Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A week in numbers

I jotted down some numbers over the week to "measure" what I knew would be a crazy week!

  • 4 days (precisely 92 hours) as a single parent while Jacob went to the National Craft Brewers Conference in Portland
  • That would mean a 3:1 child to adult ratio
  • 4 kind friends who brought dinner!
  • 15 loads of laundry (!!) + 4 rounds of diaper washes (diaper washes = 3 cycles) totaling a grand 27 times I pressed "START" on our washer
  • Included in that laundry were 4 sets of bedding thanks to someone's pee (not mine)
  • 3 times that a child's poop went somewhere other than in a toilet or a diaper
  • Approximately 77 feedings (I didn't actually count but that's probably close)
  • 8 episodes of Mad Men Season 1 rewatched thanks to said feedings + laundry folding
  • 9:18a.m. - the time I got out of bed on Saturday morning after Jacob was back home
  • 8?? - about the number of times I was awakened by one of our children the night before
  • 1 lovely brunch out with ladies on Saturday morning
  • 1 wild, but fun crawfish boil with friends on Saturday evening
  • 20+ children running around at that crawfish boil (thus why it was wild)
  • 73 - today's temperature - I love spring time in New Orleans!! (when it's not raining!!)
  • 3 asleep, 1 on me :)

    Chunking up :)

    End-of-week movie in Mommy/Daddy's bed prize for being good while Daddy was away

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Luke at 1 Month

Zoom. That was a quick four weeks!

Weight at 4 weeks: 11 lbs 11 oz!  Luke was 8 lbs 7 oz at birth and 7 lbs 12 oz at discharge. That makes a nice pound a week gain over the last month.

Feeding: The first few weeks of breastfeeding ain't no joke! The first two weeks were hard, mainly because Luke had a tendency of latching on and off repeatedly during a feeding leaving me sore. It took lights on and two hands to feed him as well which made feedings more tiring. By three weeks, we had mastered nursing while lying down which makes all the difference. Now I don't turn the lights on during the night and we both go back to sleep during/after (who knows?) a feeding.  If he falls into a sound sleep, he'll go 3 hours between feedings. Other times, he's eating every 1.5-2 hours. There is no set pattern yet. Half the time he is only eating on one side; the other half he gets both sides. I think life is dictating that just as much as he is right now!

Sleeping: He still sleeps most of the day with occasional awake/alert periods. He can get over tired which leads to lots of dozing until he ultimately crashes for a full 3 hour nap. His best nighttime stretch was 4 hours between feedings. That happened once... Usually he wakes every 2-3 hours at night.

Luke's Quirks: He grunts! A lot! Whenever he has gas or a burp, you know it because he works on getting it out with lots of noises and squirming. He also just vocalizes a lot. When we go on walks, he'll purr/growl/grunt the entire hour! He (or rather I) get looks!

Still popular! This guy is still the apple of everyone's eye. My favorite anecdote for this month: Jack and Cora were with me at church and I had put Luke's car seat in the hallway and had gone into the next room to get the older two. We all heard Luke let out a scream and Jack and Cora both stopped/dropped what they were doing and took off running toward their baby. It was really cute, but I was also calling, "Wait, let ME get Luke!"

They both ask to "snuggle" baby Luke at bedtime. I put him in their bed and they wrap him up in a hug. It's pretty sweet :)

When it's your third baby... I stubbornly waited until 5 weeks to give both Jack and Cora a pacifier as I was very determined not to do anything that might interfere with the success of our breastfeeding. Like Jack, Luke seems to LOVE to suck. As with Jack, we'd been letting him suck on our finger at moments when it was obvious he didn't need to eat. On my first day home alone with all three children (at 3.5 weeks), I caved to the pacifier as I was feeling better about our breastfeeding and, well, THREE children!  The child loves the pacifier, but I will say they are only sort of helpful at this age as they constantly fall out. Luckily, Jack is a great "bop" retriever/inserter and he loves to be able to help with Luke, so, win-win.

Nicknames: For a family that gives short names, we come up with a surprisingly large number of nicknames. Right now, what you hear around here is:
  • Handsome-Pansome (as in "hey handsome-pansome")
  • Chubs (I don't post the unflattering pictures, but this kid gained some serious poundage this month)
  • Bubby
  • Baby Boy and Baby Luke
What Luke loves: WATER - Luke loves his bath time and is easily soothed by water. When I shower, I put him on his bath seat on the floor and he's very chill.  I've also started putting him in the bath tub on his bath seat when I'm bathing Jack and Cora because he would be screaming if I just left him in a bouncy seat, but he's instantly calm when his feet are in the water.  I don't always bathe him, but hey, a baby's butt always needs to be cleaned off, so it seems purposeful.

What Luke does not love: Being put down. If he's awake, he's generally not happy for long out of someone's arms. I remember Cora would reliably be happy if you put her in her bouncy seat and bounced her. Not Luke. He will quickly start to cry if left alone but will instantly stop if you pick him up. And he prefers being held upright. That makes getting other things done hard!


Can't wait to see some smiles from this guy :)





Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Only in our hearts

I had wondered whether Luke's birth would feel especially profound as he is our baby born soon after a miscarriage. Everything we will experience with Luke comes down a road we would never have found ourselves on without the sadness of the miscarriage.

I found that there has been no one profound moment, but many moments of deeper gratefulness during my pregnancy and, now, as we get to know this precious soul. 

The promise of him and now the reality of him has brought so much joy and healing into my heart.

My sister recently experienced her own pregnancy loss. Knowing what this feels like and the sadness you absolutely must W-A-L-K through, I feel such compassion and sadness for her. Not a blogger herself, she wanted to tell her story and asked me if I would share it for her here.

As I've seen the healing that has happened for me (and for so many other women), the happiness in all of this is seeing how strong she's been through this experience and knowing that through sadness comes new, deeper, and unexpected blessings.

SHARING
Kristen Owen Hardaway 

When things first seemed to be off in my second pregnancy, I went in for an ultrasound. They called me back pretty quickly, so William wasn’t able to be with me. God gave me a blessing that day. I met my baby - just me. I saw the little flickering heartbeat - I met my child. What a gift that was. I’m very sorry that William wasn’t there with me, but I’m so thankful that I received good news. If it had been bad news that day, I don’t know how I could have handled it alone.

We received the bad news together a few days later. We lost you on a Wednesday. I could tolerate the physical pain, but my heart was shattered. As they woke me up from the procedure, I experienced an immediate sense of emptiness that I’ll never be able to fully explain. You were gone.

Nighttime is the hardest time for me - I think it’s because it’s the only time of day that I’m really alone with my thoughts. Not focusing on the next thing.. it’s when I’m the most vulnerable. I like to take a shower most nights before bed and that’s usually when I think of the child we lost. Were you a boy or a girl? What would my body look like right now? What plans would William and I be making - would we have cleared out his office to make room for the nursery? And then I instantly feel guilty, because I like my body right now. I want to wear a two-piece this summer. I’m healthier than I’ve ever been - a pregnancy would have disrupted that a little.

I slipped into bed the other night and asked William if he was sad that I wasn’t 5 months pregnant. He said he wasn’t sad. The fear rushed over me that he’d forgotten what happened - he wasn’t sad?? As I cried, he tried to explain that he meant he was okay with the way things are at the moment, that it wasn’t the right time for our family to grow - it wasn’t meant to happen right now. And I fully believe all of this. I’m at peace with God’s will here - I’m not angry. I find comfort that He is in control (not me). But that doesn’t mean we can’t be sad that this life was lost. This life that mattered to me. Am I the only person who cares about this child now? Is this life forgotten?

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to share my miscarriage with other people. But as days turned into weeks, then into months, I’ve started to feel almost eager to tell. But it’s not exactly something that can be casually inserted into conversations. I feel a responsibility to share this little flickering heartbeat with others because it meant so much to me. It made me look at my little boy as the most wonderful and precious of miracles. It made me surrender to God’s will, which in turn has brought me tremendous peace. It made me absolutely sure that there was love in my heart for another child. It brought me closer to my sister and to other women who’ve miscarried. It made me pray harder for women expecting babies, which has been truly therapeutic for me. I don’t want to forget you because it has made me a stronger person, a more caring friend, a better mother.

And by sharing you with others, you won’t ever be forgotten.

Friday, April 03, 2015

When the kids are away, Mommy and Daddy will...

(Well, to clarify, since we now have three children, we do still have one on hand this week.)

What I learned in the weeks after Cora's birth is that it was really hard to have the energy to meet Jack's needs all day and an infant's needs all night. Since this was Jack and Cora's Spring Break week and Luke is only 2 weeks old, it was a good week for them to travel! They are in SC with my parents.

My parents get an award for hosting the second Grammy Camp for two! (Jack and Cora also went for a week during my first trimester haze back in August.)

And what have the three remaining Landrys been up to?

- Staying in bed as long as we want to.
Since Mr. Luke has a busy nighttime schedule, we thankfully had no reason to get up early and tended to fall back asleep after the dawn feeding.
What our room looks like in the morning
 - Sitting at the farmer's market and TALKING to each other for an hour after eating our pastries  NOT something you do when you have a 5 and 2 year old in tow.
- Going out to breakfast on a Tuesday morning at 9am - perks of maternity leave + starting your own business + a portable newborn

- Meeting up with friends to try out a new restaurant on a Wednesday night

- Face Timing with Jack and Cora at least twice a day since we (I?) miss them!

Daddy has had lots of decisions to make and brewery work to do, leaving Mommy and Luke with lots of additional time to hang out.  Together we:

- Read 1.5 books (I read, Luke eats/sleeps on my chest/sucks on my finger)

- Went on daily walks testing out both our new K'Tan carrier and the single BOB (Luke prefers the carrier, you really notice the bumpiness of the sidewalks when you're a tiny baby in a carseat on a stroller)
Ate a lot - I don't know which of us gets the award for biggest appetite, Luke frequently acts like he's starving, but then again, I gorge myself at one meal to the point of bursting but then somehow feel hungry again about 90 minutes later. At least he's getting just uber nutritious breastmilk, while I may be eating dessert after every meal (even after breakfast one morning!)

- We even went out on a morning of errands.  I had no trouble spending money with him strapped to my chest.
Luke did great despite pooping in his pants and needing a change in the car.

It's amazing how quickly this quiet week flew by! The quiet has been AWESOME but it's time to reunite this family!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Who is Luke?

We've been wondering this for so long and now, after having known him for a week, we've gotten a few insights.

Luke is...Easy to Love

Probably every baby is, but the one we got definitely is! Jacob and I have both been heard saying "he's just so perfect." I think the word would be "smitten." I love seeing the love in Jacob's face and watching how he lights up whenever he sees Luke. And I see the same thing in Jack and Cora's genuine excitement.

Luke is...Popular

This is best captured in the first thirty minutes of being home post-hospital. We drove in to two welcome signs made by big brother and big sister. I then heard "I want to hold baby Luke" (or in Cora speak "I wanna hold baby Lute") pretty much non-stop as we made our way through showing Luke his new house. My instinct says to say yes as much as possible, so that's what I've been doing this week. We wash hands if need be and we've been working to get them to keep their coughs (yes, all four older Landrys have colds, myself included) directed away from the baby.

Cora is easily satisfied with a quick hold; Jack immediately says "I've got his head" and wants us to be hands off (I'm not willing to do this.)  The saying "trust but verify" is my motto right now. I trust that they love him completely and genuinely want to be gentle with Luke, but I'm making sure I know where the baby is at all times so that 2 or 5 year old love doesn't result in unintended consequences. (Especially since one of my earliest memories is dropping my brand new baby sister back into her cradle when I, age 5, was caught sneaking in to hold her!!)
That's a truck perched on baby Luke

Luke is...Alert, Serious, Hard to Impress

As far as Luke's personality, the glimpses we've seen during his awake times show us an alert little baby that doesn't startle too easily and who will gaze very seriously at you. I love these moments of locking eyes and how intimate they feel. He's taking in his new world and taking stock.

Luke is...Not New Here

My sense is that Luke already was exposed to his life in our family while he was in the womb. I know babies hear to some extent and I just wonder if the voices of Jacob, me, and the kids (and the related screaming, yelling, fire sirens, crying, laughing, etc.) don't startle him because he's already accustomed to them on some level. I definitely feel he knows me and I love this connection. From soon after birth, I've been singing the same lullabies I sang during my pregnancy (and to Jack and Cora as babies) and this has been a pretty effective way of soothing him.

Luke is...a ??-head

We were so curious to know Luke's hair color, but the jury is out. Jack was born not with full on red hair, but hair that seemed to have a red tint in certain lights. Cora's hair was dark at birth. Luke's is a different color than theirs, light brown at the moment. Since Jack and Cora's hair changed to their current colors over a few months, we are wondering which direction Luke's will go. Blond is possible. Something with a little red in it?  Brown like mine and Cora's?

LUKE

He seems so tiny to us, so sweet, pretty laid back, and I totally get the kids' desire to hold him because that's my current favorite activity too! 
  
I feel like each day, week, month is going to reveal so much more about who this little guy is. Thinking back to Jack and Cora as babies, only the tiniest bits of who they are now was evident. I love this process of discovery!

Luke in his first of MANY fire truck clothes. He's received so many as gifts thanks to his brother's interest!


Thursday, March 19, 2015

Luke's Birth

Giving birth is such an amazing experience. And it really hurts.

I had an awesome birth experience this weekend and am one lucky lady because I know (from my own experience and the tales of friends) it could have been so much more intense... or less empowered... or even dangerous, but, instead, it was almost ideal!!

So, just hours after penning my "the problem with having expectations" blog post and as I was mentally preparing myself for what could have been another week of being pregnant, Jacob and I sat down for our nightly ritual of a House of Cards episode Saturday night. As I had nearly every night that week, I began having regular contractions, but this time, instead of being every 10 minutes or more, they ranged from 7-10 minutes. This was just different enough to get me hopeful. For the third time that week, I sat up past when Jacob went to bed to see if anything picked up, but, again, nothing did, and the contractions became less regular.

SIGH.

Still I had my fingers crossed something might happen during the night. I was up a few times, as usual, to pee and I could tell I was still having contractions but it was hard to say how often. I was up for a while at 4:00, but then went back to bed until Cora toddled in at 5:10 and did her usual, which involves snuggling up against my back and reaching out her hand to be held.

I told her I needed to go potty and as I got back in bed I felt a strong contraction. So I lay next to her and got my phone/contraction app out to see if I was having regular contractions. For the next 30 minutes or so, I was having strong contractions about every 6-7 minutes, contractions that reminded me of my early labor with Jack, wrapping around into my back and, hurting all the way around. I was tentatively thrilled as there was nothing more I wanted to do that day than have a baby! I said a prayer and then played around on my phone while I laid there, stumbling upon a birth story, and reading it.

I then quietly got up to see what would happen next. With Cora's birth, getting out of bed quickly accelerated things. I was on my hands and knees during contractions about 45 minutes after getting up. This didn't happen Sunday, but the contractions did pick up pace, starting to come more erratically, and averaging every 3-4 minutes. A little before 6:00, I told Jacob this might actually be labor (which on day seven of such comments actually sounds silly coming out of your mouth). After the second time I said it, he did get up and so did Cora. I rinsed off (no fixing my hair or putting make-up on this time!), got dressed, and put last minute things into my hospital bag. Cora then asked where we were going.  "To the hospital," I said. "I want to come with you" she said. When I told her she'd need to stay home, I got this look:


Someone doesn't like the idea of mom leaving
At 6:20, I woke up my mom to let her know that we thought I might be in labor. I said we were going to go downstairs and wait a bit to see what happened next, but wanted her to keep the kids upstairs. I hugged Cora goodbye to go ahead and get past the separation part (she cried for about 2 minutes and then I heard her recover as she, Jack, and Grammy all climbed back into bed with some books.)

Downstairs, I could recognize that while I was having frequent contractions, it wasn't by any means hard, so I started to wonder if we should actually go to the hospital.  I was having a lot of pressure, so I decided to call to talk to the midwife. She said that since I'd had a fast second labor, why didn't I just come in and get checked. I told Jacob I wanted to wait a little longer, so I walked back and forth downstairs until 7:00, when I gave Jack a quick hug and we left.

A quick drive down Valence to Ochsner Baptist and then I made Jacob walk around the parking garage with me for a few minutes before we went up to the 6th floor triage room (where I'd twice gone this pregnancy for preterm contractions). I was still having contractions every 3-4 minutes. All my morning contractions required me to breathe through them, but were entirely manageable.

7:30, hopeful!  Waiting to get checked
 My cervix remained posterior (i.e. hard to get to) and it took two nurses before they could feel how dilated I was. They said 3-4 cm and suggested that I go and walk for a few hours to see if things progressed. They told me to come back to get rechecked at 9:30, so Jacob and I walked the few blocks to Freret St and grabbed bagels from Humble Bagel and then walked up to Jefferson. My contractions remained every 3 minutes and a few were more intense, but overall I still felt great and was able to walk through them all. Back at the hospital, I made laps for about 30 minutes inside and the contractions kept coming every 3 minutes. They were about 45-60 seconds and peaking for only about 20, so very manageable.


We went back to the triage floor at 9:30 and I was 5 cm! We were told the midwife would be heading in soon and would admit us to the 4th floor Perkins Alternative Birthing Center. I wanted to keep walking until she arrived since I still felt up to it and since it seemed to be working.
Me in window walking laps on the 2nd floor
Back to the 2nd floor and I did about 20 more minutes of walking. Then things started to feel a little stronger and more people were arriving at the hospital, so Jacob and I went up to the empty 4th floor. The birthing center was locked, but I continued walking, barefoot, since there was no one around.

By about 10:40, I'd occasionally have a contraction that made me want to knock on the wall. Sounds odd, but that, for me, was a stronger type of contraction than I'd had before, where it was like there was a need to push the feeling out of me onto something else. Since we'd been waiting a while, Jacob went upstairs to see if he could find someone to let us into the suite. We ended up not getting in until a little after 11, but in the end, I think all the upright time in the morning helped with my quick progression.

The birthing suite was amazing. Large, with a double bed, and best of all, speakers to which Jacob hooked up his computer. (Our music choice was Allison Krause.) My midwife, Cathy, checked me and I was now 7 cm! Surreal! Awesome! This birth couldn't be going better!

  

Once in the room, things slowed down some. Since I'd been walking for about 3 hours at this point, I decided I just wanted to sit in the bed for a while. My contractions slowed down to every 7-8 minutes and weren't as strong. I realized I hadn't heard from my mom in a while and I got distracted worrying about the kids. I talked to my sister on the phone and she seemed incredulous that I sounded so entirely normal. 

After an hour, I figured I needed to get back up to get things moving again. A little before 1:00, Jacob and I started walking up and down the little private hallway outside the birthing suite. My contractions picked up slightly, to every 5 minutes, and I was having the occasional one that had that strong, body is being taken over by the contraction feeling, so I knocked on some more walls, but still was entirely fine between contractions.

Around 1:30, Jacob got bored of walking.


I sent a few texts at this point, so I obviously was still feeling pretty normal. I talked to my mom and told her to hang around our house until 2:00 since I wasn't sure how slowly things might progress. Jacob's mom had arrived and so it looked like my mom might get to see the birth.

My midwife had earlier suggested to try having some contractions on the toilet if I got to the point of wanting to see things speed up. She said I'd be amazed at what gravity could do. She had suggested sitting there for six contractions. I lasted through one, which I think was the first point all day I called out during a contraction. Since I still had the ability to "choose" the pain, I didn't quite want to choose it yet, so got off the toilet. The midwife, who had gone upstairs to check in a new patient and had ended up delivering her quickly, came back downstairs shortly before 2:00.

She was entirely open to whatever I wanted. I decided I was curious to see if I'd progressed more, so asked her to check me. She checked me at about 1:55 and I was 9 cm! Again, it was like "Are you serious?" I'd gotten to 9cm without any crazy pain. I was feeling so lucky!

My goal was to have a water birth, as well as to save the warm tub for when the most intense contractions were happening. Up to that point in my labor, there hadn't been any need yet for the water. Since it was going to take about 10 minutes to fill up the tub, I asked Cathy to go ahead and do so. I decided to try another contraction on the toilet while the tub was filling up.

I had a pretty strong contraction in the bathroom, so got up again. As I walked back into the room, I was hit with another one. It was the "drop to your hands and knees" contraction that had come on so quickly in Cora's labor and the stage of labor which lasted SO LONG in Jack's labor. I had three of these contractions, pretty close together, as we waited for the tub to fill. Jacob instinctively got down and rubbed my back as I rocked back and forth and it was exactly what I needed to keep things manageable. At this point, I stopped talking and started to turn inward.

I climbed into the tub around 2:15. My mom walked into the room at pretty much that moment. I was worried that my water still hadn't broken, but the midwife assured me it would be fine and would probably pop as I started to push.



I had started shaking when I was on the floor and couldn't stop even in the warm tub. This was probably my transition. For the first contraction in the tub, I wasn't sure how best to deal with it as I was basically in a reclining/seated position. With both Cora's and this labor, I felt unsure about whether I was ready to push or exactly what to do (probably also an effect of transition) but the midwife kept reassuring me to just do what my body told me to and that I could push if I felt I was ready or felt pressure to bear down.

I didn't know what I was feeling, but pushing meant having a baby so I was all for trying it, so on the second contraction in the tub, I tried to bear down. I wasn't sure the best way to do this in the tub, but there were ledges for my feet, so I tried bracing on them. Jacob was right by me, hanging over the edge of the tub, and the midwife was calmly sitting at the foot of the tub just watching. My mom got some great video footage from where she was standing.

Both Jacob and the midwife were telling me I was doing great, so I just kind of focused inwardly and when the contraction would come, I bore down. In past labors, I'd been very resistant when offered a mirror or to feel the head, but I'd told my midwife I wanted to try to be more present with this birth. During one of the early pushes, she encouraged me to reach down and feel the head, and I did. It wasn't out yet, but I could definitely feel how close I was to crowning.

I think I stayed pretty calm until the moment my water burst. I wasn't looking down, so I wasn't quite sure what was happening, but there was a strong sensation that I think surprised me and hurt so I yelled out. From that point on, I felt a little less in control and alternated between full-on yelling and switching back to focused pushing. Also, in the tub, I was having the tendency to bring my knees together, which the midwife kept encouraging me to keep spread open.

Probably only two or so pushes after the water bag burst, I delivered Luke's head. This was one of the least pleasant differences between my "on land" and "in water" birth experiences. With Jack's birth, his body came one easy push after his head and that memory really helped me with staying focused while I was pushing during Cora's birth: at that really intense moment of delivering her head, I knew it was almost over.

Well with Luke, I delivered his head and then the midwife reminded me to wait and that I'd feel him turn on his own. (As most babies are born looking down and then rotate before their bodies come out.) I guess on a baby's own without a doctor's hands manipulating, it takes a little longer, and as I was sort of floating in the water, I started to feel out of control and started to freak out. I think I held it together until the next contraction came, but after pushing with everything I had, he didn't just pop out like Jack and Cora had. So after a full minute of pushing, the contraction ended and I felt a sensation, which to me, seemed like the entire baby GOING BACK IN. In the video my mom took, I showed amazingly quick reflexes for someone birthing a child, and I shot up and reached down, screaming, ""Oh no! Don't go back in! ... Get him OUT!"  Everyone tried to reassure me and encouraged me to just push once more. I did and he was born at 2:39 p.m.

This was then the most awesome difference between my "on land" and "in water" births. Jacob and I reached down and lifted Luke up and I held him on my chest (and in the video, I see myself mouthing an intense "Thank you God"). He was amazingly calm, not really crying, and seemed to be able to slide into this world pretty peacefully. We stayed in the water for a bit and he only gradually cried. We waited until the cord stopped pulsing and then Jacob cut the cord and we moved over to the bed where I delivered the placenta a few minutes later.

Our Baby:


Luke Allen Landry
born Sunday, March 15, 2015 at 2:39 p.m.
weighing 8 lbs, 7 oz, measuring 21.5 inches








His birthday fits nicely with his siblings'. Our 3 children all were born on days, months, and years divisible by three: 12-3-09, 6-9-12, and now 3-15-15. Ironically, Jack and Cora were both born at 38 minutes past the hour. I pay attention to things like this, but with my eyes closed, I missed the :38 mark by one minute :) Oh well, I wouldn't trade this 9.5 hour labor, with its very short 45 minute intense period FOR ANYTHING! I loved being able to anticipate Luke's coming all day, spend the day with Jacob creating our own special memories, and bringing this beautiful, healthy child into the world. I do not take any part of this for granted as I know it can be something you want, pray for, and plan for, but it doesn't always happen. I'm so grateful we got this gift and I am so excited to learn who this child is and how he will change our family.





That being a family of five now :)

 More Pictures of the days following:






Long toes!