Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Welcome to Escondido

We moved!

James got just one job offer, so he is now working at UC San Diego as a postdoctoral scholar and lecturer in the mathematics department. I think I've sort of explained this before, but basically a postdoc is a recent Ph.D. graduate learning how to be a professor under the guidance of an established professor in your field. James is working with Mike Holst. Basically, James' job right now is to find a REAL job, as well as continue research in his field. If I understand correctly, his new mentor does a lot of computational stuff as well, so James might get to branch out into that sort of stuff as well. We'll see.

Postdocs are really not supposed to last very long, so basically the plan is for him to work at UCSD for a year. If he cannot find a new job for next year, then he will continue on as a postdoc here for an additional year.

The sort of job he's hoping to find for next year is of course a real professorship of some sort, but lacking one of those, it's possible he'd do a second postdoc somewhere else. And that's not really unusual. Plenty of math professors did two postdocs before getting hired as a professor anywhere. (James had better find a real job after the second postdoc, though, because doing more than two postdocs is kind of like wearing a giant neon sign that says, "Oy, I'm not good enough to be real professor and no one will hire me, so you shouldn't either! Heehee!")

Anyway, James is officially into his routine now. Here's what his day looks like.

He wakes up at 5:30, and leaves the house around 6. He unicycles to the bus station, and then busses the rest of way to campus. The entire commute is about two hours, so he reads his scriptures during the ride, and gets there at 8. He works until noon, then lunches, then commences work at 1. He sets off for home again at about 5, reads stuff on the bus to keep himself sane on the way back, and gets home after another short unicycle ride at about 7. Hopefully wife has provided something tasty for him to eat. He spends time with wife and children for a few hours, and then goes to bed around 9:30.

It's kind of a nasty commute, yes. But that seems to be the way of things in California. Sigh.

We had a heck of a time finding an affordable place to live. For the uninformed, California housing is super nasty high-priced. I'm not well-enough informed to tell you why that is, but it's true.

At the beginning of our search, we looked for somewhere to live close to campus, because James is commute-averse. It got depressing real fast. Given the size of our family, we wanted something with two bedrooms. We also required washer/dryer hookups, because I absolutely refuse to do cart two kids worth of laundry to a communal laundry room. Especially if I happen to get pregnant (and practically disabled) while living here in California, as is the plan. So. A 2-bedroom apartment, close to UCSD, with washer/dryer hookups seemed to run somewhere around $2,000. It was doubly frustrating because everything actually close to campus had been... I don't know. Luxurified. Those apartments were fancy. And, quite frankly, there isn't anything not fancy right there. So we look a little farther away in Clairemont, with a half-hour commute by bus, and look, there are not fancy duplexes for $1500/month!

That would have been nice, except that... I don't even know how to explain it. I swear all the affordable places in Clairemont dried up around our availability date. I called about several, and either it was, No, that's too soon, sorry or  No, we'd really like to fill this vacancy immediately. And then we found one condo in Clairemont for $1500, and James even flew down to look at it (as well as sign some paperwork at UCSD), and the owners loved him, and even was going so well, and then... Someone else got it. Because guess what! Someone else offered a three-year lease. Darn it.

In the meantime, I still couldn't find a place to live.

We started getting truly desperate and looking even further and further away, only it didn't seem like housing prices were getting all that much cheaper as we looked farther away. It just seemed like we were adding on tons of commute time for a minimal decrease in rent prices.

In the midst of our desperation, we applied to a second-floor apartment for $1450 in Chula Vista. The idea made me squirm, but we just wanted a place to live. I was worried about the second-floor idea, in particular. James tells me he earned the nickname "The Elephant" as a child because his stride was just so loud and earthshaking. And Amelia pounds the floor too. I just knew our downstairs neighbors would hate us. Not only that, but that would for sure mean I'd have to get rid of my only recently-acquired piano. There's just no way in heck it'd be able to get up there without killing half the Elder's Quorum. Oh, and apparently, the crime in the area was a little high for comfort. But it was affordable AND available. So we applied... And we didn't really hear back for the longest time.

Found a few listings for houses in Chula Vista, and other apartments in the greater San Diego area. Both James and I made TONS of phone calls, and seriously, none of them were working out. It was SUPER depressing.

I was so depressed. We could not find a good place. And James was practically unable to concentrate on work. He was leaving for Europe in just a few days! And still nowhere to live! Argh! How was he supposed to invent new math when he was worried about providing for his family?

James gave me a priesthood blessing which assured me that the condo we had been so sure we'd get (the one which had seemed so perfect and applied for, but hadn't gotten at the last minute because someone else) was NOT the right place for us. And we'd find the correct place to live.

I think it was actually that night around 1am after the priesthood blessing when I found it, I think. I couldn't sleep because I was so frustrated and anxious. I was feeling almost inescapably hopeless, and I widened my search again to even farther away... Escondido. Escon-freaking-far-away-dido.

I found a listing for a little 2-bedroom house in freaking Escondido. And, inexplicably, my hopelessness and depression vanished into thin air and was replaced by excitement and joy. And also bounciness. I researched it. I just felt so happy looking at it. I was so excited that I woke up James and told him about it. He was intrigued about my happy feelings about, and admitted he was inexplicably not worried about the commute. He felt it was doable.

A perfect little 2-bedroom house, not fancy, with a garage and a yard with a tree!

HOUSE! Houuuuuuse! House house house house house house house TREEEEEEEE!

So we inquired about it. And we were immediately CRUSHED! Sorry, it is our policy not to give out applications before you visit the property.

I was so sad! Devastated! Confused, betrayed!

Thankfully, further inquiries revealed that we could send someone else to look at it for us, so we did. My friend Megan drove a long time to get there and looked at it for us, and the management emailed us an application. Woohoo!

And then things worked out from there.

HOUSE! Houuuuuuse! House house house house house house house TREEEEEEEE!

And it felt right. I felt peaceful about it, for once. And, for bonuses, we don't have to worry about downstairs, or upstairs, or any shared-wall neighbors. Fabulous. AND we could keep the piano. And even bang on it without fear of disturbing neighbors. So many plusses. AND there was a giant clothesline in the backyard, which very much appealed to me. AND the big tree in the yard. AND the ample storage space. AND the garage. AND the gardener included in the rent. AND trash and water included in the price.

Remember that other apartment that we applied to as well? That I felt so uneasy about, but it was an availability? Seriously, it took them FOREVER to process our application. They called us to say our application had been accepted a week-and-a-half later, AFTER we'd already signed a whole bunch of paperwork for the Escondido place. James admits to praying for this. Specifically, he asked that we wouldn't hear from the other place if this house was the right place. And that's what happened, I guess.

Anyway, while James was in Europe for a math conference, his mother flew down to help me pack and clean and tend kiddos. James got home from Europe in the wee hours of Sunday morning. We loaded the moving van and finished packing on Monday. Then we left on Tuesday. We drove to the San Francisco bay area and stayed with James' brother Jesse for a bit.

James drove down to Escondido on Thursday, but the California traffic was even worse than he'd accounted for, so he didn't make it down before the management office closed. He actually got into the house on Friday. The rest of us showed up on Friday. Wooooooo.

Our new ward seems alright. The weirdest thing to get used to is that everyone seems to primarily go by their first names. If you don't know, as far as I can tell, it is far more common for people to go by Brother or Sister Lastname.

On Monday, we did the dreaded DMV thing, and registered our car here and got our California licenses. And, because California is dumb like this, we also had to do a smog check on the car. There was so much annoyingness, and it took practically all stinkin' day. After the DMV, I checked out thrift stores and I found an amazing recliner for $18. MINE.

James's mother left us on Tuesday morning... She was so helpful while she was here, it was amazing. I, for one, would have gone utterly insane without her help.

So, how do we like it so far?

Things that freak me out: this is supposed be one giant sprawling metropolis or something, but it doesn't feel like it. Everything is so spaced out. Lots of sky. It just seems weird. The San Diego area doesn't seem densely packed at all. I am having a hard time finding things without the GPS, because it seems to me like everything is primarily palm tree-d landscaping with giant buildings kind of hidden behind them. Don't ask me how they hide shopping malls behind palm tree and shrubs so that I have a hard time seeing them, but I'm actually having this issue. So. Much. SPACE. I feel like I live in the middle of nowhere. A professionally manicured middle of nowhere. (Maybe that's why it feels so wrong?)

The water smells and tastes like dirt, or maybe rock. The water is SO hard here. My laundry soap of choice is, unfortunately, designed for soft water, so I'm going to have to order the hard water booster so that my clothes don't turn to stone. My mother-in-law did one load of laundry for me, and I think the clothes smell of rock. I hope the hard water booster gets here soon... I don't want petrified clothing. We also ordered one of those filtered water dispenser things for inside our fridge, because the water tastes bad enough that I don't think I'm going to get used to it. It tastes so strongly of minerals that we broke into our water storage pretty much as soon as we got here.

Gas is something like $4/gallon here. I think car insurance is also more expensive.

The sun seems more intense. In Oregon, there isn't a whole ton of difference in temperature between the shade and the direct sunlight, but here, there's a HUGE difference. The shade is gloriously comfortable. But step into the sun, and it feels like your skin will melt off. It would make me nostalgic for Arizona, but, uh, this isn't something I missed.

Anyway, the house doesn't have amazing insulation. The first day was awful, because our bodies were still used to Oregon temperatures. It was also unseasonably humid here, for whatever reason. James installed our window air conditioner, and it didn't really do a great job until we got some painter's tape and tried to make that thing as airtight as possible. Anyway, things are bearable now, but it got really hot in our house the first day before we had everything set up ideally. Plus, that first day was super hot. AND we were coming in and out a lot, so any cool air we had inside escaped.

This seems like a nice neighborhood to me, albeit "poor" for the area... The neighbors on both sides seem to have small children like we do. I think our neighborhood is primarily populated by Hispanic people, and they all seem nice enough. I think some people in our ward were of the opinion that we're in the "bad" part of town, but my impression is that those people aren't aware of what a bad part of town is ACTUALLY like. This place is picturesque suburbia, seriously. It's just not full of mansions. (Gasp! No mansions? The "bad" part of town! How many of your neighbors have graduate degrees? Few, if any? Egads, you must move your family away, for their safety!) I think I feel safer here than I did in my neighborhood growing up in Chandler, and that was pretty nice.

We now have library cards for both the Escondido library and the San Diego County library. Woohoo! So many books!

The closest grocery store is a Sprouts. Excellent produce, here we come.

Um, what else.

Huh. No dishwasher. Whatevs.

The outlets are primarily two-pronged. Weird. Also inconvenient.

I've managed to satisfactorily decorate the house to my liking, I think. (Well, the public areas, anyway. The bedrooms are very sparse.) James has complained that it is too pretty, which means my job here is done.

We have our own mailbox. Weird.

Anyway. This is going to take some getting used to.

Jenna & Co.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Long Overdue

There have been some big changes in my life, and I really don't understand why they are happening. And, well, before you get all worried, they're all good. All good, and all mysterious.

In preface, I haven't been the healthiest person throughout my life. I can pinpoint when in my life my already mediocre health jumped off a cliff (that would be winter of my freshman year in high school... I'm pretty sure that's when my thyroid went off its rocker), but I don't think my health has ever been superb. I had some pretty nasty depression and anxiety for at least a decade.

Long-term readers of mine may recall a couple exultant posts... such as the one where I proclaim that my thyroid function is suddenly normal, and oh my HECK, I feel amazing. Oh, and the one where I proclaim that I am finally off antidepressants and feeling normal, and oh my HECK, I feel amazing. Ah yes, and one after each pregnancy, where I announce that the hyperemesis gravidarum has finally abated now that I'm suddenly not pregnant anymore, and oh my HECK, I feel amazing.

Well, this is a similar post.

Oh my HECK, I feel amazing.

Well, Jenna, you may ask, what changed? Why do you feel so good?

And that's where I may stare back at you blankly, shrug, and admit, "Uhhhh... I have... no... idea?"

Because it's strange. I don't know what's going on besides that I am just improving everything in leaps and bounds. Sometimes I wonder if I've gone manic or even hypomanic, and I decide that I definitely haven't. I think, guys, that this is simply what not being depressed and not being anxious feels like.

I have energy. I can do things. All sorts of things. I used to cry sometimes when I heard other women/wives/mothers/etc. talk about how productive they were. Somehow, it seemed to me, normal people manage to cook and clean. I could hardly convince myself to pour myself a bowl of cereal. Oh, and how does anyone ever find the time and energy and motivation to do their hair and makeup every morning? And some of these women even have children. Why can't I even do what everyone talks about as normal functioning? (One example that is actually fairly recent is when the entire Dilts extended family went to Pennsylvania. I got to see what all the other sisters-in-law manage to do in a day. It made me feel inadequate. I felt maxed out after doing only what seemed to be a tiny fraction of the things the other women did. Oh, and they all had more children. Oh, and two of them were pregnant. When I'm pregnant, I do far less than even the little I do when I'm not. A less recent example was also at the Dilts house back when I was engaged, and back when I was also still wading through thyroid and depression problems. I couldn't stay awake for more than twelve hours a day. I knew in my heart of hearts that I was as wakeful and energetic as I could be, but...)

I have energy now! I can do things! All sorts of things! I don't need to sleep for sixteen hours; it turns out that I can manage with a mere eight! Or perhaps six, in a pinch.

I felt inspired to let James go to bed at a reasonable hour each night so he can consistently have his academic brain in tip-top shape. This means I stay up late with kids many nights and sleep in every morning... and I am feeling the most well-rested I have ever felt in my life, despite the irregular sleep schedule. This is not something I would have been physically capable of doing for my sweet husband even just a few months ago.

I now manage to clean the house during the day. I manage to prep food on occasion. And then I get bored.

I now play games and read books more in addition to spending more time tending tots and housekeeping. I now enjoy them. Guys, that's significant. I spent decades believing that I was some kind of strange creature that didn't enjoy games. I did not like them. I didn't see the point. They just weren't fun. I did not understand how James could like them so much. He says they're fun, but...

It just may be that I do like games. Perhaps all this time, I had a far more flattened affect than I suspected. Depression can remove pleasure from all sorts of activities. Nothing is fun when you're depressed. Emotions are greyed out... emotions besides despair, anyway. That one you feel loud and clear.

I have fun! I find myself flirting (and more!) with the husband often, much to his pleasure. And, shockingly, to mine. Do you know how many times in the first few years of our marriage, that I cried to God about that? I thought it wouldn't ever be something I found fun.

I'm not terrified of the idea of exercising. Guys. Significant. Again. I still have no clue how I'm going to fit that sort of thing into my routine, but... I'm not unwilling. That hasn't been the case since... well, ever. I'm in terrible shape, of course, but in my mind's eye, I realize that I might not remain that way forever. Strange. I used to have panic attacks thinking about doing gentle physical therapy stretches. And a lot of the problem was that I was so convinced that I'd never find an exercise method that I found enjoyable. I felt nothing but shame and dread every time I tried something, and... well, if I'm suddenly enjoying games, what if I find myself enjoying moving my body? Just now, the idea of running with the wind sounds pleasant. The reality, of course, wouldn't be like that just yet, because my body hasn't ever done it before, but... maybe I'll do it. I bet that if I did exercise, I would find even more energy, and I would sleep even better, and I'd be even happier.

My social anxiety seems to have completely evaporated. I'm still an introvert. I'll always be an introvert. But, to give an example, I met another woman at a barbecue a week or so ago, and I found myself saying "me too" to so many things, that for the first time in years, I realized that I had likely run across someone I knew I could be friends with. And the idea of asking for her phone number did not trigger a nervous breakdown, nor did it instantly summon tears. We exchanged numbers, and I can't tell you how triumphant I felt after that. I invited her over for dinner tonight. And it was fun. (I've made friends in the last few years, but it was a grueling process... if making friends could be described as such. If I had met this woman two years ago, I would have instantly dismissed her as a friend candidate, probably because I was hoping for an instant emotional connection that I was too depressed to manage to summon in my own brain.)

I've been able to do my visiting teaching. That, too, was always a major trigger for panic attacks related to social anxiety. Anyone familiar with visiting teaching will understand why that might be. You're supposed to visit someone every month. Likely that means that *you* are responsible for initiating contact. Every month. With half a dozen women. Many of which might be less than excited to hear from you because they aren't super excited about the Church. But I've done it for five months in a row. And it is still awkward. But in my brain, it's more of an I can do this than a This is impossible this is beyond my capability this is oh no a panic attack and guilt panic worthlessness hopelessness.

I've been doing family history. And indexing. I've been enjoying it.

Today in church the missionaries sprang a "think of someone who needs the gospel right now, then turn in the name to us so we can make plans together about how you can share the gospel with them" lesson, and instead of instantly dissolving into tears and a panic attack, I thought of someone. And I wrote down her name. And then I went and knocked on her door to invite her family to dinner, but they didn't answer. Oh well.

I do not know why these things are happening. I mean, I'm hardly complaining. In fact, I have been crying happy tears of joy. I just wish I knew why all these improvements have occurred over the last several weeks (or perhaps months). I want to know how to replicate it, of course, as a true scientific mind would.

I feel that maybe this is a long overdue taste of what life is supposed to be like. And I am so grateful to feel that. At the same time... I am also a little scared. I am planning to have one more pregnancy. Just one more. It's likely you know my pregnancies are the devil. Almost certainly, all this energetic and emotional progress will... well, just... I do not know how to explain except to compare it to color blindness.

Have you seen the videos of color blind people putting on special glasses and suddenly seeing color for the first time in their lives? I feel a little like that. It's like, Wow. Most people experience this amount of energy every day? Most feel this amount of pleasure regularly? It's so beautiful. Happy tears.

The majority of my life has been color blindness. Recent changes have shot me into the world of color, complete with the happy tears and awe at what others have been taking for granted every day.

And pregnancy... that's not color blindness, that's a step below color blindness. Life is a monotone blur. With splotches of puke. You can imagine my hesitation to embark towards that territory again. Yes, I am tempted at times to just rip out my dang uterus and eat it just so I can be dang sure that I never conceive again.

But I am at peace with the whole one more kid thing. Yes, I know you've heard me oscillate between wanting sixty children and never getting pregnant again, but I think this pendulum has finally stopped swinging. One more kid, and that's it. Which means I will be doing the nine months of physical and emotional torture one more time.

That could be soon. My fertility is returning. I've got the charts to prove it. Dragon is starting solid foods and drinking water now, so he is nursing less and less.

We are moving to San Diego in a month and a half, about. I am excited to leave Oregon and I am not excited to leave Oregon. I am nervous about making new friends, but far less nervous than I've ever been in my life. I'm... shocked to discover that I am genuinely certain I will find friends quickly. There are friends everywhere. Strange, that.

Love and color,

Saturday, March 7, 2015


So I've been wanting to blog for a while, and now that I've finally sat down to do it, I'm drawing a blank. Maybe once I get going, I'll write more than you're willing to read... Ha.

Hmm. Well, let's see. How about a status update on James' search for a postdoctorate position?

I realize not all of you are really all that sure about what a postdoc is. Basically, if you're going into academia and planning to be a professor, it's a job you get right after getting your PhD, but before you find a "real" job as a bona fide professor. Essentially, you find a professor to act as your mentor, and your duties include finding a real job, doing research, finding a real job, possibly teaching classes... oh, and finding a real job.

And yes, a postdoc is practically a requisite if you want to get a professorship at an awesome university. If James' goal in life was to be a professor at a dinky little university or little college, he wouldn't need a postdoc position. And, since James wants to do research, he needs a postdoc so he get a job at a university where his primary purpose is research with teaching on the side, and not the other way around.

Still with me? Good.

So James is set to graduate mid-June. Right around then, you may commence calling him Dr. Dilts. James has essentially set it up so that he can continue working at the university for two months following his graduation (so, until mid-August, say) and get a paycheck and important benefits like medical insurance... Huzzah! We were really worried about those few months for a while, imagining that we'd have no income and no insurance, but thankfully this doesn't seem to be what's going to happen. YAY!

As for the real job starting in the fall... Well... it's hard to say. Here's what James was expecting to happen, and why.

The most likely position seemed to be the one at UC San Diego. He has a collaborator there that wants to work with him and is okay with being his mentor for a year or two. This guy actually approached James and essentially asked James if he wanted to do a postdoc with him at UCSD.

Well... the problem here isn't that the guy doesn't want to work with James anymore, it's that the money to pay James has to come from SOMEWHERE. We weren't expecting this to be an issue, because that professor has said that he'd always been able to pay a postdoc he wanted, and he fully expected this to be the case for James as well.

... And now, he's trying to figure out how to pay James, because all the straightforward options aren't really working out. The "official" postdoc positions through the university were filled with postdocs other math professors at UCSD wanted, due to some department politics. (I.e., "No, it's MY turn to hire a postdoc! You had one a few years ago!" "But mine is the best!" "No, MINE!" etc. Presumably something like that.) And the professor has another graduate student who might graduate in the middle of next year and be a postdoc (with the associated pay increase) for the remainder of the schoolyear, or something... So yeah. Things got complicated.

This doesn't mean James isn't going to get to work at UCSD with this professor. If the professor can finagle enough grant money to pay James a reasonable salary, then it could still work out.

There has also been some rumors that maybe if the professor at UCSD contributed some grant money, and the professor at Stanford contributed some, too, then maybe James could do a postdoc at both... kind of... And yeah. Neither James nor I am sure how that could possibly work, but... yeah.

James has also applied to:

  • University of Washington (in Seattle, Washington),
  • MIT (in Cambridge, Massachusetts),
  • Princeton University (in Princeton, New Jersey),
  • Pennsylvania State University (in State College, Pennsylvania),
  • University of Michigan (in Ann Arbor, Michigan), and 
  • University of Wisconsin (in Milwaukee, Wisconsin).

These are all far less likely to work out than the UCSD position, because they depend on a professor that James doesn't really know piping up and saying, "Ooh, I'd like to work with him" upon seeing his application amongst a big stack. So yeah. Unlikely. But... possible. (Oh, and adding to the stress? It's unlikely that any of these places would actually send a rejection letter to you once they've filled the position with someone else. For all we know ALL of the above positions have already been filled, and we are clinging to false hopes! Eep!)

We've been very prayerful about things. We keep getting assurances that things are going to work out precisely the way the Lord is planning them to (no duh), but we still don't know where we're going. Sigh. It at least helped my stress to know that we now have plans clear into August now instead of just until June.

So yeah.

In short, things could maybe might probably possibly I really, really hope work out for San Diego. Otherwise, only the Lord knows.

Let's see now, what else.

Dragon is a happy kid. He's pretty smart, I think. It's hard to pinpoint why I think this, but I am getting the idea that he is smarter than Amelia was at the same age. Hard to say, though. It could absolutely just be my imagination. I think part of it is his constant expression of interest and curiosity. Sometimes I'm afraid to mention adult topics in front of him, because I just feel like he is filing everything away for reflection. I wasn't ever afraid to do in front of baby Amelia.

And I feel like he is doing things slightly faster. He is almost sitting stably. He can sit without support for maybe ten seconds at times. He's exactly five months old today, and I'm pretty sure Amelia wasn't sitting yet until after six months. So his gross motor skills are better, though I don't think his fine motor skills are as advanced as hers were. In any case, he is obsessed with sitting. Sometimes he will cry until I allow him to sit up instead of lie on his back.

Ooh, also he is verbally more advanced than she was. He's a screecher, and a squealer, and apparently that's more common in older babies. He has (on more than one occasion) squealed so loudly as to silence a room of 20+ people. He's been doing that since maybe three months?

Oh. Also he is big. He, disturbingly, fills out his 9-month clothes quite well already.

Ah, I suppose I never told you details about the hypospadias evaluation. We went up to Portland to see a pediatric urologist. He looked at Dragon's penis and said that actually, his urethral opening seemed to be where it's supposed to be, meaning that's there isn't actually any hypospadias. It just kind of looked like it, because the foreskin wasn't completely formed (called a hooded foreskin), and the penis has a weird twist to it (that's called chordee), and both those are usually only seen with hypospadias. It's quite unusual to see the chordee without hypospadias.

The doctor predicted that Dragon wouldn't have any problems with urination, erection, intercourse, or anything else as a result of these things, and said that in this case, the problem is likely completely cosmetic. He said we could have it repaired if we wanted.

And, well, I thought... nah. Don't need to. I hadn't wanted to circumcise Dragon because that was a purely cosmetic surgery. On genitals. Right next to the anus, while the kid is in diapers. Genitalia seem like a very important set of things to be doing cosmetic surgery on just for fun. Um... seems dumb. And, so I thought, well, let's not do . And then, when he's older, if it does happen to bother him (which I don't think it will, but we'll see), then he can still have it corrected.

Anyway. What else.

Amelia... is getting to be extremely intelligible when she talks. It's weird to finally be able to understand the majority of the stuff she's saying. And I can understand what she's saying when she sings, now, too. She's growing up! (And, she's getting shockingly big, too. I just moved her up to 4T clothes. Eep!)

My two kids are so happy together. I think they are going to be bestest brother/sister friends. Hopefully the third child will also be a good friend in there. But Amelia and Dragon already just love each other to pieces. Amelia's intensity sometimes freaks out Dragon, but I think usually it just delights him. He likes her, and she likes him.

(As a bonus for you, I've been trying to come up with a single word to describe each child, and I think I will describe Amelia as intense. That's her word, for sure. Dragon is harder, probably because he's so young. For now: delightful. But other words that come to mind are sweet and happy. He's delightful--full of delight himself, and good at filling others with delight. We'll see what I come up with when he's a little older.)

Ah, darn. The childrens are waking up from their slumber. Doom!

Love and Girl Scout cookies,
Jenna and tot and baby and husband :)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Bleary-eyed Blogging Late in the Night

Woot! I really wanted to write some tonight, and though it looks like it is happening under less than ideal circumstances (Amelia refuses to go to bed so we are all up being bleary-eyed), it is happening. Woo?

Among significant news, we did get our Wii, and we are playing it fairly often. I've decided that, at least for now, a Wii is a better fit for our family than computer games are. Why? Well, you've got your bigger screen, for one, which makes it way easier for your hyper kid to inspect your gaming skills. You've got your extra controller, so your hyper kid can pretend to play with you, or even actually play with you. And our Wii is situated in the playroom with all the hyper kid's toys, so it has turned out to be a more family-friendly alternative to computer games in our family.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for the Christmas money. We definitely spent it before it arrived (and it did arrive), but thanks, thanks, thanks. We are having a blast.

I have spent most of my Wii time playing Mariokart, and I get so dang excited whenever I accomplish something I've deemed a worthy achievement. Like getting gold medals! Then star ranks! Then double star ranks! I've never gotten a triple star rank yet, but I'm getting there... And I want to tell the world every time I unlock a new character. I got Rosalina and I was super excited. I most recently got Birdo and Toadette and Dry Bones... YAY. You all should be super proud of me for NOT posting an exultation on Facebook every single time I unlock something. Super proud. ... Also you should be proud of me for unlocking all the things. :)

Pertussis! Eep!
Many of you know that I have had a cough for roughly two and a half months. And I really wish I could tell you for sure, but unfortunately, I can only guess. I *think* it is pertussis. If you look at the CDC's website on the signs and symptoms of pertussis, it's like reading a description of exactly what's going on with me... minus the actual "whoop" sound, which is less common in vaccinated people, like me. (And, thankfully, minus the rare complication of coughing so hard that you break a rib... Eep!)

But I am pretty convinced at this point that the bug I caught was pertussis. Everything fits. The rapid-fire coughing in bursts that leave me nearly unable to breathe. The vomiting from coughing so hard. The exhaustion. The fact that I still am coughing three months later. And that every time I go to the doctor, he or she raises his or her eyebrows, rubs his or her chin, and says, "That sounds an awful lot like pertussis..." Unfortunately, the bacteria has long been gone from my system, and I have antibodies for pertussis from the vaccine anyway, so there really is no way to confirm the theory at this point. Boo.

If it *is* pertussis, though, boy, do I just need to say a prayer of thanks that Dragon is still alive! He got it, too. He's been coughing and such, but not a whole ton. The biggest issue with babies and pertussis, though, isn't the cough, it's that they simply stop breathing. So yeah. I am happy the baby is still breathing! I am grateful now that he got some antibodies from me during pregnancy and from the breastmilk after I caught the disease.

And a little angry that I caught pertussis. Ugh. Don't talk to me about anti-vaxxers right now. My brain gets upset if I think too much about it, particularly if I go down the "well, what if Dragon had died from pertussis" issue. It helps, though, to remember that the CDC thinks that the recent pertussis outbreaks aren't the anti-vaxxers' faults. There are other reasons happening here, apparently.

The good news is, I can tell that coughing fits are happening less, so maybe it will all be over soon! "Soon" meaning in like... two more weeks? I hope! Man, I can't WAIT to stop coughing. It really has been nearly three months. Worst cough of my life...

David finally has an appointment in early March with a pediatric urologist to check out the hypospadias issue.That is a relief for me. If he does need a surgery, and I have a gut feeling that he might, it will probably be when he's six months old, which would be in April. I'm starting to feel a bit better and have been stressing about it so much lately.

The Scary Future!
So over Christmas break, James' dad gave us both priesthood blessings that made it sound like the next half-year to a year would be extremely stressful for both of us. James came out of it so nervous that he told me that he'd be happy if it turned out to be anything better (i.e. less stressful) than not finding a job after he graduates AND also finding out we're pregnant with triplets. Lol.

Well, nothing has blown up in our faces yet. James didn't get a prestigious NSF fellowship/grant thing that would have guaranteed him a job, but there isn't really anything else that's gone wrong yet. And I'm not even pregnant. Things are going pretty well...

So what's coming? I have no idea.

Though, if you want a little laugh, I was just telling God this morning I did not envision Him making a minivan materialize for free and out of nowhere for us, so therefore twins and triplets were definitely NOT in our future. Because we couldn't fit any more than three children into the car we currently have, and it would totally be impossible at this point to buy a minivan, even used. Thus, I could justify the assumption that we will only get one child out of our third pregnancy whenever it happens. So, I told God, I'm just going to stop thinking about the possibility of multiples.

I now imagine that He heard me say all that, and He cackled.

Tonight when I was talking to my dad, he just happened to mention that maybe he could somehow fix the minivan that's just been sitting in his driveway unused and in need of repair and then somehow give/sell (or something?) to us if we wanted/needed. And I didn't even bring up the subject.

I didn't tell my dad at the time, but I was just imagining Heavenly Father cackling in glee, "See? I can do whatever I want to. I can totally make twins or triplets work out." Yeah, yeah, but, but! Sputter, sputter! We'd still need way more diapers! And like, a gajillion more car seats! And, and. "Hey. I can get you a minivan. I can get you anything." Touché, God. Touché. ... "You are a funny child, Jenna." He is totally teasing me.

So, I will at least admit that it's possible that we might end up with a divinely-arranged multiple birth, but I don't know what is coming. I don't think I'll know until it happens. Ha. Until something explodes, things are going pretty well. I hope the thing that explodes is not my uterus.

Jenna and the familia

P.S. Mom and Dad, I know you wanted to actually get items for Amelia and David for Christmas, rather than sending money. I also know I was supposed to give you a list of ideas because you've been stumped. Oops, sorry. You being stumped is probably partly my fault. I don't want a lot of things, so when we do want or need something, I'm usually pretty quick to just get it, and then I don't want or need anything any more.

So. The results of my efforts to come up with a long list of ideas didn't get very far. I tried, though.

Here are my ideas for Dragon. First, I have been seriously considering using some of Dragon's Christmas money to buy a Sophie the Giraffe (or even BOTH Sophies, the first two listings on that page). They are apparently the most popular teething toys in the world, despite the price that makes me squirm... and although Amelia was never really into teething toys, I have this notion that Dragon is WAY more into chewing on stuff than she ever was, and that he would happily chew a Sophie to death. I'm also feeling a little silly admitting it, but part of me wants a Sophie because practically everybody I know with a baby in the Eugene area has a Sophie and nearly all of them are like, "DO IT. GET A SOPHIE. YOUR BABY WILL LOVE IT." So I'm intrigued. The only other ideas I had were a super nerdy thing like... a Star Trek uniform onesie from ThinkGeek (best bet on size would be 12 months). Actually, practically anything for babies or kids from ThinkGeek would be a welcome surprise for anyone in the family. And then I had the idea of a pull-along toy. Or maybe something that stacks or nests?

Okay, so, Amelia. Uh. Gosh. This is hard. Well, um, she desperately wants her very own Wii remote. I know, weird. Uh. Books, she likes. She is starting to be okay with "big kid" books, i.e. books that are not board books, but actually have paper pages. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie was a big hit. Um. Any LEGO DUPLO blocks would be welcome. Uh. Princess dresses. Anything My Little Pony. And remember this old wishlist from Amazon? Most of those things are still great ideas.

And, um, if you're short $8.79 for Amazon's $35 requirement for free shipping, you should totally get us this exact waterproof protector for her car seat. We're potty training. Heh heh. We are going to buy that. I *hate* cleaning the car seat that much. Heck, I might buy two.

Hope you grandparental units find something to satisfy your gifting needs. :)

Friday, January 9, 2015

A New Year

Oh my heck. How did this happen? I haven't blogged since well over two months ago. I guess part of the problem is that a good portion of my usual audience--the extended Dilts family--has actually had the privilege of hanging out in person with our family for a few weeks in December.

We went to James' family's home in Enola, Pennsylvania, where we spent three entire weeks. James is the fourth of ten children, and EVERYONE came home for the holidays, and more importantly, a couple weddings. James' brother Ethan got married... as well as sister Rachel. Huzzah!

So there were lots and lots of Diltsen. There were about twenty people staying at the Dilts home proper. Another eight were staying with a nearby sister. So lots of you readers were actually spending time with our actual personages. Whoa!

Oh, and I suppose we even got to spend time during Thanksgiving with a lot of you as well, because we went to James' brother's family's home, and then another brother also brought his own family to this shindig. So many Diltsen!

So that's why I haven't blogged in a while. And thus, for many of the Diltsen, none of the following will really be news, I suppose.

So. We flew home from Pennsylvania last week... and although that went about as well as could be imagined... Heck, I never want to fly with small children again. 'Small children' being defined as 'children small enough to require car seats'. Carrying children through the airport is definitely one of my least favorite things, stroller or no. And besides, one more kid, and it'd probably be more cost-effective to drive to pretty much anywhere in the States anyway. Or anywhere on this continent, even. So I've decided. I never want to fly with children again.

It probably didn't help that I was sick and baby was sick and tot was sick.

Amelia has been super sick for the last week or so. She's starting to feel better, but her mood has been dizzyingly volatile. It doesn't help that she is refusing to eat most of what we give her, too. Oh well.

Partly, Amelia isn't eating because we are starting to eat really healthily again.

It's hard to get children to eat, period. But it is possible to get children to eat healthy food, I promise. The trick is to not have any unhealthy food available. That's what we're doing. Of course, there's always a 'starvation phase' where the kid refuses all the good stuff you're offering in the hopes that waiting it out will somehow make a candy bar materialize out of thin air instead of those vegetables with hummus, but eventually, the kid will decide the good food is better than starving it out waiting for chicken nuggets and cheese sticks. It can just take a while. To my knowledge, no child has ever actually starved when their parents refuse to give them chicken nuggets.

Amelia is in the 'starvation phase'. She is really hoping we'll give her a donut or something. Her tactics are not working, but it's hard on us all. I keep telling myself that this is only temporary and eventually she'll give in and eat again and therefore finally get back into a good mood, but it's rough in the meantime.

One of the big reasons we're starting to eat well is because we decided it makes the most sense for us to have our next kid ASAP, because the farther James gets into his career, the less able he will be to help me out. And we want one more kid--just one more. Then we are stopping. Now, I know I've been pendulous on this issue, but I think I have finally made a real, permanent decision. Three, and that's it. No more. Just three. Just three pregnancies that result in live births, anyway. I'm half-expecting the next one to be twins or triplets or something, just because I decided I only want one more kid. And then, I don't know. I'm seriously tempted to have a tubal ligation or something drastic like that because I'm so sure, and because another kid would likely do bad things for my health. Getting my tubes tied is definitely something I'd pray my guts out over before I actually go through with it, but it is looking mighty tempting.

Among other exciting news this week... We just spent lots of money again and bought a few things. We upgraded our budget software so that we can use the app on our phones. And, speaking of phones, I finally ordered myself a new phone! New to me, anyway. It's a Galaxy S3, I think. I am so looking forward to that, because I honestly cannot even express to you how much I hate my current phone.

(I'll try to express it, though. Among reasons to hate it: it crashes at least once an hour; it often thinks I am touching the screen when I'm not, making using it nearly impossible because it then ignores my actual guiding touch in favor of the phantom touch; it came with so much bloatware that I cannot actually download all the apps I want onto the phone; it mysteriously won't run apps (usually ones I like) it is theoretically supposed to run without problem; it doesn't charge with its own charger; its battery life is pathetic; I cannot update the OS and it needs it; it's slow; it sometimes will not type even when the phantom isn't wreaking havoc with the touchscreen; and there are certainly more I can't remember right now. It's hard to remember all my complaints about it when there are so many. But honestly, the phantom touch issue alone is just THE WORST POSSIBLE THING. It will call people when I'm just trying to get back to the home screen. Typing can be a beast when it thinks there's a phantom intent on typing 'yyyyyy' over and over again. Heck, even scrolling down a website, or turning a page in an e-reader, or even unlocking the screen are often impossible. It's just the worst phone I've ever had.)

So, needless to say, I am exceedingly pleased to be finally getting a new phone. Huzzah!

Also, I am exceedingly pleased that we will be getting a Wii... huzzah! It is coming with the following games: New Super Mario Brothers Wii! Super Mario Galaxy! LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga! Wii Sports (meh). Sonic & Mario 2: The Olympic Games... or something like that (also meh). We also bought Mariokart, of course. And because adding Just Dance 4 to that order was only mildly more expensive than shipping (free shipping over $35 or something), we got that, too. It's an excuse to move my bod. Hhhhot (says James). Also, we figured Amelia would like to dance with us. We also got a second Wiimote and rechargeable batteries for the Wiimotes. Woohoo!

We have not yet splurged on DDR, but don't worry, we will. We figured we should wait until we got our tax return for that. Oh, and also, until we know if our Wii has Gamecube ports and thus is compatible with DDR dancemats. You know, important things.

So I am super excited for all the happy deliveries that will happen next week. I think we are expecting something like five packages in the next week or so. Yay!

Oh, and one of our friends had an old 21" cathode ray tube TV we could have for free. It also has a DVD player built into it, so it's super snazzy. We could, like, watch a movie on it. Instead of, like, on our computer. Weird. This friend also gave us an old bean bag, but it's in pretty sad shape. Still I am pleased. I will probably stuff it with old sheets or old pillows or something. And then we can have a sweet hangout for playing Mariokart on. And by sweet, I actually mean pretty tacky but acceptable.


I did mention that I've been sick for a while. I am sooo tired of feeling crummy. First, I was pregnant for nine months. And then, after I gave birth, I wasn't sick, but I was still physical weak and recovering from the ordeal that is childbirth for a while. And then I caught some awful illness. The acute symptoms didn't last that long, but the cough has been going on for upwards of two months. (So possibly it is pertussis?) The cough is actually often bad enough that I vomit from coughing so hard. Ugh. And then, over Christmas break, I still had this cough, but I also caught some awful (possibly) novovirus that made me spew out both ends for a day or two and then I wasn't spewing, but I still felt awful for a while, and then I think I got a secondary sinus infection that had a special talent at making my body produce extraordinary amounts of thick, green mucus. That is still going on, possibly, but I was just getting over it, maybe. And then today, I am starting to exhibit flu symptoms or something. Awful body aches. I cannot even hold my phone to my ear comfortably right now. It's nuts.

So I have not felt well for about a year.

I am anxious that I may just get pregnant immediately (dang it) and go right from battling a flu to another nine months of constant nausea. Sigh. (And it's totally possible, too. I just verified that I am, in fact, ovulatory, just three months postpartum. I think I started menstruating again this time at about the same time women who don't nurse generally start menstruating. Isn't that weird? It's not like I'm starving David. He is growing even faster than Amelia did, and I didn't start getting visits from Aunt Flo again after her birth until she was over a year old! And even then, I wasn't fertile yet! So I am really surprised that it's even possible to be pregnant again already. Eep!)

Anyway... how's David doing? He's doing really well. He is so chill, and he constantly has this expression of shock/curiosity/wonder. I love it.

For the past few days, though, he's actually been pretty fussy. Perhaps he is sick or something? My mommy senses were definitely tingling that something is off with him.

In any case, my intuition was also telling me that he's been bored out of his mind for the past week or so since we got home. I think he may be a smart cookie. I could swear he is turning pages (rather haphazardly, of course) in board books already, so long as I lift the page so he is at least able to get his hammy fist under the page to nudge it over. And he is just so INTERESTED in EVERYTHING. But this could all just be normal baby development and I could just be imagining that he's going to be a supergenius someday, I'll readily admit that.

And also, David is a chunxtor. He is working on his sixteenth pound as we speak.

I think that might just about be all the updates I can think of. It is promising to be an interesting, and possibly exhausting, year.

Love and homemade bread,
Jenna and Amelia and Dragon

P.S. Oh, and thank you to the family who sent us Christmas money. We wouldn't have been able to treat ourselves to exciting things like actually-functional phones and a Wii without you. We are very grateful!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

And Three Become Four

I was able to blog lots more immediately following Amelia's birth than I have been able to now. The irony is, Amelia was a much more difficult child to care for.

Yes, I am going to compare my experience with newborn Amelia to my experience with newborn David. I think it is difficult not to compare your children to one another, particularly when they are so different. I know that may make some of you wince, but I think it's okay to point out the differences.

And the simple truth is this: it is far easier to make little David happy than it ever was for little Amelia. After a few weeks of simply rather easy baby care, James and I both started to worry that we were both actually complete wimps when we received Amelia, and maybe she wasn't that hard.

Well. I pulled out my journal, and the evidence is irrefutable: I haven't had to walk David around the block for hours in the middle of the night to get him to stop screaming even once! We haven't had episodes of SCREAMING for no discernable reason (there's always a reason; you just might not know what it is). Amelia WAS a difficult baby to care for.

David gets "fussy" sometimes, true. But when something isn't quite right for him, I feel like I have a sixth sense to know what it is. I can tell when his "fussiness" is just him complaining about how uncomfortable his intestines are while learning the complicated skill called pooping. (No, newborns don't necessarily know how to do that perfectly at first. They have to learn how to simultaneously tense the right muscles and relax their little sphincters and let it all out... Great drama in the meantime.) I can tell when he needs a good burp. I can just tell.

And then when I can't get him calm simply with cuddles and nursing, often all it will take to calm him down is to stand up and start walking until he's asleep (within five minutes instead of an hour of pacing! amazing!) or maybe give him to James and let Daddy bounce him on the yoga ball. He likes being bounced. Even if the bouncing doesn't put him to sleep immediately, it will at least calm him down so that he's in that nice "quiet, alert" state rather than ballistic.

He doesn't scream the entire time he's in his car seat. We give him a pacifier when we strap him in, and then he doesn't imitate a banshee. (Yes, he does accept a pacifier! What is this black magic?) He will often go to sleep instead. Amelia would scream persistently for hours upon hours no matter what we did in the car.

He allows us to put him down, and he likes the swing. Not like some mythical babies I've heard, but he likes or tolerates it long enough that I can go to the bathroom, or clip my fingernails, or eat a bowl of cereal, or do any other such activity that is best suited to a person with two free hands. It is fabulous.

I can still imagine an easier baby than this, but considering that Mr. Gregarious (James) is his father, I'm not convinced it's possible for us to actually produce one. I suspect this may be as mild as a Dilts can get.

Nursing has gone flawlessly. No problems. Had slightly sore nipples for a few days, had a little engorgement right when my milk came in two days after birth, and then it's been sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows from then on. (Only the sunshine is more like milk lasers. Milk LAZORS!)

More evidence that nursing is going along all right... David is growing pretty quickly. Amelia did, too, but she was screaming whenever she wasn't nursing, so she nursed a lot. I was hoping David wouldn't grow quite so quickly... I mean, Amelia grew quickly enough that I was soon overwhelmed with how heavy she got, and how speedily she got into size 5 diapers and 12-month size clothing. But David is as big as Amelia was at six weeks old, and he is only three weeks old. Dang. Looks like I might end up with another chubster.

Oh, he sleeps, too! A lot. Especially at night. He doesn't really wake up in the night... I mean, he kind of does. He wiggles enough to wake me up, and I offer him noms before he has more opportunity to startle himself awake. I have to make myself disturb his happily sleeping self to change his diaper once a night so the two of us don't wake up in a puddle of his pee. Ew, gross.

Now... all this is great. But lest you think I am living a perfect new mom life, no problems whatsoever, let me remind you that I also have a tot.

Amelia must have heard rumors that when you get a new baby, the parents are not supposed to sleep for the next few months (or even years! I hope she didn't hear that rumor, even if it is true...) following acquisition of said baby.

She is doing her very best to ensure that James and I are getting as little sleep as possible.

Two nights ago, for instance, she would not go to sleep. She screamed for hours while James held her down in bed... and when David finally figured out how to sleep through big sister's screams, I left him to sleep on his own and then I held her down to sleep. She finally passed out at 2am. That's a new record. I mean, maybe she did that a few times as an infant, but gosh. For the tot version of Amelia, this is a new record.

All things considered, Amelia is adjusting excellently to having a new baby brother. She likes him a lot.  She is known to exclaim, "CUTE!" and insist on holding him, and nearly smother him lovingly to death (actually quite scary for me) if I ever leave him unattended. She really loves her little brother and hasn't even once demanded we put him back wherever we found him. She is happy to have him.

All the time, that is, except for bedtime. Bedtime, don't you know, is Amelia's special cuddle time with Mommy.

Well, unfortunately... most of the time, now, when bedtime rolls around, Mommy is nursing and/or cuddling little brother. Which means that Mommy is unavailable to cuddle Amelia.

This has directly resulted in the Amelia-not-going-to-sleep-at-night problem. She had made lots of progress at learning to fall asleep without me before Dragon was born, but she still hadn't mastered it. Obviously. Hence the screaming until 2am. Oh well. The super late nights are (very gradually) happening less often.

James is having a really hard time losing this much sleep. He thinks it is partly so hard because it's more directly Amelia's fault rather than Dragon's fault. In his mind, it would have been easier to cope with lost sleep if it the newborn was to blame, because a newborn doesn't know any better. A toddler, though! Phaw! A toddler should already have adult sleep habits! (Okay, so he knows that isn't true. But he wishes it were. Oh, how he wishes.)

Sure, he is getting more video game time in the late nights while Amelia settles down from hyperactivity to a somewhat drowsy state. But these sleep mishaps are having an effect on how well his mind works during the day, which for an academic is a serious problem. Being able to think at your highest capacity is really important when your job is to mathematically prove something new and super awesome. Oh well.

Now, Amelia hasn't been getting enough sleep either. It's not just James and I who are tired. For those of you who have ever had a sleep-deprived toddler, you can see where this is going.

We have a chronically sleep-deprived toddler. Yeah. She isn't at her rosiest lately. My goodness, she is a volatile mess way more often than we parents are used to dealing with. Rosy toddlers can be a joy, but thorny toddlers without enough of those blossomy moments can really just suck. Especially when you are adjusting to having more than one child at once.

So sometimes we parents are less than stellar at fulfilling her needs. She would probably be doing even better if we weren't so physically and emotionally sapped, because then we'd be able to give her more of the love and attention she is craving, but alas. We are somewhat sapped and it is showing.

It is, however, tough to get too upset with Amelia. Her cries, though deafening, are immediately followed by wails for a hug. I think that's a good thing. She recognizes that she needs help to calm down, and even if you are really ticked at some horrid mess she's made, it is hard to stay too angry when she says she just needs a hug.

(Amelia's cries have gotten LOUDER these last few weeks. Enough so that I one point, instead of responding to ear-shattering shrieks like any normal person would, I just laughed and mourned to James that we didn't have an instrument to measure how many decibels the sound coming out of Amelia's face was. It was simply an awe-inspiring level of noise, and I just itched to measure it in quantifiable terms. Ha.)

As I said, all things considered, things are actually going fairly well. We have a new baby and a chronically sleep-deprived tot who sometimes doesn't feel like she's getting enough hugs, but! Things are going well.

Oh, what about me? Uhh... Well, as I like to shout from the rooftops... I'M NOT NAUSEOUS ANYMORE! HUZZAH!

Other than that, I am recovering pretty well. My down-there stitches hurt for a while, as could be suspected. Now they itch sometimes, as can also be predicted. I'm no longer actively bleeding (you bleed for roughly two weeks after giving birth, kind of the mother of all periods). "Down there" is doing fine.

The bad news is that I overexerted myself soon after David was born so my recovery isn't as fast as it could have been. I could tell I overdid it because my pelvis got really upset at me--sore, and more uterine bleeding, and the urge to sleep for forever.

I know what did it. We went to a science museum-type place a few days after David was born, and Amelia had a blast. I was attempting to follow James and the tot around while carrying David in the car seat, because I really wanted some cute tot pics, but this proved too much for me. My pelvis decided to start yelling, "HEY, LADY! Would you puh-leez quit it? I just pushed out a baby, and I need some time to recover! LIE DOWN!" It was kind of a bummer. I finally had the energy to chase after a tot, and then my body wasn't ready to handle it yet.

So yeah. I had to force myself to relax and not pick up the thirty-pound tot, or the ginormous boxes full of baby clothes, or the heavy car seat containing a not-so-heavy infant, even though I finally felt able to. I had to depend on James a lot more.

(My journal tells me I did the same thing after Amelia was born. I forgot and made the same mistake. Doom! Note to self: After your third baby, resist the urge to do ALL the things! I know you feel great, but you won't feel great if you do ALL the things!)

I am doing pretty well now. Again, I have energy! Yay! In the week following birth, James kept saying, "Wow. You OBVIOUSLY feel better." It was apparently like night and day. I was suddenly smiling and laughing so much more. Making jokes. Moving more like a healthy person. I don't know. You'd have to ask him to elaborate. I wasn't exactly an outside observer.

So yeah. Now... all that leaves to tell you, I guess, is the big thing that has been really stressing me out for the last week. I am now feeling a lot better than I did when I found out last Wednesday during David's two-week well baby checkup... I'm not freaking out about it anymore. I have plenty of time to freak out about it some more later.

David is perfectly healthy except for one thing. That one thing has a fancy name (hypospadias) but all it means is that his urethra ("pee-hole") is not where it's supposed to be.* Whoops. He may need a surgery sometime between six months and eighteen months old to correct it.** It's not for sure, though.

Sometime between three and six months old, we will take him to see a pediatric urologist to check it out. Until then, we won't know whether or not he will actually need surgery, but I predict that he will indeed need it.

Doom. This'd be very stressful for me, even if it's not a "major" surgery. As far as I'm concerned, any surgery is a major surgery on my baby. :( I had a really hard time emotionally this last week just because of this idea of likely surgery. On my BABY.

I think so far I have only mentioned this to James, my mom, and my best friend here in Oregon (and I guess a few others overheard when I told her).  Even though I am usually quite open about a lot of things, it was hard to talk about this for some reason.

I think it might be hard to talk about because it's a penile abnormality. It's not exactly your standard bit of conversation. "Oh hey, my son's penis is a little wonky. By the way. This isn't awkward or anything." Yeah. How do you even bring it up? It is easier to bring up the possibility of surgery before bringing up the reason for the surgery. If it had been any other body part, it might not be so hard. Oh well.

So yeah. Hypospadias. Darn it. Between this, my research to help us decide whether or not to circumcise our son (we didn't), and the nature of my work at the fertility clinic, I now know WAY more about the male reproductive system than perhaps any laywoman has any right to, ha. Possibly more than James does. Okay, definitely more than James does.

Love and milk lazors,
Jenna and Amelia and David

*The urethral opening is on the underside of the head of the penis. Yeah. Not where it belongs.
**Not correcting it will theoretically lead to problems when he's older. Like having to pee sitting down because the pee stream is... very messy, or multiple streams, or whatever. Okay, that's not too bad... But also, more importantly, difficulty with erections and such. Possibly painful erections. Important. If we want grandbabies via David, we will have to consider these things.  (Gosh, it is strange to think that my infant son will grow up someday.)

Friday, October 10, 2014

After David Was Born

Okay, so I was a bit naughty and left you guys on kind of a cliffhanger. You'll have to forgive me. I'd just given birth earlier that day, remember. And then, instead of delivering the continued story the next day as I had promised, I didn't write anything on my blog for a heart-wrenching three days. You'll have to forgive me again. I did have a newborn and a toddler to tend to, and James has been going to work for at least a few hours every day since Wednesday. (I think maybe I will allow him to go back to work all day again on Monday.)

Right. So. Fixing that cliffhanger business. So.

After about two hours of labor, I pushed David out. They put him on my belly, and he started talking and complaining about his exit immediately. Seriously, really cute baby noises. He sounded like the cute baby dragon or baby dinosaur noises you hear on cartoons and movies.

I felt much better, and I felt far better than I had after, say, my labor with Amelia. I felt pretty good, actually. Except that those private bits between my legs were a bit upset. Don't get me wrong, though, it felt much better than the sensation of having a baby trying to get out from there. They just weren't happy again yet.

For those of you who read Amelia's birth story, you may recall that I got an epidural. This time I was completely unmedicated. I hadn't even had Tylenol or anything. Or even a warm bath for pain management (cough, James). Not that I had wanted an epidural, but I have this feeling there wouldn't have been time for one even if I had demanded such a thing. So I had a bit more sensation down there in the nether regions this time with which to feel the delivery of the placenta.

Placentas are slimy, and a lot less bony than babies. It felt kind of gross coming out. I was curious how much the placenta weighed and had them weigh it. It was about a pound and a half, so definitely not record-breaking. After it was out, I can say that I was no longer nauseous.

Meanwhile, David was making cute baby dragon noises and looking around. By this point, I think someone had toweled him off some. (He hasn't had a bath or anything yet besides that quick towel-dry straight from the womb.) A few minutes after birth, the umbilical cord stopped pulsing, and someone (not sure if it was one of the midwives or the nurse) clamped the cord and helped James cut it.

David had come down so quickly that my tender tissues hadn't really had time to stretch out enough, so I had torn my perineum (the skin between the vaginal opening and the anus) a little... though one of the midwives (Anne) told me it was just a little bit. She wasn't sure it was bad enough to even need repair at first, but she decided to put a few stitches in anyway, just to make sure it heals up nicely. Again, given the lack of epidural, I could feel a lot more of this process than I had last time, even with the local anesthetic. Pokey needles are pokey. Ouch.

So yeah. More cute noises from little Dragon. Once he even made a sound that sounded a lot like "uh oooh!", and both Anne (the midwife-in-training) and Annie (the postpartum nurse) kept laughing at how adorable he sounded.

I was starving. I made James spoonfeed me lemon yogurt. Ah, I knew I had brought him for something, besides transportation to the birth center. (I don't know if he'll believe me, but I think I could have driven myself if I had needed to. It would have really sucked, but... yeah. I could've done it, frosty windshield and all! Bahaha!)

I had basically ignored him throughout labor, especially after his cold water faux pas. I'd been too grumpy to actually get upset at him for that... Ah, wait... I suppose I did use him for something during labor. I neglected to mention that I vomited during labor, and James handed me an emesis bag all helpful-like. He might've said (okay, did say...) a few encouraging words (too exuberantly, of course). Otherwise, he was just kind of an annoying, bouncy, excited, and far too happy presence in the room.

(Gosh, James is bad at containing his excitement. In the weeks leading up to birth, whenever I'd have a particularly uncomfortable contraction, James would respond by expressing glee, presumably because he was excited about the baby coming. Despite my attempts to train him to respond with sympathy for my pain instead of glee--we had plenty of time to practice this--I don't think it really sunk in. Sure, he stopped saying things like, "Yay! You're in pain!"... But um, the more intense labor got, the more James bounced up and down with adrenaline and happy excitement. Gosh. Stop being so happy.)

David started nursing pretty quickly. He was really interested in it, but it took him a little while to find the nipple. His latch was pretty good, thankfully. (Amelia had significant trouble with nursing at first, likely because she was over two weeks early, and possibly also due to disorientation and other side effects of the epidural.) David tried to find the second breast, too, but he was so bad at locating the nipple that even with help he eventually just gave up and napped instead.

But, boy! He was persistent. He nearly crawled off my chest (more like nearly launched off, despite lack of wings) more than once, and sucked and licked all over my belly and my chest--everywhere except the nipple, that is. He spent a long time looking for the noms before deciding being born had been hard work and that a nap was in order.

Once David and I were suitably cleaned up, they left us alone for a while. As I said, David fell asleep, draped across my chest. We were both still naked, and we had a warm blanket over the top of us. I still hadn't really moved since I had given birth. I think maybe they had had me scoot over a few inches at some point so they could remove the mess out from underneath me (all the amniotic fluid and blood and exciting stuff that comes out with baby) and put new, clean things there, but otherwise I was in the exact same spot I had pushed in. It was kind of nice to just kick back and relax.

Though... at this point, I was starving. Again. I had James bring me flower juice (water with elderflower syrup in it), string cheese, and a granola bar to tide me over until... well, next snack time. I think Amelia came and visited at this point.

Oh, Amelia. She did just fine. We had brought our friend Cassie Anderson to help out. Despite being woken up at 5:25am, Amelia was in a great mood. She and Cassie apparently had a grand ol' time playing and sharing snacks.

Cassie tells me, though, that when I was making mighty screams, Amelia's eyes got all wide and concerned, and she put her hands up to her mouth, and said, "Oh no! Mommy!" "Are you worried, Amelia?" "Yeah..."

When Amelia saw David, she said, "Ooh, beebee! Cute!" I think, though, that the visit was mostly for her to make sure I was okay. And, well, I was smiling and happy at this point, so I guess that reassured her enough that she could go and play some more with Cassie.

At some point, I handed David over to James, and I walked over to the bathroom. The nurse had the tap water going, hoping that would encourage me to pee, but it didn't really help. After sitting there for ages, I finally did pee, and I exultantly proclaimed, "I peed!" ... just like Amelia does. I felt a little silly for being so proud of myself, but I suppose that's okay.

Maybe three hours after birth, we finally measured David. He weight 8 lbs, 8 oz. He was 21.5" long, 14" around the head, and 13.5" around the chest. He hated it. He made his first truly distressed cries. They were actually even kind of loud. (He is so quiet compared to Amelia. Straight out of the womb, Amelia's cries were piercing, and David's are... mild squeaks.)

Went back to bed and cuddled the newborn some more. He was still naked. And, um, he made it quite obvious that his bowels were working fabulously. He pooped meconium all over me. Twice. We eventually decided to put a diaper on the kid. He soiled that one.

The nurse did a pulse oximetry test to screen for congenital heart defects, but he didn't pass it immediately, probably because he was working hard on both a giant loogey out his top end, and several giant poops out his bottom end. After he got those cleared up, we would be allowed to leave. (The pulse oximetry results had be normal before we could go home. The pushing phase of labor had been so incredibly brief, that although most babies get some help expelling the mucus from their airways during the pushes and squeezes on the way out, David did not get that benefit. He just came out so fast.)

Before we left, he soiled yet another diaper, so much so that the nurse was shocked. It was the biggest load of meconium she had ever seen a newborn produce. And this was meconium load number four. (I am so grateful that he held all that poop in until after he was born.) "Just like daddy," I commented. No, seriously. I am convinced the man child has inherited his father's gastrointestinal system. Darn it.

James had fed me many snacks by this point, but I was still starving and both he and Amelia were starving and tired and just itching to leave. Itching. They had both been ready to go right at the four-hour mark (you are required to stay at the birth center for at least four hours after the birth), but we had to stay for five hours while David was working hard on spitting up mucus and pooping out meconium. Once he finished that and the pulse oximeter read normal results, we got ready to go.

So we all loaded up in the car and headed home. Kind of. Again, we were all so starving. Obviously, we had to stop at Five Guys for bacon cheeseburgers. Then we went home and napped all afternoon. (The one lady at Five Guys who bothered to ask how old the cute baby was ended up completely dumbfounded and shocked upon learning that he was only six hours old... and that I was walking around out of the hospital and snarfing bacon cheeseburgers already. And impressed.)


Love and bacon cheeseburgers,
Jenna and Amelia and David