Friday, October 24, 2008

Josiah at Home

Here is the continuation of my recordings of our fourth child, Josiah!

Before Josiah was born, my husband and I had decided that due to my husband's deep dislike of staying the night in the hospital (uncomfortable bed, lack of privacy, etc.) that he would go home to spell the grandparents and sleep there with our older three rather than stay with the new baby and I. Before Josiah was born, I was all for this. I thought to myself: I've done this newborn thing before- it's just one night and the nurses will be there to help, right? And Bob will really enjoy being at home. While the nurses were as attentive as they should have been and we didn't really have a "rough night", I probably won't request a repeat of this method. I missed having someone to help me celebrate our baby's first night. I think Bob did really enjoy being at home, though, and I'm glad for that.

Here's our sweet guy during his first week at home. Yes, he's a little jaundiced, I think. When he was super new, he loved having his hands up by his face like this. When he was born, his umbillical cord was wrapped twice around his neck and I wondered in the days after he came to live with us if he had been used to holding onto it somehow inside of me.

Josiah came into the world to join three older siblings; Daniel, Michael and Mercy. It's been so fun to watch their different personalities and how they have each gotten to know Josiah in their own ways.

Mercy, our baby girl, became the big sister as all older girl siblings do when a new baby comes home. She has shown us in so many ways that she enjoys her role as a Little Mommy to Josiah. In those first few days she charmed us by commenting in her own little voice about each of Josiah's tiny features.

"Look at his tiny nose! And see his tiny ears!" she would squeak to us.

While she was enthralled with the new baby at her house, the changes that same new baby brought caused her no small difficulties as we all adjusted to being a family of six. Here she is showing us her baby in the cradle Bob's dad made for us when Daniel was born.

At 7 lbs. 6 ozs. Josiah was my smallest baby. While that made for a fairly easy birth and recovery for me, I think it played a part in the nursing difficulties we had during his first two months. During his first month, he didn't gain correctly and I was SO sore. Josiah didn't seem unhappy or extra hungry but my doctor was concerned about him and as my milk supply began to diminish I began to take some more drastic measures to ensure that Josiah would thrive.

In this case, drastic measures meant spending most of my time either pumping to increase my supply or trying to teach Josiah to latch correctly. (AND setting my alarm to wake him up during the night to make sure he was eating enough- at 4 and 5 weeks he would often sleep right through if we let him!) And that's where things went south for Mercy! I was so not available for anyone but Josiah during those first two months. I did have some super little helpers, though.

As much as I wanted to be able to nurse my little man, I loved the early bonding that took place between Michael and Josiah. Oh and don't mistake the look on Daniel's face for boredom. Oh no! He's engrossed in Daddy's reading of one of the Narnia books. Much too engrossed to smile for this picture.

Daniel helped with Josiah too! This is how it would work: I would try to nurse Josiah. I would give Josiah to Daniel who would feed him a bottle that I had prepared during the previous feeding time. Then I would spend 15-20 minutes with a rented hospital grade pump. This process, including several interruptions to live the rest of my life with four children, took an hour or so. And then we would do it again about an hour later. I don't know who was the more thankful when the doctor said I could stop pumping around the clock, me or the kids. Well, probably me, but the kids were really excited when I told them Josiah had gained enough weight for us to stop that whole crazy process.

Thankfully, my other three babies nursed very well. I was totally unprepared for how awful not being successful at nursing made me feel. Now I can relate to women who have to try day after day to get their tiny baby to latch correctly, only to have him fall asleep because he's weak from not getting enough milk to begin with. I wondered if I would have to stop trying to nurse. I know there are worse things, there really are, but I wanted to br**st feed this baby so much!

Other techniques I tried to help Josiah to eat correctly included using the football hold when nursing as well as trying a nipple shield. In retrospect, what helped the most was time. That, and pumping often to maintain a good milk supply.

When Josiah was about 10 weeks old, nursing began to improve tremendously. He was able to latch correctly on both sides and I was able to gradually begin nursing him in the "regular" position. (The football hold is super annoying to me and during the process I wondered if I'd ever nurse him across my lap like I had with my other babies. ) I was able to stop supplementing his feedings with bottles given by my little helpers. I stopped getting up at night to feed this little man who wanted to sleep for 6 or 7 hours. Thanks to some very good advice from my lactation consultant aunt, I've concluded that his mouth was just too small to get a good latch at first. Thanks Aunt Linda! Hooray for your sound and practical encouragement!


Post Script: Josiah continues to be our only baby who will take a bottle willingly if he has the pleasure of remaining with Daddy for the evening while I meet a friend at Starbucks. Hooray for that too!

Monday, October 20, 2008

3+1= 4

So here is my first post about Josiah.

I'll try to give a few little snapshots of what our family is like at this time and how it's been throughout the pregnancy. Like I said in my last post, I'm trying to record Josiah's life so far. This may not be the most interesting, polished reading material you come across today. As I write this I'm trying to remind myself of my goal here: to record and document. Maybe I'll do more creative stuff with it later.

So let's set the stage here.
It's mid March 2008. I look like this... oh boy.

Our kids look like this: (This is a favorite activity. Playing "armies".)

And this is the history of babies in the Montgomery family, so far:

Daniel is born
20 months later, Michael is born
18 months later Mercy is born
16 months later we miscarry Sparrow, a baby we lose early on in the pregnancy
11 months later Baby #4 is due

All that to explain that the age difference between Mercy and Baby #4 is the longest. And as I prepare to give birth to this new family member, I'm excited about how much older Mercy will be in comparison to how old Michael was when she was born. It really isn't that big of a difference when I think about it now but it was definitely something I was thinking about then...

I was also thinking about our homeschool co-op. I was in the midst of my 6 week teaching unit. My due date happened to be before the end of the unit. Part of me was really hoping to finish teaching before I had my baby. I won't go in to detail about what the other part of me was thinking because it might seem ungrateful to the women who gracefully took my place as teacher for the last two weeks of my unit.

The whole pregnancy seemed more difficult to me than previous pregnancies. I'm pretty sure that's a grass-is-greener perspective. Or it may have been that there were three kids to care for rather than two. Thankfully, I wasn't on any bedrest during this pregnancy. I didn't have any freak bleeding situations. (And I won't describe them or things like them at this time. Just in case you were concerned.) There was the time when I had to be rehydrated in the hospital due to too much morning/all the time sickness but after about week 16 or so, I felt much better. If I'm being accurate about this pregnancy, I shouldn't make light of the morning sickness part. The fact is that I have really bad all the time sickness for the first half of each pregnancy. Ick. But I know women who are that sick for the entire pregnancy too. I'm going to move on from that subject now. It's too icky.

Other important flavors of this particular pregnancy include:

-We don't know the gender of our baby
-Up until the 20 week ultrasound I'm really hoping I'm carrying twins (it would be more efficient, wouldn't it?)
-The 20 week ultrasound shows some kind of abnormality in my uterus that is "watched" afterwards
-I'm seeing a different doctor than my pregnancy with Mercy and he is a man- a first for me
-I'm planning on delivering about 10 minutes away from our house and I'm happy about that
-Daniel thinks we will have a girl so that it will be "even" in our family. Three boys and three girls including Mommy and Daddy.
-This baby is extremely active!

When I'm within a few days of my due date, my doctor suggests the possibility of inducing labor. Both Michael and Mercy were born that way and I'm all for it. I feel a little funny about it only because I don't feel as enormous as I remember feeling at 9 months with the other three. I'm not quite as uncomfortable as I remember. I wonder if the baby is big enough. And whether I should just finish my teaching unit first. But we schedule Grammy and Grandad to come help with the kids and put the date on the calendar. It's two days away!

Oh, we don't have a name yet. Bob and I are really bad at picking names. He comes up with lots of good names. I just don't like them.

To make this long story shorter, I'm going to stop writing about the details and bring in the pictures.

Here he is! Josiah Thomas Montgomery is born!

At 7lbs 8ozs, he is my smallest baby. Both Michael and Mercy were a whole pound bigger. Daniel was two pounds bigger at birth.

The umbilical cord had a knot in it and it was wrapped around his neck twice. God protected him from harm all throughout the pregnancy and during labor as well, to bless us with this sweet tiny boy.

Oh, how I love the day my children are born!

More to come...


Friday, October 17, 2008

A Short Season

Chubby hands wave wildly, grasping for the spoon. Josiah's mouth is open, expectantly. It's time for our fourth child to begin joining us at the dinner table in his high chair. He's six months old. Daniel and Michael wiggle around in their own big boy places. Mercy sits sideways in her chair. Her little glass of water is in constant danger of spilling.

After his first bite, everyone takes turns giving Josiah a spoonful of rice cereal, cheering for him and the funny faces he makes. We've done this three times already, the First Solid Foods Ritual. But it's all brand new again with each child. And I love that about it.

The second most common thing I hear from strangers when I'm with my children at the grocery store is this:

"They grow up so fast! I remember when mine were that small!"

(The first most common thing is a comment on the amount of and/or spacing of our kids. Unless I'm carrying Josiah in the wrap my mother-in-law and I made out of a twin sheet. Then I get all kinds of comments or just plain stares. Sometimes I have to look down and make sure that the sheet is indeed a simple, pleasing yellow color, not the Strawberry Shortcake sheets I could have used. Come on, people. Wraps aren't that uncommon. Maybe they are staring at something else...)

As a mommy to four small children, I often have to remind myself of the brevity of this season we are in as a family. If I try hard, I can imagine myself as that woman in the Fred Meyer chatting to a harried mom of two toddlers about how "before you know it they will be asking for your car keys!" But only if I try really hard. Generally, I don't because I'm using the imagining part of my brain to pretend to be a rider in Michael's semi truck and a fellow subject with Mercy of Daniel's kingdom, all while I'm accomplishing some household task. Or imagining that I'm accomplishing said task.

But back to Josiah. A brief 7 months ago, I sat in our hospital room and took pictures of his tiny features.

Now, I watch these toes push and poke as Josiah learns to crawl. I squish them into moccasins meant for smaller babies.

Why am I blogging?

Because time is passing.

Josiah is starting solids. Daniel will be six going on seven in a little over a week. In between are Michael and Mercy; signs of the stages we've passed through and of the ones we'll visit again soon. There are parts of me that look ahead with the desperation of a mommy with her "hands full" to the day when all the kids will buckle their own seatbelts in the car. Other parts of my mommy mind are on autopilot each day. "We just have to make it until naptime," they sigh to each other.

Recording the finer moments of this short season reminds me to put all of those selfish thoughts aside. Focusing on the sweetness of these passing days helps me to remember my calling here: to love my husband and children, to be self-controlled, pure, kind and submissive to my own husband, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:4-5 ESV)

If you are reading this, you probably already know the short people in my life and are hoping for a picture or two. Capturing these passing moments on what used to be film is one of my favorite little hobbies. You won't be disappointed! (Well you might be, if you are hoping for a super good fertografer because I'm not one of those people.)

I'm going to start by focusing on Josiah's first 6 months until I catch up to what he's doing now. I"ll try to throw a little of the older kids in as well because they do funny things. After that, we'll see what happens...