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?


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.


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!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Problem with Having Expectations

38 weeks, last weekend
Here's the problem with expectations. They can be wrong.

I'm proud to say I actually still feel sane as I quickly approach the mark today where I will be the most pregnant I've ever been. I don't really fault myself for having expectations of an early delivery. My first baby was born at 38 weeks, 6 days and my second came quite suddenly about 4 hours after I hit the 38 week mark. 1 week early for baby #1, 2 weeks early for baby #2, heck I was thinking 3 weeks early for baby #3 was a possibility considering that my third pregnancy has been my most intense. I'd had a lot of pre term contractions with Cora's pregnancy and more intense ones with this pregnancy, so I was worried I might not even make it to the full term 37 week mark.

So as a planner and preparer, I wanted to get as much ready by 36 weeks as possible and went ahead and planned my maternity leave to begin shortly after 38 weeks. (Though this was really a set start date if I wanted to use up all my vacation days before they expire at the end of our fiscal year.) My mom, who had missed Cora's arrival, planned to arrive a bit earlier as well.

8 votes were cast by immediate family members on Baby Luke's likely delivery date. All 8 were between March 3 and March 10.  Mom arrived on March 6.

And now here we are on March 14, no baby! I still feel good so I've been able to stay active all week and that has helped keep me occupied. We had a busy weekend last weekend and then Jack and Cora were out of school on Monday and Tuesday. When Wednesday arrived and they were back in school, my mom helped distract me and I found myself attending events I hadn't even put on our calendar, because I'd assumed I'd be a no-show due to a new baby.

I've had three nights this week where contractions were coming every 10 minutes for hours and even into the night. But they don't seem to want to speed up! By last night, Jacob and I were laughing (though it's not actually funny) because I'd hit him every time I had a contraction and he'd say, yep 9:28, yep 9:38, yep 9:48. The contractions have gotten stronger over the week, but not more frequent.

38.5 weeks
It's funny how imminent Luke's arrival felt two weeks ago as I was finishing up work and waiting for my mom to arrive. Now he seems tucked in and like he might stay that way! I really hope I'm wrong as I'm so ready to meet him, as is everyone else in this house. I think Jack and Cora now probably don't believe a baby is actually coming. I mean all our "guess dates" have passed and Mommy still just has a round belly.When I ask Cora if she thinks baby Luke will come that day, she just laughs and says "No, few more days."

Please don't hate me if you've been past due yourself, I know I have nothing to complain about as I creep up tonight on the 39 week mark!

If my expectations about when this baby might arrive were wrong, it's also making me realize I have no idea what this labor might actually be like. The slow lead-in over the last week is certainly different than past experiences. As they say in France, "Enfin, on verra bien..."

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Landry Life - Pre Luke

So you know my to-do list is pretty tied up when I'm blogging for the second time within a week :) I thought it would be nice to capture what life is like for the Landrys these days pre-baby.  I'll be sure to follow up with a post-baby blog in a few weeks.

Ladies First

Cora has given us a beautiful gift. She is now potty trained!! We were at the point of feeling we'd tried everything (i.e. we were actually giving her money every time she was willing to go to the potty, pennies, but still!).  We had it in mind we'd make one more push over Mardi Gras break, but Cora woke up one Saturday morning and declared she wanted to wear her big girl undies.  (Undies that we'd owned for months and which at one point I had strung across the bathroom on a colorful ribbon to highlight their coolness to no avail.)  It was a busy day where we were going to be out and about, but I wasn't about to squash her interest.  We left the house in her big girl undies with a big talk about keeping them dry.  She made it through that entire day without an accident.  The next day, we wore them to church. Then to school all week. She had minor daily accidents, but her teacher felt like she was close and encouraged us to keep sending her with a change of clothes.  This support was invaluable and we pushed through a second weekend.  The second week of undies at school went better.  Then came Mardi Gras (for non-New Orleanians, probably NOT the best time to try to fully potty train your child!) but we kept up the big girl undies and resisted the urge to go with the safer pull-up option. Cora didn't have any accidents and had the opportunity to HAVE to poop out and about.  This led to one funny episode at a friend's house, but ended with her pooping in (their) potty for the first time.

After a few weeks, we were still putting her in a diaper at nap time, but noticed that she was doing all her pooping in these diapers, rather than on the potty.  So we were brave again and started putting her down for nap in her big girl undies.  This has led to not a lot of napping, but a whole lot of trips to her potty to poop.  We'll even find she's gotten up, gone all by herself, and dumped the little potty into the big potty all by herself. (A habit we're discouraging for obvious reasons.)

But the beautiful end result?  We have a fully potty trained little girl!!

That same little girl is infrequently napping, still a challenge to get to sleep at night, and still having some night terrors. But hey, she can't spoil us right?

One more Cora anecdote. Never one to be able to make the "c/k" sound, she now is decisively finishing her words.  What was once "Jah-Jah" is now "Jat-Jat" or "Jat" and Baby Luke?  He's "Baby Lute" :)

Big Brother

Jack has a major strength which shines in contrast to Cora's big weakness. We put him in bed.  We don't see him again for 12 hours.  She wakes up five times screaming and crying? He never stirs. He's one champion sleeper.

This is probably a result of he lives his days full force. He has thrived in the Waldorf Kindergarten. I find it a very developmentally appropriate program and the 90 minutes he is outside each morning allows him lots of opportunities to run, play, and get energy out. He also loves the daily and weekly routines and the order it gives his week.  His favorite day is Tuesday because that's Game Circle day at school. His least favorite day is Thursday because that is Vegetable Soup day.  This is probably exacerbated by the fact that his dad makes him take whatever vegetable we have on hand, rather than letting him pick. So Jack brings in things like collard greens thus ensuring he knows there's going to be at least one vegetable in the soup he doesn't like.

On the other hand, this child remains quite the healthy eater, with some strong opinions. He eats most anything (all fruits, fresh salads, many raw vegetables, meats, anything dairy, etc.) but flips his lid when he sees green things in a cooked dish. You can't convince him that parsley or green onions aren't going to kill him. Chief on his dislikes list are tomatoes, cooked greens, onions, and rice. I think Jacob's standards tend to be a little high (on Jack AND me) and think a child who scarfs down raw broccoli, cooked brussels sprouts, and begs for fruit all day is not one to be hard on when it comes to food.

Jack's main interest these days is his "Jack and Annie" Magic Tree House collection of books and CDs.  From Santa, he got a starter set of Magic Tree House books + we checked out some of these same books on CD from the library. Santa also gave him a CD player. Well we now have to set limits on the CD player because he's happy to spend hours listening to his stories while building "vehicles" with his "big boy LEGOs." This makes daily rest time easy as he's happy to play in his room for an hour with his LEGOs.  Jacob and I continue to read him multiple books each day.  He usually has two chapter books going, one with Jacob and one with me.

The Grown-Ups

37+ weeks
I continue to love the flexibility of the brewery building year.  Jacob works from home often and there are so many more moments where he and I get to interact, and more importantly he's with the kids. I see this as a huge benefit of him being his own boss.  Daddy's just around a lot more and the kids get to run and tell him about their days at school as they come in. And those times when I've just cleaned up three poops and the 2.5 year old is STILL not napping; Daddy can actually just step in and save the day.

And things are going really well on the brewery front: bank loan secured and likely location secured. It's a process that helps remind us of the value of patience.  Jacob continues to take on side consulting projects which keeps his income coming in.

And project "get ready for baby" is pretty much complete. I'm happy with where I'm able to leave things at my job, with as much set up for the next school year as possible. And my house has never been cleaner or more organized. After months of feeling like I was getting NOTHING accomplished (i.e. most of 2014), I got a major surge of energy and cabinets, closets, and drawers are purged and organized, my baseboards got their first cleaning in three years, and rooms have been rearranged, ready for Luke and Cora.

And now I get to work on what's hardest for me: dwelling in the moment, being patient, not trying to rush or control other words, waiting for Baby Luke to make his entrance.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Baby Luke's Nursery

It is so fun to prepare for a new baby, and even more so when you have the energy and excitement of a 5 and 2 year old added in.  Jack and Cora have been so interested in the process of getting ready for baby Luke.  When I was getting ready to wash baby clothes, Cora took every single item of clothing out of the stacks of sorted clothes, admired it, and placed it in a new stack.  When I set up the bassinet and baby seats, they were both eager to tour around the house looking for changes.  They also both have sudden renewed interest in baby toys :)  Cora has said no less than 10 times in the past week: "Baby Luke can share" or "Baby Luke needs to share."  :)

At long last Baby Luke's nursery is ready.  I like seeing how some of Jack's former nursery items + some of Cora's can come together to be a new and special room in what used to be Cora's nursery.  (That would be thanks to, World Market, and Marshalls, right Jacob?)

Jack's nursery bedding and boats picture

New baby = new name, new curtains, new pillow, new rug

Cora likes Baby Luke's toy basket

It is CRAZY to know that a new baby could arrive any day!  It's surreal to be readying yourself for such an event but then also be so caught up in your normal day-to-day.  Excitement and anticipation over here!