Monday, July 25, 2011

Transitioning and Adjusting

There are two new buzz words in our house lately - transitioning and adjusting. Everyone who talks about the new baby ends up using one of those buzz words, and I get the sneaking suspicion they're talking about me.

I love that new baby. I squeal and get in her face and kiss her and sing to her and bring her toys. She's something special. BUT I also have been having a lot of bathrooming issues, whining issues, direct defiance moments (a first for me!), and a specific problem with keeping my bowel movements under control while I'm swimming...

When we pulled up to Mom and Dad's house one night, I told Nana, "This is where Mommy and Daddy and Baby Reese live!" and later, when it was time to decide if we were spending the night at home or at Nana's house, I told Mom, "I go to your house with you because I Reese's sister. And Eggie come too because she my sister too." Nana figured out that what I was really wondering about is if that baby took my place and if I was supposed to live at Nana's from now on. Once they explained things a bit more to me, I understood and things have been slowly getting better... especially if I get to be close to Reese. Mom's not the pull. Dad's not the pull. My house isn't the pull. It's that spectacular new sister that I miss when I'm away from her.

No one expects the two-almost-three year old to adjust perfectly right away, but I'm working on it, and it helps that life at Nana and DD's is so special - swimming in my jammies or princess dresses, breakfast by the pool, visitors (great-grandparents!), birthdays to celebrate, and lots of attention to go around.

Kate Transitioning McClinton

Monday, July 18, 2011

Introducing Reese Suzanne

Reese Suzanne McClinton
July 13, 2011
10:34 am
7 pounds, 12 ounces
18 inches

There is so much more to say, but I am staring at a blank computer screen, wondering what words are big enough and happy enough to share about our Baby Reese. It's humbling to have been given such a piece of heaven.

As the nurses were transferring me from the post-op room, one of them looked at me and said, "Well, if I've ever seen someone glowing before..." It's an odd thing, I think - aren't most new moms a bit euphoric from the drugs and the new baby happiness? But it was so true - in all of my life, I've never felt such a sense of peace, happiness, and completeness - I have three absolutely unique, perfect, healthy girls. I am unable to even describe the way Reese makes me feel. She is so wholly a McClinton and yet has such a uniquely Reese look to her. She is the missing puzzle piece to our family, and until we met her, we could only guess what it would be like. Now we can hold her and love her and know.

There are a lot of things I hope I remember later about Reese's birth:

*The week before my surgery, my doctor went into labor and had her baby. After a bit of scrambling, the practice assigned me a new doc to do my surgery. I'd heard good things about her, but was still a little unsure of how my nerves would go with a stranger in the OR with me. When we walked in on Wednesday morning, low and behold... in struts my doctor, 8 days post-partum, suited up for surgery and looking about as energetic and bright-eyed as ever. She completed my surgery beautifully (with another doctor in the room with her, I'm guessing as a precaution), although apparently I was concerned about her memory, because I found out later that I asked her three times if she was remembering to tie my tubes (she says she did).

*There is something very unsettling about voluntarily walking into an operating room, but the surgery was quicker and easier than even Kate's. I think I was in and out in 30 minutes flat, and I listened to my iPod during the second half of the procedure and was even able to sleep.

*Once Reese was cleaned up, her doctor noticed she grunted while she was breathing. To us, she looked like the most robust of the McClinton babies, but he was able to discern that her breathing was labored and kept her in the nursery for several hours to watch her. I've never had to wait to meet one of my babies (I met both of the other two in the recovery room), but I knew it happens from time to time. I started getting nervous, though, when we were rapidly approaching the 6 hour cut off. If Reese didn't self-correct her breathing in 6 hours' time, she would be taken to NICU to be intubated for at least 12 hours. Her long-term health was never called into question, but the sheer thought of sending her away before I ever met her and of pumping rather than nursing was more than I wanted to consider. At 4:15, 15 minutes before the cut off, I called down to the nursery. They said she hadn't shown any signs of improvement and were about to call her doctor to get the orders to transfer her to NICU. I texted a friend to pray for us, and she sent back a prayer immediately. Not 5 minutes later, the nurse walked in WITH MY BABY. While they were on the phone with the doctor, Reese's grunting completely disappeared. It is apparently somewhat common for babies to heal themselves after about 6 hours, but for us, it was nothing short of God's perfect timing and intervention.

*Recovery this time around has been a bit slower. Both times before, I felt completely normal within a day of the surgery. This time, on day two I started getting horrible tension headaches and my body reacted poorly to the pain medicine they gave me. I spent Thursday through Saturday in a fog. Luckily my parents and Jordan stepped in and required that I do very little but sleep and nurse the baby. I woke up Sunday morning feeling much better, but am still obeying the advice of those who love me not to do "too much" (what is "too much", anyways?:))

*The big sisters are amazing with Reese. Avery has stepped up to the challenge and I cannot even believe how well she is handling the whole event. Kate is a doll and loves her new sister but is having adjustment issues of her own. But that's a whole different story that I'll wait and tell another day...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

All About Eggie

Our precious Eggie (who does NOT prefer that nickname) is almost 5, will be starting Kindergarten in a short month, and is completely, whole-heartedly, unabashedly herself. The same feisty spirit we brought home from the hospital 5 years ago and the same nurturing gentleness that has played baby dolls since she was old enough to carry them around still reside in our growing girl. We adore our Avery and all of the many facets of her personality. A few favorites of Eggie as an almost-5-year-old:

*Avery as Daddy's Playmate and Counterpart

Jordan has finally found his buddy. I mean, he and I are best friends, but there are some things we've just accepted are never going to be common interests. Rough housing, bug-exploring, and excessive teasing, to name a few. But now that Avery is getting old enough to play, she and Jordan spend lots of time giggling over silly games they make up. She loves it when he dares her to do something (most recently: eat crickets), when he 'surprises' her with tickles and growls, and especially when he is her pool-time buddy. The two of them spend hours coming up with games like falling into the pool from a chair backwards, talking to each other from under water, and underwater chase. It brings me such joy to watch them interact. We've always teased Jordan that his middle name is Danger (maybe it'd be more accurate to call him Adventurous), and I'm pleased to say that Avery has certainly inherited this part of his personality.

*Avery as our Out-of-the-Box Thinker

It has been evident from a young age that Avery is not the classic textbook child. What works with other children usually does not work with her, and not only because she's a strong-willed child. When being disciplined, Avery has an uncanny ability to look at a situation in a unique way and explain why she is still right, or to come up with a way to show us that even if we've won the battle, she plans to win the war. She's kept us on our toes from the very beginning in terms of discipline, but now that she's older, we're getting to see the beautiful side to her out-of-the-box, creative, but somehow also analytical thinking as well. There are so many instances where we look at her and wonder, "Who taught you that? How could you have possibly deduced that?" But a favorite moment of late that highlights her unique perspective happened when my mom bought her a Kindergarten-readiness book. The book mostly is fun for her, but a few of the activities made her very indignant. The book required Avery to place events in order, and she absolutely could not see how there was any one right answer. Who is to say, she argued, that the story starts when the child in the images wakes up? What if it is night time? Then wouldn't the order go: sleep, wake, play? Who got to decide that the story started in the morning? Watching her argue her point with clarity and resolve made me think of all the teachers my parents had to meet with to explain why I answered questions the way I did. It's coming for us. And we're up for the challenge!

*Avery as our Social Butterfly

Our girl's love language could not be more clear: quality time. Avery would rather sit in the same room as me and watch me read or clean a room than find a way to play on her own. She loves loves loves her playgroup friends and is always thinking of a way to include more people in any activity.

*Avery as our Planner

In some ways, Avery is so much like her mother - whether because of Nature or Nurture, we don't know. But like Mother, like Daughter. She's already planned out her next 3 birthday parties (subject to change, of course) and loves to talk about the big activities we have coming up. We have a Family Fun Time every night and Avery finds incredible joy in planning the week's activities for us. She plans out playdates with a box of activities to go through. She loves to look forward to pretty much anything and to have an idea of what is coming her way.

*Avery as our Nurturer

Avery is primarily passionate, and it plays out so sweetly when it comes to others. She's able to turn her passion into compassion and love working itself out in helpfulness and nurturing. I love to marvel at her ability to turn it on. It's beautiful to know that inside that larger-than-life spirit, there is larger-than-life love and compassion.

Click here for pictures of the week, including an impromptu 4th of July trip to Lockhart with Nana and DD and Big Sibling class at the hospital

Monday, July 4, 2011

Regarding A-Little-Bit

Our Katie.

Kate has done so much growing and changing lately, and there are parts of her right now that I think I'll never forget because they are the essence of who she is... but the details of what makes Kate our Kitty Bit are so fleeting. I can't know when she's going to call her sister Eggie for the last time or tell us her name is NOT Peanut Butter McClinton. Here are things I don't want to forget about our Kate at 2 and 3/4 years old:

*A-Little-Bit (said: "Ah-Widdah-Bit")
Kate likes to play princesses. She usually comes downstairs dressed in a princess dress and then she tells us, "I Mulan!" or "I Pocahontas!" or "I Ariel (or Melody)!" It's a good thing she tells us, because the dress never matches the character.
When she's done playing, though, she lets us know by telling us, "I reg-er (regular) Kate." This is my favorite: if we catch her in that moment, we can ask her, "Are you Kate Peanut Butter McClinton?" And her response is priceless: "NO! I Kate A-Widdle-Bit Ah-Kwinton." I think I love it more than anything else about her right now. Whether she's trying to pronounce her middle name or whether she genuinely thinks her middle name is A-Little-Bit, I don't know. But hearing her state her name with such authority and certainty always gets a grin... usually a full-on laugh.

*Discipline, Laughter, and how personality plays into it
Which brings me to my next thought on Kit. It took Kate until she was 2 1/2 to realize she was two at all and to start acting out some. And even now, Jordan and I will often have to remind each other, "Avery would've gotten corrected for that behavior." Because when Kate does it, there is such a playful nature to her disobedience and it tends to throw us off. If we've asked her to do something, she will usually comply (which is still sort of shocking to us - children who obey with little correction? What is this?). But when she doesn't, she adds a little comic act to her disobedience - like sticking her tongue out and talking baby talk instead of responding appropriately or pinching our lips into funny shapes while we try to talk to her. We've always thought Kate had perfect comedic timing for such a little squirt, but the more she's grown, the more she's grown into it. There are instances when Jordan and I have to trade off on disciplining because we're having such a hard time keeping a straight face.

*More on Comedic Timing
Avery taught Kate recently how to hide when you know someone is coming. They laid under the sheets when they heard us, and sure enough, Jordan came in and rewarded them with tickles. Now, any time Kate knows someone might be coming, she hides under the blankets. Her patience with this game is remarkable. She was waiting in bed the other day for someone to bring her an Ooh Ooh, and a good 3-5 minutes had to have passed. When I walked in (too quietly for her to have heard me), I saw a little lump under the sheets... wiggling a good bit, but completely covered and hiding. There was no reason for her to expect me in that moment, so she must've committed herself to hiding until someone came, no matter how long it took. She is willing to go to some great lengths for a good laugh - her own and ours, too.

It's hard to believe that a few short months ago we started seeing our OT, Miss Darlene. Kate is our super-star eater these days (the weight gain doesn't always follow... but that's another story). We started rewarding the girls for trying new food items with temporary tattoos, and it is common for Kate to have roughly 4 tattoos on at any given time. She is completely open to new flavors now and recently devoured a raw orange bell pepper. Her favorite meals are at restaurants, when she can load up on critical calories from favorites like rice and beans, mac and cheese, onion rings, and of course, french fries. I'm constantly amazed at how far she's come in the eating department and how much she can fit into her tiny tot body when she's motivated.

*Loving Eggie
When the girls are having trouble getting along, it is a full-time task to correct and guide their play. But, most often, those two are inseparable. Kate is perfectly happy to play second fiddle to Avery's wild notions most of the time. The last time the girls spent the night with my parents, we got this message about bedtime: "After snuggling Avery off of the bed twice; Kate: 'But Eggie is my sweetheart!' Avery: 'I don't think this is going to go well!'" Yep, that just about sums it up.

*With Cousin Amelia
One of Kate's favorite people to spend time with is her cousin Amelia, and of late, the feeling has been mutual. Amelia (almost 2) calls Kate 'Keats' and asks her Mommy, "Keats...More?" Keats, for her part, loves to hug Amelia (sometimes a bit too much), nap with Amelia, and trade places with Amelia (it is often that the 2 year old acts more like a 3 year old and Keats takes on the role of Terrible 2 when the cousins are all together).

*Refusing to Be Forgotten
Kate may be about to take her very distinguished role as middle child, but she is not going to be forgotten there. Her gentle, unassuming personality has a very silly, assertive side to it. When she notices that she's not getting the full measure of attention she has deemed necessary, she'll break out in baby talk, in peek-a-boo with a napkin, or in a myriad of other adorable but demanding ways to clarify... it's as if she's saying, "I'm easy to get along with and generally fine with not being the Alpha, but I'm also not going to get walked over by anyone!" We're so glad, really, because one of her teacher's goals for us at the end of the last school year was for Kate to practice asserting herself more. She's gotten really good at that lately, and I love watching it because when she turns to share her boundaries with another child, it conjures up images of a chihuahua taking on a pit bull. No one tell that girl she's tiny... only Tiny but Mighty!

I could go on and on about this kid. She's my favorite anomaly to try to describe: shy but loves attention, tiny but ferocious in eating, fully two but somehow primarily obedient...

Kate A-Little-Bit McClinton, I could eat you up I love you so!