and topics. It was really neat to watch how as he got closer and closer to his 8th birthday, he began to really participate in scriptures and family home evening and I could tell he was becoming ready to make the decision to be baptized.
We were so happy that Grandma Dorrie and Grandpa Sherrill and Grandma Genie came up for the big day. It was also really special that Seth's best friend since babyhood was getting baptized the same day. We did the stake baptism and I got to talk about Seth and how happy and friendly he is. I included how fun he is to have in our family and how creative and loving he is.
His dad baptized him and uncles, grandpa and dad confirmed him.
We celebrated all 4 kids from our ward that got baptized by having a big backyard bbq. What a sweet day. I'm so grateful for this gospel and for Jesus' example in being baptized. I'm so grateful my children are taught the things that bring them true joy and know how to have a relationship with their loving Heavenly Father. I always feel such relief when they receive the gift of the Holy Ghost because I know the peace, safety and guidance it brings.
(I'm bouncing around here, time-wise, because I'm so sporadic anyway, that I might as well just see what I can get on here.)
We had a fun Family Home Evening a few months ago. A friend on Instagram had recommended the book A Perfect Pet for Peyton, as a way to discover and talk about Love Languages.
We began the book and I stopped to explain the love language concept a little bit and asked the kids to guess what the characters were as they heard each child described in the story. It was pretty obvious and a great introduction. There was a quiz at the end of the book and we all took it, writing our answers on a piece of paper.
As we reviewed our answers we noted what everyone's 1st and 2nd highest scores were and what their lowest love language was. It was fun! Some were obvious: Seth is touch and Mom's is verbal, but I was surprised to find that Gabe's was also verbal (my least verbal child) and that Emma's was touch (I'm not a touchy mom and have been trying to do better with showing my love that way). There was really a feeling of love in the room as we discussed how to show our love better for one another and how to recognize when other's our showing it for us. Then we took this picture:
and I had each child demonstrate their love language. Gabe: words, Jane: words, Seth and Emma: touch and Faith: acts of service).
So helpful for a parent! Highly recommended activity!
So we had that 6th baby...in case any of your didn't know. Before he actually hits 6 months, I thought I'd write down his birth story.
I was really wanting to make it till a few days after Christmas. As miserable as I was, I was NOT wanting a Christmas baby. Plus we had rooms to rearrange and we couldn't do that until after the holiday, because it was Jane's birthday present. We had a lovely Christmas, spent the 26th and 27th getting everything set up and I was ready then to have the baby any time.
We'd arranged with my midwife to strip my membranes on Saturday 12/28 (1 week before my due date) while she was working at the hospital. A few days prior I'd had really itchy palms, feet and legs as well as a resurgence of extreme nausea, exhaustion and depression. I asked Ryan to give me a blessing that Saturday morning because I was feeling so awful and upset. In the blessing, he promised that everything would be okay and that I would be able to listen to the doctors and make good medical decisions for the safety of myself and the baby. (This is foreshadowing, folks.) He thought it was a great blessing, but I was worried because I really had a sense that things were going to be different and medically tricky.
We headed downtown for our midwife appointment and I brought my hospital bag--Ryan thought it was totally unnecessary--but I just wanted to be safe. We got to the hospital, checked in with the triage nurse (procedure since I was having an in-hospital appointment) and they did a non-stress test. When my midwife came in and stripped me, I mentioned my symptoms of the last few days. She was worried I could have cholestasis of pregnancy which causes sudden stillbirth and went to check with the doctor from her practice. She came back in and I could tell by her face that the news wasn't good. They urged me to check in and begin inducement. They wouldn't have test results on the cholestasis till the following Tuesday but it was too risky to wait and be sure as the disease can turn the placenta toxic in a matter of hours.
I've never been induced and have always dreaded it. PLUS! I was trying to have my first ever natural, drug-free delivery and I knew pitocin isn't good for that. And with this new wrinkle, I would have to have constant monitoring to make sure the baby was okay. It was a total bummer, but I felt immediately that we needed to follow the doctor's instructions. Good thing I brought my bag, because I wasn't going home until I had a baby.
They began to check me in and I could tell my nurses were not pro-natural childbirth. Comments like "why are you doing that?" and "you must like pain?!" clued me in. I slowly got more and more upset. I don't change plans easily, was already nervous about doing it without drugs and everything was making it harder and more unlikely. Ryan was wonderful and kept trying to talk me off the ledge but the next 24 hours were pretty miserable as we waited to see if stripping my membranes would put me into labor naturally, then started a pitocin drip at midnight and I labored hooked up to machines and laying on my back. Ryan slept, I didn't and I got more frustrated and scared about the whole situation.
When my midwife came in around 5am and found out I hadn't progressed more than a 1 cm in the whole 12 hours I'd been there, she upped my pitocin and the pains really started. After an hour, she broke my water, ordered me off of the monitors and allowed me to move around. My labor and delivery nurse was pretty not helpful as I had crazy pitocin contractions sans drugs. (The midwife had another delivery and frankly didn't realize that I'd move so quickly, because the rest had been so slow). After 45 minutes I had them check me again and I had opened to an 8. Everyone began to freak out, yelling for the midwife and the equipment. I was just relieved because it was so hard and I was so happy that it was going to be over soon.
My midwife arrived and was so great. She knew just what to say and how to get me to focus and helped me through the next 3-4 contractions until I told her I could tell he was coming. I got on the bed and began to push. Pushing was CRAZY CRAZY CRAZY hard without drugs and there were moments where I didn't think I could do it. It only took 3 pushes, I think, and he was out. Levi Park Romney was born on December 29, 2013, at 8:16am. He was 7 lbs, 15 oz and 20 inches long. He had tons of blonde hair. Cutest thing ever.
The poor guy was dark purple and the staff began to see it and reassure us immediately that it was just bruising and he was okay. He seemed healthy and fine and was crying and so sweet. I could see immediately that he looked like Seth and Ryan and that was so fun. The bruising was nuts; a result of moving from a 4cm to fully delivered in 75 minutes meant he was slammed hard down the birth canal. One nurse said she'd never seen a baby so bruised. :(
I had a really hard time delivering the placenta and Ryan says he'd never seen a midwife have such a hard time getting it out before. She was pushing and I was pushing and I was bleeding a ton. I only needed a few stitches but that was painful too. I was very surprised at how uncomfortable the after-birth part was because I'd never felt it before. I'd always just enjoyed the baby while they fixed me up (numbed and happy)and I felt pretty unable to concentrate on Levi this time because it was so difficult.
He did seem a little more alert than the other babies and I did like that I could walk immediately after. I was also glad to have experienced a natural childbirth, to know what it was like. However, there wasn't any big endorphin rush or anything different from the other births and I was sad that I couldn't enjoy the 30-45 minutes afterward because I was so exhausted and uncomfortable. I ended the whole thing feeling pretty 50-50 on natural childbirth: glad I'd done it, but not raving about it.
He was here and he was cute and I was in love but the next four weeks had a lot of craziness in store for both of us. But that's a different blog post. :)
Today I went to the elementary school to watch Seth's tae kwon do demonstration. I met Jessica there and she had Levi. Levi was being held by some friends of ours. As a demonstration began the 60-ish kids began to yell in unison yes sir!
Almost immediately the friends of ours who have Levi turned around and handed him to me. He was bawling in fear because of the Tae Kwon Do demonstration volume.
So I took him out of the gym. He calmed down and I brought him back in and slowly he seemed more acclimated to the noise. However when the kids put their arms out and clapped them to their sides in unison he jumped about 5 feet in my arms.
Last Sunday, my kids were looking through the blog books I've published. Faith said, "How come you don't have very many pictures of me in these?" The guilt was physical. (And overblown. I realize that it's not life or death if I stop the blogging or neglect to get the ones I've written published. I know that, okay, I just still felt really really guilty.) My kids love to read those books, I LOVE that I have them, and I feel guilty all the time that I've stopped that record. So here's another attempt to start it up. Again.
Faith is 5.5. And like all of my other pre-kindergartners, is the light of my life right now. Easy, smart, communicative, interesting, still relatively un-smelly. I could hang out with her all day. After the 1-2 years of hideous toddler-hood (hello, crazy hair pulling, face scratching, self-gagging tantrums), I think I deserve this blissful child.
She could have gone to kindergarten last year. I actually tried to test her in, but she was a teensy bit below the bar for writing/small motor skills (they had to be at mid-kindergarten level to get in early). I thought about it all year. Prayed and fasted about it. And really felt like what should happen, would happen. So when the test results were in, and I "had" to keep her another year, I was fine. Especially with this new little brother...I valued her help, her oldness (thank you for not spitting up, crying for no reason, and getting yourself dressed), and will be happy for next year's half-days so that she can be a buddy to the caboose baby for a little longer.
She's adjusted to Levi like it's nothing. She loves him, he super loves her. She didn't need to be the baby of the family at all. She fits right in with Seth and Jane (quite the darling threesome they are...foursome, if you count Katie, Seth's longtime best friend) and is happy to be a older sibling.
She sings constantly, mostly pop songs (thanks older siblings), cracks great jokes, and loves to go to preschool. She hates going grocery shopping ("is this a long one where we get lots of things, mom?") but thinks a Target trip is a party. She's super social and loves playdates, park outings, library storytime, and going to siblings multitudinous events. She still likes structure and always asks "What's the plan today, Mom?" She and her dad are buddies... he's been known to pout if she's gone when he comes home for lunch.
I know she seems perfect, and I'm trying to come up with some faults to balance that perfection... She has a little bit of that screamy, out of controlness leftover from the 1.5-3 years period. If she gets mad, she's a little hard to get back under control. And she's learned how to shut people (Seth mostly) up, by over-screaming the same phrase over and over. We are working on that. And she still sucks her thumb. A lot.
So there you go, Faithy. A post all about you. With lots of pictures. You are adored.
Ooh! Can you even stand it? I'm going to do a WHOLE post on our family vacations!! Doesn't get more fun than that!
We always try to head out on vacation right after school gets out because Spokane seems to think June is actually February and it rains and is freezing. So everyone gets out and heads to states that know what June is supposed to feel like.
We had to leave Gabe and Ryan home so they could go to scout camp. In the raining and freezing weather. In tents.
Anyway, it had all of the usual:
Visits with family (Romney and Nelson/Seeley)
Outings to the plethora of family friendly stuff that Utah offers
Lots of swimming and water outings
Fun food (including homemade ice cream sandwiches)
Adrianne and I have been friends for 25 years. Erika and I were roomates for a few years at BYU. Lindsay is Adrianne's sister and hilarious. Adrianne and Lindsay took a truly awe-inspiring trip with LOTS of little kids under 6 from Arizona to Canada and were going to stay with Erika...how could I not honor that little trip by doing one of my own to meet up? (Here we are with Lindsay and Adrianne and kids):
It was SO FUN.
First of all, the drive there was breathtaking...British Columbia and Alberta cannot be be described without superlatives. Best, prettiest, grandest.
Then our hostess had the mostest. Beautiful house, perfectly matched up kids, willingness to feed 13 people.
Day one was a trip to Heritage Park-- a kind of historical amusement park. Super educational, fun, lovely.
Day two was a day at the neighborhood lake. Kayaks, islands, sand, food, talkingtalkingtalkingtalking.
Day three was a trip to downtown Calgary. Sightseeing, famous buildings (Calgary tower...plexiglass floor--yikes and Olympic Village), native food (Poutine).
Every night, we ditched the kids (yay for 4 babysitting age kids!) and headed out to adult dinners.
And then we drove home through Banff. You guys! BANFF! Probably the prettiest place I've ever seen (with the most mosquitos), where I overcome MAJOR height issues to ride the Sulphur Mountain Gondola and hiked to the top of the freaking world.
Seriously, perfect trip.
So, my extended family has never done the reunion thing. This year we began to float the idea of meeting at the Albequerque Balloon Fiesta...it's amazing and kind of halfway between all the parents and siblings. When it became apparent it was going to actually happen, Ryan and I started planning.
It saves us about $2000 to drive rather than fly and so we choose to do it...it's our only option if we want to have relationships with the 8 parents/siblings that live in Texas. We crazily decided that if we were only (?) 8 hours away from the 4 Texas Romney families, we ought to leave a few days early and go see them, too. We left on General Conference weekend in October (random reunion time that corresponds with Balloon Fiesta and people who can't get away in the summer) and drove to Billings (5 hours) Friday night
then to Fort Collins to spend a night with my cousin's family (13 hours)
then to Dallas to visit the Texas family for a day and a half (11 hours)
It was crazy long but we listened to conference and did homework and fought and ate a lot of fast food. Plus we LOVE those Romneys. We swam (in October!), went to parks and caught up with new babies and fun grandparents. When I asked my kids if the extra 15 hour detour was worth it, they cheered the loudest Yes!
We headed to Santa Fe the next day (9 hours...miscalculated the drive time) with Aunt Bekah stuffed in the overpacked car.
I was in charge of the rental house and, if I do say so myself, I did an awesome job. Best Sante Fe vacation house ever.
The Balloon Fiesta completely lived up to expectations.
We LOVED watching all the cousins together.
We toured downtown Santa Fe (very cool old town)
Took family pictures
and hit the temple with all the siblings and my dad (Grandma Dorrie had the hard job of babysitting the million little grandkids)
It was kind of a bummer because the government shut-down happened while we were there so there a bunch of national parks we couldn't go to.
We did a family talent show that was so entertaining and sweet and a neat FHE. Basically it was a dream family reunion. Can't wait for the NORTHWEST family reunion in 2015 (hint, hint)
(Side note...we drove home STRAIGHT from Santa Fe. It took 20 hours and we got home at 1 am, with a detour at the Wilson Arch in Southern Utah and In N Out with our favorite Cade and Stacy in Northern Utah).