March 30, 2012

speech therapy

It has been well-documented on this blog that Malcolm is a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to talking.

He didn't really use words to communicate until he was about a year and a half old, and since they were so few and far between, we began using sign language to fill in the gaps. Although the signing took off and Malcolm really embraced it, words eventually found their way past his lips, too. In my last post about the subject (about two months ago), I was thrilled that our little man was talking more ... And he has only continued to add new words (and use them!) each day.

So, when we went to his "follow up" two and a half year appointment to check in on his verbal progress, I was sure that he'd impress the pediatrician.

"Does he have fifty small words?"

He easily has double that number!

"Does he link two or three words together?"

All the time!

Things were looking good ... Until she started asking him to say words he didn't routinely say.

(Darn you, "ear" and "light!")

When Malcolm is excited, frustrated, or just plain doesn't have the words to express something, he resorts to making a specific noise. It is hard to describe to someone who hasn't heard it before ... It's sort of like a little grunt combined with the sound he makes when he is tired and sucking his thumb. It's something we hear daily, but, since he is still a new talker, something that never sent up red flags or was of any real concern ... I figure he'll fill in that little noise with words one day once he is better at verbally expressing himself.

Unfortunately, upon hearing this noise, the doctor felt differently. She expressed concern that he still "wasn't there" and that we should still consult a speech therapist. Since it could take three months to get in, it would be better for him to get on the books now than to wait until after his three year appointment ...

While I'm all for helping my child and I want him to be "on track" with the other kids when he eventually is sent off to preschool or any other social situations, I have mixed emotions about speech therapy.

On one hand, it can't hurt (much like the hearing test he received when he was two) and will only help him to improve upon the skills he has been building for the past two months or so. On the other, the doctor has him pegged as being "borderline delayed" and needing assistance after seeing him a handful of times and "talking" with him for a total of five minutes ... And is the little noise he makes really that much of a concern?

I always thought it was cute (and comical).

I'm obviously going to be dealing with many more situations of this nature as Malcolm (and Pearl) grow up. Doctors, teachers, troop leaders, coaches, and countless other adults and professionals will have their opinions of my children and their abilities ... And I will have my own.

For good or for bad.

Already (only two and a half years in), I'm finding it hard to set aside my "mother bear" instinct to protect my kids, with admitting help is needed (or just plain warranted) and following through on getting it.

I guess speech therapy will be a learning experience for both of us ...

March 29, 2012

pretty in (not) pink

It's only been two weeks since Pearl's arrival, and already, my "unisex" baby wardrobe has been peppered with pink (and this photo does not include many of the new items that are ready to be washed and not yet in rotation).

Not that I have anything against pink ... I just don't necessarily buy into the the gender-dictated color norms.

Girls can look cute in any color.

Even lime green (with polka dots), for example:

Fleece Sleep-sack: Carters (hand-me-down gift)

And, despite her resistance to being photographed, I'm sure Pearl agrees!

March 27, 2012

unexpected whirlwind

In honor of Pearl's due date today, I thought I'd post her birth story ...

It all started as a mid-March thunderstorm rolled in across our neighborhood.


Definitely not was I was expecting to wake up to. Definitely not part of "my plan" for the day. My due date was still twelve days away, but since my doctor's appointment the afternoon before (which included a routine internal exam), I had been sporadically leaking something ... Just a drop here or there. Certainly nothing to be worried about! And certainly something that could be discussed over the phone once the doctor's office opened again at 8:00 am.

But, there they were at 5:00 am.

Rumbling on in just like the thunder.

Contractions ... Strangely familiar and foreign all at once.

After hearing my husband moving around and getting ready for work at around 6:00 am (we'd been sleeping in separate rooms for a couple of months since he is a light sleeper couldn't handle my pregnant snoring), I decided to drop the bomb on him.

"I hate to do this to you again, Honey," I prefaced, remembering that the scenario was very similar the morning Malcolm decided to join the world. "But I think we're having a baby today."

His reaction was the same as last time, too ... A sleepy and stunned "What? Are you kidding?"

I told him that I wished I was ... Having a baby was not even close to being on my "To Do List" for the day! But we'd (obviously) both have to adapt ... He waited until about 7:00 am to call work and let them know that he wouldn't be in. Then the scrambling began ... I sent some emails to my students and coworkers, I hopped in the shower, he canceled a tax appointment, we packed hospital bags and cameras, and laptops, I called my Dad to let him know that a second grandchild was on the way (Malcolm had serendipitously been spending the night with my parents so we didn't have to worry about sending him off).

And then we waited.

At about 8:30 am I called my doctor's office to let them know the situation. They called ahead to the hospital and gave us the "okay" to head over.

The fifteen minute drive there was just as I remembered it ... Too bumpy with too many traffic lights. I remained as focused and calm as I could, sitting straight up in the passenger's seat and breathing slowly and calmly. The contractions had been painful and regular since about 7:00 am, but I couldn't shake the feeling that we'd get to the hospital and they'd tell me I had only dilated one centimeter (like last time) ... So I tried to visualize the baby, in the right position, head pressing down where it was supposed to as each contraction began. Despite not being "in the mood" to have a baby, I felt like I was handling the contractions better this second time around and felt much more in control than I had with Malcolm.

Once at the hospital, we headed up to triage and were placed in a room. Since I wasn't sure if I had broken my water or not (What was the leaking from the night before?), we had to wait for the house doctor to check me ... But she was currently in surgery. So, from about 9:00 until 11:00 am, I did whatever I could to stay "comfortable" in the tiny room as the contractions progressed.

Finally, the doctor arrived, and as I moved from my all-fours position on the hospital bed, my water officially broke ... All that waiting for nothing!! But, upon finally being checked (by the nurse), we found that I was already six and a half centimeters dilated!

More than halfway there! A small victory!

And, with that, we were off to labor and delivery.

I did my best to remain composed and focused as I was wheeled through the waiting room (full of expectant grandparents and family members) and then into my delivery suite. I sat on a birthing ball and rocked through my contractions as the nurse went through the customary questions to get my information into the computer. Between deep breathing and lots of "yes" and "no" answers (to her questions), things really started to speed up.

I mentioned that I was feeling some pressure, so the nurse had me climb onto the bed and checked me again.

Eight centimeters.

Then the chaos began.

More nurses came into the room and there was a flurry of activity as they tried to set up the instruments and materials they might need during the delivery while I was in transition. As things were being unwrapped, the on-call doctor was called to the hospital. My main nurse mentioned that I still needed an IV to be started ...

I was still feeling a lot of pressure so I was checked again.

Nine and a half centimeters.

At this point, the pain had become pretty severe. I was told to push if I wanted ... But just little pushes to help me get through the contractions. This was fine for a while, but suddenly, the next contraction rolled through, taking me by surprise because it was stronger (and the pressure I was feeling was more intense) than all the rest. It didn't help that, when having Malcolm, I had absolutely no urge to push ... So the feeling of needing to push was so otherworldly.

I shouted (I don't remember yelling, but that's what my husband says I did) "This one is different!" as I pushed again.

Much to everyone's surprise, with that single push, the baby's head had become visible ... The nurse, knowing that the on-call doctor wouldn't make it in time, called for the house doctor (who had come to check me only an hour or so earlier). I kept pushing with my contractions as stirrups were pulled out of the bed and was instructed to "slide down" closer to the edge. My husband was bracing one leg, and a nurse had another, when the house doctor walked into the room. She was given a quick recap of what had happened since she last saw me and she literally had enough time to put on gloves and help coax the baby's head and shoulders out and into the world.

At 12:01 pm, just about three hours after we arrived at the hospital, the baby was (already!) out ... So incredibly different from our previous birth experience with Malcolm. And so incredibly amazing!

"What is it?" Both my husband and I asked, neither of us able to see the baby's telltale parts.

"It's a little girl!"

We exchanged glances of disbelief (I think both of our guts were telling us "boy"), but were excited that our little "pearl" had arrived ...

And all before lunch!

Even though it's been almost two weeks, it's still hard to believe that she is really here, that her birth day actually happened, and our little family of three has grown to become a family of four ... Yet, somehow, it feels like we've had her all along.

March 23, 2012

march madness

Can someone remind me what month it is, again?

Because it certainly isn't March.

March 22, 2012

homeward bound

I found a pair of children's Converse Hi-tops at a local (PTA-sponsored) used kid's clothing sale a couple of weekends ago. I was so excited to get them home and on to Malcolm's feet ... But, no matter what I did, Malcolm would throw a fit.

"No red!" he'd yell as he'd toss the shoes aside and squirm away from me (I was no match for him in my pregnant state).

So, imagine my surprise, when, the day Pearl and I were discharged from the hospital, Malcolm showed up wearing the previously mentioned shoes.

(My husband is the master of distraction, apparently.)

Tee-shirt: Carter's (thrifted for $0.50)
Jeans: Genuine Kids (thrifted for $1.50)
Socks: Circo ($1.00)
Shoes: Converse (thrifted for $1.00)

It may be the fact that there is now a tiny baby in the family, but I don't think Malcolm's ever looked so much like a little boy before.

Where has the time gone?!

I feel like we just brought him home from the hospital!

March 19, 2012

she's here

I was all set to post today about how I didn't fit into any of my maternity clothes anymore (save for a few shirts and sweat pants) ...

Let's just say, it isn't a problem anymore.

Welcome Pearl Agnes!

Hopefully I'll have some time to write more about her ...

March 15, 2012

outside observer

Sometimes I feel like I'm on the outside looking in.

Like they are the founding members of a super-exclusive boys only club.

No girls allowed!

(Not even Moms!)

Long-sleeved tee shirt: Old Navy (thrifted for $1.00)
Fleece pull-over: Baby Gap (thrifted for $1.50)
Jeans: Genuine Kids (thrifted for $1.50)
Socks: Circo ($1.00)
Shoes: Cherokee (thrifted for $1.50)

But the lack of membership is worth it if I can just sit quietly on the sidelines and observe ... Watch them become more than just a father and his two-year-old son.

Watch them become buddies.

March 13, 2012

before we knew

It's hard for me to recall the days before I knew I had a little passenger riding along with me, now that I'm so far along in the journey.

Yet, as I was looking through some old photos on the computer the other day, I found an amusing little collection from the time between getting pregnant and actually knowing we were pregnant ...

Getting past the pure ridiculousness of it all, there is definitely a bit of blissful ignorance in the shots ...

Lighthearted good fun ...

Happiness on film ...

In these sequential photos (an obvious test of my camera's continuous shooting mode) I see my husband and myself, living in the moment ... Thoroughly enjoying a little family walk and deliriously jubilant that the whole "one kid" thing was working out so swimmingly (we hadn't screwed him up yet!) for us.

Little did we know, that comfortable little family unit within the pictures we took would be growing ...

That, only a couple of weeks later, we'd come to understand that we'd be increasing our numbers. That three would become four.

Ignorance long gone (there's no mistaking the fact that I am pregnant now!), it's nice to sit back and realize that all the joy (and dorkiness) of that ordinary day has remained ... And that it will only increase once our newest passenger has arrived.

March 12, 2012

bring on the birthing ball

As the big "birth day" approaches, I find myself getting strangely excited.

Not excited for the arrival of my second child, necessarily (although I certainly am), but excited for the challenge of getting a second shot at laboring and giving birth naturally. Much like a marathon, the whole "natural birth" thing isn't exactly fun, but yet, in some odd way, I actually enjoy getting the opportunity to do it.

It is a true test ... A way for me to really be in tune with myself, to shut out the rest of the world, and just concentrate on one thing for once.

No more worries about teaching, or grading papers, or cleaning the house, or making dinner, or even taking care of Malcolm.


Just me. Focused. In the zone.

Let's get this baby out.

I would have to say that much of the excitement this time around, also comes from the fact that I have so much support from my husband (he's totally on board now that we've experienced the whole process before), the rest of my family and friends, and, of course, my doctor.

I'll be going to a traditional hospital again (I don't think a home birth is for me), but I am confident that I will be taken care of. My doctor, the midwife working with her, and the hospital staff that I have encountered so far are all very open to women giving birth naturally. In fact, from the moment I was brought into the labor/delivery suite on the day Malcolm entered our lives, I was blown away by how things were able to progress the way that I wanted them to ...

Bathtubs were filled with hot water.

Birthing balls were unwrapped and rolled into the room.

Hot bags of saline were used as compresses when the back labor kicked in.

Hydration was achieved by water bottle instead of IV (so that I could move around).

Monitors for baby heart rate and strength of contraction were used and then removed (again, so that I could move around).

A random midwife (whom I had never met before and was only on the maternity floor to get signatures for a cord blood study) kept checking in on me to assist in whatever way she could.

Malcolm was handed right over to nurse as soon as he was weighed and measured ... And our new family was given time to bond before any visitors (my parents and one of my sisters had been setting up camp in the waiting room) we allowed to see any of us.

Throughout the entire experience (both during and after the birth process), I felt very cared for and encouraged ... I was never pressured (or even casually asked) about pain killers or any other medication. I was allowed to do what I wanted, what felt right for me and my family, without any questions or judgment.

By the end of the night, I felt like a rockstar ...

First, because I had just succeeded in my goal of giving birth naturally (and my baby was darn adorable to boot!). Second, because all of the staff and nurses on duty that night actually cheered their congratulations as I departed for my post-partum room.

To say that I was on cloud nine would be a vast understatement.

Having had such a positive experience (despite the "complications" of back labor), it makes me sad when I hear about other women who are pressured to give birth a certain way (barring medical emergencies) or made to feel poorly for the choices they make regarding their bodies. For one thing, had I personally been discouraged from laboring naturally by the hospital staff, or had I been pressured into receiving an epidural, I may have found myself receiving a C-section due to my son's posterior positioning. Doing things my way actually saved me from major abdominal surgery!

That's not to say that doctors can't be right.

I'm sure there are times when an epidural is warranted and may contribute to a safe delivery ... However, I do not understand why, for many, the pain of labor is seen as something unnatural ... A side effect that should be numbed and removed from the equation. I am not an "Earth Mother" type by any stretch of the imagination, and I don't shout the benefits of natural birth from the rooftops because I believe it is a very personal choice. Yet, I truly feel that the pain felt during a natural birth process serves to make the end result that much more miraculous!

(And they aren't lying about the "mother's amnesia" that sets in after birth ... Birth? What birth? This baby just magically appeared in my arms!)

Not only was the experience good for me, even my husband felt like he had accomplished some great feat the night Malcolm entered our lives ... He was so proud that he had been able to assist me, to be an active part of the event and not just a bystander that watched as I lay comfortably in my hospital bed until it was time to push.

The birth of a child is obviously such a personal experience ...

One that is different for every woman and situation.

One that I, personally, choose to embark upon without the assistance of drugs ... Although I could certainly do without the back labor this time around!

I guess we will see what happens when Baby #2 decides to make his/her appearance.

Only two weeks to go ...

March 9, 2012

crossing the bridge

A few short weeks from now, Malcolm won't be the youngest member of our family anymore.

I wonder if he has any clue of what he's in for ...

March 8, 2012

just the two of us

It was another unseasonably warm late winter (early spring?) day in Cleveland. So, after my 37-week doctor's appointment, Malcolm and I took a little side trip to the park.

Just the two of us.

We parked the car and headed out through the soggy, muddy ground.

Just the two of us.

We took a moment to decide what playground to try out first.

Just the two of us.

Long-sleeved tee shirt: Old Navy (thrifted for $1.00)
Tee-shirt: The Children's Place (thrifted for $0.50)
Jeans: Genuine Kids (thrifted for $1.50)
Socks: Circo ($1.00)
Shoes: Cherokee (thrifted for $1.50)

Decision made (after careful consideration), we played.

Just the two of us.

And played some more.

Just the two of us.

It is hard to believe that these types of days are numbered ...

That, soon, it won't be just the two of us.

March 6, 2012

pain in the abs (take two)

When asked how this pregnancy is going, I've had a handful of standby responses ...


No pain ... No problems.

Exactly like the last pregnancy.

All said with a smug little smile.

Cue the 36-week mark (last week) and HOLY HELL ...

Things just got interesting.

According to my midwife, I'm currently experiencing "ligament pains." Achy, burning pain from the stretching of the ligaments that extend from my uterus to the various points of attachment in my abdomen (and that appear during second and subsequent pregnancies).

Sometimes these "pains" are just that ... A small inconvenience, causing me to walk a bit slower or take it a bit easier.

Other times, they are utterly ridiculous.

I've gotten stuck on the floor (picking up toys) on numerous occasions.

It takes me much longer than usual to climb the stairs.

I can't carry Malcolm (or laundry baskets, or anything heavier than five pounds for that matter) anywhere.

I'm seriously like an old woman ... Slowly climbing into or out of the car ... Standing up from my chair and pausing for a good minute as I mentally prepare myself for those first steps away from the table ... Shuffling around the house ... Just trying to keep up ...

Changing position in bed at night is a comedy of errors. It's near impossible to turn over, or bend my legs, or just sit up, in a way that doesn't cause a major abdominal twinge.

Why hadn't I ever heard of this before?

Why do I seem to be the only person I know with this issue?

I guess Baby #2 is making it known (right now!) that he/she is very different from my first baby.

Point taken, little one.

Point taken.

March 2, 2012

baby books and new beginnings

I ordered and received a keepsake baby book for Baby #2 over the weekend. It is the same one I have for Malcolm (which is almost full now, and subsequently blows my mind!), so filling out its pages a second time has been a bit surreal.

As I write with my silver jelly pen, I am immediately transported back to the days when I was anticipating (and then just getting to know) my first child.

Would we have a boy or a girl?

When would he/she decide to join our family?

How would that whole experience go?

How would our day-to-day lives change once we were back home?

Would I be a good mother?

These same questions are finding their way back into my mind today, although now they are revolving around this new reality of having a second child ...

A newborn baby in addition to a toddler.

A pair of kids.


In the past couple of years, I've grown so accustomed to life as a mother of one that it is hard to wrap my mind around the changes that are nearly upon me ...

The routines that Malcolm and I employ each day are safe and comfortable. I am (usually) pretty in-tune with what Malcolm needs at any given moment ... There is very little guessing required (especially with all of his words and signs to guide me).

We even get to enjoy separate moments of down time every day!

Things have really fallen into place and settled there quite nicely, so I wonder if I'm ready to shake things up again.

(I better be!)

Although I am really and truly excited to meet the new little human that has been hitching a ride with me since the beginning of July, I find that a different part of me is sad that this life as I know it is coming to an end.

My time as a mother of one is dwindling.

The everyday moments with just myself and my firstborn are almost over.

A chapter of our lives is closing.

Yet, when I go to that new baby book, its pages crisp and clean and empty (and ready for my silver jelly pen), my sadness dissipates.

I can imagine all the possibilities ...

Soon, the pages will be filled with pictures.

There will be new memories and favorite moments to record!

New milestones to reach!

A chance to start fresh again ... A new beginning for our entire family!

All the questions and concerns from before will, again, be answered.

And while the baby book may look exactly the same on the outside, the contents will be different. They will continue the story, the next chapter ... And two years from now I'll wonder how things ever felt normal before.

March 1, 2012

little monster

Apparently, I've got a thing for monsters on kids' clothing ...

About a month before Malcolm joined us, I purchased a onesie set with coordinating (and cute!) little monsters in primary colors.

Let's just say he lived in those onesies (I have the photos to prove it) ...

Last week, on a whim, I purchased another, similar onesie set ... This time, the coordinating monsters were in gray, pale blue, orange, white, and brown.

I don't know why, but there is just something appealing (to me) about a child wearing a little monster somewhere on their person.

It's just the right balance of cuteness and mischief, which, so far, suits my offspring quite well ... Especially when February weather is warm enough for a coat-free afternoon spent running and playing in the backyard!

Long-sleeved tee-shirt: Circo (thrifted for $0.50)
Jeans: Genuine Kids (thrifted for $1.50)
Socks: Old Navy (gift)
Shoes: Cherokee (thrifted for $1.50)

Note: If that last photo isn't equal parts "cute" and "mischievous," I don't know what is!