Sunday, November 10, 2013

Family of 5

I feel like we are finally settling into our life as a family of 5.  I forgot how crazy the early days are when you have a newborn... but I also forgot that they do change and grow quickly, and life settles down.  I'm more tired and have more to do now, but I am able to get Hayden off to sleep in his crib by 9-10pm or so.  I should head to bed myself at that point, but I usually stay up way too late.  It's nice to have a little quiet time after the kids are all tucked away in their beds.

Hayden is doing amazing.  Breastfeeding feels like I never stopped... there are always minor glitches to work through, of course, but I'm remembering everything I experienced while nursing Kelsey.  Some are wonderful, like being on the receiving end of a big milky smile.  Others are more frustrating, such as leaking and dealing with sore nipples.  I think it's all relatively normal, though - and I am happy to report that we did not use the nipple shield this time.  Pumping a little with the hand pump was all I needed during the worst of engorgement, to get him to latch on effectively.  He did need to have minor surgery in the form of an upper frenectomy last month... basically, they took sterile scissors and cut his upper lip tie.  It was quick and easy - not the miracle fix I was hoping it would be, but it did improve nursing for us greatly, and his latch has improved SO much.

Watching him gain weight has been mind boggling for me.  I've never had a kid gain so much weight in the early days.  He was 8 pounds 14 ounces at birth, and went down to 8 pounds 9 ounces two days later, his lowest weight.  As of October 30th, he was 12 pounds 12 ounces.  I am fairly certain he's well over 13 pounds now.  His two month check up is scheduled for November 21st and I am excited to see where he is on the charts at that point.

He is growing up so much already.  I love to see it, but I have to admit it makes me sad, too.  He is the last baby we plan on having, so I'm trying to soak it all in.  I know there will be nieces and nephews, friends' babies, and possibly grandbabies to hold in years to come.  However, there's nothing like the weeks and months spent holding your very own infant whenever you want to.  Feeling their weight against your chest, smelling the top of their head, and kissing their soft cheeks... I'm going to miss it, and it makes me sad to realize that it will never happen again for me.  Don't get me wrong - I don't really have a desire for more children.  I do feel done.  I just don't want to forget anything, and I know from Landon and Kelsey that even these precious memories fade with time.

Landon and Kelsey have adjusted well.  If there is one thing our children are, it is well-bonded.  They love each other dearly.  The older two fight and bicker, but that's what siblings are for.  They also take care of each other.  They get frustrated when Hayden is crying while they are trying to listen to something, but they are both such awesome big siblings.  Kelsey takes her role as big sister very seriously... she loves to coo at him just like I do.  I often overhear her talking to him, "Hayden, it's okay.  Big sister's here, big sister.  Don't cry... here's your paci, sweetie-heart..."  I hear echos of myself: "Oh, Hayden, mommy's here, mommy's here... it's okay, sweetheart."

Landon is so proud to have a baby brother.  He loves to hold him and give him brotherly hugs and kisses, and can't wait for the day that Hayden can sleep on the bottom bunk of his bed and they can share a room.  He thinks it is awesome when I put Hayden in superhero clothes like the ones Landon wears.

I couldn't ask for better big siblings for my youngest baby.

I also couldn't ask for a better daddy for my three babies than Justin.  I had forgotten how much I love to watch him with a baby.  He loves his kids more than words can explain, and they love him just as much.  Today Kelsey threw her arms around him and told him that he is the best Daddy in the world.  He took several weeks off after Hayden was born, which was much needed in this house.  The kids needed that time with their father while I recovered and bonded with Hayden.  The dynamics have shifted a little in the family, as they always do after a baby is born.  I love working as a team with my husband to care for the family we've made together.

Justin's back to work now and I think I'm doing fairly well at keeping the house running smoothly.  There are days when things don't get done, and I sometimes mourn the routine I had developed before Hayden was born.  It is worth it to drop everything to nurse him and see the way he smiles at me.  There's no doubt about the fact that I am his favorite person in the world right now, without a doubt.  He loves everyone, but he has a special smile reserved just for me.

I am so lucky.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Introducing Hayden Matthew!

This was my first pregnancy where I felt noticeable Braxton Hicks contractions, and I started having them fairly early.  At we got closer and closer to full term, the BH contractions started to get stronger, especially in the evenings while I was relaxing and watching TV after the kids went to bed.

Around the beginning of September, I noticed that I was losing a little of my plug each morning and was having more BH contractions, accompanied with cramps in my back and in my cervix.  On September 4, I had an appointment where we confirmed that Baby H was head down.  The midwife helped me map my belly to figure out Baby H's position, and after palpating my belly, she told me she felt Baby H would be larger than both Landon (8lb 7oz) and Kelsey (7lb 8oz) had been.

On September 5 (at 38 weeks, 2 days), I really thought it might be baby time… I started feeling very off and sick to my stomach, and was having some hard contractions that I had to concentrate through.  I decided to go to bed to see what happened, and ended up sleeping soundly and waking up feeling normal (or as normal as you can feel when you are that pregnant!).

Through the next week, I started nesting like crazy.  I cleaned toilets, vacuumed, mopped, kept the laundry done, dusted, kept the dishes done, and more - all in one day.  I sorted through the big junk pile that had collected on our kitchen island, and cleaned off the mess.  I reorganized the buffet and hutch in our dining room to improve storage and get rid of some boxes that were still sitting out from our move.  The house had never looked better.  When it was all done, I spent a few days relaxing and napping as much as possible.

September 11 came, and I really preferred that baby did not come that day, for a variety of reasons.  I also wanted Baby H's birthday to be an even day, just because the rest of our family had even birthdays (June 4, February 4, January 10, and April 26).  It was just one of my quirky wishes.

As September 11 ended, I went upstairs at nearly midnight to take a bath and go to bed.  I had been having contractions all evening, but that was normal - I was getting very tired of all the practice labor!  I used the bathroom and noticed some pink discharge… could it be bloody show?  Maybe!  I took my bath and blow dried my hair before heading to bed.

Around 4:00 AM (September 12), I woke up and was having some twingy cramps… similar to menstrual cramps, and just like the cramps I had around 8 hours before Kelsey was born.  I got up and went to the bathroom and had definite bloody show.  My gut told me that today was the day!  I tried to go back to bed for awhile, but the cramps kept coming, so I got up.  At 4:49 AM, I called the on-call midwife at the birth center (Kelly) to let her know what was happening.  She took my information and confirmed a few things with me and told me to call back when I decided to head in.  I figured I was pretty early still, but my gut kept telling me that Kelsey was born pretty fast after those light cramps started, and I couldn't rest.

Since I couldn't rest anyway, I went downstairs to make Landon's lunch for school.  At 5:11 AM, I texted my mother and told her not to get her hopes up, but that I thought it was going to be the day, and to call me when she woke up, and I also texted our birth photographer to let her know what was happening.  I alternated between walking around my house in circles, and resting on the couch.  Justin had been working all night and was going to get off soon, but I was thinking I should call and get a message to him so he would come home fast instead of taking care of other things, and so he could be aware of what he was coming home to.  At 5:34 AM, I called the flight chief's office to get a message to him.

At 6:07 AM, my mother texted me back and I called her.  She wasn't sure if she should go to work or just start the drive to our house.  At this point I was still having the cramps, but also noticeable contractions, some of which I had to stop and concentrate through.  They were very sporadic, but that had been the case during Kelsey's labor, as well.  Mom and I hung up and texted a few more times as she got ready for the day - she ultimately decided to call into work and just head up to our house for the weekend - if Baby H didn't end up coming that day, surely he/she would come in the next few days.

Justin got home between 6:00-6:30 AM - very early for what he had been getting home, so I was glad I called to get a message to him.  He changed his clothes and laid down on the couch to get a little rest since he'd just gotten done working a 12+ hour shift.  I got Landon up for the day and started getting him ready for school and fed breakfast, and I also made arrangements for Kelsey to go to Sharon's house (our babysitter), and for our neighbors to get Landon off of the bus if my mother didn't make it to the house first.

At 7:09 AM, I called Kelly back and asked her if it would be okay if we headed up to the birth center after the kids were situated.  I was having contractions anywhere from 5-10 minutes apart, lasting 30 seconds to a minute… they weren't very strong, but I did have to concentrate through them a little.  My gut told me it was time to head in, considering we had over an hour to drive, and I needed antibiotics for GBS.

Around 7:30 AM, I got Landon off to school on the bus and went back to the house.  Justin was still napping, and I told him that I felt it was time to get Kelsey dropped off at Sharon's house and to head into the birth center.  He took a few minutes to wake up.  He thought it was still early to go, but we finally left the house around 8:15 AM.  I felt bad waking him after he had worked all night and offered to drive since contractions weren't that strong, but he said that he could do it.

Last belly photo at 39 weeks, 3 days.
Taken in the Einstein Brothers bathroom.
We dropped Kelsey off, and quickly got back on the road.  I downloaded a contraction timer on my phone and started to time them… they were coming pretty consistently at 5 minutes apart and lasting a minute or less, but still not very strong.  As we drove, I worried that we were going to the birth center too soon.  My gut said otherwise, but I wondered if we were going to make the drive (not to mention have my mother drive in from Arkansas) for nothing, or for it to take hours to be at a point where we could stay at the birth center.  Justin felt the same way - he was tired from working all night, and he said he had no doubt Baby H was coming that day, but he thought it was going to be quite awhile until the birth.  It was too late because we were already on our way, though, and I DID need time to get the antibiotics, so we continued on.  Every few minutes I would go silent as a contraction hit, and then I'd go back to normal.  I even helped Justin navigate to first Einstein Bagels (hey, we were hungry!) and then to the birth center.

We got to the birth center a little before 10:00 AM.  I stood and held onto the wall by the desk as I had a contraction, and the ladies behind the desk smiled at me.  I told them I had talked to Kelly and said I would be heading in.  A few minutes later, Melissa (another midwife) came to bring me back to an exam room.  We chatted and joked, and I told her what had been going on.  She said that maybe I could get a dose of antibiotics and then head home for awhile.  I explained that we live over an hour from the center, and she said maybe we could go to a store or the mall to walk around for awhile, then.  Justin and I looked at each other - we had been hoping we could go to one of the rooms because he was exhausted and could nap in there while I walked around outside if I needed to.  We decided to just go along with things, but again I was concerned I had arrived too soon.

Contemporary Room
New Birth Company, Overland Park
Melissa decided to check me before I went to get the antibiotics, and immediately said, "Wow, you are AMAZING!  You're at 8, and your bag of waters is bulging!"  I laughed because I had worried for nothing.  Apparently my natural contractions are just not as strong as what other women experience, but are still very effective at dilating my cervix.  I said something about how no one believed me, and she said, "Oh, I believe you - I just felt your cervix!"  She did mention that Baby H was still fairly high, but that we were definitely going back to our room.  She felt that Baby H was head down, but did a quick ultrasound to be sure, and then we headed to the birth center part of the facility.  I was lucky - there were two other laboring mothers in the center that day, so the only room available was the Contemporary room - our favorite!

We were taken back to our room.  Justin laid down to take a nap and Melissa came in to place my hep lock and start my antibiotics.  After she and the nurse left, the room was very quiet.  It was nice and peaceful… Justin was sleeping on the bed, and I walked around the room, alternating between resting on the bed and sitting on the birth ball.  I hated the birth ball when I was in labor with Kelsey, and that was still true.  Sitting on the ball really made my contractions much stronger, and I had a hard time balancing on the ball through them, but since Baby H was still high, I forced myself to sit on it every few contractions to try to help him/her move down.

Anna, our birth photographer, arrived around 11:00 AM.  We chatted a little about birth photography in between contractions.  The contractions started to get more intense around this point, so when the nurse came in to disconnect my IV after the course of antibiotics, I asked if we could fill the birth tub for me to get into.  Once it was full, I changed into my bathing suit and climbed in.  Justin woke up at that point and came over to hold my hand, around 11:30-11:45 AM or so.  This is when everything really started to pick up and I lost track of time.

As I sat in the tub, I had some strong contractions.  Melissa had told me to let her know if I felt pushy or had any pain in my abdomen (I am a VBAC mama, so she wanted me to be sure to let her know if there were any signs of rupturing, as rare as it is).  I never had any pain that would be associated with uterine rupture, but I did think I was starting to feel like it was time to push.  I asked Justin to let Melissa or the nurse know.  They came in and Melissa watched me through a few contractions.  The nurse monitored me through at least one contraction, and I really wanted to tell her to leave me alone because it intensified everything to have her touching my belly with the monitor.

I started to push, and quickly realized that pushing was not pleasant this time.  With Kelsey, pushing felt awesome - it took the edge off the contractions and made me feel like I was powerful and doing something awesome.  This time, it hurt and made me feel like I was ripping apart.  I was scared to push, but couldn't stop it… I tried not to fight my body, but it was hard to put everything into it when I knew how bad it felt.  I mentioned to Melissa that I felt dizzy, and she said she was going to watch me and may ask me to get out of the water because sometimes being in the water can make the laboring mother dizzy and they didn't want me to pass out.  I also mentioned that my hips hurt.  The tub was pretty narrow - not much wider than the average bathtub, so even though she encouraged me to get my legs open as wide as possible, I just couldn't open them wide enough.  She was worried because she knew Baby H was going to be pretty big, and that I would need more room to allow him/her to come down.

She watched for a couple more contractions and encouraged me to reach in and feel the bag of waters - so cool!  At 12:07 PM (Melissa told me the time later on), my water broke in the tub.  Melissa noticed that there was light meconium staining in the amniotic fluid… nothing too concerning, but it had likely been there for awhile.  Not long after, she asked me to move to the bed.  The water wasn't really making me feel any better, so I was okay with not birthing in the water - but I was scared to move.  Justin and the nurse helped me stand up and carefully move out of the tub to the bed.  As I walked across the room, Melissa told me that I was SO CLOSE… I didn't believe her.  I rudely answered, "Yeah, that's what you SAY, but really!?"  She told me I really was closer than I thought.

I laid on the bed and the next part is a blur.  I know they had pillows underneath me to support me, but I was laying on my back and wasn't really comfortable but couldn't find the energy to voice that.  At some point, Kelly (the midwife I had spoke to on the phone that morning) came in and was helping hold my right leg to give me something to push against… I think the nurse was holding my left leg.  Melissa checked again and realized I still had a cervical lip, so she held it back through a contraction.  Justin was behind me and he kept telling me I could do it and that I was doing great.  I feel like I was vocalizing pretty loudly, but afterward I was told that I wasn't as loud as I thought I had been.  In the moment, I didn't really care.  Every contraction was scary for me… I felt one coming and knew my body was going to push and I felt like I was going to come apart.  Melissa told me I was doing great at holding back so they could try to protect my perineum to keep me from tearing, and I remember thinking I wasn't holding back for any reason other than I was a total wimp and scared out of my mind!  At the time it wasn't funny but it is now, looking back.

Finally, the baby crowned.  I felt the ring of fire, and I knew I really was close.  But instead of passing quickly like it did with Kelsey, the ring of fire stayed… and stayed… and stayed!  Kelly helped me take off my cold, wet bathing suit top so Baby H wouldn't get cold.  It took several contractions for Baby H's head to come out.  Once Justin told me that the head was out, I expected the body to slide out quickly like Kelsey's had.  But no - I had to push again to birth the rest of the body… I felt really ticked off about that.  I was so ready to be done.  Finally, at last (or so it felt to me), the baby's body slid out at 12:25 PM… only 18 minutes after my water broke, and only an hour or so after things really started getting intense!

From my angle on the bed with pillows underneath me, I couldn't see Baby H very well.  I looked back at Justin and asked him, "What do we have?"  He smiled and said, "A boy!"  Hayden had arrived!  I couldn't see very well, but Justin said that they unwrapped his cord from around his body and wiped him off a little, and then put him on my chest.  He had a very long cord, which Justin cut a few minutes later, after it stopped pulsating.  I held Hayden for a few minutes while I delivered the placenta, and then handed him off to Justin for skin-to-skin while Melissa stitched me up.  I got local anesthesia but some areas weren't as numb as others and I didn't trust myself to hold Hayden while being stitched.  I finally got to hold him for a good long time and get a good look at him after I was done being repaired - he was absolutely beautiful, with a perfect little face and sweet little lips.

Mom ended up arriving at the birth center around a half hour after Hayden was born.  She spent a couple hours with us and then took our van home to pick up Kelsey and meet Landon at the bus stop.  Before she and Anna left, we had the nurse weigh Hayden in the little sling - he weighed in at 8lb 14oz and measured 20in long.  His head was 35.5cm around.

Justin and I spent the rest of the day resting and relaxing at the birth center.  We stayed longer than most people stay but Melissa wanted to monitor my bleeding due to the speed of his birth and how I tore.  We used the time to eat Panera Bread and decide on a middle name for Hayden - we ended up naming him Hayden Matthew.  Around 11:30 that evening, we made it home with our new little man.  I had been worried about going home so soon with such a little guy, but it ended up being awesome to get home with the older kids and Mom and be able to relax and adjust in our own space.  We did have to go back to the birth center for the next three days in a row since we live so far away.  He needed a little extra monitoring since I only got the one dose of antibiotics for GBS.

Photo by third avenue photography.
http://www.thirdavenuephotography.com/

Hayden Matthew Nutter
8 pounds 14 ounces
20 inches long
35.5 centimeters (head circumference)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Kindergarten

It's hard to believe, but my baby boy started kindergarten this week.  It seems like only yesterday I was standing in the shoppette parking lot with butterflies in my stomach as we prepared to head to the hospital to be induced.  I knew my life would change drastically, but I had no idea how much.

 He did great.  I have some personal issues with lack of communication between the school and new kindergarten parents, but we are slowly figuring it out.  Two days before the first day, there was an open house we attended, so he had already met his teacher and taken all of his supplies in to his desk and cubby.

The morning of August 15, he ran into my room a few minutes after my alarm went off and told me that we were late.  I assured him we weren't, and he got himself ready.  We went downstairs and were joined quickly afterward by Kelsey.  We all ate breakfast.  Justin got home before we went outside for some photos on our front porch - which will definitely be a tradition in our family.

For the first day, Landon asked to ride the bus.  I went back and forth on it and was undecided even that morning, but ultimately, we walked him out to the corner and waited with all of the other kids and some parents, until the bus came to take them off to school.

Once the bus got there, everything happened so fast... I took a photo, and he was gone before I could blink.

I didn't cry much.  I teared up off and on through the day, and worried a lot about how he got to his classroom once he got to school, but I never broke down crying.  I cried more when I realized that I wasn't crying, actually.  :)

 It was strange not having him here, but Kelsey and I took advantage of the time we had and went grocery shopping.  She's a very funny little girl, but is even funnier without Landon there.  He tends to answer for her and talk over her, and it was cool to have some one-on-one time with her.  I look forward to spending this time with her before Baby H comes, and I see that there is going to be a shift in our household - Kelsey will be the oldest child around during the days.  I'm excited to see how that will play out for us.

When it was time to pick Landon up, we waited for awhile - the bus was around 20 minutes late.  I had this big idea in my head about him getting off the bus and running over to me, and I'd give him a big hug and ask him how his day was.  However, the bus driver called me over and told me that he had forgotten his lunch box on the bus that morning and they had to get it back to him... I understand that's a pain, but he is only 5 and it was the first day.  She also said that he had been asked three times to keep his backpack on while sitting down on the bus.  I have to admit, that threw me... it seems like a safety hazard to keep your backpack on and not be able to sit all the way back in the seat.  At any rate, my vision of picking him up after his first day didn't actually happen, but we talked about his first day while we walked back into the house.

It's hard to really piece together his whole day, but I learned that he really likes his teacher, and he went to the cafeteria when he got off the bus in the morning until his teacher picked the class up to go to their classroom.  He got to go to the library and he learned lots of cool rules.  One kid keeps getting in everyone's face, but maybe he will stop after they get to know each other.  :)  It's really different as a parent, not being in the loop about your kid's whole day.  Even when he went to the CDC while I worked, I picked him up and would talk to his teacher about how his day went.  Getting everything from a 5 year old directly leaves a lot of gaps, and it made me realize that this is the start of not knowing everything he does all day.  This is the start of his own, separate life - away from Justin and I.  It makes me sad, but it also feels right in a way.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

School and Degrees and What-Do-I-Want-To-Be-When-I-Grow-Up, Oh My!

I love my family, and just about everything I've done in my life has been a conscious choice.  Not much has happened that wasn't a choice, even if we didn't necessarily realize how those choices would impact us at the time.

Meeting Justin when I did wasn't something I could have planned for - after going through high school without having anyone special in my life, I suddenly met The One four months before my father was due to PCS out of Alaska.  It was unexpected, but definitely not unwelcome, though it did force us to commit to each other faster than most couples would.

Together, we decided for him to join the military and for us to get married when we did (I was 19) - we didn't want him to be stationed overseas without being able to take me with him.  We decided to put in for the EQUAL listing that ended up sending us to Turkey for two years.  We decided to start trying to conceive a child - although it did take 18 months to actually get pregnant.

Anyway, my point is that through it all, school was never the most important thing to me.  I wanted experiences and family and kids, so my choices revolved around making those happen, and if it got in the way of school, that was okay.  It's worked out for us, I think.  I pretty much fell into an amazing GS job when we moved to DC.   I was very lucky to have that job, and it's given me a career path to follow if I choose to.

I have to admit that sometimes, I find myself comparing what I have done to what my friends and peers have done.  Many, many of them have Bachelor's, Master's, and a few even have Doctorate degrees.  Me?  I am seven classes away from a Bachelor's in something that I no longer have any interest in using - Marketing Management.  Ugh.  That's what happens when you move around and have to keep switching schools... you choose what you can do completely online or by correspondence, and it may not be the most glamorous thing in the world.  I actually have more than enough credits for a Bachelor's, but not in the right things, so it doesn't count.

I've had friends remind me that I have two beautiful children, and that there's no shame in that.  I love my family and I wouldn't trade them for the world.  Still, I quit school right before Kelsey was born and have not gone back.  She is three years old and I'm having another child in around six weeks.  I'm paying on student loans but do not have a degree to show for them.

Right now I am happy staying home with my kids.  I'm looking forward to not having to send my baby off to daycare where some of my parenting decisions seem to be taken out of my hands.  I'm excited to nurse this baby without having to pump breastmilk for someone else to feed him/her.  I'm excited to see the firsts myself and feel like I'm actually raising my kid instead of leaving that to someone else.  When I went back to work after Landon was born, I truly needed to - the transition to parenthood was rough.  Last year, I needed to quit working - and I am so thankful Justin really listened to me when I told him that was what I needed.  Despite how overwhelmed I feel right now, I do feel like I am doing what I am supposed to be doing at this point in my life.

One day, though, I know I'm going to want something else.  I'm not quite sure where to start... or when to start.  I have so many interests and ideas... and some of them are pretty huge, actually.  I'm a bit afraid to get back into school because I don't want anything to take away from my kids.  Personally, if I have too much on my plate, I don't rock it like some people do, I lose my focus and stop caring about anything.  I need to be able to take things a little at a time to make sure I won't fall apart.  Slow and steady win the race, and all that jazz.

More about this later... bedtime for me now and this seems like a good stopping place.  :)

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Overwhelmed... but changes are coming.

I choose to keep a fairly positive and rosy outlook publicly online.  I try to keep in mind that the internet is a vast place, and I don't want my kids finding super embarrassing posts about themselves once they are older.  I'm sure I post some stuff they will find embarrassing, but I guess what I mean is that I don't want them to have to read a million posts about how their mother wants to pull her hair out or how desperate Mom felt sometimes to just get away once in awhile.  I don't want them to feel unloved.

Sometimes, though, I feel like I paint too rosy of a picture.  I don't want to give the impression that everything is perfect.  It definitely isn't anywhere close to perfect.  Almost daily I feel like I have let my kids down, and I vow to do better the next day.  Yet almost everyday is a repeat of the day before.

What it boils down to is just simply that parenting is hard.  Each kid is so different and just when you think you have it all figured out, something changes.

Landon was an easy baby and a pretty easy toddler.  After Kelsey was born, our transition to having two kids was much simpler than I thought it would be, after we found our New Normal (as I like to call it).  Kelsey was not an easy baby, but Landon was an awesome and natural big brother.  Once he turned three, though, things changed.  He became more like the little boy he is today... intense.  He has more energy than I can keep up with, talks nonstop, always wants to be out and about doing something, and always is needing something from me.  My mom says he's very similar to how I was as a child, but as an adult, I am quite the opposite.  I like quiet.  I don't like to be on the go all the time.  He simply overwhelms me.

Kelsey grew up to be a really easy toddler, as well, but now at three, she also is becoming overwhelming very fast.  I don't know why people talk about the Terrible Twos so much, because most of the parents I know will tell you that three is much harder.  She has always been stubborn, but stubborn doesn't even begin to describe it lately.  She literally does not listen to *anything* I say the first time, and often ends up hurt because she didn't heed one of my many warnings.  I struggle when she comes running to me for hugs because as a mother, I want to always kiss away the hurt and make it better, but I also want her to realize that I warned her and her injury could have been prevented.

Supposedly it gets better - and I hope that is true, because right now is a very stressful time for me.  I don't want to break their spirits, but I am also trying to teach them social customs and courtesies and discipline of some sort.  Complicating things further, I don't really agree with mainstream parenting, but I don't understand alternative parenting styles enough to be successful implementing them.

My instinct is to break and yell... I have learned that I have just about zero patience, and that I myself have attitude problems that I need to work on, because I am the one teaching my children the behavior that I do not like to see them display.  I say things and do things I regret even as I am doing them, and I really don't know what else to do.  Some days are better than others, and I am trying.  I have to admit that the six months since we moved to Missouri have been much worse than the months after I quit my job but still had my friends in Maryland to go do activities with.

We got to Missouri right after finding out I was pregnant with #3, and the combination of having no friends for myself, no friends for my kids, not feeling good, and being exhausted has led me to be something of a hermit.  When I do put myself out there, sometimes we end up having a good time, but it doesn't seem to lead to a friendship, just a one-time few hours of fun before we go back to being fairly lonely again.  Alone, I could manage this.  I am okay being by myself and entertaining myself.  My children, however, are social butterflies, and they need more interaction than they are getting.

I never wanted to be the parent who was dying for her kids to go to school.  After 4-1/2 years as a working parent, I was so excited to quit my job last year.  We really had a great time when I first quit.  There is so much to see and do in the DC area, and we enjoyed ourselves.  It wasn't perfect, but I loved it and wouldn't change a thing.  I even really wanted to home school Landon.  The schools near the base where we lived aren't the greatest, and I love the idea of the world being their classroom, instead of being tied to a desk for so long each day.  I think I could have done it at the time.

Now, I am almost counting the days until August 15.  My Landon will be starting kindergarten that day.  A few weeks later, the first Tuesday after Labor Day, Kelsey will start preschool two mornings a week.  I am very much ready for school to start.  I think that since our move, the kids have had to rely on each other as playmates, and they are getting on each other's nerves, just as I am getting on their nerves and they on mine.  We are together alone too much, instead of together with other people like we were before.

I hope school is going to be a turning point for us.  We will be forced to keep more of a schedule than we currently are, and we will hopefully make friends.  They will meet kids at school and I may meet some other mothers at the bus stop.  I know there will be struggles... I am sure Landon will have a hard time with his behavior at school, at first.  He is very impulsive and has trouble sitting still and concentrating.  I admit that I worry about how he will adjust or if this type of environment is best for him, but I have to let him go and try.  I'm sure both kids will be very tired at first, until they adjust to the new routine.

The biggest adjustment for me is the idea that instead of spending my days with these two kids, they are both going to be spending some time away from me.  Soon my days will be filled mostly with Kelsey and with a new kid I haven't even met yet.  Of course the baby will be MY kid too, but at this point it is hard to fathom what that child will be like, and what our days will look like.  I do admit that I am looking forward to grocery shopping with just the baby while Kelsey is in preschool.  It is so much easier and faster with a baby instead of with two little kids who want everything and talk to everyone.

I hope, though, that some time away from each other will help us to appreciate each other and really value the time we have together.  We always love each other, but right now I end up yelling more than I care to admit.  They pick at each other so much, and do things intentionally to make me angry.  Of course, once I get angry, they cry and I feel that horrible mama guilt.  Because, in my heart, I know that their behavior would be much better if we had a routine and were out of the house more, playing with other kids, and mixing up our activities.  In my heart, I feel like their behavior is not only their fault, but my own as well.

They are good kids.  They are sometimes overwhelming - for myself and for strangers, even.  But they are good kids.  They love me more than I sometimes feel I deserve... and I do have to admit that if I am going to blame myself for some of their so-called "bad" behavior, then I have to take credit for some of their good and amazing qualities, as well.  Landon loves nothing more than to be assigned a task that he can do to make things easier on me.  Kelsey never misses an opportunity to tell me she loves me and give me a hug (I have always hugged and kissed my kids and told them I love them multiple times a day).

Things are easier with a positive outlook, which is another reason why I only post the positives on Facebook.  I have to remind myself what I have and how awesome those two little kids are, and how lucky I am to have them and their new baby brother or sister (not to mention my amazing husband!).  Life can be hard sometimes, but changes are coming, and this period in our lives will be over in just a couple weeks.  The next phase may be more difficult or it may be easier - time will tell.  But I have to cherish this for now, because this won't last forever, and I can't get this time back.
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