Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Why having a three year old sister is the best thing ever

When Xander was born, the hospital pediatrician told me that optimum child spacing was 3 years 7 months. I was immediately filled with regret and remorse. Had I simply held off for nine more days, I could have given both E and Xander (Xe/Z/Xe Man) the best possible start on life. 

Actually, I couldn't have cared less. I was just happy to not be pregnant any longer.

And that doctor was a bit of a nut who told me I was her favorite mother of the day and that I was killing my child all within a five minute conversation, but that's another story.

Despite being a whole nine days off from some arbitrary, or possibly well researched, ideal, I feel that Z is greatly benefiting from having a sister that is 3 years, 6 months, and 21 days older than him.

1) He's learning to always be alert and prepared.
My friend mentioned that Z always looks a little stunned/scared. I'm pretty sure it is from never knowing when his older sister is about to pounce, squeeze him til he can't breathe while declaring her undying love for him, or pick him up when I'm not watching (not that I would ever let him out of my sight!) I'm fairly certain that one day hyper alertness and the the ability to sense the enemy approaching from a mile away could come in handy.

2.) He gets way cooler songs sung to him.
When I used to rock E to sleep in the middle of the night, I'd sing her sweet lullabies. My favorite went:

Hey beautiful girl
Daddy loves you
He loves you
Most beautiful girl
In the whole wide world

When I'm singing to Z, it's usually whatever song is in my head. Since E has been on a Tangled kick lately, he usually hears:

I'm malicious mean and scary
My sneer could curdle dairy
And violence-wise my hands are not the cleanest
But despite my evil look
And my temper and my hook
I've always yearned to be a concert pianist...

Clearly, he's benefiting from living with a three year old.

3.) His every move is well monitored.
E is always more than happy to check on him and make sure he's still sleeping. Having a first hand report is so much more helpful than the static filled monitors we had last time.

E: He's still sleeping! I didn't wake him up!
Me: Wonderful! Thank you!
(30 seconds later)
E: He's crying!
Me: What happened?
E: I opened his eyes for him. I think he wants to be awake.

So. Much. Better.

4.) He always receives attention and comfort when he cries.
E doesn't like Z crying and is quick to comfort him. She likes to hold a pacifier (that he hates) in his mouth and when all else fails she's willing to smother him to so the crying stops. Sibling love.

5.) He's developing a strong immune system.
E didn't get her first cold until she was almost a year. Thanks to a sister with the sniffles, Z got his first cold at one week.

6.) Z's three year old sister is always willing to test things out for him.
From his itty bitty clothes to the swing, Moses basket, pacifier, toy, or car seat, she's tested it all.

7.) Having a three year old sister guarantees that everyone takes care of Z properly.
She's very eager to correct your hold, your burping technique, and my nursing position. She keeps a very accurate account of his diaper output and his feeding schedule (I didn't even know he had a feeding schedule!) Without her devoted oversight, Z would be lucky to be alive.

I think we can conclude based on a research sample of one, that a three year seven month age gap is truly ideal... at least for the three year old.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Xander Zekiah's First Month

Dear Xander,

We've had the pleasure of knowing you on this side of the womb for a whole month already! You are a dream baby, perfectly content and very easy going. When you sleep you are floppy and when you're awake you are happy. From birth you have audibly laughed in your sleep and you already smile at your mama both in your sleep and when you're awake. I'm really hoping to catch your little sleep chuckle on video one of these days. In your first week of life you slept through the night twice and you've continued to sleep well.

You have rolled tummy to back more times than I can remember. The Dr says it's just a random movement and not a purposeful roll, but don't worry, Mommy and Daddy are well aware that you're simply advanced.

You still struggle with the whole nursing thing, slurping and gulping and choking until milk pours out your nose. You don't seem to mind, though, and you're already growing bigger. Tear.

You are still in Premie/Newborn diapers and are just starting to outgrow newborn clothes. Please stay small just a little while longer!

You have been everywhere in you ring sling or woven wrap, because we're just so excited to finally leave the house! You've been to market every week, church, walks downtown, parks, and birthday parties. You're happy on the go and like a good poolside nap. But really, who doesn't?

We love you and are so glad you're here!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Xander Zekiah's Grand Entrance

From the moment I found out I was expecting, I was convinced this baby was coming early, hopefully by mid June. I felt very distinct baby flutters as early as 10 weeks, and was in maternity pants just as soon. In my first pregnancy I didn't bother with maternity pants most of the time and wore my regular low rise jeans right up until birth. This time around, those same jeans were too uncomfortable to wear even in the first trimester.

After a grueling 8 months of hg, I started contracting regularly during the afternoon of May 29th. They were coming every 3-5 minutes apart and kept going through me eating, napping, and walking. Although not particularly strong, they were consistent and lasted for 14 hours before disappearing. They picked up again for a few hours on Sunday, coming a bit stronger but disappearing after only an hour or two. This pattern continued every few days. Sometimes they lasted for an hour, sometimes half a day. Sometimes I barely noticed them and other times they could be painful. Exhausted emotionally and physically from the endless prodromal labor, I tried every trick in the book to kick start labor. Some did nothing, others produced enough contractions to interrupt my day but not to start active labor. The beginning of June came and went with my hg once again getting worse by the day. I was only able to keep down simple carbs, bread, and some dairy. My OB and I changed up my meds yet again in another failed attempt to get the middle-of-the-night vomiting under control, and the waiting game continued.

Finally, on Father's Day at exactly 39 weeks, I woke up at 3am with contractions that felt different. They were stronger although still completely manageable and felt serious enough that I woke Chou up and we started to get things together for the hospital. At 4:30, I said we should call my mom at 5:00 to come get my daughter. I then had two consecutive killer contractions and decided now was a good time to call mom. They kept coming every 3 minutes but only lasting 35-45 seconds. At 9am I decided to take a nap and woke up half an hour later because the contractions got so strong. Now they were 50 seconds long and increasingly painful. We worked through them one at a time while sitting on a yoga ball, and Chou kept me fed and hydrated. Around 2:00 or 2:30pm I walked to the bathroom and the contractions piled one on top of each other. Chou grew really concerned, thinking for a minute he'd be delivering a baby then and there. I was growing really tired and decided to try to rest again. I fell asleep, waking to work through contractions and then falling back asleep. I woke up around 4:00pm and the contractions were gone. I could work up the occasional contraction by walking or climbing stairs, but gone were the consistent, active labor contractions that had been present all day. 

I was furious and frustrated. My month long labor just wouldn't end. It was late enough in the day that our Father's Day plans were ruined so we decided to go to bed and get some sleep. We woke up at 8pm and decided to try to walk the baby out just as it started to downpour. It was another two hours before the rain cleared and we started walking. We walked til midnight, contracting occasionally but still not returning to active labor. We decided to call it a night and see what my OB would do for me at my scheduled appointment the following morning. 

I woke up at 2am with more contractions. I got out of bed to use the bathroom and quickly realized we were back in business. I woke Chou and told him it was go time. I took a quick shower, we grabbed the last of our things, and made our way to the car. I took a bite to eat as we drove and immediately needed coffee to wash it down. Knowing the hospital wouldn't approve, I had Chou stop at Sheetz for a coffee and then we continued to the hospital. We arrived and checked in around 3am and spent an hour in triage while they monitored the baby and contractions, informed me I was at 4cm dilated and 80 percent effaced, and doing well. They decided to admit me and let me sit on a ball while they got my IV going. I was in a lot of pain and pretty convinced we were going to go another day in active labor and still not give birth. I was emotionally spent, physically exhausted, and ready to be done. I said I was ready for an epidural. After nine months of hell, I wanted an easy ending. Chou encouraged me to get in the Jacuzzi before we did anything else. I needed an hour of fluids before I could be given an epidural, so in his mind it was worth trying the water before we made any decisions. He was supportive of whatever I wanted, but I could tell he really wanted to try the tub, so I agreed. 

We grabbed his phone and used it to play a worship station on Pandora and hopped in the Jacuzzi. Chou applied counter pressure during the contractions and I felt amazing! I relaxed and worked one contraction at a time. I was afraid the water would slow labor, but we decided it wouldn't do any more harm than laying in bed with an epidural, so we continued. The music playing was exactly what I needed for each and every contraction, as if God hand picked the playlist for my labor. After a bit of time I could feel the contractions change and could tell they were getting more effective. Eventually I needed constant counter pressure from Chou, even in between contractions. The nurse came in at 6am and told me I'd have to get out at 6:30 so they could put me on the monitor. I ignored her and she sensed my noncompliance and sent the midwife in to deal with me. The midwife came in at 6:15 and gently coaxed me out of the tub, allowing me time to work through contractions and make my way to the bed. My pain skyrocketed, as I was already struggling to control it in the tub. She checked me and I was 9cm. She had me push with the next contraction, but I still had a little lip. She suggested that breaking my water could get rid of the lip, getting me to 10cm and ready to push. I had zero objections to anything that would end the pain and told her to go ahead. She broke my water at 6:26am and I immediately dilated the rest of the way. With the next two contractions she had me give a few gentle pushes, and baby boy Chou was born at 6:30am.

Chou and I couldn't believe it. After such a long hard nine months, he was finally here! And without drugs! We did it! We survived! We decided fairly quickly that we'd name him Xander and spent a few hours throwing around options for middle names. I had already decided I wasn't finalizing a name until I got some good, fresh food in me. After some fruit for lunch and some more fruit and salad for dinner I agreed to the name we had come up with while snuggling him that morning. Xander (diminutive of Alexander, meaning defender of men) Zekiah (the Lord remembers) was officially named that night.

As soon as he was born, we realized we were in a complete 4g dead zone. Our phones couldn't get signal and struggled to upload and send pics to friends and family. The fact that Pandora played effortlessly for two hours of labor was truly a gift from God.

Sunday, December 28, 2014


Things hg makes me thankful for:

Chou has run to every store in the county in search of one food I can eat, he's missed work to sit with me in the hospital, and takes over parenting full time the minute he gets home from a long day of work. He's given up many foods and cooking in attempt to keep me out of the hospital. He's scheduled doctor's appointments, pharmacy refills, and childcare while I've laid helpless on the sofa. Chou is amazing!

Friends & Family
Because of my friends and family, E left the house at least twice a week during the two months I didn't. They picked her up, dropped her off, and loved her in between. They bought us a Christmas tree, decorated our house, and checked in on me regularly. They listened to me talk nonstop, like they were the first person I saw in a month... because they were. They fed Chou when he wasn't allowed to eat at home. My mom made dinner and cake for Chou and E's birthdays and all I had to do was show up. E still talks about her cake a month later. We truly would not have survived without our friends and family this time around.

Modern medicine
While most medicines I've been on only last a few days or a few weeks, they do offer relief. When they fail, I'm able to get fluids and drugs via IV in the hospital. I hate to think where I'd be without modern medicine!

Weekends have been a time for Chou to take care of me and give me some extra rest. They help us start Monday with a little more strength and nutrition, and give us the best possible start for the new week.

We don't know what we have til it's gone. Having hg has made me so thankful for my health. It sucks, it's miserable, but it has an expiration date. Not everyone who is sick has the comfort of knowing when it will end like I do.

Life with hg


Hyperemesis gravidarum. Extreme nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. NOT morning sickness.

Thanks to hg...

We go from organic whole foods to whatever I think I can stomach, none of which is natural or whole. Currently it's cheesy waffle fries.

In E's imaginary world, everything from her baby to her teddy is now "so sick" and needs to rest.

We go from little screen time to TV night and day while mommy tries to rest.

We go from home cooked meals every night to "don't you even think of smelling up this house!"

My number one survival key for working from home/staying home with kids is that I NEED to get out of the house every day, even if it's  just an hour long walk at lunch. With hg, I didn't leave my house for 3 weeks straight. For 6 weeks I didn't go anywhere except doctor or my mom's. Someone told me it was the first sunny day after 20 some odd days of overcast/rain. This was news to me.

Normally I adore Christmas, the hustle & bustle, the decorations. This year, we only have a tree because our friends bought it and delivered it. It's only decorated because they stuck around to string lights and hang ornaments. My friends rock.

Every single gift was ordered online by Chou & delivered to my door. Praise Jesus for the Internet!

My grandma came to visit. E shared chocolate with her. Grandma asked her why she didn't share with mommy. E replied, "because I don't want mommy to puke." She was right and I appreciated her thoughtfulness.

E curls up next to me on the couch and says, "Mommy, I miss you!"

We go in for a normal appointment and my dr won't even do the exam. Instead we hear, "I'll let the hospital know you're on your way."

I return to the Dr for a follow up, and hear the exact same thing.

Chou's favorite foods is one of my worst triggers. He's required to shower & brush his teeth immediately after consuming. Even so, I still get sick. But then again, maybe that's true of a typical pregnancy.

My natural remedies go out the window. I'm faced with swallowing pills that could very well harm my baby, in hopes that it does less harm than the severe dehydration and malnutrition that are guaranteed if I skip the pills. When those pills stop working, I get stronger ones, then stronger ones, then a combo of other ones.

Yes, I've tried "that." Nope it didn't work, but thanks.

E tells everyone she meets that mommy is so sick. Pretty sure the world is convinced I have just exposed them to the flu or ebola.

While I'm wallowing on the couch, E empties a quarter role of toilet paper into the toilet. Excitedly she shows me her handiwork. Upon seeing my face she starts singing a Daniel Tiger diddy, "When you're feeling frustrated, take a step back & ask for help!" That darn tiger is now banned from my TV. Seriously.

No, I'm not excited just yet. I actually despise this child at the moment, but thanks for that awkward moment that's now here.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Our Growing Girl

E is at an age where it can feel like every breath is a battle. Tasks she used to love, like picking up her toys or feeding the dogs, can be a source of fun and entertainment one day but pure torture the next. Convincing her to do just about anything on my schedule rather than hers is nearly impossible (some things haven't changed all that much since birth), and heaven forbid I try to throw out her old food that's been sitting untouched for hours. However, in the midst of all the willpower and drama, she's growing into a charming little girl.

In no particular order, here is a small sample of the wonderfully sweet moments I get to witness every day with this little girl. These are the things I want to focus on in the day to day, and what I want to remember forever.

Lately E's been reading books to her dolls and stuffed animals, and I love hearing her interpretation of the pictures on the page. Her tone and inflection are awesome! Her imagination soars as she brings her storybooks to life for her minions, and I usually catch myself taking a break from whatever I'm doing in order to hear what goes on in that little mind of hers.

Her daddy taught her to touch cups and say, "Cheers!" before she takes a sip of water. In my opinion, this is much improved from slamming the cup down and exclaiming "Gan Bei!" like they were doing a few months ago. Her cheers, however, has transcended way beyond cups. In the past few weeks, we have exclaimed, "cheers!" as we've touched plates, bowls, spoons, granola bars, pepper slices, and even our toes.

When E wants something that she knows she may not get, she likes to come up to me, smile, and whisper very softly. Typically I'm sitting at my desk working and she'll come up and whisper, "Tigey!? Watch Tigey?" when she wants to watch Daniel Tiger. It's adorable, and sometimes it works.

E's grown into a really sweet and thankful little girl. Often when I bring her a snack or fetch something for her, she'll emphatically proclaim, "Thanks, Mommy!!" It warms my heart every single time. She loves giving random hugs and telling me she misses me, which for some reason she thinks is the same as loving me. Her standard response to "I love you!" is "I miss you, too!" This morning I was reminding her (again!) that she's not to draw on her pants with a pen, and she looked at me and starting singing, "I miss you! I miss you! I miss you! I miss you!" It's remarkably hard to discipline a toddler who is expressing their undying love for you through a song.

She's recently started repeating things she's learned on Daniel Tiger (a good reminder that it's important to watch what she's viewing!) and it makes me laugh. She'll say, "Mommy, I don't feel well. I need a nap." as she crawls onto the sofa and pretends to sleep for 3.2 seconds. Her baby no longer cries, instead she's "upset". The other day I heard her hammering away with her plastic toys. She was yelling above her own noise, "Too loud! Too loud! My ears hurt!" You and me both, kid. You and me both.

Last night we got home really late, and I had some work that needed to be completed before the guys got into the shop at the crack of dawn this morning. My computer program spazzed out and destroyed a large drawing in the process. I yelled some choice words at my computer and E was very concerned. She asked if I was okay, and I told her I was not. She then asked daddy if I was okay and he told her I was frustrated. She looked at me and started singing, "It's okay to feel sad sometimes. Little by little, you'll feel better again!" and then she asked if I felt better. Um, yup, you melted my heart and I feel great! Thanks, baby girl!

The other day we were walking Cali, and as we walked passed a house a dog barked and growled from inside. E was very concerned, walked over to Cali, and whispered, "It's okay, it's okay." as she hugged her around the neck. It was a very sweet although I'm sure Cali would have preferred to put the growling dog in its place rather than be hugged by a toddler.

I'm constantly amazed that I get the privilege of being this girl's mama. It's amazing how so much sweetness, stubborness, and personality can be wrapped into such a tiny package.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Welcome, Fall!

It's hard to believe September is here! I'm both sad and a little relieved that this whirlwind of a summer is coming to an end. In the last three months, we have celebrated upcoming births, new babies, first birthdays, third birthdays, and 30th birthdays with our dear friends, thrown E her first party, picked strawberries and peaches and blackberries and cherries, dog-sat for friends, had family visit from Taiwan, sipped coffee and devoured meals with some amazing people, decorated a new toddler bedroom for E, enjoyed a week at the beach in Stone Harbor, hosted countless toddler play dates, frequented the new Asian noodle restaurant in town, reconnected with old friends and deepened relationships with close friends, worked very long hours, relaxed in my parents gorgeous new pool, and adopted a cat. As an introvert who enjoys rhythm and routine, this summer has been stretching, but it's been good. Really, really good. We've been overwhelmed with our community of friends and wouldn't trade the time we've invested in each other's lives for the world.

I'm ready for the calm that I'm hoping and praying September will bring, while remaining so thankful for the community we share. We have some wonderful things planned for this season that I'm really looking forward to. I'm hoping that this fall will be a season of growing in relationships and simplifying and slowing down to focus on what's important. Welcome, Fall!