Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Pushed to the Limit

Don't let this photo fool you, but life with two young children for the past six weeks has been a challenge to say the least. I had been warned by seasoned parents that the transition from 1-2 kids would be exponentially difficult, so I was bracing for it physically, but hadn't anticipated how it would also be emotionally draining. I suppose every parent has a different experience, and no one child is alike, but it seems like the general consensus here is that raising children is no walk in the park. And speaking of, the first time I decided to take the both of them for a walk in the park, my oldest fell flat onto the cement when he refused to listen to me about going uphill. The end result was blood streaming down his nose, in addition to a giant goose egg emerging on his forehead hours later (thankfully he hadn't broken anything).

I laugh uneasily now, looking back and thinking about how I thought that the terrible two's weren't really too terrible with JJ. Since his brother has arrived, we have seen a different side of him that makes us wonder if he had been waiting to unleash this animal at the most inopportune time. My husband and I joke (sometimes seriously) that we want to send him off to boarding school. Though he had always been gentle with other babies, we were in for a surprise when ours came along. What would start off as gentle caressing and kisses turned into grabbing, pulling and head bopping/smacking his poor little brother.  The actions would increase when there were visitors and he sensed that his attention was threatened. Eating on his own, sleeping through the night and having dry diapers in the morning have become past luxuries. We started off by giving him "extra" attention by playing with him or taking him out exclusively. But after seeing little to no improvement, our patience wore thin and we began scolding him, putting him in multiple time-outs and taking toys away. We also tried telling him over and over again that we love him and he is special to us. He must've sensed our bi-polar responses. However, once I felt as though we were moving forward, another event seemed to push us several steps backwards. 

I recall the early weeks when I was nursing the little one, and JJ demanded to have my attention by attacking his little brother. I tried my best to remain calm by attempting to play with him using my other free arm- but he just wouldn't have it and began to cry big tears, causing the baby to cry. I looked at him and began to cry myself, feeling helpless and at a loss for wisdom. There have been a few more similar incidences, resulting in mini breakdowns. This morning was one of them, especially upon hearing that a close relative felt that I couldn't properly teach my toddler how to love his brother..and the events that followed this morning seemed to confirm that statement. 

But just when I feel that I cannot take anymore, the Lord brings a friend or two into my life to give me a sense of hope and encouragement, reminding me that He is there and that he cares. And it is times like these that place me on my knees, crying out in repentance to God for losing it with my child and desperately seeking his wisdom. Being humbled by my own pride, I am reminded that it has been awhile since I've been at this point of desperation for God, needing him every moment of my seemingly mundane day. 

I know it is still too early for us to have "figured out" this whole parenting thing once again (if anyone ever has), but I am learning to take it day by day. My husband told me he recently read about how we will forever be complacent until we are stretched, and though it is painful at the time, it is only then that we grow and experience what the Lord is trying to teach us.  If anything, being a parent has truly brought out the worst (and maybe sometimes best) in me. I guess in hindsight there is something worthwhile that can arise out of all this. We are constantly being refined until the day we die, and knowing that gives me a sense of hope to overcome my daily battles as a parent. 

To the parents of multiples, I have much respect and admiration for you, and this desperate Mama warmly welcomes any advice or suggestions (I am all Googled out, and yes I am too lazy to begin a new book on parenting...don't get me started on the number of unfinished books I have lying around)!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Welcoming Baby Lucas

On April 16th, we welcomed in our second baby boy, Lucas David. His arrival was quite a process, very much unlike the typical textbook labor I experienced with my first labor. What felt like "labor," began a few days prior, with Braxton Hicks occurring sporadically starting early Tuesday morning. The following day resulted in similar contractions that grew stronger, but nothing consistent enough to be labeled as active labor. They were starting to become a nuisance, so I decided to try ignoring them and going about my day. 

The third night, I was awoken by contractions that were beginning to feel slightly painful, causing me to sit up and breath through each one. I woke the husband up once again (I was starting to feel like the boy who cried wolf) to tell him I thought today would really be "the day." He got up with me and we watched "Modern Family" (it has become a tradition with each labor) to take my mind off the contractions. By 4am, they were coming every 5-7 minutes and growing stronger. We ate breakfast and decided to go for a walk to speed things along, stopping to breath during each contraction. After walking for some time, I was beginning to feel exhausted from the lack of sleep the previous nights. We sat down on the park bench and the contractions stopped the entire time I rested. We walked back home and by then, I only had one contraction within 20 minutes. I began to feel frustrated, as each of these contractions seemed to lead to false hope of a real labor. I began to desperately pray that I would not be in "labor" for days on end. 

I decided to take a nap to rest and take my mind off of the contractions and had a few strong ones while I was resting. Afterwards, my husband suggested that I soak in the tub to relax, as that seemed to trigger labor the first time around. We lit candles and played some relaxing piano music, the same playlist I labored to in the past at the hospital. Being in the warm water was soothing and actually helped ease some discomfort during the contractions. I could see why some women choose a water birth, I would too if our hospital provided bathtubs! At this point, my contractions came back feeling stronger and lasting longer than the previous ones. I laid in the tub for what was probably two hours before deciding to get out. When I went outside to talk with my mother (she ended up staying with us to take care of JJ after the first day of false labor), I experienced a few more of the same contractions that didn't enable me to speak. She glanced at the clock and saw that they were coming every 5 minutes, so she went to the yard to call my husband to come back inside. Apparently he was jumping in the jumper with our oldest son, thinking it was false labor once again, so he took his time putting the equipment away. By the time he went inside, I had a big contraction and began to feel the urge to push. He took one look at me and knew it was time to head to the hospital. 

We rushed out of the house as fast as we could, and from what I could remember, the ride there resembled one out of a car chase movie. Since it was late in the afternoon, rush hour had already begun. The husband weaved in and out of lanes and "safely" ran a red. The entire time I was focusing on breathing through the strong contractions and keeping my mind off the pain. I tried visualizing a steady stream with trees all around from Psalm 23 and surprisingly this helped. 

When we arrived at the entrance of the hospital, my husband left the car in the passenger drop-off and we made a mad dash for the elevator. I hobbled into the lobby, which was unusually packed with people. I gave the nurse my name and was pleasantly surprised to see my doctor on call! They gave me one of the last rooms available and the walk from the door to the bed felt like an eternity. After I changed into the hospital gown, the nurse made a comment that the bed wasn't a drop-down delivery bed. I suppose they ran out of rooms, but there was no way I was moving at this point- we would have to manage without the convenience. One of the nurses came in to check me and told us I was 9.5 cm, basically ready to push (the involuntary pushing had already begun). She yelled down the hall to call the doctor in, and several more nurses rushed in. The anesthesiologist came by and asked if I wanted an epidural, which was quite humorous considering the fact that I was about to push, and the epidural would be counterproductive. I graciously declined. Afterwards, one of the nurses stabbed my wrist with a needle and blood came spewing out, as she had hit the wrong nerve a couple of times. I recall her telling me to try and put pressure on it, but my focus was elsewhere. They opted out on the IV. 

By this point I was waiting for them to prop me into the right position to push. They moved my body  diagonally, my legs dangling off the side of the bed. The doctor grabbed her tools and they told me I could officially begin pushing. I was laying flat on my back with my knees propped up, possibly the most uncomfortable pushing position. I was tired of waiting and the thought of going through another contraction made me anxious. I pushed through the first contraction and even harder during the next, and it was then that our already mischievous baby boy made his grand appearance late afternoon. It was instant relief as they placed his little body on my chest to hold for the very first time, something I didn't have the chance to experience with my first due to minor complications. I was in awe, shock and numbness all at once. Unlike what you typically see on the tube, I never felt the mushy-gushy weepy feelings upon seeing my children for the first time. The feelings usually settle in slowly over the weeks, months even. Every experience is unique for each Mama, but still miraculous to witness nonetheless. Giving birth is one of the most challenging experiences (first of many!) a Mama will go through, but the light at the end of the tunnel (literally) bears tremendous blessings.

Its been nearly a month since little Lucas was born, and time has gone by slowly, yet quickly. Being a second-time mama does have its benefits, as you tend to recover sooner and have less anxiety about the things you worried about the first time around. However...the transition going from 1 to 2 can be brutal. We were told that it not only becomes double the work, but it is also exponentially more difficult. And that statement remains true thus far, as we have all been learning to adjust to our new addition (more on that later). 

Challenges aside, it has been rather nice to have this sweet addition to our little family. Seeing the way his older brother interacts with him is heartwarming, though brief (it doesn't take long for his gentle caresses to turn into pinching and squeezing). Being a second sibling does have its advantages though (and cabin fever hit us harder this time around)- this little guy has already seen the likes of Disneyland (don't tell the grandparents!), yummy eateries, a drive-in movie and Target/Costco runs all within the early weeks of his life here in this big bad world...and there are more to come! We feel extremely blessed (and terrified) to be entrusted with yet another one of these precious little ones. 

Some recent photos of our growing family... 
"Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate."

- Psalm 127:3-5

Proud older brother
First drive-in movie with the entire fam!
This is how we do family nap-time
Wonder who was responsible for this?
 Can never get enough of that newborn smile (even if it's involuntary, can we just pretend it isn't?)
JJ found himself a "baby" to take care of too : )
Never wake up a sleeping baby...
I leave you with this endearing quote... { Handwritten by TheGildedPage }

Monday, April 27, 2015

Family Photoshoot Part Deux

 A few weeks ago, we got back together with our amazing friends from F27 Photography  to do another family photoshoot with our now growing family (prior to bebe #2 making his grand appearance!). We've always wanted to do a shoot within the home to make it more personal, and I think they captured our vision beyond our own expectations. The rest of the photos were taken at a local park within miles from our home. 

Friday, March 13, 2015

A Baby Sprinkle Tea Party

After going back and forth about whether to have a baby shower (our first one was fun, but definitely chaotic!), I decided upon hosting a "Baby Sprinkle Tea Party" instead with the help of my sister and some dear friends. It was basically a simplified version of a shower, opting out of games and crowds for a more intimate, women-only guest list (minus the boys already residing in our home). It was a great way for me to gather some of my lady friends together to have one last hurrah before the busyness that lies ahead with a newborn baby.

- Photos taken by various people -
My friend Cindy thought it would be fun to do a quick impromptu photoshoot right before the party- we hadn't taken any photos specifically of the bump this time around, so naturally I agreed. : )

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Babymooning in the Pacific Northwest

Our little family traveled to the Pacific Northwest a little over a week ago as a final getaway before numero dos arrives in a couple of months. We flew into Seattle for a few days to stay with some friends, and then drove down to Portland for the remainder of our trip. It had been awhile since we've visited our friends from the Northwest, so it was a blessing to be reunited again and finally meet their littles. However, as with any travel plans, things never fully go according to plan. And just from the one week we were traveling, both Mike and Little J caught the flu at different times, our rental car was rear-ended by a driver who apparently provided us with false information (thankfully it was just a fender bender and we were all ok), we meandered off into the wrong side of town the first night we arrived in Portland and Little J lost another shoe the last night of our trip (I guess this has become a ritual?). All that was enough to dampen anyone's travel mood.

But aside from the madness that comes with the unpredictability of life, we took things at a slower pace and managed to make the best of our trip. The plus side was that despite its reputation for being gloomy and rainy up north, the sun was shining nearly every day, minus one afternoon with some light rain. The last time I had been to Portland was when I was a tween, so coming back and seeing the changes in the city reminded me of an introverted version of San Francisco, or Williamsburg, Brooklyn. We ended up stumbling upon some unique little stores and delicious eateries in Portland - best part of being in the state of Oregon is that everything is tax-free!

I've included some recommendations below, based on the places we ventured to and ones that were recommended to us by friends and family- and here comes the photo diary...!
Recommendations:

{ Seattle, WA } 

{ Portland, OR }
Eat:

See:

Shop:

Stay:
Central location in front of a cable car station, and the inn offers complimentary passes, as well as breakfast and a Wednesday wine-down hour.