Sunday, June 24, 2018

Poppet Month 4

Dear Denna,

You've adjusted well to your days at daycare. Everyone comments about how sweet you are, and it is true. You are very sweet. You're quick to smile and now you even laugh.

You love to watch your big sisters, and they love to play with and talk to you. Greta a little too much sometimes.

You are starting to practice your talking quite a lot. I love to hear you talk to whatever has your attention, your hands, your pacifier, your feet, the mobile on your bouncy chair. 

I went out of town for a couple nights on my first work trip since you were born. You were nice to your daddy and slept through the night that first night. I was a little worried how it would go for your dad with all three of you by himself for the first time. So, I was happy you were easy on him. 

Because of that I knew you were capable of sleeping through the night. And, I'm determined to not make the same mistake I made with Greta and continue to nurse you when you wake up so that when you eight months old, we're still doing this. So, starting this week, you are officially cut off. 


Thursday, May 24, 2018

Poppet Month 3

Dear Denna,

There was a glorious week or two this month when you were sleeping through the night. Then, you stopped. Partly because I stopped swaddling you at night.

You were starting to roll over, and while you hadn't made it onto your stomach yet (still haven't), I was paranoid you would do it during the night, and if you were swaddled, wouldn't have your arms free to push your face off the mattress. 

  Now, you're waking up about twice a night again. Most nights you eat a little and then go right back to sleep. And then there are THOSE nights. The ones when you won't go back to sleep so easily and I'm up for an hour or more trying to get you to sleep. Though I'm a seasoned enough mom by now to know this won't go on forever, it feels that way right now. At the moment, I'm getting through with lots and lots of coffee and hope that just around the bend is the end of this particular tunnel. Don't fret though. I learned my lesson with Greta. I'm not going to continue to give in to the late night demands for long.


Also this month was a big step for both of us as I went back to work, which means you started at daycare. I wasn't worried about whether you would be in good hands because I knew you would be. You have the same teachers who took care of Greta when she was a baby. So, I knew they would take as good care of you.


That doesn't mean I didn't have mixed feelings about going back to work, because I did. And, I definitely miss you and your big, toothless grins during the day. When I got home on that first day of our new reality, you were lying on the floor content and quiet. Then, as soon as you heard my voice, you started to fuss.

All the teachers in school comment about how much you look like Greta. I think you resemble Willa more. And, when I show them a picture of all three of you in the same onesie, everyone can pick out Greta. Almost no one can tell which one is you and which one is Willa. Everyone loves your sweet smiles. How can they not?


Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Poppet Month 2

Dear Denna,

Happy two months! The days continue to fly by, and I'm trying as hard as I can to hold onto these fleeting moments of it just being the two of us. Because this time next month, I'll be back at work, and you'll be at daycare.

One of the first questions people ask me about you is whether you're a good sleeper. You are a good sleeper in that you sleep a lot and are not difficult to get to sleep at night. But, what they're really asking is are you sleeping through the night yet. That answer is still no. Though you did do it once. You're still waking up once a night usually. But, it's manageable. I'm not too stressed over it though as I know at some point you will start sleeping through the night.

This month I also moved you into your room, which is helping us all get a little more sleep. But, you're still not that far away since your room is right next to ours.


Every spring as the air turns warm and the bluebonnets bloom along the highways, it's time for baseball. One of my favorite spring traditions is the Texas Rangers home opener. I've been attending with Opie every spring for the last 12 years. (I only missed one game because it was a week after I had your sister and was still recovering from it.) This year you got to go as well. You didn't seem that into the game though since you slept through pretty much the whole thing.

The other biggest event of the month is your first time traveling out of town, which included your first plane trip! I had to go to San Diego for a day. My original plan was to leave you at home with your dad and sisters. I had asked Omy if she would be able to come over for a day to take care of you so your dad wouldn't have to take off work. A week later she had a counter proposal that she instead come to San Diego with me to watch you while I was busy. So, that's what we did. You went on walks with Omy along the beach while I attended my meeting. I was able to nurse you during breaks, which worked out beautifully.

In the past month, you have started smiling and cooing at us. It is the sweetest sight to see and sound to my ears. The only payment I accept in exchange for feeding you and changing your diapers is smiles, hugs and I love yous. Since you've only shown yourself capable of one of those so far, I expect a lot of smiles.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Poppet: A Birth Story

Warning: This is a birth story with all its glory and gory bits. You've been warned.

On Friday, February 23, I woke up with contractions. I had been having real contractions all week. That morning they felt stronger but still weren't very frequent. So, I went about my day like any other Friday... took the girls to school and went to work.

As the day progressed, the contractions became consistent. Timing a few of the contractions showed them to be about 20 minutes apart. That afternoon I went to the bathroom and saw my mucus plug. I realized then that I wouldn't be back in the office on Monday as I expected her to be born some time over the weekend. So, I started organizing and cleaning my desk and wrapping up all the loose ends.

John and I were having a double date night that evening with John's brother and his wife. The girls were staying with my parents for the night so we could enjoy one last date night before the baby was born. Apparently, we weren't even going to get a full date.

The plan was to do an escape room. Before we were to meet there, John and I grabbed dinner. The contractions were strong enough at this point that I would have to pause and breathe through them. They also seemed to be coming faster. So, I started timing again. By the time we made it to the escape room, I decided it probably would not be a good idea to be locked in a room for an hour or more in my state. So, we scrapped the escape room and went to a bar to get a drink.

I sipped on my sparkling water and kept timing the contractions often having to check out of the conversation when a contraction hit. When it had been an hour with my contractions averaging about 7 minutes apart, I looked at John, and we decided we needed to go to the hospital. (John is never going to let me live it down that we left a bar to go to the hospital.)

Unfortunately, we didn't have my hospital bag so we ran by the house on the way. At home, I took a quick shower because I wasn't sure when I would next get a chance to do so. Twenty minutes later we were on our way to the hospital, and I called my mom and sister to let them know the time appeared to be imminent but to wait to drive over until we got the official notice from the ER that I would be admitted.

We got to the hospital about 9 p.m. and got to go straight back to a room where the nurse got me hooked up to the monitor and asked about my pain level (8 at that time). "Well, you are having contractions." Oh, really? That's what that is? I had no idea.

When the ER doctor came in at about 9:45 to check my cervix, I was surprised to see it was the same doctor I saw three weeks prior when I went in with a bladder infection. (I was 36 weeks pregnant and while I was 95% sure it wasn't labor, the pain from the infection was so great we decided to be safe. Glad I went too because it could have very easily have turned into a kidney stone.) 

He pronounced me 5 cm dilated and with that I was being admitted into labor and delivery. Great! Can you call the anesthesiologist and have him meet us up there?

I called my mom to let her know she should make her way to the hospital. She and my dad had decided to take the girls over to my sister's house (she lives 10 minutes from them) and leave them with her husband. Then, the three of them would come to the hospital. 

We had to wait a while in the ER room for someone from labor and delivery to come transport me to my delivery room. While we waited the ER nurse put the IV port in my arm. Can I change my pain rating to a 10?

 It was about another 40 minutes or so until the labor and delivery tech arrived to take me upstairs. She helped me put another gown so I wouldn't be exposed in transit. (Given how much of me was about to be exposed, did I really care? The contractions made sure I didn't care about much. But, it was considerate of her.) 

We got to my room where I would deliver, and she handed me a different gown that had the snaps along the shoulders (it's easier for labor and delivery) to change into. Once I climbed into the bed, they hooked up the IV and went through the intake process.

The on call doctor stopped by my room to introduce himself. I was incredibly disappointed that my doctor would not be delivering Denna as I knew he was supportive of my desire for another VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). At my prenatal appointment that week, I had asked him if he was on call over the weekend. 

So, when I realized Denna would be coming that weekend, I knew he would not be the doctor to deliver her. But, given my successful VBAC with Greta and that I arrived at the hospital already in labor, I was confident I could still have the birth I wanted.

The contractions were coming every three minutes at this point and were so strong that I needed to squeeze John's hand to help me through it. This went on for an hour until I had a full bag of IV fluids in me. Apparently, this was a prerequisite for the epidural. Finally (FINALLY!) about 11:30 p.m., the anesthesiologist came in. He was a no nonsense kind of guy and got it done quickly, which was a huge relief for me.

Finally, I could rest and relax. My family had arrived by this point. After a little while, the nurse came in to check me and broke my water accidentally in the process. I had definitely progressed (I think I was around 8 cm at this point), and things were looking good. This was especially comforting as the on call doctor had told me he was not going to give me any pitocin to help with labor, and my body had to do it all on its own. So, we settled in to wait while my body prepped itself for delivery.

The next several hours passed in nervous anticipation. I knew the pain and pressure that was coming and definitely felt a little anxious about going through it again. I also knew the only way out was through and knew I was able to handle it.

It was probably about 2 a.m. or so when the nurse came in again to check me. I had officially reached 10 cm dilated! Only instead of immediately pushing, she declared she would let me labor down for a bit first. This was a new part of the process for me as I didn't labor down with Greta. Essentially, it is giving your body time to naturally bring the baby further down in the birth canal without having to exert the energy to push.

The next couple hours were peaceful as I knew my body had reached the point of delivery on its own without intervention and preparation for what it still had to do.

About 4:15 a.m. the nurse declared it time to start pushing. Luckily, in addition to John, the nurse said it was okay for my mom and sister to stay with me so I had a ton of love and support as I started pushing with every contraction. Each time I bore down, the nurse would count to 10 while massaging me. 

At first, I felt hardly any pressure. But with each push, the pressure grew. After about 30 minutes of pushing, I was breathless after each 10 count, and Denna was getting close to crowning. The nurse thought I would deliver within 30 minutes. So, she called the doctor to tell him to come and deliver the baby. 

She brought out a table with what the doctor would need and continued to help me with each contraction. After 10 minutes she decided to call the ER doctor to be on standby in case Denna came and the on call doctor hadn't arrived yet. On the next contraction, she made me stop pushing as that's how close she was and there was still no doctor in the room. I don't want to stop. I can't stop.

Above me was a light that since it was turned off and the bright delivery lights were on, I could see my reflection. So, I knew Denna's head was right there. I could see the top of it. The pressure was so intense, and it took all my concentration, strength and will to not make that final push until the doctor was there.

Finally, the ER doctor, the same one who had evaluated me when I arrived, came in. He took one look at me and said, "Oh, I won't just be standing here." He immediately started pulling on gown, gloves, etc while more nurses came into the room. They helped him and removed the lower part of my bed. After only a few minutes, he was ready, and I got to make that final push that brought Denna into the world. 

(The on call doctor arrived only a few minutes after Denna was born. I find it humorous that the doctor on record for delivering her wasn't actually in the room. But, that's the way it works.)

After the immediate screening, they put her on my chest for skin to skin time. She was still covered in vernix, but I didn't care. I thought she was beautiful, and she immediately calmed down listening to my heartbeat and feeling my warmth.

But, that's not the end to the birth story.

While we were skin to skin, the on call doctor gowned up and replaced the ER doctor to finish by delivering the placenta and stitching the minor tear I had. Twenty minutes later we were still waiting on the placenta. The doctor had been massaging my abdomen trying to get it to detach but no luck. 

Both doctors started trying to manually remove it by sticking their hand up me like I was a ventriloquist dummy. Unfortunately for me, a nurse had turned off the epidural as soon as Denna was born thinking I wouldn't need it any more. So, I really felt their efforts to remove the placenta. It was not pleasant. After the doctors consulted each other in hushed tones, the on call doctor explained what was happening.

They were going to take me in the back (the operating room) and get me more comfortable (read: sedation). Then, they would try to manually remove the placenta again. If that didn't work, they would try a D&C, though it is riskier on a post partum uterus. If that didn't work, they would have to do a hysterectomy (but would leave the ovaries).

At the mention of a hysterectomy, I was scared and a little pissed that I might have gone through the vaginal birth just to still have to have surgery. Though it would take care of the birth control question for us. By this time, the nurses had taken Denna to finish their work, and they started getting me ready for the OR. It didn't take long before they were wheeling me out of the delivery room. John wasn't allowed to come with me.

In the OR, the moved me onto the table and secured my legs to metal poles with straps. The nurses and doctors were moving around getting ready. A sonographer had come in so they could maybe see where the placenta was attached and also make sure they had gotten it all. Then, the no nonsense anesthesiologist gave me the medication in my epidural that put me out. 

When I came to, nurses were pushing on my abdomen and discussing my bleeding. The doctor told me they did the D&C and got the placenta out in three pieces. Grateful, my only concern was whether someone had told my husband. (Later, I would find out I had lost a lot of blood and the operating team was on standby in case they had to quickly do the hysterectomy due to blood loss.)

Soon I was back in the room and nursing my baby girl Denna. So, the delivery was both smooth and scary. Like she had already shown us during the pregnancy, she would insist on her own story to differentiate herself from her sisters.

(Photo credit: Sassypants Photography)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Poppet Month 1

Dear Denna,

One month since you completed our family and yet it feels like you've always been here. Your sisters adore you. They're always asking to hold you and love nothing more than to give you all the hugs and kisses. Greta would smother you with love if we let her. Willa loves to hold you and is the best helper at getting me things you need.


You've been a pretty easy baby so far. Though maybe not the best sleeper. Some nights are better than others. The worst part of the night is the 2 a.m. feeding when you're wide awake and can take 30 minutes to 2 hours to go back to sleep. Then there are nights when you'll sleep for 4 or 5 hours before waking up to be fed. Those nights are my favorites.

We've already been on a few adventures together as I haven't wanted to be stuck in the house the whole time we're home together. This last week we had company as I kept your sisters home from school to spend some quality time together. Truthfully, I also thought it would be a good way to get used to managing three kids on my own. The week was louder compared to the rest of the month, but it's also been a lot of fun.

One of the things you'll have to get used to in your life is people mispronouncing your name as it is unique. (When I looked it up on the social security website, it hadn't even been used enough in the last 20 years to have a result.) I've already had to correct many people who called you Deena. You'll also have to get used to me calling you by your sisters' names. It's an unfortunate byproduct of having three girls.

Welcome to the world, baby girl. We're so happy you're here.


Sunday, July 3, 2016

Butternut Month 12

Dear Greta,

Today I of course can't help but reflect on the journey we took to get you here. I am no less proud of the story today as I was a year ago. 

Two weeks ago you started walking! You had been standing on your own, cruising and taking half steps for a while. So we expected it to happen before your birthday, and you didn't disappoint us. 

Since you took those first steps on your own, you have not slowed down. You are walking all over the house. The teachers at daycare have repeatedly told me how nothing stops you. 

Your sister is just as proud of you as your daddy and I are. Whenever you're walking around, Willa will look at me and say, "Look at my big girl walking." It is so sweet to see how much you two adore each other. I fully expect the two of you to fight and bicker, probably starting sooner rather than later seeing as how you like to take Willa's toys, but I hope you can always be friends. 

This afternoon we're having family over to celebrate your first birthday with a party. We're cooking burgers and brats, and after presents and your smash cake, we'll go watch the fireworks Coppell is putting on especially for you. Okay, so the fireworks are for the city's 4th of July celebration. But, we'll just pretend they're for you.

I wasn't sure how you would do with the cake, so last week I bought some cupcakes. By the way you shoved that cupcake in your mouth, I knew you would have no trouble figuring out what to do with your birthday cake.

The last 12 months have happened in the blink of an eye. It's hard to imagine our family without you. Your beautiful smile and playful heart bring much joy to all of us. Happy birthday, Butternut, my baby girl, my sweet G, my Greta. I hope you always feel loved on your birthday.


Friday, June 3, 2016

Butternut Month 11

Dear Greta,

Where did my baby go? When I cuddle with you these days you take up so much more room than you used to. I swear it was just the other day I could lay you down and not worry about your roaming all over the house. And now there is no containing you.

This month you discovered cabinets and the wonders they hold within their doors. Your favorite thing to do is pull yourself up on the cabinet pulls and then open and shut them fast so there's a lot of noise. You never fail to look at me with the biggest grin on your face while you're doing this.

Because more than once we have had to swoop in just before you pull things out of the cabinet you shouldn't, we finally did some more baby proofing. Mainly the cabinets that hold either cleaning supplies or sharp and/or breakable objects. You have expressed your great displeasure at discovering your favorite toy receptacles won't open any longer. You looked at me like it was the greatest betrayal in all history.

You do not sit still. I'll watch you stop to play with something and think you'll be there occupied for a bit. So I'll turn to do something and when I peek back at you a couple minutes later, you've moved onto something else. Hence why we really were overdue for baby proofing. 

When I play music while cooking, you don't give me strange looks like your sister. Instead, you dance right along with me. You love the movement. Clapping your hands, bouncing, patting your legs (or mine). You're all about finding that beat.

Every day we get closer to walking. You'll stand on your own for about 30 seconds. But you haven't quite got the confidence or balance to step out. But you are quick to grab our fingers and take off walking around the house. When I sit down with you, you are immediately trying to get down. When I set you on the floor, you do not let go of my fingers and you start walking to wherever it is you want to go. And if I want to avoid causing you to fall, I have no choice but to follow. Because either way, you're going to keep going.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Butternut Month 10

Dear Greta,

So much change this month. 

This month you started crawling on your hands and knees. There are still occasions when you will crawl on your stomach, but for the most part you're staying on all fours. It's fun to see the joy on your face as you move to wherever you want to go. Plus, it's nice that your shirts are staying a little bit cleaner since you're not dragging yourself around.

A new tooth arrived in your mouth this month. That makes four on top and two on the bottom. I keep expecting more to pop up considering how often your fingers are in your mouth. But so far, it doesn't seem like any more teeth are close to the surface. 

A couple weeks ago you started waving bye bye. It is so cute to see you waving your little hand. Especially because it's accompanied by a big grin. You've also started to show a little separation anxiety. You've cried a couple times when we've dropped you off at daycare in the morning, which breaks my heart. You're also reluctant to go to someone you don't recognize. 

This past weekend, I took you to the mall with me. I came prepared with some snacks for you as I knew you would probably find it a little boring. When you started to get cranky, I gave you a few puffs. After you finished them, you looked at me and pointed your finger at the palm of your other hand. You were clearly signing for more. I was so proud! You were communicating. I couldn't wait to get home and tell your daddy.

You've been trying to stand up on your own without the assistance of a table or chair. You get on all fours and straighten your legs so your butt is in the air. But you haven't quite figured out how to straighten up so your body is above your legs. So you instead shake your butt hoping the momentum will lift your body. Baby twerking. It really is adorable, and I really need to get a video of it.


You've also started walking with the assistance of the walker. You look quite pleased with yourself when you walk across the room. I have no doubt that you will be walking on your own before your birthday. 

Speaking of, I don't know that I'm prepared for the fact that you'll be turning 1 in two months. The last 10 months have flown by in the blink of an eye.


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Butternut Month 9

Dear Greta,

At the beginning of this month, I had a work trip that lasted a few days. I was a little worried that you wouldn't sleep through the night for your dad while I was gone, but you gave him no trouble. Though I know everyone was happy when I came back home.

This month you got three new teeth, all on the top. It was about a week of not quite sleeping through the night. Plus there were so many fun diaper and clothes changes. Your poor little bottom was bright red from diaper rash. But when the teeth finally popped through your gums, all those issues thankfully went away.

Daycare moved you up into the mobile infant room. You were so ready. One day the daycare director came in to your classroom while giving some new parents a tour. She noticed you practically on top of another baby trying to give him one of your patent-pending open mouth kisses. The teachers told her you were across the room two minutes before that. Your daddy and I are well acquainted with this phenomenon of how quickly you move across a room.

You've been coming home from your day in the mobile baby classroom exhausted since you've been only taking one nap and there's so much more activity happening. We've been feeding you dinner and then putting you to bed early. Though you're so laid back that you don't mind staying up a little longer as long as Willa will play with you.

We went camping this month, which was both your sister's and your first camp out. You did better than I ever dared to imagine. We brought your pack and play for you to hang out in. When we went for a hike, I carried you on my back. To sleep I bundled you up in many layers because it was cold. You did wake up in the middle of the night, but I think Willa woke you up when she started crying. At that point, I put you in my sleeping bag with me. You stayed plenty warm and slept the rest of the night without any trouble.

Your first Easter egg hunt went well, though you were happiest just sitting in the grass trying to put an egg in your mouth. If I tried to take it from you to drop it in your basket, you protested greatly.

You're still crawling on your stomach for now. But you love to pull yourself up to standing whenever you can. You're starting to try and feed yourself more. You continue to babble at us. I ask Willa what you're saying, and she replies, "Goo goo gah gah." Which is about my interpretation. You occasionally growl deep in your throat, which I find hilarious. I haven't been able to catch it on video yet because you always stop as soon as I pull out my phone. But I'm going to keep trying.

Happy nine months, my sweet G!


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Nugget Year 3

Dear Willa,

You've grown in so many ways in the past year. Taller, longer hair, bigger feet. Exponentially more words. In some ways more adventurous. In other ways more cautious. But one thing hasn't changed. You're silliness and infectious laugh that never fails to make me smile.

There is so much you've learned in the last year. Counting (I think you're up to 11 or 12 without much help from us), the alphabet, colors and shapes. I'm so impressed with what you have learned at school and picked up from watching Little Einsteins or Doc McStuffins.

I wasn't really worried about how you would react to a new baby in the house. But from the moment you met Greta, you've loved her. The first week she was home you wanted to help by changing her diaper. Of course, I couldn't let you do that so I convinced you to change the diaper on your baby doll.

When I bring Greta into your classroom and the other kids inevitably gather around to ooh and aah over the baby, you stand next to her declaring, "MY baby Greta" in case there were any doubts as to who was her big sister. It is so sweet.


Your favorite colors right now are pink and purple. You love Doc McStuffins, Frozen and The Little Mermaid. Though we went through a pretty serious Little Einsteins phase last summer. You'd eat mac and cheese every day if I let you. Though you do still love rice and beans, and you often ask to have fish for dinner.

(Photo by Sassypants Photography

Monkey (the Wubbanub I cut the pacifier off of two years ago) must still be in your hand to fall asleep. And Pillow was, up until a few months ago, as important. Long story short, Pillow got an irreparable hole in it. So I took you shopping and let you pick out a new pillow. You picked out a Frozen pillow and right away had to sleep with it. You've never had any trouble transitioning to the new pillow and haven't mentioned your old Pillow at all.

You love to play with your Little People dollhouse and "be a princess." Sometimes you want to be a specific princess, Elsa or Anna, but sometimes you just go in to your dress up trunk and pull out an outfit. You'll declare, "I'm so pretty" and curtsy at us or spin around giggling.

A couple weeks ago I told you you were pretty and you told me, "I'm not pretty. I'm not wearing a dress." My heart broke at the realization that you already associate being pretty with certain clothes. I now tell you every day how pretty you are no matter what you're wearing. I hope you'll see yourself through my eyes some day and realize just how pretty you are.

We took you on your first camp out last weekend. You were so excited to sleep in a tent and had so much fun running back and forth from tent to tent with your cousins. When we went to sleep that night you crawled in between me and Daddy. Later that night I rolled over and watched you as you slept. I was in awe of how beautiful you are.

Happy 3rd birthday, my beautiful, sweet Nugget, my baby girl.

I love you,