Friday, January 31, 2014

7th Anniversary Trip

It's been a crazy month of snow days, testing, and growing a baby, so I just now figured out how to get these pictures off of my phone and onto the blog!  Our anniversary trip was the weekend after Christmas and I could kick myself for not doing this sooner because I already made our yearly family photo album and there are no pictures of our awesome Gatlinburg adventure!  Oh well, at least I'll have it here, right?

I booked our trip to the Westgate Smokey Mountain Resort back in July.  I got a crazy good deal on a website called Deal Chicken, but you never know what you're getting with that online coupon business, so I was skeptical.  We left on a Friday morning and stopped a billion times on the way down.  Neither child slept and we were all about to lose our minds by the time we got there, but once we were in our room, all was well!  The place was really nice, and I'm glad we opted to upgrade to a suite so the girls could sleep in a separate room away from us.  We also had a full kitchen, which was great for our milk and juice and toast and all the tiny things you take for granted when you're at home.

We were going to spend our first day wandering around Gatlinburg, but as we drove through we realized that you can't really pop in and out of a bunch of shops with two little ones, and it was cold out (although it was warmer than it had been all week, so the streets were packed)!  We opted to drive around the scenic part of town (the mountains) and then go out for dinner.  We were back early, which was perfect because the girls' favorite part of the whole trip was the hotel room.

They spent 30 minutes in the jacuzzi tub and I was scared to death the whole time because it had to be super deep for the jets to work.  I pretty much held Margot's hand for the whole bath, but they had a blast!  Little did they know we'd be going to a water park in the morning!  We could have spent all weekend in the bathroom.

Sylvia slept on the pull out couch, which she called her "magic bed" because it magically appeared out of the couch!  We don't have Disney Jr. at home, so we snuggled and watched Sophia until bedtime.  They were in heaven!  I can't believe how easy it is to rock their world at this age!

On Saturday we had breakfast in bed (which we brought from home) and headed to the water park in our resort.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but OH. MY. GOODNESS!  It was awesome.  We all loved it and we spent the entire day there.  I mostly stayed with Margot in the toddler area while Sylvain and Sylvia wandered all over the place.  We did the lazy river once as a family, but Margot did not love it like Sylvia did, so we took turns after that!

It was really weird to walk into the place in our winter gear and change into bathing suits!
Oh, the giggles!

She ventured into the "big girl" area and did surprisingly well!  The only thing she couldn't do were the slides, unless Daddy was at the bottom.

Baby slides.

We splurged for lunch at the water park since we didn't spend any money on breakfast, then we went back to the room for naps and dinner.  Instead of going out for dinner, we decided to order from the restaurant at the resort, pick it up and eat in our room.  The girls were able to rest, Daddy was able to watch the UK game, then it was BACK TO THE WATERPARK for more evening fun.  We definitely made the most of it.  Sylvia keeps asking when we're going back, so we might need to plan another trip next year. 

On Sunday morning, we checked out of the resort and went to the Ripley's Believe It or Not Aquarium.  It was another hit with the girls, and we were the very first ones there because we wake up at the crack of dawn!  It was pouring down rain on Sunday, so it was the perfect place to go before eating lunch and heading home.

They had all these tanks that kids could crawl under, then pop right up in the middle!  Sylvia LOVED them!

She's in here with the penguins but you can't see her because those tall, awful, glass hogging brats are standing on the hump that's supposed to be for LITTLE PEOPLE. 

Gazing in amazement.
She begged to put on the penguin costume and I couldn't say no.  But I may have paced around in circles muttering "Please don't have lice, please don't have lice..."  It didn't have lice.  Phew!

Giant Christmas tree in front of the aquarium.  The last good holiday photo of the two BIG sisters!
As we were leaving the aquarium, the place was starting to fill up with people who wake up at normal times and do what normal people do.  We were glad to leave, especially after Sylvia tried to sit on a wrapped "present" under a fake Christmas tree and broke through the empty cardboard box. her body folded in half, butt down in the bottom, hands and feet in the air, and all four of us were cracking up laughing at the funniest thing we've ever seen!  I know she thought she was in trouble, but we didn't care one bit because we were LEAVING!  And folks should know better than to wrap empty boxes and expect kids NOT to sit on them.  Sheesh.

After an excellent lunch at the Smokey Mountain Brewery, we headed home.  On our way out of town, we stopped in the mountains to take this little family photo:

The girls slept almost the entire drive (hallelujah) and when we pulled into the driveway, Sylvia said, "Mommy, I missed my house.  And my cat."  We were only gone for two nights, but it was enough!  It's always good to come home after an exciting trip like this one.  I was so glad we decided to bring the girls with us to celebrate our 7th Anniversary.  I mean seriously, where would the be without us, right?  Seven years.  From nothing to a family in 7 years.  What a lucky lady am I!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

This One's Gonna Be a Trouble Maker

Yesterday I went in for my 12 week check up with the midwife at 4:00.  I've been living in a fog since then and I need to get this story out.  After we discussed all the basics and chit chatted for a long time, I climbed up on the table so she could listen to the heartbeat.  Another midwife had found it at 9 weeks.  This one did not.  She tried for a long time and made a lot of comments about how the baby must be "hiding" and how the baby was being a "little stinker."  Then she told me to take a few minutes to rest and "talk that baby into coming to the front" while she went to check on another patient.  My heart began to race and I started to sweat while I was staring at the florescent lights and praying a prayer I didn't even know how to pray.  All I could think was, "Dear God, please......" and I didn't know what to ask for or how to ask for it, so I just opened my heart and prayed for peace.  That usually works best anyway.

She came back in and tried again.  Still no heartbeat.  I had heard of this happening.  In fact, this has happened to almost everyone I know.  This is how all their stories start, "The doctor couldn't find a heartbeat."  The midwife cleaned up and explained that my uterus is probably tilted toward the back, down inside my pelvic bone.  She said it's very common at this stage and it makes it hard to find a heartbeat.  I was feeling okay about it, but then she said, "We'll have to order an ultrasound.  I know they've left the office for the day, so you'll have to go in tomorrow."  At that point I was still just in disbelief.  Reality didn't hit me until she said, "Will you be able to sleep tonight?"  That's when I became flat out scared and nervous.  No heartbeat.  That's bad.

We scheduled the ultrasound for 3:00 today.  I drove home, numb, but when I turned onto our street I started crying.  The word "miscarriage" was ringing in my head and I was telling myself all the things you're supposed to tell yourself when this happens.  It's not the right time.  It's not meant to be.  You have two beautiful girls.  It happens so often.  It's going to be okay.  But as I pulled in the driveway I wanted to yell and scream that, "No!  It's NOT okay!  This sucks and I don't want any part of it!" 

I explained things very quickly to Sylvain and tried to pull myself together for the girls.  At the dinner table, Sylvia said, "Mommy, why does your face look like that?"  I told her that something sad happened to me today, but I'm better now and I'll be alright.  She seemed fine with that answer and was actually very gentle and sweet for the rest of the night.  Sylvain had to go to work, so I let the girls watch a movie while I just laid on the couch and shivered under a blanket.  All I wanted to do was put the girls to bed so I could get online and start finding out more information. 

I did exactly that after bedtime and I found only a few stories of women who went in for an ultrasound to "check for viability" (which is what my midwife said to the scheduling nurse) and left with good news.  Most of the message boards and blog posts I read turned out differently.  They ended with bad news.  I forced myself to read the good ones and I went to bed, weary and exhausted and clinging to those good stories for hope. 

Sylvain came home and we talked for a while.  We never let ourselves talk about what "could" happen or what "might" happen.  We only discussed our plans for the day up until the appointment at 3:00.  I don't think either one of us wanted to think past that moment until we absolutely had to. 

I sat through a second day of a math workshop today, watching the minutes tick by and praying that it would be 3:00 already because I just needed to know SOMETHING.  Waiting is the worst.  I had prepared my heart as best I could for this journey to go in one of two directions.  I had two blog posts drafted in my head.  I had two sets of text messages ready to be sent.  One was filled with grief and sadness, the other was filled with relief and joy.  All I needed was some information from a technician.  At 3:00.

I left my workshop early and met Sylvain and Mom at home.  She stayed with the girls so we could both go to the ultrasound.  We arrived early and sat in the waiting room.  Tapping our toes and twiddling our thumbs and talking about everything except the baby.  We were called back to the little room and the tech, Donna-Michelle, was young and pretty and smart and friendly and she put me at ease immediately.  I asked her if a doctor was available to talk to us in the case that something was wrong and she didn't even let me finish that thought.  She cut me off and said, "Wait now!  Let's just see what we've got here."

Donna-Michelle explained that 9 times out of 10, the uterus is tilted back and it's hard to get a reading with a doppler.  She tried the ultrasound on the belly but nothing showed up on the screen.  Every muscle in my body tensed up until she said, "Yup, your uterus is tilted back, which is not unusual.  It'll straighten as it grows, it has nowhere else to go.  I think I can see something moving around in there, but I'll have to do a vaginal ultrasound to be sure."  Okay!  A glimmer of hope.  Could it really be possible??  That "9 times out of 10" comment really made my heart soar, so I was getting extremely hopeful.

She started the second ultrasound and suddenly.....there it was!  A white baby on a black screen with a tiny, fluttering heart.  She pointed at it with the little arrow and said, "There's the heart."  Like a dummy, I asked, "Is it beating?  Is it okay?"  And she flipped a switch so we could hear it. 

It was so glorious.  The sweetest sound I ever heard.  I sobbed and since I was already clinging as tightly as I could to Sylvain's hand, I just started shaking his hand back and forth and he was laughing.  Our sweet baby.  Alive and well.

Donna-Michelle took some measurements and told me our due date is right on track - July 27th!  She printed out the photos and explained that the midwives will have a report ready in a few days.  She handed the photos to me, smiled and said, "Congratulations!"  And I wanted to hug her.  I wanted to pick her up and swing her around and buy her a princess crown.  She's my new favorite person.  I love her.

So that's where our scary story ends!  It's the story filled with joy and relief and I'm still quite in shock over the whole thing.  I can't stop staring at pictures of this "little stinker" floating around in my floppy, tilted back uterus, the poor little thing.  You can hide, little baby, but we see you!  I think he or she will need to read this story when he or she grows up, and I hope that our story helps to ease more mamas' minds if they're waiting for that ultrasound to "check for viability" at 12 weeks.  And for all of my friends who didn't get the joyous ending to their story, my heart goes out to you, now and always.  There is nothing anyone could say to make it less painful.  The phenomenon makes no sense to me and I will always hold those mamas in my heart. 

Now it's time for me to go to bed.  With my healthy, tiny baby wrapped up safely inside.  Given how exhausting this 24 hour journey has been, I can't wait to sleep soundly tonight!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Catching Up on Christmas Eve

Sorry my posts have been so out of whack lately!  Now that this video is done uploading I can finally post it.  Honestly, it's not the greatest video because I was holding a camera and a baby and trying to zoom in and out....not my finest work.  SO, if you just want to see the cutest lamb to ever grace the stable, just watch the first 20 seconds.  I actually had to fumble around to find my Mom's camera before Sylvia made her entrance, because my camera's SD card was reading "error" and I was in a panic!  All you need to know is that the narrators are introducing each set of animals, while another narrator "speaks" for the animals, and the animals are supposed to gather around Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus and stand still and look cute.  HA! 

Right before the video starts, the narrator says, "The sheep welcomed the baby and sang it's gentle song." Or something like that.  Then another narrator said the "baa baa" part and Sylvia runs in and stares at the WRONG manger scene.  It's not her fault.  She's been obsessed with our church's nativity since it was put up and her spot in the skit was RIGHT NEXT TO IT!  I could tell she didn't give a hoot about the play and just wanted to know...WHERE IN THE WORLD IS THAT BABY JESUS STATUE?

Anyway,  here it is, in all of its shaky glory!

P.S.  Margot thought Mom's camera was an iPhone.  I should have just handed her my phone to keep her quiet, but instead I let her squeal through the skit.  Sorry if her crying burst your eardrums. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Our Big Holiday News!

November 19th, 6:00 am.  I stared at a positive pregnancy test and swelled with pride!  I ran upstairs to tell Sylvain, who was already awake and putzing in the kitchen, getting ready for the day.  He was thrilled.  There were hugs and smiles and an awkward silence that holds the thought, "What were we thinking?" that neither of us wanted to say out loud.  It's okay.  We've had the same thoughts before.  It doesn't matter how much you've planned or how long you've waited (which, thankfully, wasn't long for us), those first few hours after a positive pregnancy test are full of awe and doubt mixed together.

We said goodbye to each other that morning and we carried around out little secret for weeks.  Well, not really.  I had to send a text to my best friend because she had asked me if I was pregnant the night before and I told her I didn't know yet.  I also had to tell my Mom earlier than planned because she gave my girls a bath that night and I thought she saw the pregnancy test sitting on the bathroom counter.  I thought she didn't say anything just to be nice.  It was killing me, so I had to find out if she knew, and when I saw her the next week, I asked her, "So.....did you already know I was pregnant?"  Judging by the way her jaw hit the floor and the excited expletives that escaped her mouth, I'd say she genuinely did NOT know.  Oh well!  If anyone should know early, it should be my Mom.

On Thanksgiving, I sipped the same glass of wine for hours just to look normal and avoid questions.  Nothing gives away a pregnant lady like turning down a drink!  A couple weeks later, I told my Dad and Stepmom, and I still think my Dad's reactions to big news are my favorite.  He nearly fell out of the chair in which he was SLEEPING when I told him!  I also told a few close coworkers that week, so things were starting to feel more "real."

On December 23rd, I had my first prenatal appointment with a NEW group of midwives and I heard a healthy heartbeat.  It was the first time I heard a heartbeat by myself, without Sylvain, but there was nothing I could do.  It was still glorious and amazing and shocking and real.  The midwife smiled at me and cooed, "Merry Christmas, Rachael!"  I cried a little.  I was so relieved!

I rushed home so we could tell Sylvia the happy news.  Sylvain sat down with her and Margot on the couch.  There was no giant, "Really?!" or "Hooray!!!"  He explained that there's going to be a baby in the third bedroom upstairs because Mommy has a baby in her belly, and Sylvia calmly looked at him and said, "I hope it's a baby brother."  And that was it!  Since then she has flip flopped countless times on what she hopes for, but she loves to pat my belly and talk to my belly and snuggle with my belly to "keep the baby warm."  Margot is totally clueless, but she'll figure it out.

As far as the pregnancy goes, I've felt absolutely fine, just like I did with the others.  Margot gave me a little more nausea than Sylvia or this one, but it wasn't anything to get upset about.  I thought I was having terrible morning sickness around week six, but it turned out to just be a stomach bug that ended up hitting everyone in my house!  Once we were all done puking, I felt completely normal, which was a huge relief, because I didn't know if I could handle that kind of sickness for weeks on end!

We are so incredibly excited to welcome baby #3 in July!  The idea of a four year old, a two year old and a newborn scares me to death, but I'm so excited to see my girls grow as big sisters.  Given the way Sylvia and Margot have become fast friends, I think this third child is going to have plenty of love and attention from both of them.  I've taken to calling Margot my "little middle."  I used to wonder if we should really make her a middle child or not, but recently I've decided that Margot will be FINE.  The girl can hold her own!  She knows what she wants, she knows how to get it, and she doesn't take any crap from anybody, so I think she's going to make a great big sister.

I'll get around to writing about my new year's resolutions on another day, but for now I'll say that I hope 2014 is as amazing as 2012 and 2010 were, and all the years in between.  It's "The Year of The Baby!" and I couldn't be more pleased!