Monday, April 23, 2012

Happy Birthday Ben

It's not just Lilly's World anymore.

One week ago today, I was in the hospital getting ready to welcome my sweet baby boy into the world. Benjamin Nicholas was born at 8:05 am on Monday morning April 16, 2012, at 8 pounds 12 ounces, 21.5 inches. He was a week and a half early.

Early last Monday morning at 3:30 I woke up having intense pains, 3 minutes apart. I think either our new comfy bedding kept me sleeping through the early contractions, or that labor must have come on really quickly. I jumped in the shower and washed my hair before realizing I wouldn't have time to dry it, things were speeding up and intense! I called out to Jon to wake up and call the doctor, and minutes later we were in the car headed to the hospital.

Lilly was with her grandparents for the past week, coming home that night, so we didn't have to worry about her. Every day that she had been gone, I thought I'd have the baby, even though it was early. Finally I was just so ready to come home, that Sunday night when I went to sleep it was the first time I thought: "I won't have the baby for a few more days"; I was so excited to see Lilly the next night, and planned a long list of things to do during the day Monday - grocery shopping, cleaning, filing, etc. Jon had a crazy week, with 5 operations scheduled from Monday to Wednesday. So of course that's when I go into labor.

We arrived at the hospital a little after 4; Jon parked in the parking garage because I didn't just want to get dropped off by myself at the ER. Every contraction was more and more intense, but I was just happy to be in labor. It's funny because through the pregnancy, and especially the past few days of feeling random contractions and other things, I had been pretty whiny and vocal about being uncomfortable, but during the real labor, I think I just breathed through the contractions and everything seemed very manageable - I wasn't yelling or screaming or anything. It took a while to check in at the ER, and by 5 we were upstairs getting into the room. My water broke as I got into the bed, and the pain got a little more intense. After blood work and waiting awhile, I got an epidural. I was 5 cm dilated at 5, and was 6 at 6:30. The nurses said they wouldn't check for awhile, but when my doctor arrived at 7:45 he checked me and I was at 10 cm, ready to push. He came back a few minutes later in scrubs and after 3 big pushes, he told me to stop - the baby was coming out on his own. Within 5 minutes, start to finish, baby Ben was in the world.

I'm awful at pregnancy - mentally, physically, I'm not myself and feel horrible. But apparently I'm great at labor and delivery. Lilly took a little longer from the first contraction to her arrival, but even she just took 20 minutes to push and she was 9 pounds 8 ounces.

It took a little while to get the cord blood banking stuff done, and the nurses were cleaning Ben, and finally they handed me my little boy.

Lilly was driving back from Savannah with her grandparents, and arrived at the house late that night. Jon brought her to the hospital the next day to meet her brother. She was thrilled.

Lilly is the best big sister. She's adjusted so well; we had a picture waiting at the house when she arrived that I had drawn (stick figures) of Mommy, Daddy, Lilly and Ben - and for Lilly it's just that easy - this is our family, Ben belongs here, and she's going to take care of her little brother. She's enjoyed taking on extra responsibilities - in fact she loves it - going to get his pacifier, giving him bottles and burping him, making sure she knows where he is at all times.

Ben is the sweetest little boy. I can't tell who he resembles yet but he looks a lot like Lilly did at the beginning (which looks nothing like her now) - but he has dark eyes, huge sweet lips, and the softest skin. He feels so little compared to her though - she was just a little bigger and he's so long and skinny, he feels more fragile. He's been doing great though, adjusting to life outside - he's on somewhat of a regular eating/sleeping schedule, although he likes to be up late at night like he was in my belly. He is definitely loud when he's uncomfortable (wet diaper, hungry, etc) - but we are in love yet again and are grateful that God has blessed us with two perfect children.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Learning and growing

Lilly writing her letters.

Lilly's haircut and first blow dry! My mom took her in Atlanta this week.

As we approach the birth day of our new little one (sometime in the next week), I can't help but look back at the past almost 6 years with my first little one, and express such extreme gratitude.

I remember the day she was born, and the doctors being concerned that she had Down syndrome. And me, the very first thing I noticed about her, being her beautiful pink lips and all the kisses we'd get from her, and all the potential and mystery locked within her.

She has not disappointed us, she's been amazing. All babies, all kids really, are amazing. But sometimes I feel like kids with "special needs" have to prove themselves a little more to the outside world. But not to their mamas.

What a smart, beautiful, sweet girl I have. But when she was born, I didn't know what she could do. I thought she'd have limits - but she's surprised me that she doesn't.

Last week, we went out for pancakes, just she and I. And at the pancake house, she started drawing stick figure pictures, as she usually does, of a family. And she drew the mommy and wrote "Momoy" underneath. I've never seen her write letters independently (aside from her own name), let alone spell things by memory. Then she drew the Lilly and Daddy and wrote "Lilly" and "Dady." Then she drew a circle in mommy's tummy and wrote "BHI" for Ben, her soon to be little brother. Blew me away - we've never talked about how to spell the baby's name, I had no idea she knew Ben started with a B but she knew it. And then of course she drew and spelled perfectly Elmo and then her friends Ethan, Wyatt, and Hiwot from school, and her cousin Julianne (spelled JuHIJK I think).

She's doing these things, and she's 5. She's in pre-K, getting ready for Kindergarten in the fall. And she's drawing and writing and spelling, and remembering and learning and being proud of herself.

I thought there would be delays, and there are some. But I didn't realize that there wouldn't be delays as well; that many things she can just pick up on and do. Or if we take the time to teach her a little extra, or in a different way, that she'd learn everything.

We had a parent teacher conference the other week and I was amazed by all that her teacher told us about what Lilly can do, what she knows. And the funny thing is, any time she'd tell us something that Lilly has a harder time with - like her attention span during story time - Jon would pipe up and say that he can't pay attention either. Or when she looks closely at her work when she writes - she actually has perfect vision but is imitating her mom because my vision is bad and I write that way. Sometimes she likes to pop into the principal or office staff's offices to say hi, and the teacher is trying to teach her you can't just go in unannounced - and Jon shared me with after how he does that with his colleagues at work.

Everything she can do we attribute to her just being an amazing hard-working kid - and all her hardships are actually brought on by her less-than-perfect parents.

We are so in love with our girl, and can't wait to meet our new little boy who will undoubtedly make us fall in love with him in just the same ways. I can't wait to see big sister and little brother as we become an even more perfect family. I feel blessed.