Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Mom of Four

I was asked by a friend and mentor to record what a "typical" day in my life looks like.  I first laughed, and then realized she was serious.  "You don't want to know."  That's what I was thinking.  But I acted like a respectable person that has it all together and said I would be happy to.
So, I started looking at my calendar to see which day would be "typical." And then I realized that typical doesn't exist at the McKeown house.  So, here's a day.  It's not typical.  It's just a day.  A crazy day, which IS typical.
So, I hope you've read "If you give a moose a muffin", or "a pig a pancake", or whatever.... because that's what this blog post will souund like.  In fact, I've written about that before.  I think the beginning of my next Day in the Life post will begin with "5:30, take Adderall."  But for now, it doesn't.... so hang on for the ride.
My day started at 2:15.  In the morning.  Okay, I didn't really start my day then, but that's the first time after midnight the night before, that I had something to do.  Maebry wakes up, crying.  I change her diaper and fix a bottle.

 She sleeps through most of it and only takes a couple of ounces.  I tuck her back in bed at 2:40 and flop back in my bed.  Which is now cold.  I flop around and get warm again.  Then she cries.  Again.  I get up and feed her the rest of the bottle (because I left it on the couch.... where I was sitting... because they magically get to the sink somehow in the morning *read-Jason picks up after me*.   I tuck her in, again, and climb back in bed.  It's now around 3:30.
5:27- footsteps.... in the room above me.  Running footsteps.  The kids are awake.  WHY!?
5:30- Bible study and prayer time for me (the only time that's quiet in my day.... at least it's USUALLY quiet.... today it sounds like I'm reading my Bible at a Rodeo.

5:50- kiss hubby goodbye and hang on his leg, begging him not to leave me with these crazy kids all day
6:00- Start laundry.... before you get all "you're supermom" and junk, this is a load of laundry that's been sitting, wet, in my washing machine since yesterday.  It now stinks and I have to wash it again.  On hot.  With vinegar.
6:05-Wake Maebry, change her diaper and feed her a bottle (I HATE waking a sleeping baby, but it's the only way she'll get fed before 8:00, realistically).
6:15- Big kids descend.  And fix breakfast for themselves (which means they opened about 10 packages of pop tarts and actually ate about 1.5, leaving the rest of them in crumbles around the house).  I do usually prepare some sort of breakfast for them, but the timing of Maebry's bottle this morning didn't allow.
While they eat and I feed Maebry, we practice our memory verse for the week.  This week's verse is Colossians 3:12.  "Clothe yourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience."
6:30-7:10- I remind the children 3,256 times  to brush their teeth, put on their clothes, make their beds, find put on their shoes, etc.  We do hair (this takes forever with all girls).  I prepare snacks and pack them.  This is where I would normally pack their lunches, but they decided to buy lunch today.  HOORAY!
7:10 Bible time and prayer before school.  I try to incorporate our memory verse into our thoughts for the day.  Today, we talked about kindness.  The thought for the day is that you might regret being rude, obnoxious, snobby, standoffish, etc, but you'll never regret being kind.  Find someone that is left out, kinda strange, new to school, lonely and practice your kindness on them.  (stolen from a blog).
We pray for self control, and that God will show us how to be kind to those around us.
7:20- load up for carpool

I also during this time, clean up massive amounts of spit up from Maebry, her carseat, the floor, the van.... pretty much everywhere between the nursery and the car..... after she pukes, exorcist style, when I buckle her in.  And by clean up, I mean that I throw a towel on the floor and scoot it down the hall while I'm loading Maebry in the car... and I stuff a blanket down next to her to hopefully soak up some of the vomit.  (it doesn't).... because we're going to be late for school if I get her out, change her clothes and clean up her carseat.
This is also the point which I pray to delight in my children.  Not because of the spit up, but because of the shouting (happy shouts, but loud voices nonetheless), knots in shoelaces, backpack won't zip, where are my library books, stuff that only comes up when we are walking out the door.
7:40- This is when I actually DID  clean up the carseat, baby and floor.
7:45- Wash bottles, unload/load dishwasher, clean up breakfast dishes
8:00- Play babies with Julianne and listen to her "read" me a Tinkerbell book.

8:30- Change out laundry  (woohoo!  It made it to the dryer!) and start another load.
Clean counters, and by "clean counters" I actually mean stack everything in this bowl on the island, Jenga style, hoping it doesn't all fall over.

Straighten and pick up the house while Maebry swings and Julianne watches cartoons
9:00 Fix a protein shake.... not only because I don't have time to chew my breakfast, but also because I love chocolate and peanut butter and this is the only way I can make an excuse to eat it for breakfast without actually eating a brownie or something.
9:30- Get Julianne dressed and throw on a different t-shirt and yoga pants than the ones I slept in.
10- Head out the door to shop for a new refrigerator.  It's 2013.  I shouldn't be emptying ice trays.  Just sayin'.  We went to 3 places before finding the exact one we wanted at Lowes, for $1 cheaper, free delivery TOMORROW, and a 4 year warranty, 30% off for Labor Day and 5% off to put it on a Lowes card (which we'll pay off when we receive our first bill... woop woop!).
12:00- Heat up leftovers for lunch for Julianne and me
12:30- Fold laundry.  Change out and start one more load for the day.
1:00- List old refrigerator on Facebook trading sites while Julianne watches Dora
1:30- Diaper change/ bottle/ another diaper change
2:00- Fold/hang laundry
2:20- Leave for afternoon carpool

3:00- Home from carpool, checking folders, doing homework, talking about our days
3:30- Fold/hang laundry
3:45- Jason gets home
4:30- Take Adelaide to Irish Dance class
5:00- Shower
5:30-Babysitter arrives for Jason and I to attend parent night at school
6:00- Bottle
8:00-Pay sitter, put Maebry to bed, several times
8:30- Fooootballllllll
10:00- Bottle/Diaper change and bedtime for mom

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The last 11 months, condensed version (birth story)

 Remember when I used to blog??
Me neither.
No really, it's been a long time.  A lot has happened since my last blog post.  Like, God blessed us with another pregnancy and I had a really awful time carrying her and she spent the longest 7 days of my life in the NICU and now she's home and we are happy.  If only that was enough to sum up the last several months.  It's not.  I would love to share some more details.
Well, we found out in November of last year that we were expecting our fourth baby.  I was ecstatic and scared and super sick.  All at the same time.  I was nauseated and had migraines from day two.  Seriously.
Well, beginning around week 13, I started having horrendous nose bleeds.  In fact, the first one I had scared me pretty badly.  I was walking into Office Depot and I sneezed.  All of a sudden, I looked down and my entire shirt was covered in blood.  I couldn't even figure out where all the blood was coming from.  I ran back to my car and held napkins (thanks Starbucks!) on my face until I could get home.  My shirt had to be tossed and I had a hard time getting my nose to stop bleeding.  This went on for a few weeks.  I would have one really awful nosebleed every week and a few smaller, less concerning ones in between.  Well, I called my doctor, thinking "really, fourth baby and I'm calling my doctor about a NOSEBLEED!"  Well, I did.  And the nurse acted like I was an idiot (as expected), telling me nosebleeds are normal.  "This is not normal."  That's what I told her.
Fast forward another month.  Nosebleeds are still a frequent nuisance.  I talked to my doctor at my regular appointment.  He said (and I quote) "Nosebleeds are normal in pregnancy.  If you had a clotting disorder, we would know it already.  You've had 2 c sections."  Hmph.
Another month passes and I'm still having nosebleeds.  Not your regular, hold a tissue, lean your head back, nosebleeds.  Like, go home and change clothes because you look like you've been stabbed, nosebleeds.  I mention it to my doctor again and he agrees, reluctantly, to send me to a hematologist.  I'll give you the Cliff's Notes version of this because it's not all that interesting.  They took approximately all of my blood one day (I seriously walked in, expecting a finger prick or, at the most, a couple of vials of blood and they asked if I had eaten and if I had anyone that could drive me home).  I didn't.  That didn't stop them from taking 21 vials of blood.  Twenty one.
After several days of waiting, (including another blood draw because the lab messed up the first one... and then a third blood draw because the lab messed up the second one) they gave me the news.  I had a blood clotting disorder.  One that's normally genetic.  And I've most likely had it all of my life.  My parents should be tested.  My brother should be tested.  My children should be tested.  Gulp.
My doctors were shocked that I had never miscarried a baby.  They started me on blood thinners.  Injectable blood thinners.  One a day at first, and then two a day starting at 35 weeks.  This posed a risk if I went into labor on my own, but otherwise was just a pain.  In the belly.  No really, I had to give the shots in my belly.  That's delightful.
I had preterm labor and lots of contractions for weeks, and thankfully my mom was able to come and help we with the older girls while I tried my best to rest and stay off my feet. There were lots of doctors appointments and tests.  I spent almost all day every Monday at Brookwood having multiple ultrasounds, non stress tests, OB appointments and high risk OB appointments.

 On July 22, at 4:30 am,  I wasn't sure if my regular contractions were anything more than they had been for the last 2 weeks.... but something sure felt different about them.  I was already scheduled for my day of appointments, but I called my OB anyway.  I wasn't scheduled to see him until 2:00.  Jason went on to work, promising to be available by phone or pager.  I called my dr. and he said to come in.  He immediately called me back to tell me not to eat breakfast or take my shot.  I didn't, but I packed both (my shot and a granola bar).... feeling certain this was going to be the same song and dance we'd been through before.
My mom dropped me off at the doctor and took the girls home.  I walked to my appointment by myself... stopping to rock and breathe every 4 minutes.  I signed in, telling the receptionist that I was pretty sure I was in labor and that Dr. Huggins had asked me to come in to be checked.  She told me to sit in the waiting room like normal, where everyone around me watched me like I had a bomb strapped to my chest.
They finally called me back and checked my vitals like normal.  Hmm.... blood pressure is a little elevated (I WONDER WHY).  You've lost 3 pounds (after not gaining the last 3 weeks).  That's unusual, they said.  They put me in a room and handed me a paper sheet to "wear."  I sat and sat and sat and sat..... no doctor... lots of contractions.  Tiny room.  Paper sheet to "wear."  You get the picture, right?  After an HOUR I went into the hall.  Did I mention I'm wearing a paper sheet?  I didn't care.  I needed someone and I was tired of waiting.  By myself.
I found the first nurse (or person in scrubs) that walked by and told her I was in labor and I had been waiting an hour.  She turned awfully pale and got my doctor.
He checked me, and sure enough, this is it.  "Who is here with you," he asked.  "I'm by myself," I answered.  "Call Jason.  We're headed to L&D.  Surgery scheduled for 2 hours from now. " HOLY MOLY.  I started calling people and barking all kinds of orders.  I didn't ask.  I just told people to get to my house and take care of my kids.  Sorry, friends.  You know who you are, and I'm so very thankful that I can count on you to take care of everything.

Anyway, surgery happened.  It went well. I didn't bleed like crazy.  I thought everything was rosy.  Maebry Lynn weighed 6 pounds and 10 ounces.  She was 20.5 inches long.
  I got to recovery and realized everything wasn't rosy.  Not at all.
Maebry was struggling to breathe.  Her oxygen saturation was poor and she had respiratory distress syndrome.  She needed to go to the NICU.   I was crushed, bawling and scared.  They wheeled me to the NICU to see her and I couldn't believe how tiny and fragile she looked.  I was devastated when I had to go to my room without her.  I was furious when I heard the baby next door crying.  And I couldn't hold my baby.
I just wanted to hold her!  She spent the rest of the day Monday under her oxygen bubble.  Tuesday, she seemed a little better. In fact, Tuesday night, they weaned her from oxygen overnight.  She was looking so much better.  The doctor said we might even get to hold her Wednesday.  I was so encouraged and excited!
On Wednesday morning, we got the news that she had a pneumomediastinum, air that had leaked into her chest cavity.  This was dangerous stuff.  She was put on 100% oxygen and there was an ominous chest tube box next to her bed.  Just in case.  I didn't completely understand everything that meant, but I knew there were plenty of complications that could go along with a chest tube.   And I didn't want any of those to happen to my baby.
 Jason was invited to look at her chest x-ray (our neonatologist was amazing about keeping him in the loop).  While he was gone, I sat by Maebry's bed.  Alone.  I was terrified.  I laid my head on my arm, my hand on Maebry's tiny bottom and I prayed.  I prayed for God to heal my baby. I prayed that she would remain calm.  I prayed that He would give us peace.  I sobbed, shaking, tears ran down my cheeks and into my lap.  I couldn't stop.  I felt an arm around my shoulders and heard an unfamiliar voice.  She said she would pray for our baby.  She said to lean on Christ.  She said everything would be okay.  Then she prayed.  Right there in our NICU room.  While I cried.  She prayed for complete healing for our baby.  She prayed for peace and understanding for Jason and me.  She promised to continue to pray for us.  When I turned around, expecting a nurse, I saw a lady leaving the room with our trash.  She didn't have to stop and pray for us.  She had a job to do.  A job that I took for granted.  Had I been in a normal state of mind, I probably wouldn't have even noticed that she was there.  But I'm so thankful she was.  I needed her right then, and I have no doubt that God used her where she was... doing what she normally does.  She let Him use her.  I want to be like her.
I asked people to pray.... begged people to pray for our little one.  She had another chest x-ray that Wednesday evening and it showed that her lungs had improved a bit.  Then on Thursday morning, they looked a lot better.  The doctor said it was okay to start weaning her off of oxygen.  Again.  She did great.
On Thursday, I finally got to hold her for the first time.  I cannot even put into words how amazing that felt.  I had ached to hold her.  Every bit of my being hurting for my little girl, and I was finally able to smell her sweet head and hold her tiny frame.
On Friday I got to feed her her very first bottle.... well, about a teaspoon of her very first bottle.  We had to take it slow since she had never fed before, but she took to it well!
 I was discharged from the hospital on Friday.  That was so hard.  I wanted so badly to be home with my big girls.  They missed Mama and I missed them terribly.  I knew their little worlds had been turned upside down.  They were worried... about both Maebry and me.  They were scared and they were struggling.  My mom was taking good care of them, but they knew things weren't okay.  I felt torn.  I didn't feel right being at the hospital while they were at home.  And I knew if I was at home, Maebry was alone.  It was awful.  I never felt right about my decision, no matter where I was.  I finally decided to spend my days at the hospital with Maebry, arriving to give her the first feeding of the day.  I would stay all day and leave after her evening feeding.  I would come home in time to eat dinner with the family and for bedtime.  Then repeat all over the next day.
Jason and I spent hours every day staring at our tiny baby. We studied every inch of her precious face.  The tiny peak on the top of her ear, the tiny bump on her upper lip (just like mine).

On Monday, one week from the day she was born, we were discharged from the hospital.  I couldn't help but think of what Jason said when we left the hospital almost 8 years earlier with our first baby.  He said he felt like he was driving a truckload of eggs.

I'm so thankful we had that time to memorize every bit of her.  We wouldn't have had that if she had come home on time.  She would have been in her swing while we rush around taking care of our family of 6.  That's just reality.  But God had another plan for us.  For Maebry.  I can't say that I would choose that plan for us, if I had the option to do it all over.  It's still too raw for me.  Too scary.  But this isn't about my plan.  It's so much bigger than that.  I learned so much from our week in the NICU.  I learned dependence.  Dependence on my friends, my family, Jason and most importantly, on God.  I learned that our faith is essential.  I'm so very thankful that, in the darkest moments in our marriage, we had a like faith.  Jason and I clung to each other and cried out to God together, never doubting that He would hear us.  I learned that I should look for God to use me in my daily walk to be a light for someone else, just like the sweet lady doing her thankless job that stopped to pray for us. I learned that we have the best family and friends anyone could ever ask for.   I learned compassion for NICU parents.  I truly believe that nobody can ever explain the pain or understand the heartache until you've been there.  We now pray for the NICU parents and babies every day.  I was forced to slow down.  I was humbled.  I was told, firmly, to trust.
I wouldn't choose that path, wouldn't wish it on anyone.  But I'm so thankful for the lessons I learned.  And I'm so thankful for the chaos of having four little girls at home.

Thankfully, Maebry is doing great.  She's gaining weight well and is such an easy baby.  She sleeps well (most of the time) and just hangs out and watches the world around her.  We love the way she completes our family.