Saturday, November 8, 2014

Gwyneth's Birth

And so it happened that at my 39 week appointment my blood pressure was a little high. It was decided I should go to the hospital to be monitored and the doctor ultimately decided to keep me for induction the next morning. I had taken myself to the hospital, fully expecting to be sent home (this had happened with Carolyn 10 years ago), so when she told me I would be staying I got a bit weepy and texted Brandon that it was "go-time." There was much excitement (read: coordination of childcare and dog, grabbing of hospital bag, etc.) and the long afternoon / evening wait began.
The girls came to visit and were impressed with the IV, the contraction monitoring and all the rest. It was fun to have them see it all and be able to ask questions and get acclimated before the actual hard laboring started. It was not fun to be cut off from food for over 24 hours, but then the handsome photographer found the stash of popsicles and fetched them for me whenever I got hungry/ weepy/ stressed/ happy.
The evening meds had done their job and I was pretty uncomfortable as the sun was coming up and chasing away the heavy fog that had settled overnight. By mid-morning the incredible (and I mean incredible) anesthesiologist had administered the epidural, with Brandon by my side. I was comfortably ready for the girls to return for the rest of the labor party. Julia seemed especially nervous; when I asked her what she was worried about she said, "you."

My sister Emily, an ICU nurse and calm cucumber under pressure, came to be Brandon's back-up support should anything unexpected happen. Emily was there when Julia was born as well, and I am incredibly grateful. There is something reassuring about having your sister there when you give birth (especially a sister who knows about medical whatcha-ma-call-its).
The girls were very interested in the whole process, and our nurse (also very incredible, seriously the whole staff was a dream) answered all of their questions... no matter how obscure. Finally, at 3:10 the doctor came in, the audience went out (except Brandon and Emily) and at 3:19 Ms. Gwyneth Elizabeth Schultz entered the world fresh from Heaven. For the first few minutes she kept her eyes squeezed close tight, as though the new light of life was assaulting her eyes, which I guess it kind of was. Brandon was happy to have won the pool on her weight, Emily won the guess on the time she would be born, and I won because the baby was O-U-T!
As soon as the doctor gave the green light the girls were brought back for a quiet hour of family time... they were over the moon. Well, we all were.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Thousand Hills - Lake Weekend

It's become a great summer tradition - a weekend away at the lake. This year was monumental because the girls both learned to water ski. There was a bit of drama as Julia tried...and tried... and tried to get up to no avail. Carolyn, on the other hand, popped right up on her second try and left Julia steaming mad at her sister's skills. She was determined that we were not leaving the lake until she could count herself a waterskier. So Brandon spent Father's Day morning in a chilly lake under an overcast sky, helping his determined daughter fulfill her water skiing destiny. At last she did, and we left sunburnt and satisfied.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Drumroll please...

We had our sonogram, the long awaited moment when we finally got to see our wee one on the big screen (seriously they had a big screen at the doctor's office, things have sure improved since the girls were born!) Carolyn called out the sex before the sonogram technician even said it, clearly the iPad app is informative! We are over the moon to be welcoming our third princess to the Schultz castle. She is beautiful, though bashful, and only 20 weeks to go!

We had a few family members over for a balloon popping "gender" reveal in the driveway, it was just as the girls dreamed it would be - a big surprise and lots of hugs all around!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

SO... was this baby... planned?

Recently in Cubeville a coworker stopped by my offical and leaned in close, she half-whispered “so... was this baby... planned?” I get this a lot lately, it makes sense and I know that I would totally wonder the same thing. “Yup” I always reply, “Crazy, huh?”

I don’t think I pride myself on being odd, but probably couldn’t hurt to explore that with a therapist in the near future. Nevertheless the fact that my husband is a stay-at-home dad, we homeschool, and now this strange baby news has many people scratching their heads in our general direction. As she shook her head in delight/concern/disgust/confusion I joked “Actually, we just thought we’d hit the biology lesson right out of the ballpark with this one, the girls are getting a full 9 month crash course on fetal development and pregnancy!” She laughed and left, still shaking her head.

Of course we didn’t plan this pregnancy to be a glorified homeschool lesson (but it is surely a pin out in the Pinterverse somewhere!), though watching the girls learn and absorb all of the happenings has been nothing short of educational and highly entertaining.

I let Carolyn be the first to see the pregnancy test results, her eyes got wide and she stammered “M-M-Mom! There’s two... There’s TWO lines!” Since that night she has followed her Baby Development app religiously, able to quote current baby size whenever asked. The girls have accompanied me to each doctor’s appointment, ready with their questions when the doctor asks if I needed anything else? Julia asks me daily “how many more days until our sonogram” as they count down to find out if baby is a brother or sister. They have been planning a gender reveal party for weeks, with backup plans in the case we find out it is twins. And they argue over which days of the week will be each of their responsibility for full baby care.

After reading the description of the hospital’s “Sibling” class online I’ve decided I’m going to enroll them in the “Newborn Care” class instead. They would be offended to be told “not to poke the baby’s eyes”, after all, Julia has been serving in the nursery for nearly a year, and she’s practically ready to run her own daycare. Brandon and I will accompany them if for no other reason then to remind them to let someone else ask a question or have a turn with the diaper-changing-doll. I find I spend as much time daydreaming about what kind of big sisters they will be as I do wondering what this baby will be like. I catch myself thinking “7 and 9 are the BEST ages” but then I remember that I thought the same thing when they were 1 and 3, 2 and 4, 3 and 5... you get the idea.

And this is why we’re diving into parenthood for a round 3. Because when they are yours they drive you mad, both in love and insane. Carolyn gave me a glimpse of adolescents Saturday morning when she huffed “you never think of my needs!” because I had not planned a full day of pool play and macaroni-and-cheese eating. And then she returned to me within an hour to say “sorry” and climb up in my lap. It’s an adventure that brings all of the highs and lows that any good adventure should, and I’m incredibly grateful that these two girlies will be along for this one, as fantastic siblings to be sure, sideline entertainers when need-be, encouragers always, and just plain kids as their primary jobs should be for the time being.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Motherhood: Lessons from the first time around

My first few minutes as a mom: November 7, 2004
This fall my husband I will welcome our third baby into our family. My daughters will be celebrating their 8th and 10th birthdays with a very new little sibling. When I was their age I was sure I would have at least four kids, maybe more. Shortly after they were born I was quite sure two was plenty. Things change. Last summer we felt that our family needed to grow, that we have room in our house and hearts for another and maybe more. As winter turned to spring we learned that we were expecting; the familiar but long-dormant feelings of pregnancy set in.
With two pregnancies under my belt, the sensations and aches are often familiar but the accompanying feelings and thoughts are very different this time around. What I would have misunderstood as apathy ten years ago, I now understand is surrender.
This time I have surrendered the past. Before I had even left the hospital with my first daughter I remember sobbing at the realization that my whole life had changed. Never again would I be able to plan an impromptu roadtrip, sleep-in, or make any decision ever without giving thought to her needs. In all honesty, I sobbed “my life is over.” I had wanted a baby to dress up and bring out for play times but I had not understood that to become a mother meant that the past must become a closed chapter. Now I know. I know that life will not look the same when this baby arrives. I know that our life as it is right-this-minute seems pretty darn great and to change it will feel a bit absurd at first, but this baby deserves to be born free of that burden, free of the need to maintain a reality that cannot be maintained. This baby will have needs that will demand changes in our schedules and commitments, but it’s going to be a new beautiful life.

This time I have surrendered my body. It really would not be sufficient to express the feelings I had about my new body after baby without incorporating a number of expletives. The places the nurses put ice packs was unheard of, the way they rammed their hands around my gelatinous belly was agonizing, the fact that my lactation consultant was an undercover torture agent that left my tender mommy-bits severely bleeding was the last straw. Around day three I stood under a hot shower as my milk came in, doubled-over in pain, certain I would never feel normal again. Now I know, I will. I know the discomfort won’t last, the odd shapes won’t last, and let’s be real the bladder control has been gone for quite some time. I know that my body is strong and I am fortunate to have it.
This time I have surrendered my baby. With my first I wanted a girl, a beautiful healthy little girl which is exactly what I got. For the second I absolutely wanted a girl and breathed a deep sigh when she emerged a ‘she’ so my first could have a best friend for life. I then went on to want them to be smart and congenial and ambitious. But as I’ve leaned into motherhood I have realized that what I want more than anything is for them to be who they were made to be, not by me but by God. Whatever it is they are going to become I pray they pursue it passionately, and that I am there to encourage rather than strong-arm. I know this baby could be a girl or a boy, could be brilliant or slow, could be healthy or maybe not. I know that he or she will be perfectly made as God has planned for him or her to be, and that’s what I want.
This time I have surrendered the future. When my first daughter was only a week old she was re-admitted to the hospital for a few days under the lights for her jaundice. When my husband and I were not sitting beside our sunbathing baby, we would take walks around the hospital halls. One afternoon a very elderly woman was wheeled by us and I began to cry, “Someday Carolyn will be very old. I cannot stand the thought that she will be on a cold hospital bed without anyone to care for her.” And thus I not only fretted about how her liver would become strong in the next few hours, or where she would attend Preschool in the coming years, but I worried about eight decades into her future and who would hold her hand on a cold hospital bed. Now I know. And all I really know now is that whatever the future looks like, for both our family and this baby, it is going to be just as it should. I know that this baby will be loved and cared for by me, but even more so I know that this baby, and our family, is loved and cared for by God. This does not mean a divine force-field from cancer or car accidents or loneliness in a far off hospital bed. It does mean that our future has divine hope that can fill all of the hurts that a broken world brings.