Wednesday, October 29, 2014

the one about everything

Speechless.

I have tried to write this post so many times, but with each try, I fail to find the words.

For the first time ever, I think I am speechless. 

I'm going to try this one more time.

At my 25 week appointment, when we learned that my cervix was dangerously short and could be threatening a pre-term delivery, we were told then that our chances of carrying Shiloh to 36 weeks were very slim.

So we started the procardia and the progesterone injections and the bed rest along with weekly/biweekly ultrasounds and non stress tests. A few weeks later, I began managing my gestational diabetes. I wrecked my van by colliding with public transit, and the rest was history. 

The one thing keeping me going was knowing that I will eventually see her face. Someday, this will all be over, and I will hold my baby. The daily challenges and obstacles that plague me will be a distant memory. That day will come. 

Luke has told me multiple times throughout our relationship in a variety of circumstances, "It won't be like this forever."

I wanted to make it to 37 weeks. I told myself I would. And at 37 weeks, 2 days, Shiloh was born.

Just like the pregnancy, her birth was different than my other two. But I suppose now that I think about it, her labor and delivery serve as a fitting metaphor for the pregnancy as a whole.

Though I knew in my gut that this it was true labor, the process was slow. I didn't progress as quickly as I did with Charlotte, leaving me to labor for about 12 hours through the night. Like my pregnancy, it felt like an eternity. Like the end was nowhere in sight. Like the anticipation and anxiety alone would cause my heart to just give out and stop beating. 

Luke was there, of course, but as he drifted in and out of sleep throughout the night, I was left to my own thoughts and management of my pain and feelings…as I often was while alone and on bed rest. I hated nearly every minute of having my activities restricted, but I can't tell you the strength and self-control I gained as those weeks passed by. And there I was, utilizing that same strength and self-control in my hospital bed, preparing for her arrival. 

By the time it was actually "time," the pain was a 14 on a sale of 1-10. I've never felt anything like that before. And all of a sudden, even though I begged, there was no time for an epidural. Again. What seemed like a slow and sluggish labor quickly became fast and intense. In a similar way, my pregnancy seemed to drag on forever, but all of a sudden it would be over before I knew it.

They called for the anesthesiologist anyway, and I saw his feet beneath the curtain at the entrance to my room. But it was too late. It was time to just get through it. I had experienced each and every physical and emotional pain throughout this pregnancy, and now I had one last obstacle to hurdle.

It wasn't pretty. It wasn't graceful. It wasn't made for a TV movie. I didn't feel in control of my pain or my body or my words whatsoever. 

I yelled that my head was going to explode.

FYI...It didn't. 

And within minutes, the tiniest, most beautiful, dark haired beauty was placed upon my chest. Healthy as could be. Calm and peaceful. Perfect in every way.

I don't remember crying. I'm sure I did a little, but I don't remember it. I just remember feeling victorious. I remember feeling insanely proud and relieved. 

Shiloh Frances, 6 pounds, 5 ounces, of pure joy.

After learning that we made it to 37 weeks, a well-intentioned person told me with a chuckle, "All of that for nothing, huh?"

almost bought into that line of thought, too… but then I look at her and think... for nothing?

11 shots of progesterone in my butt (and another 2 shots of steroids)

150+ procardia pills to swallow

200+ finger pricks to test my blood sugar

80+ doses of metformin

Roughly 4 combined hours of NST monitoring

10+ cervical and abdominal ultrasounds

1-3 appointments weekly for 10+ weeks

Plus bed rest, food restrictions, and missing countless social events


It was not for nothing. It was for everything.






And I would do it all over again.


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

the one about how i can wait

Yesterday morning, I didn't want to get up and going. My back hurt, and I had another night of sleeplessness between the hours of 4-7 a.m. My girls didn't care about that, though. I would say "Up with the sun," but since the sun doesn't come out until nearly 8 a.m. these days, these girls are up way before the sun.

I fumbled around, my 36 week pregnant belly adding to the overall clumsiness of my usual morning fog. I got the girls set up with some Doc McStuffins, blankets, and granola bars, and I slid back into bed.

Just as my eyes started to close again, I heard the familiar sound of an over-saturated diaper squishing between the legs of an almost two year old, with best friend Blankie dragging behind. I was expecting to hear, "More milkie!" or "I nack," code for I want a snack.

But all I heard was, "Hi. Mama."

Yes, she punctuates her sentences just like that…with a big pause between "hi" and "mama." It's just one of about three trillion things I love about her.

She toddles over to my side of the bed and extends her arms to me. With as much strength as these flabby, haven't-seen-a-gym arms could muster, I lifted her up and over my belly mountain to the other side of the bed. 

In what seemed like one, fluid, continuous motion, she snuggled down underneath my blanket, laid her head on the pillow beside me, and fit herself neatly into the bend of my arm. 

Pretty soon, she won't be "the baby." A new baby is due to arrive any day, and even though Charlotte is still wearing diapers and relying on pacifiers, she will look instantly older the second Shiloh takes her first breath. 

And so for that reason alone, as much as I want to meet this new life who will certainly flip our family on its head…well…technically she has already flipped our family on its head…, as much as I am ready for the stress of this pregnancy to be a thing of the past and for my diabetes/diabeetus to go away so I can drink a legitimate Starbucks…

I can wait. 

I've waited 36 weeks, the past 11 of them feeling more like 11 years, to meet this new baby. But I can wait a little longer, because for now, I've still got a baby curled up in my arms. She needs me. She wants me.

Still clutching the granola bar I had given her when she first woke up, she began nibbling on it. Little pieces were falling from her hand, onto my sheets and into the creases of her neck. I picked up the remnants that had fallen away and popped them back into her mouth. And before long, she was doing the same for me. Her little fingers holding tiny chocolate chips, dropping them into my mouth as I had done for her.

Every now and then, she would pat my arm and say, "Mama" in the same way an adult would say with a sigh, "I just love you."

The moments ticked on and Doc McStuffins ended. Full daylight was streaming in through my windows. Surely it was time to get up and moving. Laundry needed started. Lunches needed packed. Girls needed dropped off at preschool. Grocery store. Doctor's appointment. I needed to get started, but I reminded myself that I can wait a little longer.

I can wait.

I can wait because right now she's still the baby. 

And regardless of whether or not Shiloh decided to come that day, it would still be Charlotte's last day as a one year old.

Today, she is two.

I can hardly believe it, but I lived 28 years on this Earth before knowing this sweet and lovely child. She has enriched our family and given us so many reasons to smile in her short 24 months.

Everything she says, and nearly everything she does, is cute.

I mean…throwing food on the floor or dumping board games out is kinda cute, but not really.

I am so excited to see the little lady she becomes. She's got quite the fire inside of her, and I know she will make such an impact as the years lead on.

But I can wait.

I can wait because right now, maybe for even just one more day (or hour), she's still the baby.

And she won't share granola bars with me forever.

Happy birthday, my sweet, precious, baby Charlotte.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

the one about the olaf bag tutorial

By now you know that I am on bed rest, which kind of just means to not leave my house unless I have to do and not do anything strenuous or unnecessary. While I am not confined to a "bed" all day, I do go stir crazy and long for my past life of activity and fun.

Siiiigh.

However, one blessing has been all the time it has allowed me to get projects completed for the baby's room and for my other two girls. I have enjoyed working on items for my Etsy shop, Opal and Aqua, and attempting crafts that I normally wouldn't try due to lack of time or motivation.

I put together a little project yesterday to go with my girls' Halloween costumes. I recently wrote this regarding the fact that we were going store-bought all the way with costumes this year, and that Noelle would be Anna from Frozen and Charlotte would be a ladybug. The only problem was that when Charlotte tried on her ladybug costume, she flopped around in revolt and screamed her head off.

I am picking my battles, so I immediately ordered her the Elsa costume that goes with Noelle's, and it is perfect! I can't believe they even make these dresses this small, but it is the cutest thing I have seen. I'm telling you, JCPenney dress up outfits are where it's at!

So, on one of my outings to Target (don't get excited…30 minutes or less with a chaperone is hardly a Target trip), I noticed this* Olaf trick or treat bag. I thought it was cute enough, but when I looked at it up close, I realized that not only was it overpriced, but it was also barely big enough to hold a Kit Kat. What the heck is that? My kids trick or treat for the single purpose of bringing home a crap ton of candy for their mama, and this year it is more important than ever that they collect an impressive haul. Once this diabeetus is out of my system, I plan to go NUTS with the fun size chocolate bars. This bag simply wasn't going to cut it.

*P.S. I couldn't find a link on Target's website. As you can see, people are already selling these on eBay. I wish I would have bought one to mark up and sell on eBay, too…but that would just make me heartless and disgusting.

I liked the idea of the Olaf bag, though, so I got to looking in my craft closet and found all the supplies I would need to make two bags, one for each of my girls. I didn't spend any money on this, and it took about an hour to do. If you don't have a ready stash of felt and hot glue gun sticks, I bet you could make one bag for less than $5 total.

The best part is that I didn't measure or sew anything, so if you are not into those types of crafts, you can still do this!

This is what you'll need:

2 copies of an Olaf face that is roughly the size of a piece of computer paper
At least a 1/2 yard of white felt for one bag or a whole yard for two bags
Individual sheets of felt in white, black, brown, and orange (just one sheet per color will be fine)
Sharp scissors
A good glue gun that gets nice and hot with the appropriate glue sticks
Screaming children running in and out of your work space -- optional, not recommended, but whatevs

First, I needed an Olaf face to use as a pattern, and I came across this from Catching Up with Kate. I printed it at 250%, black and white, and made two copies. I didn't want to print all the pages of his body (once enlarged, it is about 9 pages), so I just selected the page with the face on it and printed that one.

Prior to cutting anything, I laid my large piece of felt out, folded it in half, and placed one of the printouts on the fold. This was going to be the template for the size of the bag. The fold of the fabric made the bottom of the bag, so I just needed to cut around the other three edges. I widened the bag just a little, so I cut a little more than inch around the sides of the paper to make the bag slightly larger than the piece of paper. Remember, I want lots of candy!



I did this twice (along with everything) because I made one for each of my daughters.

Next, I began cutting out the features of Olaf's face. These next pictures are disturbing and not recommended for children under age 12.



I have two copies of the face so that I can cut out not only the whites of Olaf's eyes, but also the dark shadow around the eyes to make them stand out. I also did this with the mouth and teeth. One copy was used for the mouth, and the other was used for the teeth.




After cutting out his eyes, mouth, nose, and eyebrows, I then held each piece up to the corresponding color of felt and began cutting around them. There is no exact science to this. I just held the pattern steady against the felt and trimmed around each piece. I doubled my felt because I was making two bags.

Don't mind my grown out Jamberry thumb. I mean, at least it's a testament to how long they stay on when you can see 4mm of growth at the bottom, right?




I began laying out my felt pieces on my bags, using Olaf's (butchered) face as my guide to placement. I had to play with it a little before I found an arrangement that looked right to me. The good thing is that Olaf makes lots of fun expressions throughout the movie, so you can't really mess it up.




I decided he needed some hair, so I simply cut some random brown hair (they kind of looked like tree branches) and placed them behind the top piece of felt of my bag so they would look like they were coming out of the top.


The next step was to glue! Hot glue works really well on felt and melts all the fibers together very nicely for a strong bond. You don't need to sew or secure anything!

Once I had the face pieces where I wanted them, I simply lifted them up a corner at a time (so I wouldn't lose my placement) and started gluing. Of course I had to burn my fingers a few times, but what project is complete without some burnt skin?

After the faces were glued, I opened the bag and placed a strip of glue along the edges of the bag, one edge at a time. I pressed the edges together firmly and they were sealed! No need to glue the bottom since I used the fold, and if I were to glue the top…well…that would be stupid.



All that was needed were some handles! I cut two strips of felt for each bag that were about the length of the bag itself. I placed the first handle behind the top piece of felt and glued the edges in place. I then flipped the bag over and did the same thing for the second handle.





Ta da! The finished product!



Are they perfect? No. Do they have hot glue snot strings? Yeah, you'll find a few. But…will they hold lots and lots of candy for this starving-for-sugar mama? YOU BET…and that's all that matters!