Friday, March 27, 2009

taking a look

Eden is now over two weeks old and we've finished our first "normal" week together. The only thing to add now is making our own meals, thanks to the people from our church! We have been blessed to receive dinner delivered to our door most every night, which means I've had time to take the kids out in the afternoons instead of staring blankly into my refrigerator wondering what to make. It also has saved us a good deal of grocery money, which is helpful as Pat took time off work to be home with us in the beginning. If you're reading this and helped out, THANKS!

I've been surprised by how normal life feels already. I remember experiencing a similar time with Israel -- the time when he would sleep or not sleep anywhere and everywhere and life could go on pretty much as it had been, adding in pauses for feedings and diaper changes. (Oh, and laundry...oh...laundry.) God knew what He was doing in making newborns sleep so much; it gives you time to get used to the idea of having them around. At any rate, during this same time of Israel's life, I remember going out and visiting people and feeling like I could just strap on my kid and go. I had a resolve about me to continue my adult life and to be a good "housewife," complete with clean house and dinner on the stove by 5:00. I'm in that phase now with Eden. But this time I know it is a phase that will end as soon as I fully realize I'm tired. I am not as good at doing everything as I have been this week, and I'm sure this sort of extra-good behaviour of mine is accounted for in the medical/psychological fields somewhere. I'll bask in it while I'm in it and enjoy the stacks of neatly folded laundry while they exist.

This last week has held more than its share of deja vu as I wonder often, "What did I do when Israel was this age?" and find myself doing some thing or other and realize, "Yeah, this feels familiar." Her tininess is familiar. Her eating habits are familiar. Moving the bouncy seat around the house as I work during the day is familiar. Wrapping her in a blanket is familiar, as is holding a bink in her mouth when she's overtired and trying to sleep. People have asked if I can tell anything about her personality yet, and I'm sure that I can. While much is the same, I can tell you she is different in temperament than Israel. I can't yet put words to how. I know I'll recognize the right word when I run across it, though, and then I'll share it with you. I'll think, "Yes! That's exactly the right description of her specifically!" and then I'll wait to see if God agrees with me when He gives her that white stone with her specific name on it.

She does like to keep herself busy during her waking hours, that's for sure. She grunts as if making great efforts (to do...what?) while sitting in her bouncy seat. Her vocalization has earned her the nickname "Squeaker" from me, as she will squeak and grunt for hours on end (this morning from 6:30 am to 8:00 am...) about nothing at all. She stares wide-eyed at the rings dangling in front of her. She screams for her bink so she can have an object within her control after she's been up for 15-20 minutes. She never screams for long periods of time, and that is different from her brother (thankfully!). She will let out a few squawks here and there and then sit and grunt, as if trying to take care of it herself while she waits for me to fix the situation. Her gaze is pretty intense, which is like her brother's was at this age. I don't know if that's common to all newborns or mine in particular, but I have a hard time believing any child of mine could miss inheriting some amount of intensity. Here. You can see for yourself.

(This may be a pretty accurate depiction of how she feels about bath time.
"I'm afraid to really like this....")

Now that we have solved some of our computer problems, I should be able to download pictures a bit more often, though I won't promise I'll be able to post more often from here on out!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Happy (on) St. Patrick's Day!

Happy (belated) St. Patrick's day!

Wow. That tired me right out!

St. Patrick's Day is a holiday our little family loves to celebrate. What else would you expect when the "man of the house" is named Michael Patrick McCrory? It has become a tradition of ours to make some Irish fare (usually some form of lamb, potatoes, a green vegetable, and scones or Irish soda bread) and have friends over to share the meal with us. But just because that tradition took a day off this year doesn't mean we didn't celebrate in smaller ways. The kids and I donned whatever green clothing fit us that day (which is tricky for all of us right now, as Israel suddenly outgrew all his clothes last week and Eden is still too small for most of the clothes we have for her and I' sizes) and did our best to be worthy of the name McCrory on the very Irish day.

Eden had quite the social day, beginning with an 8:30 am visit to the pediatrician to be weighed. I have been telling people she eats "like a champ," but the doctor (who is not our normal doctor) seemed to really believe me when they saw that she has gained 5 oz. in the last three days -- enough to already surpass her birth weight. No more questions about her eating habits! Woo hoo! From there, we went to visit Mabrey, our midwife, so she could see the fruits of her (my) labor. We went to visit the law office (my former place of employment) that afternoon. It's always fun to introduce a new baby to friends and we had a good time making some rounds.

That evening, I took advantage of having both Pat and my mom aroung to help with the kids to do something normal, like make dinner. Pat had Israel outside (which is now his favorite place, with the recent good weather...) to work in what will be our garden and mom and I made a scaled-down Irish meal: shepherd's pie and your choice of root beer or ginger ale. We all had fun getting our hands dirty -- some of us had "dirt"ier hands than others -- and we all sat around the table together for dinner. Afterwards, we went on a walk in, you guessed it, our DOUBLE STROLLER. Israel really liked it as long as it was moving and Eden thought it was comfortable enough to sleep in. (Okay, that's not saying much.)

It was a good day: outdoors, visiting friends, making a holiday meal, wearing my favorite color. I doubt every day from here on out will feel quite as relaxed as this one, but I am greatly enjoying having no commitments other than those I make "the day of." Why do I have to give birth to have relaxed time commitments? It seems to me that people should be able to call a family holiday for other occasions or no occasion at all -- something of a mini-sabatical so that they can rest and remember who they are and build family memories together. I'm doing my best to enjoy it now, because, as I know somewhat first-hand and as friends and strangers further down this path constantly tell me, times like these are




Monday, March 16, 2009

small things and big deals

I am emerging from the "What day is it, again?" fog that falls over the days just following giving birth. Things have settled down a bit from the initial excitement (not that we're not still excited...) and craze and we're setting about getting to know each other. We get to know the little details about ourselves we did not know before -- things like when is the best time to change a diaper and how Israel can not feel powerless when Eden cries and what words are best for Pat and I to use when there is not space for discussion "away" from the situation. Of course, most of this revolves around Eden, who has discovered about herself that she can, indeed, scream. Thankfully, she limits herself to 1-3 loud screams at a time (cranking it to 11 rather suddenly and diminishing almost as fast) and only when she's being taught how to put herself to sleep for the most part. Israel no longer insists on touching her every moment of the day and, for my part, I'm glad that aspect of her novelty has worn off; he is an aggressive lover. He also sleeps straight through her "I'm waking up...waking FOOD!" in the middle of the night. I'm grateful for that as well. I just was able to put both kiddos down for a nap and the house is quiet. I've not gone insane yet and am catching up on sleep. (Don't look at me, though. It's nearly 1:00 and I'm still in my PJ's.) I'm starting to get a feel for how things may go once my mom leaves and it's just the four of us here (or the three of us during the day). It involves the house looking abandoned in the short-term, I think, and me putting my multi-tasking skills to work during all waking hours.

I am strangely anxious to do more as a family now that we are four. Perhaps it's because I'm from a family of four that now we feel more like an official family or maybe it's because we now constitute full vehicle all on our own. Regardless, I am finding myself a bit excited about the challenges of doing small things together -- going grocery shopping, to the park, etc. We went on a little trip to the park down the street yesterday to take advantage of the nice weather. The three adults took turns with Israel, Eden, and the dog. A good time was had by all, I think...especially Israel and the dog, who is contentedly napping on the floor for the first time in weeks.

When I was a kid, I remember something like going to the park being a BIG deal. Not that we were deprived of outdoor activity the rest of our days, but a day involving the park was quite a treat. I watched Israel running around the equipment yesterday and Eden taking in the sunlight and the light breeze and thought about what a big place the little park must seem to them and how different and special it is compared to the strip of grass we call our back yard. Being there is no small thing for me, too, now that I'm somewhat in charge of the whole activity. It takes arranging of naps and packing of all kinds of diapers and blankets and a drink and...well..those of you who take care of kids know. But when I get outside and feel the sun on my clothes and see my kids enjoying themselves, it's a big deal -- for them and for me.

I can feel that I'm getting in a little over my head in some ways, bringing this little girl home. But I can also feel that things like both kids going down easily for their naps and a warm shower in the middle of the day and successfully leaving the house and being outside for an hour or so can become great gifts, not unlike breathing through your nose. (...Which I have been able to do since Eden has stopped sharing my body. Woo hoo!) God has certainly done more for me than I would've asked already. But I think that being thankful and content with small, normal things is both an art and a discipline I should not lose sight of as I start down this new road of parenting. Being able to do normal things is, on its own, a big deal. Thank you, God!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Welcome, Eden!

If you know us well enough to check our blog, chances are you know that we are now the proud parents of two great kids! Eden Elizabeth was born on what felt like Tuesday night, but was actually about 1:30 Wednesday morning. She is a tiny little thing -- 6 lbs. 4 oz. and just 19 inches long.

In my last post, I talked about how I was hesitant to hope for a "wonderful" delivery. But I got just that. By the time I decided I might actually be in for the real thing and Granna and Papaw made a quick four-hour drive from Kentucky to stay with Israel for the night, we just barely made it to the hospital in time. The labor was much easier than Israel's and when we arrived at the hospital sometime after midnight, she and I were completely prepared for her to come out right then! I would not mind at all telling you about the experience, but for public display, I'll just say the nurse attending said I held the record for fastest delivery that day.

...Which normally wouldn't be much of a comment on the speed of a birth, except that half of Muncie decided to give birth that day, too. (I will never think that full moons inducing labor is merely an old wives' tale.) We were placed in the LAST bed available in the mother/baby unit, which was a bed a few feet from someone else's bed. It was cramped quarters, to say the least, as a line of beds spanned the room: Pat's, mine, Eden's, curtain; curtain, baby boy's bed, mom's bed, dad's bed. Four adults and two newborns in one hospital room. (And their extended families most of the next day.... Argh.) It was a frustrating situation, leading me to fight hard to get outta there early, which we did. I know that is a tremendous blessing to be able to do. We were only in the hospital for 37 hours. Total. Including delivery.

And now we're home. Israel is loving his little sister so far, which has brought us to tears a couple of times. He loves to kiss her and "hug" her, and asks to hold her. When she cries, he immediately goes to help her and offers a "cry" of his own for her. It's more than I could expect from him. It may be a little early to tell, but if the last two days have been any sort of indicator, he will be a great big brother.

Thus far, the transition is going well. Israel was well cared-for by Granna and Papaw in our absence, making the whole thing feel pretty...normal. Eden is a good baby thus far and is eating and sleeping well. She has a very soft cry, even when at her angriest, earning her the nickname "Squeaker" from me. She seems pretty easy-going and peaceful and even sleeps in longer stretches at night! (Sticking to the pattern and keeping my fingers crossed.)

Here are a few more pictures and many more are to come, I'm sure. More pictures are available for viewing on our facebook account, here. Check back!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

birthday distortions

So I am now 28 years old. The funny thing is that I have been telling people I am 28 for quite some time and missed most of my more youthful-sounding 27th year. They say forgetfulness comes with the getting older.

Historically, I make a big deal about my birthday. I want my cake. I want a party and presents to unwrap. This year, however, my wish list was stranger: I wanted to breathe through my nose, not be in labor, and to sleep whenever I wanted. I got two and a half of those. Not bad. Plus, Pat bought me a dishwasher with some of our tax money for my birthday. I think I *smiled* with excitement. These last several days (weeks?) have seen me with little energy to do...anything, including being very excited about a dishwasher. Getting a load of laundry through on a given day feels like a great accomplishment. (Speaking of which...the sheets are in the washer! There goes going to bed when I want. I'm glad I I can remember what's really important!) I am glad to have the dishwasher, though, and I think Pat is able to correctly interpret my smile as what would normally be me jumping up and down and clapping my hands.

Three years ago on my birthday, I had Bell's Palsy, which paralyzes half of your face. My smile then was a very strange-looking occurrence, with one side of my mouth curling upward and the other side was merely strung along for the ride. My face looked like this:
when I really meant for it to look like this:
It was rather embarrassing to get excited at that time and I remember trying to just keep a straight face about everything, knowing I looked a bit scary when I attempted a show of emotion. It was very strange not wanting to smile and I felt like a significant part of me had been taken away. I didn't even want to laugh at my own bad puns! There are no guarantees with Bell's Palsy. Sometimes your face returns to normal and other times it's just gonna stay that way. When you get it, you don't know which part of the population you will be. Your face's every expression could be distorted for the rest of your life and you just have to wait and see. Obviously, I was blessed to be part of the you-get-your-face-back group and every now and then I remember just how nice it is to be able to smile like a normal person and recognize my face as a gift.

I would've been so excited to have a day like today for my birthday as a kid. The weather is NICE, (about 60 degrees and sunny) and I can remember only once as a kid being able to go outside in just a jacket on my birthday. This is truly a rare occasion. Also rare is being able to stay home with Pat on a weekday, which I got to do today as well. Give me that combination on a typical day and I will fill the day with all kinds of things to do. However, this year I find myself "keeping a straight face" again and not wanting to do anything particularly grand. This is because I am a wimp. I have had the same whiny cold for over three weeks now and am tired from being pregnant. So when presented with a day on which I could do whatever I wanted, I opted to sleep. I slept in a bit. I took a nice nap. I hope to go to bed early.

I feel like a little part of me has been taken away and I hope to get it back. Of course, this isn't like Bell's Palsy. I know that my condition won't last the rest of my life. I mean, a cold can't REALLY last forever and I'm actually praying that my pregnancy will last at least until next week, even if it means I lose a few hours of wake-time every day until it's over. But since when do I decline birthday cake on my birthday due to a weird-feeling stomach and since when is sleeping on a beautiful day the most enjoyable activity I can think of? I have tried to think of this as going back to my roots; I slept a lot and didn't eat cake on my actual birth-day, after all. But really, it's just not quite like me. It makes me just yearn to feel "normal" again and causes a strange contentment with something small -- like a nice nap.

It's kind of like the day after you have a cold, when inhaling seems like a miracle. (Can't wait for that!)

But in matters greater than my physical state, I have been keenly aware that, as with Bell's Palsy, there are no guarantees in life and people often are presented with conditions that don't just go away. This past week, some friends and I got together for a little prayer time. Our church group has had several problems related to children in the last year or so, ranging from infertility to an infant who died to a couple who had a miscarriage just last week. One of my friends, as a result, wanted to specifically pray for my child to be protected. It was a strange prayer time. Mostly, the three of us there confessed to not being entirely sure what the point of such prayer is. One of the friends praying for me is the friend whose daughter died this year. I have struggled this whole pregnancy with asking God for anything, since so much has been denied my friends. What right do I have to ask God for anything? When I look around me at the terrible and difficult things that have happened to my friends, I just become speechless before God and prayer gets added to the list of things that would take too much energy to do in earnest. I've already fought it out with God once and I really don't have the energy to do it again now. Besides, I know the "answers." So I mutter prayers like, "God, you know what I would want and I know you'll do whatever you want to do anyway, so I'm gonna try not to be anxious about it and trust you." It's a prayer that says, "I trust your Sovereignty in the short term and your Goodness only in the scope of eternity." And it's not entirely like me to be that way -- not in practice. It's me trying to keep a straight face and take a lot of naps.

After choir practice this evening, we had a brief time of prayer for various ones of us in the group. I asked for prayer (because what could it hurt?) that I will not go into labor this weekend while the midwife is away and that I could stop worrying about it. (I don't feel like worrying about it.) One of my friends there prayed for Pat and me, asking that we would have a wonderful labor. It was a simple, short prayer and it made me cry a little. I cried, I think, because I don't have the faith to pray like that right now, but I'm glad someone does. Having just a normal delivery sounds like more of a blessing than I could ask for at this point. I think a part of me would feel guilty if I had one that was anything close to "wonderful." I know not one of my friends who has had difficulty would wish anything but the best for me and my children, but when neither good nor bad seems fair, it seems easier to opt for nothing noteworthy. Of course, I have my wish list for a time frame for labor and for Israel and me to be well and for my mom to have time to get here and for Eden to be healthy and not have colic like Israel did and for nursing to be easy and for enough money to cover the expenses associated with another child and, and, and.... But for now I am hoping I'm not just selling God short in trying to be grateful for nasal spray and Kleenex with lotion.