Wednesday, October 31, 2007

4 years ago today....(part two)

We left off about midnight, with no baby anywhere in sight.

As of 12 p.m. the next day, we still had no baby. But we were much closer.

I had been in labor, at this point, for about 22 hours. To tell you the honest truth, that wasn't the worst of it--the worst part for me was the fact that I hadn't eaten in almost 30 hours, and hadn't slept in 36. I was starving and exhausted.

On a side note here--I understand why they don't want you to eat (the risk of c-sections and all) but yet I have to say I think that cutting off food is the dumbest thing you can do to a laboring woman. After all, in labor, you are in like the marathon of your life. You NEED your fuel! I was so hungry that I was almost focusing on my starvation more than the intense pain. Which I suppose may have been a good thing....anyway, in between contractions I was begging Shane to sneak me in some food. Crackers, anything. But, he was the obedient to the doctor, and much as he wanted to, didn't bring me any food.

So, by noon, I was starved and exhausted.

And, FINALLY, at 10 cm.

Ready to push. And push, and push, and push some more.

2 hours of pushing. Colin's head would appear....then disappear. Then appear again....then gone again. It was like this for probably an hour! But, finally, at a little before 2 p.m., my first little baby arrived. And just like I said about Cameron....he was perfect.

About 1/2 hour old

In Grandpa Roger's arms--he was so tiny!
One day old, cuddling with Mommy
Two days old--still in that newborn, fall-asleep-anywhere and in any position phase (see his tiny hand wrapped around Shane's finger? I love that)

First trip to the doctor, at three days old!
Snuggling with Daddy, 1 week old

Hi Mommy!

Asleep again....Colin loved to sleep in Shane's arms

I prayed, my entire pregnancy, that I would just "please not have this baby on Halloween." But God saw fit to have things His way, not mine. I am so thankful that because of God's wonderful timing, this day now holds something so much more special than candy and costumes for my family. We got our first of three wonderful 'treats' on that day!

Happy Birthday Colin--We love you!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Four years ago today....(part one)

I was in terrible labor with my first wonderful son, Colin.

The events of that day are still as fresh to me as if it just happened last week. This was the day, my due date--the 30th of October. Who on earth ever has their baby on their actual due date? I don't know of one single person. But, I was determined that this child would not stay in his comfy little womb one more day.

I think with your first child, the anticipation is so great of that child actually getting there that most women can hardly take it. At least, that was my experience. Part of that had to do with the fact that my wonderful, ever positive doctor, had been assuring me for weeks that it would be "any day now."

I had been dialated to 3 cm. for 5 weeks before I actually had Colin. In fact (many of you may not know this) but I had actually gone into premature labor with him at 35 weeks. They hospitalized me for a few hours, and gave me a drug to stop the contractions, which worked. Dr. Shepherd then sent me home, and basically told me that from here on out, if this little one still wanted to come, he was comfortable with that--I was far enough along that the baby would be fine. However--he preferred that I take it easy, because the longer those little lungs could develop, the better.

The next five weeks were, at best, miserable. I felt as though I was walking around on eggshells--that it could literally be any moment that I went into labor. And, as a woman who had never experienced labor before, I wasn't quite sure what to be on the lookout for. I mean, sure, I had read every book under the sun about labor, and I knew what all of them said--but I didn't know what it would really feel like. So, of course, every contraction I had (and I had tons of them during that 5 week time) I was wondering, "is this it?" And, wasn't.

I would wake up everyday thinking, "Maybe it will be today!!!"

And I would go to bed that night, thinking, "Maybe it will be tomorrow...."

So, by the time I made it to my due date, I was determined--NO MORE WAITING. (Um, I have a patience issue....I work on that, everyday. It was worse back then....)

It was going to be today. I had done everything--the walking, the spicy food, more walking, lots of activity, more spicy food--and nothing. The one thing I had not tried was.....dum dum dum....the castor oil. How I dreaded this. My girlfriend did it and said it was awful, but my doctor said that it had worked for lots of his patients.

So, that morning, I went on a hunt for the stuff. I made a wonderful little cocktail--one scoop of vanilla ice cream, a can of root beer, and 3 oz. of castor oil. Down the hatch....then I chased it with a Reese's peanut butter cup. I know, I know. How absolutely awful, right? Well, you are right. It was possibly the worst thing I had ever tasted in my life.

That was 8:30 or so that morning.

By 2:30, nothing had happened and I was sure that the stuff hadn't worked. Shane and I had spent the morning working on our back room addition (at our last house) and I had been on "pulling all of the old nails/screws out of the studs" duty. We were demo-ing the room, and had a ton of garbage, so we decided to take it down to a friend's burn pile, which was about 10 miles or so away. We loaded up the truck and headed out.

We arrived at the burn pile after about a 15 minute drive. I was still feeling just fine, nothing at all out of the ordinary. We both opened our doors to get out, so that we could dump all of the stuff, and just as I stepped out onto the ground, I felt a gush.

Oh my goodness.

I didn't know what was going on. Here I am, as big as a house, trying to look down to see what on earth is happening, and all that I can see is my gigantic belly. The gushing is still going on, however, so I yelled to Shane. He came flying over, and we realized--My water had just broken. Neither of us really knew what to do.

I told him to go ahead and finish unloading the truck, but to hurry....the contractions had already started. And then I realized: you really DO know when it is the real thing. Those contractions just aren't the same as they were before.....this was it.

We were almost back to our house when, to my utter dismay, the castor oil kicked in.

Oh, had you forgotten about that part? Well, see, here is a little bit of irony in this situation. Colin had obviously planned on coming that day anyway. The castor oil, to this point, had done nothing. My water broke on it's own. However, just because the castor oil hadn't started my labor didn't let me off the hook of the effects of that castor oil.

I am going to spare you the details of this one....but let's just wasn't pretty.

We made it home, grabbed our stuff, and headed to the hospital. The rest of this day was a blur of pain, and of my trying to find ways to manage that pain. Tubs, walking, showers, lying, leaning, name it, I did it. For hours and hours. By midnight.....I was dialated to 4.

Did I mention I came in at 3? This baby was determined to take his time and put me thru as much misery as he could--at least, that was how it felt to me that night!

It is, I am sure, obvious to you that I did not have this baby on the, catch the conclusion tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Surprise! Mom turns the big 5-0

Two weekends ago, while my wonderful husband stayed behind with our three little men (thank you sooooo much, babe--you are the best!), I surprised my mom with a weekend getaway to the Windy City--one of her favorite spots on earth.

Shane and I had been planning this trip for her for several months. I knew that she wasn't into the idea of a big 50th birthday bash, so I had the idea of taking her somewhere instead. It was actually Shane's idea to take her to Chicago, because he knows how much she loves it there. So, I decided to plan the trip for one month before her actual birthday, to throw her off. I am TERRIBLE at keeping surprises, and I didn't want to let the cat out of the bag early and ruin everything! I knew it was likely that I would drop some sort of comment, and she might begin to put the pieces I picked the weekend of October 6. The sooner I could get it out, the better!

Shane and I had it all planned out--we were going to come home EARLY from our date night, and tell her to go home and pack her bags--that we were leaving for somewhere special in the morning! But, FORTUNATELY, it didn't work out exactly like that.....

It just so happened that WBGL was giving away tickets to see one of my mom's all time favorite artists in concert--Steven Curtis Chapman. I have always loved him as well, and the Wednesday night before our big weekend, in the car, the DJ came on and stated that the first caller who could unscramble the following three song titles was the winner! I immediately began dialing (right--like I had a chance at actually getting through, let along winning?) and to my surprise, I got through!

Then--just my luck--my stupid 'never-more-than-one-bar-at-a-time-connection cell phone' disconnected me! No Service, it said. I couldn't believe it. So, I sat there, listening to the lady who got through right behind me. I was disappointed....until I listened to her totally flubbing the answer! I knew that she had no clue, so I picked up the phone and dialed again...and got through again! AND, the DJ picked up the phone and I WON THE TICKETS!! You talk about family sat and listened to me on the radio while I answered the questions correctly and won four great tickets to the concert and three free CD's!

So, plans had changed....when mom came for date night, I got to surprise her instead! I arranged for babysitters for the boys (THANKS Emily and Rebekah, if you are reading this!) and we headed out to dinner at the Olive Garden and then the concert. She was in disbelief, to say the least. She couldn't believe the concert, let alone the fact that I was telling her to pack her bags!

Dinner at the Olive Garden
It was a great concert!
Shane, Mom, and me
I was very vague with her about where we were going--and I loved the fact that it was driving her crazy! :-) It was really funny. We headed out of town around 9:30 (after we ate breakfast at a little place we love called 'Le Peep' over in Champaign). I didn't actually even tell her until we pulled off the exit and were at Woodfield Mall in Schaumburg--her favorite! We got there around noon, and didn't leave until almost 9! Now, to our credit, it is like the biggest mall ever (three floors) but I have never shopped so long in once place in my life! We had a great time though, that's for sure. We ate dinner and headed back to our hotel....just to get up and do it all again in the morning! Well, sort of....same activity, different locations. We went to Ikea, Old Navy, and tons of other places, and shopped until around 6 p.m. We decided to head downtown for dinner and sightseeing! Mom loves the lights, and loves to walk Michigan Ave.
Mom and I at Gino's East--FAMOUS for deep dish pizza!
How's the pizza?
How do you really feel about turning 50 mom??
In front of the Hard Rock and Rainforest Cafes
The beautiful city at night

On Michigan Ave (see the street sign above her?)

We had an amazing time! It was so great getting to spend time with my Mom--just the two of us! We don't have a ton of quality time like that anymore, and it sure was special.

Mom--you sure don't look or seem your age! The years keep improving you! I love you, and Happy 50th!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

On the mend--finally

A short post today, but one I thought many of you would want to see--we here at the Merritt house are, for the most part, much better.

All three boys have some lingering symptoms, but we all made it thru a very difficult week! I HATE tummy bugs....even more so now, after watching my three poor boys suffer thru one!

We did have our birthday party Saturday night, and fortunately, were able to have a great time. I promise to post pics of the event soon!

Thank you ALL so much for your kind words and prayers!!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It got us all

Well, it's official....

5:14 p.m. It has gotten me too.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

If you think of us....

would you say a prayer for our family today?

We have had some serious stomach illness going around the house since late Sunday night. It hit Shane first, and he was really sick until yesterday. (In the nine years that we have been together, he has only thrown up twice, so I know he is bad when that happens!) He is MUCH better now, however, last night Cameron began to show symptoms....I was suspicious that he was coming down with the same thing, and sure enough, he confirmed the suspicion when he threw up all over me in the kitchen (how gross--eww, eww.) and then again a little later that night.

The throwing up has stopped, however, the endless 'pottying' in his diaper has not--and now he has developed a severe diaper rash, and screams and cries when we have to change him. It is heartbreaking. We can't even use wipes, because it burns him so bad--he has to get in the tub. When he is going literally every 10 minutes (I think we went through almost 30 diapers yesterday, and I am NOT exaggerating), it can be a very difficult thing.

The poor child can't even walk right--he is walking on his tip toes so that it doesn't hurt as bad. Ugh, it is just awful to watch your child go through this. :-( Plus, as expected, sleep has been at a minimum for the last 2 days, because of midnight changes and both Shane and I are pretty worn out.

To make matters worse, Ethan has now begun the cycle; no throw up yet, but the pottying and diaper rash have begun.

Poor babies.

Colin and I, so far, have been spared from everything--and I am praying that it stays that way, because Colin and Cameron's birthday party is supposed to be at 5 p.m. on Saturday night. I really hope I don't get sick, and I am hoping even more than that that he doesn't get sick either!

Thank you in advance to all of you who I know are prayer warriors, for lifting us up in prayer!

***Edit: It is about 2 hours after I posted, and I already have additional news. Colin woke from his nap and immediately came out to me, crying, saying he had to go to the bathroom. I followed him, to help, and noticed that he seemed hot to me. I had that 'here it comes again' feeling....and I started to instruct Colin that if his belly started to feel bad, he needed to let me know right away. I wanted to avoid more puke on the couch, if at all possible. So, we talked about it, and he told me that he felt a little sick. (Actually, his exact words were, "Cameron sicked me out with his water." What that means is this--last night, I caught Colin taking a drink of water from Cameron's cup, and I told him that he couldn't drink after him anymore, because Cameron was sick and I didn't want him to get sick too, from Cameron's germs.) So, he proceeded to go out to the living room, and climbed up on the couch. He was there about 2 seconds (yes, the same couch Cameron had been sitting on) when he made a weird noise, and I looked up--just in time to see him puking everywhere. Oh, we go again. *sigh*

I am thankful for one thing, however, in all of this--I am glad we are getting the sickness out of the way, so hopefully we will all be able to enjoy our party on Saturday!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Happy Birthday, my sweet second child

Today is Cameron's birthday.

I can't help but reflect upon what I was doing on this day two years ago......

I had begun having pretty regular contractions around 8:30 p.m. on my actual due date--the 13th of October. Shane and I were watching a movie, and I remember saying to him, "I think I'd better head to bed and get some good sleep....I have a feeling I am going to need it tomorrow." I had been having contractions on a pretty regular basis for several weeks, but, that night, they were coming very regularly--about 20 minutes apart at the beginning of the movie. By the end of the movie, though, they were coming a bit quicker--every 15 minutes.

So, we headed to bed around 11:00 or so that night, and I actually did sleep fairly decently, even through the contractions....that is, until about 3 a.m. By then, they were coming every 10 minutes or so, and they were getting stronger. I can remember thinking, this is it. That is a really undescribable feeling, you know? Even with almost 10 months to ponder the thought of a brand new life entering your household, when that time actually does arrive, it seemed almost surreal to me. Like it just couldn't possibly be the time for this baby to actually be here. Scary, exhilarating, painful (only literally of course), and yet wonderful all at the same time.

Though my mind may have been having doubts, my body certainly was telling me that the time was DEFINITELY here. This baby was going to come that day, I was positive of it.

So, we called my mom around 6:00 a.m. that morning, and she came as quickly as she could to be with Colin. I remember tears in her eyes as she told me goodbye at the door, and her telling me that she would be praying for me, and that everything would be just fine and go very smoothly. The thought of all of that really comforted me as I headed out to the car. As Shane and I headed over to the hospital, which is about 35 minutes away, I couldn't even sit in the seat--I was in way too much pain for that to be comfortable. So, I sort of hung over the console as best as my huge belly would let me and moaned most of the way there. I will be honest with you here--this wasn't the prettiest sight, nor was it my finest hour of pain tolerance, but I was doing the best I could, considering that by this point, I had been having some serious contractions for about five hours.

We got to the hospital around 8 a.m., and in a flourish, I was in a wheelchair (still in pain) and whisked up to labor and delivery. I was certain--CERTAIN--that I must be dilated to at least a six or seven, because everyone had assured me that the second labor is so much quicker than the first. (Colin, for the record, was a 25 hour delivery. More on that in 2 1/2 weeks).

Well, when Dr. Shepherd checked me a few minutes after I got settled in, (still in pain) I was at a measly four. A FOUR! Though this may seem like decent progress, there is one thing that you must understand: I had been sitting at THREE for the previous three weeks!

I was so disappointed....shattered is actually a better word. I had been thinking, I can do this, I can do this! I won't have very far to go once I get there; I have to be pretty far already! But to my utter dismay, I still had a long way to go.

I thought I had been in pain--that was, until Dr. Shepherd decided that it was time to speed this delivery along and broke my water! Then, I was pretty much ready to kill myself.

Oh, the memories....

However, thanks to God's grace, the rest of the labor really did go fast after that. I don't remember everything--it is all sort of blurry--but I remember things like they lost Cameron's heart rate for a few agonizing seconds. I went from having one nurse in the room with me to two doctors and three nurses in about 5.7 seconds. But, they did their thing, and stuff got back on track in no time. Somehow, four hours had passed, and it was about 12:30 p.m.--and Dr. Shepherd was exclaiming that it was time to push!

I can remember exchanging this look with Shane like, "this is really it." I don't even know if he remembers this himself (he, too, had a lot going on at that moment, being my coach and all) but he just looked at me like, "I am so proud of you Dev, and I love you so much." He didn't have to even say anything--it was all there on his face. It brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it.

Fortunately, there was some truth in the whole "the second labor/delivery is so much faster" thing--I only pushed for 30 minutes with Cameron, and a little after 1 p.m., he was in our arms! That was exactly 1/4 of the time it took for Colin to make his grand entrance, and boy was I thankful for that. He was just the most perfect thing ever. I couldn't get enough of holding him and cuddling him.....and I remember smiling a LOT that day.

Proud PapaGrandma 'Nette
Grandma Jane and Big Brother Colin

I could have never known how many smiles would come to my face in the two years that followed. Cameron brings such JOY to our household. He is one of the best presents that God has ever given me, and today, we celebrated that.

I love you sweet boy--Happy 2nd Birthday!

***We are having a joint birthday party with Colin on Saturday, but we did let Cameron open one of his presents today. Here are some shots of him playing with Mack (the semi-truck from the CARS movie) and his new race cars!***

Cameron and Chick

Colin, MACK, Cameron and mommy

Cameron and MACK

"The BOYS" all playing with the new toys

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

It gets the dirt off

For this, you may possibly think I am a bad mother:

I really do not enjoy giving my sons baths.

I always hear about people having these wonderfully serene routines at night with their children, and most of the time, the routines sound something like this:
"I cook dinner and we eat together as a family, then we play together for a while, then I give them a bath, brush their teeth, read them a book or two, and then it is lights out!"

I do all of that, too. I cook dinner almost every night, and we sit down together to eat as a family. It is usually eventful, and always loud. But, we manage to fill our bellies and enjoy each other all at the same time, which is the ultimate goal. Shane and I usually play or take a bike ride with the boys (or something else they find fun) after dinner, and then the child cleanup portion of the evening begins. Cameron eats at least three meals a day, and generally after every meal, he looks something like this:

That was lunch, which ended with chocolate pudding. Yes, he feeds himself.

Colin is nowhere near as bad (see above), and neither is Ethan, but between all of the events of the day, they all usually need a good end-of-the-day hose down.

Maybe it is because I have boys, and they are ultra rowdy in the tub. I end up wearing 3/4 of the bath water by the time I have managed to thoroughly clean all three boys. I always feel like I am never letting them have any fun in the tub, and I know the tub should be a fun place for them....but I can't help it. Here is a sampling of one minute of giving them a bath:

"Colin, please don't pour water over Cameron's head. Cami, don't splash so hard, please! Watch out for Ethan, guys. Cami, please don't splash SO HARD! Colin, stand up so I can wash you." Colin: "But Mommy, I am cold!" Me: "I know you are cold, just stand up for just a second so I can wash you really quickly, and then you can sit down in the warm water again. Guys, watch out for Ethan! Cameron, STOP splashing so hard!! The water is going all over the floor! Here, Colin, let me rinse you. Okay, sit down and let me wash Cameron. Cami, please stand up so Mommy can wash you.......stand up, Cameron........Cameron, stand up!!! Okay, now hold still a second. Colin, please don't splash Ethan! Cameron, don't sit yet, you aren't clean! Okay, all clean, let me rinse you. Okay, sit down, all done! Your turn again, Colin, let me wash your hair please....I know you are cold, you can get back under the water in a second. Cameron--if you don't stop splashing so hard you are in big trouble!!"

All the while, trying to make sure Ethan isn't going under the water. And this is just one minute of the 20 or so. *sigh*

We have turned to showers instead. I know it may seem funny to give such little ones a shower, but it really works for us and keeps me MUCH drier, and more importantly, MUCH saner.

Here are a few shots from last night's shower--and miraculously, NONE of them are R-Rated!

Ethan loves this ducky


They really do enjoy the showers......more importantly, SO do I!! I finally enjoy the end of the night clean up time again. It is so cute to watch all three of them playing under the running water. Thank the Lord for those wonderful glass doors that keep all of that water inside the tub and not on the floor--splash all you want, boys!!!

Not again.....

I am NOT trying to 'one-up' my sister-in-law.

I swear.

Nevertheless, I have a tale to tell. It just so happens that this tale is true; it also just so happens that the event surrounding this tale happened to me only days after a very similar event happened to her. (You can click here to read my sister-in-law Aimee's hilarious tale of a little critter that she discovered in her car while driving.)

Last night, after getting all of the boys settled down in bed, Shane and I decided to relax on the couch for a few minutes before going to bed ourselves. We popped a DVD in, and were watching intently, when I saw something out of the corner of my eye. Now, we have had our windows open alot lately, and with the cooler weather, the boys have been coming in and out of the house a lot, so we have been getting a lot of bugs and such. No big deal....but I could have sworn that this movement was on the floor. I said to Shane, who I noticed was looking in the same direction as I was, "Did you see that?"

Well, he had seen it--that was why, obviously, he was looking in that direction.

Neither of us had a clue what it was, but Shane was convinced it was not a bug, but something much bigger than that. "A bug doesn't make that kind of shadow," he said to me.

I instantly went into jittery know, that feeling you get when you just know something is wrong, but you aren't quite sure what it is? If you have just recently started reading this blog, you may have missed my post in June--when Shane found a four foot Black King snake INSIDE of our wall while remodeling. (Click here if you are just dying to get your hands on that tale.) I had that feeling that day, too.

I believe, after the snake incident, that I was justified to be a little on edge.

So, being the man of the house, Shane gets up and walks over to the light switch, and flips the light on. I, on the other hand, stayed put on the couch. We aren't sure at this point what kind of creature we were dealing with, but Shane decided he needed some kind of weapon in case it darted at him. We both began looking around, and the best solution we could come up with was.....Colin's foam bat. It was big, and it was close, and it could probably do significant damage if it needed to.

So, Shane grabbed the bat.

All of a sudden, I saw it again. It darted out from the couch where I was sitting, and over to the other couch and then underneath guessed it. A MOUSE.

Yuck, Yuck, Yuck.

I know that a mouse won't hurt me, but Yuck. I certainly don't want the furry little thing roaming loose in my house. Yuck.

I am sure that many of you reading this post right now have probably had this situation happen to you. You could probably tell me all about it...and maybe even laugh about it, now that that it is behind you. But I will tell you something--that doesn't make me feel any better. Yuck.

I decided that I was going to be brave and help capture this little creature, so I got up and ran into the kitchen to get the flashlight to be able to see under the couch. However, the flashlight batteries were dead (thanks to my Colin, who loves to pretend with it all the time, and turns it on and leaves it on for who knows how many hours). As I was examining the flashlight, standing right in the middle of the floor between the kitchen and the couch, our little friend decided to make his move again....and came running RIGHT for me! I kid you not. I think it was deliberate. I screamed--yes, like a little girl--and jumped into the air so that it ran underneath me and not up my leg or something. Gross. Then, I yelled for Shane, and directed him to where it had gone--into the kitchen.

Have you ever really looked around your kitchen, or around ANY room in your house for that matter, to see all of the places a thing that little could hide? I am not going to point them all out to you, but we found like six places he could have gone--and we didn't even look that hard.

Did you get that? ...places he could have gone..... No, we did not catch him. *sigh*

Guess who was calling Terminix and buying mouse traps today?

So now, for an undertermined amount of time, I am forced to share my house with a mouse. Yuck, Yuck, Yuck. Aimee--I REALLY DO feel for you now!!