Sunday, August 30, 2009

Princesses and Picnics

Understandably we've had a lot going on around here lately. Matthew was born early, Clara started school and we've had company now for 2 weeks, between my in laws and my parents coming to help us adjust. My parents leave this Friday, the 4th. Having company has brought on it's own set of adjustments. My parents have set up camp in my room, so Matthew and I are camping out in Clara's room. Clara is bunking with Jonathan in his room. The kids adjusted to these changes really well at first, but as time has gone on, I think everyone is just ready to have their own space back...not to sound ungrateful for the company we've had. The kids seem to have adjusted well to the coming of the baby and the start of school, it's the company that seems to have taken it's toll on them. Clara has found her attitude and Jonathan has resorted to whining about EVERY little thing. Of course it helps that they stay up playing for hours after I've put them to bed since they're currently sharing a room.

A couple of Clara's friends (and our neighbors) celebrated birthdays this past week. To celebrate, their moms took a bunch of girls to a place in the mall called 'My Girl' today. It's one of those places where they do the girls' hair, nails and make up. Typically I tend to think Clara's not quite old enough for that sort of thing yet, but right now I think it's just the sort of thing she needs, so I allowed her to go along. She needs a little extra attention these days and certainly to feel included with all her friends. My parents headed to the coast for a few days, so it was just me and the boys today.

Clara came back home with hair and a tiara fit for a princess, a little makeup, nail polish, glitter and a huge smile on her face!

Here she is with Haley, one of her friends who lives up the street.

The boys and I had a special day too. We got McDonald's for lunch and had a picnic in the front yard.

I was taking a lot of pics of Matthew (which I'll share later) and Jonathan decided he needed a photo shoot as well!

Yep, He's winking at me!

Loving on Matthew

Ever since I had Matthew, I can't get over how BIG Jonathan is. He's huge compared to Matthew...and all this time I've been thinking Jonathan was still my baby.

Clara's First Day of School

August 17th was Clara's first day of Kindergarten. When I first found out I was pregnant with Matthew, I was worried I would miss Clara's first day of school, but as time went on I thought I had it all figured out. I thought for sure I'd be able to see Clara off for her first day of school and have a week for her to adjust before I had Matthew...wrong again! Apparently, Matthew also wanted to be around for Clara's first day of school! Thankfully my neighbors pulled together and saw Clara off to her first day. The first day of Kindergarten was actually an orientation for the parents. My neighbor, Carrie, was kind enough to sit in Clara's class in my place.

Here she is heading to her first day of school. It wasn't at all chilly that morning, but for some reason she insisted on wearing a jacket.

By the second day, my in laws had arrived to see Clara off for what would be her first day of actually going to class. Here's Grandpa Vic helping her with her name tag.

Clara at school

A picture with Grandma Ginia

After dropping Clara off at school, she has time to play on the playground with her friends before school starts.

She loves playing on the playground

When it's time for school to start, the teacher blows the whistle twice. All the kids are to 'freeze' at the first whistle. At the second whistle, the kids walk to their lines to go into the classroom. (That's just how they did it when I was in school!)

Clara with her teacher, Mrs. Ward.

At the end of the day, Mrs. Ward leads the kids out in line. They stand up against the wall as she goes through the kids one by one, making sure each child is picked up by their parents. It wasn't until Friday of Clara's first week that I was actually able to pick her up myself.

Clara just finished up her second week of school with this award from her teacher. She's adjusting to school fantastically. She loves learning all these new things, new ways of learning things and comes home each day and tries to teach them to Jonathan. Jonathan misses Clara each morning when she's off at school. I think he's actually having the more difficult time adjusting to her new school schedule, but overall we're doing great!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Grandma Ginia and Grandpa Vic

My in laws have been telling me for the last 2 years with as much as Chris has been gone, that if I ever needed them, just call and they would be here. Matthew's arrival put that call into action. Saturday night I had Matthew, and with everything going on I didn't even think to call them until my mother asked if I had. It was already past midnight at that point so I decided to wait until the next day. I was not able to call long distance from my hospital room and my cell phone had no reception in the hospital, so when Chris called at 3am Sunday morning, he said he'd call them for me. First thing Monday morning they were here to take over the care of Clara and Jonathan from my neighbors and to help me out as well. It was great to have them come.

Jonathan read a book to Grandpa Vic

Clara read a good night story to Grandma Ginia and Jonathan

Tuesday night Grandma Ginia picked Matthew and I up and brought us home from the hospital. Clemson greeted him once we got in the house. He did great. He remembered to stay calm. He leaned in for a quick sniff and then let Matthew be.

The kids had already been sent to bed, but the commotion of our homecoming brought them out into the living room to greet us as well. I got quick hugs and then all the attention was quickly turned to Matthew.

Jonathan loves nothing more than holding his new baby brother. The next night I was trying to get the kids off to bed so I could nurse Matthew and Jonathan just wanted to hold him. So I let each of the kids snuggle Matthew really quick as I tucked them in. You can see Matthew was just hungry, but it made both Clara and Jonathan really happy to snuggle him for just a second!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Matthew -- 'Gift of God'

Matthew is a week old already! It's funny to think that time has passed so quickly, especially when I stop and realize he shouldn't even be here yet! So here's his story:

Last Saturday, the 15th, I got up to get Jonathan ready for his gymnastics class. It was like any other day. I was late in my pregnancy and those last few weeks of pregnancy are never fun ones for me. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those women who loves every minute of pregnancy. The first couple months are always filled with nausea and the last month or so is always really uncomfortable. This time around I also had some serious exhaustion and lack of energy I was dealing with for all the middle months, so I was ready for this pregnancy to come to it's end. Last Saturday I just wasn't feeling right. In the couple days before, I had been extremely exhausted and my legs and feet had been pretty swollen. I had gone for a routine appointment Friday morning and all my vitals had checked out, so I had figured that was just the way I was going to finish out this pregnancy and really wished Chris was home to help pick up the slack. I took the Jonathan to gymnastics, we stopped by Target to get some things in preparation for my parents coming later in the week, grabbed some lunch, and headed home for naps all around. I had hoped to feel better when I got up from my nap -- I didn't. My tummy was cramping, I felt a little nauseous and just 'not right'. Unbelievably, even though this was my 3rd pregnancy, I've never felt a contraction, not even the braxton hicks contractions of false labor. Clara came 7 weeks early, and Jonathan, while carried full term was still born by repeat c-section, so I've never had that labor experience. Due to having 2 previous c-sections, it was a given that I'd have a c-section this time as well, and it had been scheduled for August 24th (tomorrow). Obviously Matthew had other plans.

I got the kids up from their naps as well and headed outside for them to play and for me to talk with some of the other neighbors. I expressed to them that I thought I may be having contractions, but since I'd never had one I wasn't sure. There was no clear beginning or end to the cramps I was feeling, so it was impossible to time anything. I was scared. I had been told that if I felt ANY contractions, that I was to report to the Mother Infant Unit at the hospital, so that they'd still be able to do the c-section if I was, in fact, in labor. I didn't know what I was feeling and I didn't know if I should wait it out until I knew for sure that I was feeling contractions or if I should head in to the hospital. My neighbors all watched me with worried faces and tried to explain to me what a contraction had felt like to them. After about 30 minutes of worry and uncertainty I asked if they'd mind watching my kids so I could try to head into the hospital for some answers as to what I was feeling. My neighbors told me not to worry about Clara and Jonathan and one of the neighbors drove me up the street to the hospital.

We walked up on the Mother Infant Unit at about 7pm. I explained to the nurses at the desk that I was 37 weeks into my 3rd pregnancy, with a repeat c-section scheduled for the 24th, but I thought I was having contractions and I was scared. They got me into a room and explained it was time for shift change, but that a nurse would be in ASAP to hook me up to monitors to see what was going on. It probably took about 15 minutes for a nurse to come in and start hooking me up to monitors. She wrapped the first monitor around my tummy and immediately I knew something was wrong. The nurse looked scared and I could hear that the baby's heartbeat was slower than mine typically is. The baby's heartbeat was in the 50's. It should've been in the 150's. The nurse was scared, I was scared. She walked to the door and yelled down the hall for a catheter, IV's, and for the doctors that needed to be contacted (anesthesiologist, OB, pediatrician). Within minutes, my room filled with seemingly all the nurses from the floor. She positioned me on my right side which helped speed up the baby's heartbeat a little and I was told to stay there. The anesthesiologist was the first doctor to arrive and he told me what I had already figured out...I was going to have my c-section that night. My neighbor contacted my parents in SC and I tried to contact Chris through a voicemail/email system we have set up. I wanted Chris with me more than ever.

Within 30 minutes I was wheeled into the ER. The doctors had gone through all the risks and cautions. I simply wanted them to shut up and save my baby. Just get in there and get it over with. I've been through 2 other c-sections. I knew what to expect and I didn't want to waste time because I was uncertain about what that meant for Matthew. I had 2 fantastic OB doctors assisting on this c-section, Dr. Lau and Dr. Short, and wonderful anesthesiologist and plenty of other OR auxillary nurses and such that kept me calm when Chris couldn't be there to do so. They kept me strong.

Turns out, the baby's placenta had ruptured and my uterus had separated from my previous c-sections. Dr. Lau told me when he opened me up, he could see the baby's hand through my uterus. I was bleeding heavily, which was the reason for the baby's distressed heartbeat. After about 15-20 minutes I heard him cry. Matthew Caleb Stein was born at 8:23 pm. Matthew was OK. Before long they wrapped him up, brought him around to my side of the sheet for a quick introduction and then whisked him away for some evaluation. I was worried about him, but since we'd been here before with Clara, I was sure everything would turn out alright.

However, my surgery was not over. The doctors still had to find the source of my bleeding and try to make it stop. If they could not make it stop, the result would be a full hysterectomy. They alerted me of this risk and I was fine with it. My baby was OK, and Chris and I had already planned to stop at 3 children, so my thoughts were simply that I didn't need those parts anymore anyway. Fortunately, I didn't end up needing a hysterectomy, though apparently it was close. I was in the OR for over 2 hours, and then sat in recovery under the watchful eyes of Dr. Lau and the anesthesiologist, Dr. Jacobs. That was the first time the doctors stayed in recovery with me, for my 2 previous c-sections, it was the nurses that had stayed behind. Before long they allowed my neighbor to come back and sit with me as well. She looked worried and relieved all at the same time. She explained to me how all my neighbors were praying for me and had all pitched in to help out. I am humbled by the amount of help I received.

One of my neighbors took Clara so that Clara could have a sleepover with her daughter. Clara was so excited about that that she didn't even try to hide her disappointment when we told her we'd arranged for Chris' parents to come up from Phoenix to fill in until my parents got here Weds. as scheduled. When we told her Grandma and Grandpa were coming, she said, "Why?" We explained it was so they could watch Clara and Jonathan at home, to which she replied, "You mean no more sleepovers?" I was grateful that she was having so much fun that she was oblivious to all I had gone through. Thankful for the blessings of my neighbors in keeping my kids safe and happy. Another of my neighbors slept at my house, so that my dog wouldn't be home alone and so that Jonathan would sleep in his own bed where he'd be most comfortable. She unselfishly left her kids home with her husband, so that my family could be more comfortable. I received flowers, cookies, balloons, gifts and visits from my neighbors in the next few days. My neighbors passed my kids around for the first 2 days as was convenient to them, but always in mind was what would work best for my kids. They kept their routine as well as possible and called all the family and friends that needed to be called for me. They even saw Clara off to her first day of kindergarten for me and took so many pictures so I could feel like I didn't miss it. They bought Jonathan diapers and lent us toilet paper (I was planning on doing some grocery shopping on Monday). They put together the baby's car seat (I had washed it, but not put it back together) and they rearranged the kids' car seats in the van making room for the baby's. I know there's still more things they did and I am forever grateful for it all. My neighbors were awesome. My in laws came Monday morning and took over until I came home on Tuesday night.

Matthew with Grandpa Vic

Matthew and Grandma Ginia

Matthew spent the first day or so hooked up to an IV for feeding. They had to do compressions on him for about 30 seconds in the first night and he was on oxygen for a short while that night as well. Because of all my internal bleeding, his respiration was a little quicker than it should have been. He came out of it all fairly quickly though, but was still kept under close observation to check for liver or kidney damage over the next few days. Thankfully he doesn't appear to have any. Matthew has fully lived up to his name, which means 'Gift of God'.

Chris and I had a difficult time naming this baby. Chris has been trying to get 'Caleb' since I was pregnant with Clara, but she obviously turned out to be a girl. When I was pregnant with Jonathan, Chris once again voted for 'Caleb', but I wasn't sure I loved the name. This time around I figured Chris should finally get some say, but then a friend of mine had her baby just 2 weeks prior and named him Caleb - it's a good name! So we went back and forth about whether we should still use 'Caleb' and we had both agreed we liked Matthew. Still there was a part of me that felt that maybe we were settling on 'Matthew' because we couldn't think of anything better. Now I'm sure 'Matthew' is the name he was supposed to have. After all we went through, what bigger gift could God grant me than a healthy baby boy.

Every doctor or nurse that walked into my room while we were in the hospital was in awe of how well we were doing. That not only did I still have my baby, but that he is healthy, and to top it all off, I didn't need the hysterectomy either. Dr. Lau must have asked me about 5 times what made me come in last Saturday night, because had I not come in when I did, the outcome wouldn't have been the same. He has also made it clear that under no circumstances should I try for another baby (My parents and Chris' parents have seconded that notion!)

I am humbled by God's blessings. He gave me a beautiful baby boy, wonderful neighbors to help me through this time, family and friends to support me and the strength to do it without Chris by my side. Chris finally called me about about 3am Sunday morning in response to an email that my neighbor had sent him. Not wanting to worry him with details after the fact, she had simply written him, "Congratulations, It's a boy." and included my hospital telephone number. I answered the phone and he said, "What's going on?" I said, "We have a baby, he came tonight." Chris was in disbelief and worried about all I went through. I know it has been hard for him to not be here by my side. He has called several times everyday to talk with me, and each of the 3 kids (yes, even Matthew). He called my parents and his, and spoke with the neighbors as the kids were passed around and cared for. I know it must be so difficult for him to not be here. Even after all I've been through, I would not trade places with him for anything. I actually think he has the harder part in all this. We are eagerly awaiting his arrival back home.

I'll try and post some more pics soon, but as you can see this past week has been a bit of a whirlwind. My parents are here now for a while and Clara and Jonathan are adjusting to the earlier schedule brought about by the beginning of the school year. With so many changes, it's taking a while to get into the swing of things, but we're handling it all well. Clara is the awesome big sister I knew she'd be, and even Jonathan has surprised me with nothing but love and caring for his new little brother. He even looked panicked one day when I jokingly asked Jonathan if we should give Matthew back to the doctors at the hospital, so we're off to a wonderful start!

Matthew talking to Daddy on the phone!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sneak Peek

I'm not quite up to sharing the whole story, but I figured the least I could do was post some pics.

Clara Elizabeth and Matthew Caleb

(What an AWESOME big sister!)

Jonathan Michael and Matthew Caleb

(He's so excited to have a baby brother despite what it looks like in the picture.)

The Stein Kids!

Leaving the hospital

Getting ready to go outside and hang out for the first time.

We're still doing great -- I'm still adjusting, so be patient with me getting to the story, but I know everyone just wants to see pics anyway.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Big News, Little Guy

I've been away from the computer for a couple days, but with good reason...My little guy decided not to wait any longer to come meet his family!
That's right:
Matthew Caleb Stein was born August 15th at 8:23pm
He was 5lbs and 15 oz, 18.5 in long.
There were some complications that led him to his early arrival, but nothing we couldn't handle. He and I were both discharged from the hospital tonight at about 8:30pm. He has already been fed and sent off to bed, and I'm about to join him, but I wanted to share the good news first. I promise pictures next time!

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Countdown

7 Days to a Hannah Montana CD.

We took the handle off the bike. That's right, Clara is confident in her ability to start the bike all on her own. She is a confident bike rider now. Our deal was she rides the bike without assistance and without the handle for 7 days straight and she can have the Hannah Montana CD she wants...Lord help me!

She was going so fast all my pics turned out blurry

The good news...she'll get that CD just in time to drive Grandma Yonka and Grandpa Michael up the wall with it while they're here assisting me with the birth of her new baby brother -- and I'll be recovering in the peace and quiet of my hospital room! Hope you're ready Mom and Dad!

Quote of the Day

Jonathan: "Aww Man, I don't find any f*** ups (slug bugs). Sissy finds lots'um, lots'um f*** ups (slug bugs)."

Thursday, August 13, 2009


With all the talk of the new baby coming soon and Jonathan's birthday, I haven't blogged much about the fact that Clara starts Kindergarten on Monday. There are just too many emotions for this pregnant woman to deal with right now. Don't my kids understand that we spaced them out so they can space out these milestones as well?! They aren't all supposed to have these big days right on top of one another. My 'baby boy' just turned 3, my beautiful girl is heading off to school, and soon there will be a new baby in the am I supposed to cope with all this at one time?!

Clara is VERY excited about heading to school, everyday she has more questions about it...who's going to be there, how long does she have to go each day, what will Jonathan and I do when she's gone, what is she going to learn, why is this school 5 days a week when preschool was just 3 days...? The list goes on and on. Those who know Clara know that she is quite the talker. When she was just learning to talk at about 1.5 -2 years old, I used to joke about how she started every morning with her dissertation on what color all the marshmallows were in each bite on her spoon as she ate her Lucky Charms (or 'Minkey Awbons' as she called them then) -- and I am not a morning person! Well, the amount she talks on a normal daily basis is nothing compared to how much she talks when she's excited about something. Maybe that's the Lord's way of preparing me for her going off to certainly leaves me looking forward to some peace and quiet :)

Since Clara starts school on Monday, and Jonathan was simply in need, I took the kids for haircuts yesterday. I had told Clara we'd make a day out of it and head to Chuck E Cheese for lunch after haircuts, hoping this would also help Jonathan make it through another haircut. Both kids did really well.

Clara went a little shorter. She got her haircut as Jonathan sat in my lap to get his, so I had told the lady cutting her hair what I wanted, but then was distracted while she was actually getting it cut. It's a beautiful cut, and I love the length on Clara. Her hair looks so thick and full and healthy.

My only concern is whether it is fully age appropriate. The back is a little shorter and stacked up a bit. It's adorable and looks super cute on her, I just don't know if it's right for a 5 year old. Maybe I'm just too self conscious. I think Clara has a lot of features that can easily make her look older than she is, and I try not to emphasize that, because I want her to grow up in her own time. I think that's difficult enough in this day and age. At the same time, I know it's just a haircut and it will grow...and yes, she's still beautiful just the same.

Jonathan was excited about getting his new haircut. He told the neighbor, "I'm getting my new haircut, 'cause it keeps growing. I'm gonna laugh." I was surprised by his plans, but skeptical nonetheless. Sure enough when we arrived, he had no problem watching Clara get seated for her cut, but then refused to get in the chair for his own. He cried and protested as I got on my cape and picked him up to carry him to sit in my lap, but once in my lap he started saying in a half cry, half laugh, "Look, I'm laughing." I wish I had a picture of his face at that point because he looked like he was crying, but he was in fact laughing. More importantly, he sat still, so we didn't have to buzz it this time. It's just a little longer on the top, shorter on the sides...He looks very handsome!

We spiked the top a little today for his 'cool dude' look!

Haircuts done, so we headed to Chuck E Cheese for lunch. I may have the only 2 kids in America that don't like pizza. Clara is just starting to come around to liking cheese pizza, but Jonathan won't touch any of it. Can you see what he ate instead? A huge plate of fruit and veggies from the salad bar! He's the only kid I know who eats healthier at Chuck E Cheese! -- and yes, he ate every last bit of it (though Clara did help a little).

Thankfully, the Chuck E Cheese here actually has a decent salad bar. There's not a lot of selection, but the produce is good, which I'm thankful for given Chuck E Cheese prices!

I love doing these every time we go to Chuck E Cheese. This one turned out pretty well, so I though I'd share!

On the way home Clara said to me one of the most beautiful things I've ever heard:

Clara: "Mom, Guess what?"

Me: "What?"

Clara: "You know my heart is spinning really fast right
now, making a lot of love for my new baby brother. It keeps spinning faster and faster, making more and more love and it's been making love since Christmas when you first found out you were pregnant."

Me: "Aww, Clara that's such a nice thing to say. There
must be a lot of love in there if you've been making love since Christmas."

Clara: "Yep, there's so much we won't ever run out!"

So, maybe it's not such a bad thing that she talks incessantly after all. She is a special little girl...and she's right, 'we won't ever run out'!

Friday, August 7, 2009

37 Weeks

Not much longer now!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

3 years

Jonathan had his 3 year well child appointment today. I didn't drag the camera with me like I did last year, but I wish I had. They did all the normal stuff, checked his vitals, gave him a hearing and sight test, all followed by the check-up with the doctor. When we first walked back and Jonathan realized we were there for him, he started to protest. He has accompanied me to so many of my OB appointments lately that I had hoped he would be comfortable at the doctor's office by now. While he did protest at first, once we calmed him down he quickly realized how nice everyone was and how much fun it can be at the doctor's. He stood on the scale no problem this time, and up against the wall for his height. He's at 35.2 lbs and 37.75 inches tall. It was the blood pressure cuff that got him a little riled up. The same kid who looks at me at the OB every couple weeks, and says, "Is it giving you a bear hug, Mom?", did not want a bear hug himself. I was able to distract him long enough to get the job done, but as soon as the nurse took it off, he asked in the most pitiful voice, "I'm done now, right?" Nope, we need to take your temperature. Thankfully, they use those super quick temple thermometers..."I'm done now, right?" Nope, gotta check the circumference of your head. It was actually counting out the numbers on the paper ruler that had distracted him through the BP monitoring, so he wasn't too upset about seeing 'how many numbers were on his head'.
Then it was time to go play some games...the sight and hearing tests. First, the nurse asked him to identify the 4 shapes he'd be reading off the chart, and then handed him the plastic thing to 'cover one eye like a pirate'. Jonathan was all ready to play this game! He did as he was asked, covered one eye and said, "Arrr, I'm a pirate!" He read out the shapes as well as he could, but he got quite a few wrong (in my opinion) as they got further down the chart. The doctor said it's nothing to be alarmed about at this point, "he sees as well as he should for this age". But being my child, I would not be surprised to find that he needs glasses come next year's appointment. For the hearing test, the nurse set him up with the ear phones ( I was surprised he left them on), and explained to him to raise a hand when he heard the tone and put the hand down when it went away. He responded as though he understood, and he looked adorable with the little earphones on, but didn't quite do as asked. Instead he kept looking at the nurse and saying, "It went went away again." Every time the tone sounded and went away. Too Cute.
By the time we were placed in the exam room, Jonathan was completely comfortable (even having fun) at the doctor's office. We have a wonderful pediatrician here who takes the time to talk to the kids, not just the parent when he comes in the room and Jonathan was in the mood to talk today!
Dr. Gage asked Jonathan some questions to assess his knowledge of colors, shapes and animals (all of which he got right, of course) and then proceeded with the physical check up (looking in ears, eyes, nose...checking belly, leg joints and diaper region). As the doctor looked in Jonathan's ears, Jonathan informed us that he heard the ocean. I asked him what the ocean sounded like and he held his index finger up to his lips and said, "shhh!" As the doctor checked Jonathan's abdomen, he made Donald duck noises each time he pressed on Jonathan's tummy. Jonathan thought that was the greatest! All evening Jonathan has told me and anyone else who would listen, "I went to the doctor's appointment. The man checked me up. He go *duck sound* when he checked my belly! Ah ha ha ha!"
So he's healthy and may have just turned that corner for realizing the doctor's office isn't such a bad place after all. Of course it helped that he was already up to date on his shots, and therefore, didn't get any today! Can't complain about a doctor's appointment that goes that well!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Note to Daddy

Clara went in her room today, "to play by herself for a little while". A little while later she came out with this for Chris. She had written it all by herself. It's the first full note she's ever written on her own. I asked her to read it to me and then we stuck it in an envelope to send to Daddy (she's hoping it will bring her a letter in return). It took everything in me not to cry as she read it to me.

"It is for Daddy
I love you. Have
a good time. It is
time for me
to go, but I to(?)
know that I love
you. I want you
to love me too
Love, Clara"

(I did assure her that Daddy does, and will always love her).