Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Delaney goes to the dentist

Who remembers their very first dental checkup?  I can recall bits and pieces of my own: mom taking me there; sitting in a chair that moved up and down; a cheerful, pretty and gentle -- yes, gentle, I miss those days -- hygienist cleaning my teeth and talking to me.  I don't remember much about mine, but I will never forget Delaney's.

You can't see too well in this picture, but Delaney is holding a certificate that proclaims her a cavity-free member of the Cavity Fighter's Club.  (This is amazing for two reasons: 1. Delaney is not a good brusher, and her mouth has never seen floss; and 2.  These people were permitted to see the inside of her mouth and take an x-ray.) The sticker in the middle of her chest has her name on it.  She is also sporting a red heart sticker that says, "Dr. Jones loves me and my teeth."  In the bag is a bouncy ball, a Dora toothbrush, and a little tube of toothpaste (that has Spongebob on it, but I'll forgive them that).

I took her to Camp Tooth, right down the street in the Town of Quantico.  I probably would never have thought to take her to a dentist in Q-Town, but a friend of mine had recently taken her three-year-old son there and recommended it.

The outside of the office gave me a good first impression, not like the rest of Q-Town at all.  It was very welcoming.  Inside, there was a spacious carpeted waiting area with a lot of books and toys.  I was given three pages of paperwork to fill out.  I expected that Delaney would want to go play with the toys and books, but instead she clung to me, crying, "I don't want to go to the dentist."  This didn't surprise me, and honestly, I didn't have high hopes for today being a successful checkup.  I just wanted her to become familiar with the dental office, and the idea of going there.  That was the best I could hope for, but now I was beginning to doubt that we would last another five minutes.  She was so sad and scared, big crocodile tears running down her face.

Then another woman in the waiting room spoke up, telling Delaney about how nice the dentist was, and how she was going to get balloons, and get to pick out her own toy, and how her kids liked it here.  I was so grateful for that woman, because Delaney listened to her and her mood brightened instantly.  She began dancing around the room, answering her questions about shows she liked to watch, about being a big sister, and all kinds of things.  Within a few minutes, Delaney watched a little boy emerge from a door with balloons and a bag of goodies, a big smile on his face.  A crisis was averted!

Finally Delaney's name was called, and we were led to a small meeting room with glass walls and two doors -- the door leading in from the waiting area, and the door leading to back there.  We were told that Dr. Jones and a nurse would be in to see us shortly.  It began to dawn on me that taking a kid to their first dental checkup is a real process.  Within ten seconds, the door from back there opened, and in came Dr. Jones like a shot of caffeine.

I barely noticed the nurse who came in with him, because Dr. Jones was talking a mile a minute about how much fun Delaney was going to have, how she was going to pick her own flavor of toothpaste, and get balloons, on and on.  He had an infectious and high-pitched laugh that made me think of Little Richard when he'd heard the funniest joke ever.  I felt like we had just arrived at a party, and soon I was smiling and laughing too.  Then I glanced down at Delaney, and saw the wary look on her face, like, 'I fail to see what's so darn funny about any of this.'

With a little coaxing, the nurse led Delaney through the door back there, and it was just Dr. Jones, Annie and myself.  Sometimes Dr. Jones would look at her and say, "AnnaLISE!"  the same way I do sometimes.  She just stared, like 'Mister, you are crazy.'  Dr. Jones gave me some literature, telling me as he did so that in the course of talking with him, I was going to hear one word again and again.  You all know the word: "FLOSSING."  Still, when he said it, I felt my eyes grow big and round.  He laughed and said, "Yeah, I get that look all the time, like 'We're talking about a two-year-old here!'"  He chatted with me a few more minutes, telling me about how he has four (now grown) kids of his own, so he understands.  He turned on a video and left me to watch it.

The video was all about flossing, and was produced by Dr. Jones and some of his staff.  I watched it, and did my best to keep Annie happy with snacks and a drink.  In the video a nurse held a little boy's head under her arm and flossed his teeth while the boy said, "Ah..AH.. AAAH!"  From time to time I heard some yelling coming from back there, and it sounded like Delaney.  I saw that the door to back there had a peephole.  I pressed my eyeball against it, but I couldn't see anything.  Maybe the peephole was for them to watch me, and make sure I was watching the video and not using my cellphone.

The video was over in about 15 minutes, and Annie and I were free to go back to the waiting room.  We waited for perhaps 15 more minutes, and then a young woman in scrubs came to take me on a tour of back there.  I saw the sterilization room, the x-ray room, and the large sunny room full of examination tables, and big bay windows with toys, blocks and books.  In one of the bay windows, another woman in scrubs held Delaney on her lap and talked to her.  Delaney was holding her balloons and goody bag already, and only looked a little uncomfortable.  She didn't see me right away, but when she did, she smiled and waved.  I waved, and and as the woman led me back out a door, I was relieved that Delaney didn't protest.  I thought, 'How strange that they let her see me before they turn her back over to me.'  I was also shown another wing for adults.

Annie and I were left once again in the tiny meeting room where we had watched the video.  Dr. Jones soon came through the door to give me Delaney's "report card."  He said, "I have good news and bad news."  The good news, as you already know, was no cavities.  Yay!  Delaney received a B for brushing (I would have given her a D) and a B for gum health.  It was noted that she had shed a few "age appropriate" tears during her examination and cleaning.  (Tim, your tears at your last checkup were NOT age appropriate.)

The bad news is: We need to start saving for braces.  Delaney's x-rays appeared on the video monitor, and Dr. Jones showed me what I could clearly see -- her  bottom front two adult teeth are beginning to grow in behind her baby teeth.  Not only that, but they are monstrously large.  "Do you think those guys are gonna fit in there?"  he asked.  We both exclaimed in unison, "Noooooo!"  He had noted on her report card a "future space concern."  He says that it is pretty common for adult teeth to come in behind baby teeth, happening 80% of the time.  I didn't know that.

 At last we were all done, and a nurse brought me my darling girl proudly holding her goody bag and balloons.  The nurse told me, "I didn't even know she could talk until I was playing with her afterward."  Really?  Would  that be the result of the tranquilizer you gave her to make her sit in that chair and open her mouth?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Happy birthday, Annalise!

Annalise's birth


I went to bed between 10 and 11 the night of May 18, 2009, four days before my due date.  I came downstairs at least two times that night, ravenous and needing to pee.  Twice I sat on the couch, dejectedly eating a slice of whole wheat bread and wishing the gnawing hunger would go away.  Tim actually took a picture of me like that, bread in one hand, holding my belly with the other, with a look on my face that says, 'I've had it!'  I'd have posted it here, but unfortunately I'm not wearing enough clothing in it to make it share-able.  Finally I slept, deeply and dreamlessly.
At 2:30 a.m.  I woke up because I felt something and was like, 'What is this?'  I felt it again, a heavy pressure down in my pelvis and achiness in my back.  And my inner thighs felt very sore, almost burning.  But I didn't right away think I was in labor, because I'd been waking up with all sorts of aches and pains for weeks now.  That's if I managed to get to sleep in the first place! 
Soon the sensations drove me out of bed, and I found myself pacing and leaning against the mattress.  I was completely caught off guard, but after a few minutes I started trying to time them.  I didn't have anything with a second hand, but I estimated these were two minutes apart.  I woke up Tim and told him, "I think it's my birthing time."  (our Hypnobabies programming replaces the term "labor" with "birthing time.")  I told him what I was feeling, but I was still unsure.  He said "OK," hopped out of bed, made the bed, and said, "I'm going to get in the shower before you need it."  We both had supposed there would be time for me to spend laboring in the shower before heading to the hospital.  We wanted to spend as little time there as humanly possible before she was born, and I remembered how much the shower had soothed me when I was in labor with Delaney.
While he was in the shower, I realized these pressure waves were coming at me one on top of the other.  I was trying to use my hypnosis, but I didn't even feel like I had time to stop and take breaths and get focused.  I was also very shaky and shivery, and this made me think, 'Could I be in transformation (transition) already?'  Impossible!  This was less than 15 minutes after I'd woken up.  The hospital was 30 minutes away, and we had not yet called my sister-in-law Karen to come stay at the house for Delaney.  But I still had a little bit of doubt, so when Tim came out of the shower, I told him this was the plan:  I wanted to see if this pattern of pressure waves continued for an hour, before we left for the hospital.  Meanwhile, I wanted him to call Karen so we could have her here when we were ready to go.  I said, "Don't make her panic, but tell her to get here as soon as she can."
She's right down the street, so she was here within minutes.  I went to my bathroom to brush my teeth.  I was having trouble getting them brushed between the pressure waves, but I didn't want to leave the house with nasty morning breath.  Tim was very efficient about packing.  Every time I'd say, "Remember the --"  he would cut me off and say, "All you have to concentrate on is one thing."
Yes, one thing.  Oh, I tried.  I worked on deep belly breathing, and trying to move my anesthesia.  But I could not believe all the pressure down in my pelvis.  My bones felt like they were coming apart.  I guess in a way they were.
Karen arrived at about 3:15 or so.  I decided we would leave at 3:30, since that was one hour from when I woke up feeling the first wave.  Even as we were about to go out the door, I was still doubting that decision.  I said, "The rule is '4-1-1 --- 4 minutes apart, lasting a minute, and for over an hour.'  Mine are 2 minutes apart for over an hour, but do they last a minute?"  Tim timed a couple and said, "About 45 seconds."  I said, "Good enough, let's go.  The worst that happens is we get sent home."
I got outside, and braced myself against the car as another wave came.  I tried to relax.  I was dreading the car ride.  I hated to be stuck sitting.  Tim got everything in the car, and we left.  The car ride was hard.  When the pressure waves came, I tried to tell myself, 'It's just a big strong hug.'   I opened my mouth and made a noise like the emergency sirens that I would hear every first Wednesday of the month growing up in the midwest.  "AAhhhhh...."  I would start quiet, then get louder, then quieter, just like the siren...  Relaxing was so hard, but I tried. 
Then, after about a mile down the road, Tim realized he'd forgotten his wallet, and had to turn around.  
At 3:40, we were off again, and with the roads to ourselves, Tim exceeded all the speed limits -- not by as much as I wanted him to, though.  Safety and abiding by laws was still important to Tim.  It felt like the longest ride.  As we approached the last big intersection in downtown Worcester, before St. Vincent hospital, the light turned yellow, then red.  "We're not stopping, we're not stopping!"  I yelled.  Then, during a short break in between waves, I said, "Remember to ask for the room with the tub."  Ha!  
It was probably about 10 after 4 when we arrived at the ER.  Tim parked the car.  When I walked in the door, I had a very strong pressure wave that nearly took my breath away.  I collapsed against the check-in desk.   They had to ask me a few questions, and I answered in monosyllables, very basic information, stuff I could remember in the middle of a wave.   One of the questions was, "How far apart are the contractions?"  I told them about two minutes.  I heard Tim say as he walked up behind me, "More like a minute and a half."  There were a whole lot of questions to answer, for both of us, and I think we could have saved ourselves the trouble if we'd spared a couple minutes to call ahead.
I had to get on my knees for the next wave, and I hugged my birth ball that Tim had brought in.  I couldn't believe how dramatic I was being.  I did not think I would ever put on such a show when I came to the hospital to have my baby.  I certainly hadn't the first time around.  That time, Tim and I had laughed and joked our way through the check-in process, and the doctor hadn't really believed I was in labor until my fluid was tested and they could see my contractions on the monitor.  But oh well.  They've seen it all before. 
We probably spent about 10 minutes at the ER, when someone came with a wheelchair, and took us to L&D.  I was given a gown and a cup to pee in.  I knew I was not going to be able to complete that task.  As I sat on the toilet, I realized I felt pushy, and I didn't think the toilet was a good place to be.
They had me get on the bed for monitoring -- something else I dreaded!  The nurse-midwife whose name I don't remember, because I'd never met her, checked me.  "What am I?"  I panted.  "You're complete," she told me.  "You just have a little rim of cervix."  She told me I could push when I was ready.  She told me that my bag of waters was bulging, and if she were to break it, the baby would come very quickly.  Having read my birth plan, she knew that I didn't want that, so she said, "You could also just wait and see through a few more contractions if that's what you want."  For the time being, I decided to wait and see.
But I began to feel fear and a lot of pain.  I was bearing down with every wave, trying to "exhale push" the way I'd been taught, but I began to feel that if breaking my water could bring me even one minute closer to getting this baby out, why the heck not?  So that's what I said.  Tim said, "Remember that's (artificial rupture of membranes) not part of the plan, that's not what you wanted."  I said, "I know, but it's by far not the most important part of my plan."  "I agree," laughed one of the nurses.  Everyone in the room had quickly scanned our birth plan, which was basically a natural, drug-free, intervention-free birth.  It was also supposed to be calm and joyful, but at this point I was starting to panic. 
I told Tim, my loving hypno-dad birth partner, that I appreciated what he was trying to do, but that I had decided I wanted my water broken.  With that, a wave came, and a pop and a big warm gush made that point moot.
The nurse-midwife said that she was not allowed to catch babies (disappointing!), and Dr. Mendel would be in soon.  
He came in, greeted us all, and I didn't even care who he was.  I had hoped to have a midwife attend me, but of course I didn't give a crap who he was now.  I remembered he had been on duty for the first two hours we'd been in L&D having Delaney.  I remembered him as being nice.
I began to push with real effort now, especially after Dr. Mendel said that he could see her head.    Sometimes the pain would scare me, and make me want to stop.   A nurse reminded me to concentrate  and think about the baby moving down and out.  That helped a lot.  "Please move down baby, please," I would say.  Begging the baby to hurry up was not part of my Hypnobabies training, by the way. 
Tim tells me I only really pushed about 7 to 10 times, about 20 minutes tops, before the 9 pounds and 22 inches of Annalise Elizabeth finally came out at 5:23 -- less than three hours from when I'd woken up.
When Dr. Mendel handed Annalise up to me, I cried in gratitude and relief.  I was so happy.  I held her close.  We were both shivering -- my teeth were chattering -- and I remember hearing Tim asking for a blanket for us.
As per my plan, they delayed cutting the cord until the placenta started to detach.  However, as Tim told me later, they clamped it right away, which rendered it pointless.  If you're going to clamp it, you might as well cut it.  I figure that these people are so used to doing things a certain way, they don't even think it through.  They just do it.  I give them points for trying to follow my birth plan, which they'd all probably seen for the very first time in their lives, only an hour-and-a-half before.  

Annalise at twelve months

Annie already has a couple of posts dedicated to turning one, and I was just going to leave it at that; but for the sake of being thorough, I have to do the monthly update.  Keep in mind, most of this information is for my future reference, because I'm going to forget it all within weeks.:)

As I have been sharing here the past couple weeks, she's been working on walking since the end of April, and that has been fun to watch.  It started out with just a few steps just once or twice a day.  Now, she's getting up, walking several steps, falling, and getting back up all day long.  My favorite is when she takes a few steps toward me, and when she's close enough, just dives and puts her little arms around my neck.  Pure joy.  I'm also happy that soon there will be no more scuffed up toes of nice shoes and no more filthy knees from crawling around outside.

I've been noticing something interesting, also in regard to her walking:  She walks way more confidently and takes longer to stumble when she's carrying something in her hands, especially if it's something we don't want her to have.  Maybe it's because then she feels like she has a purpose -- to get away.

One night at storytime, Delaney tried to reach for a toy that Annie had in her hand, ready to just swipe it like she always does.  Instead, Annie screeched so loud that Delaney shrank back, startled.  She's learned that if she wants something, she might have to defend it.  It's great that she can stand up to her big sister, but sometimes she tries to be a bully too, taking the thing Delaney has.  We're trying to teach her that just because she's the baby doesn't always mean she can get her way.

Here are some other things she does, in no particular order:
-- If she wants something we have, most likely food or drink, she asks for it by tilting her head to the side and holding out her arm, flexing her hand and fingers.
-- She signs "more" by pointing the index finger of one hand into the palm of the other.
-- She loves to put her finger in our mouths, and has for at least a couple months.  She's fascinated by the inside of our mouths.
-- She hands us toys, then takes them back.  Similarly, she acts as if she's going to feed me sometimes by putting an animal cracker in my mouth, then takes it out and eats it herself.

I think last month I said she was still nursing a lot.  It seems like the day after I published that post, she went  to nursing just three times a day, which I think was partly her decision and partly mine.  She didn't seem to want to as much, so I started offering less.  At some point in the next few months, I expect her interest in nursing will further dwindle, and soon I'll have weaned another baby.

Update: We just took her for her 12-month checkup on the 24th.  She is 21 pounds, six ounces and 29 3/4 inches long.  Perfectly healthy!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A visit from Grandma and Grandpa Brady

We sure have been enjoying the spring family visit series here in Quantico this year.  Every month it's been somebody, from February on.  We've really cherished these times.  They mean the world to us, as Tim and I each come from big close-knit families (in Ohio and Massachusetts, respectively) that we miss dearly.  I realized today that this visit from Tim's parents was the end of the line.  No more visits (that we know of) from now until we leave at the end of August.  The girls and I will be meeting them, as well as the girls' aunties and cousins in Pennsylvania in July.  I am so grateful for all the ways we have to stay in touch -- Facebook, Skype, this blog, the good old-fashioned phone..

They drove down from Massachusetts on Wednesday the 12th, and they left in the wee hours of this morning.  It was a busy few days.  We celebrated some milestones:  Tim's graduation from Expeditionary Warfare School (EWS),  Annie's first birthday, and the beginning of Tim's summer at Officer Candidate School (OCS) as an academics instructor.  And we went ahead and traded in our Jeep Grand Cherokee (I still love that car!) for the Chevy Traverse we'd been looking at and discussing the past several weeks.  In between all those things, we spent a lot of time in the backyard watching the girls play.  We also did a lot of shopping, and Grandma spoiled the girls with lots of new clothes.  Their wardrobes are all set for summer now!

The girls had so much fun with Grandma and Grandpa.  Even Annalise seemed to be over her fearfulness from before.  She cried for about the first five minutes after they came in the door, and was fine after that.  I was allowed to leave the room, and Grandma even put her to bed while Tim and I were buying the new car.  That was the first time anyone besides me has put her to bed for the night.  She's growing up.

The first thing the girls did was dig into the big trunk full of princess dresses Grandma brought.

Here comes the drooly bride
Sleepy afternoon on the couch

EWS graduation



Annie loved to make us nervous by climbing on that chair.
OCS Family Day


There's something about Grandpa that induces sleep.



Right after receiving her balloon doggy, Delaney dropped it on the grass where, to her shock and dismay, it popped.  Luckily, this nice young man made her one more, and that one lasted about an hour.

Three guesses as to who gave Delaney cotton candy?

Annalise's mini birthday celebration

We celebrated Annie's birthday a few days early, on Friday the 14th, while Tim's parents were in town.  It was very laid-back -- just playing in the backyard, homemade pizza like all other Fridays, and then cupcakes and ice cream with our next-door neighbor (at least until tomorrow)  Andrea, and her mom and her two little girls.  Andrea took the last four photos.  Now they're headed to the west coast.  We'll miss the Katolins!

Later that night after everyone was in bed, and I was savoring the happy memories of the day, I told Tim how happy I was with how it had gone, and how I couldn't have dreamed of a better first birthday celebration for her.  We are so blessed to have her in our life, and so excited to see what changes in her the next year will bring.

She used to have "lovey" only at naptimes and bedtime, but lately she's been opting to take lovey downstairs too.

Checking out one of her birthday presents while Big Sis Delaney patiently watches and waits her turn.
Delaney can't wait to get ahold of those cupcakes.
At one point her daddy said to her, "There's no prize in the middle of that cupcake."

Saturday, May 8, 2010

More practice..

Delaney at two years, ten months

It's been another great month for Delaney.  She is becoming such a smart and sweet little girl.

Delaney sometimes "reads" me her current favorite book, Olivia and the Missing Toy.  I'm very impressed with her memory, and her pronunciation of the words.  I need to get video of it because it's so cute when she says in her best 'mom' voice, "It's time to get up, sweetie-pie.  Remember, you have soccer this morning."  It's fun to hear her say things that I wouldn't normally hear her say, such as "Olivia's uniform comes in a really unattractive green."  She can't really say "unattractive", but she tries so hard.  I also like how she looks at the pages the words are on.  I guess she knows from watching me what pages the words are on.  It looks like my little girl loves books as much as I do, and that makes me happy.

Poor Delaney has had a runny nose and itchy watery eyes for at least a month now.  We give her Children's Zyrtec once or twice a day, but it's hard to tell if it helps at all.  Sometimes I feel so bad for her when her eyes are baggy and red and she says they hurt.  I wonder if any good would come out of taking her to a doctor.  Is there anything a doctor could do for allergies besides give her a stronger medication that would make her drowsy?  I'm hoping that this will pass in a few weeks, but if it doesn't, I might bring her to the doctor.

Delaney knows that her birthday is on "Ju-yy eight" and that she'll be three.  Some of her favorite things to do are playing "ring around the rosy"; helping us with a task that looks like fun, such as dusting furniture or icing a cake (not cleaning up her toys!); and swiping toys from her sister.  When she's excited about something, she yells, "Woo-hoo!"  She loves surprises of just about any kind.  She loves to get mail just like I do, and lately she's been getting more of it, thanks to a smattering of birthday parties she's attended.  She asks us every day if she can play outside in her bare feet.  We let her, in our backyard.  She loves to draw -- on windows, on her desk, on books, on herself, on the patio, and basically on everything besides paper.  She draws with crayons and chalk.  I'm happy to say she does not draw on walls, and she does not draw with her poop.:)

Here are Delaney and her daddy modeling the bandannas Auntie Grace (my sister) sent.  Cute, huh?  The t-shirt Delaney is wearing reads "Run in the grass, play in the sun."  If Delaney has a personal motto, that would be it.  She must be allowed to run loose, does not like to follow the crowd, and wants to be a "free range chicken" as Tim likes to say.  Doesn't she look like a little rebel in that bandanna?

This month, Delaney saw her first live show.  It was Sesame Street brought to us right here on base by the USO.  She wasn't having too much fun until I let her go all the way up to the front, where she could run around and dance her little heart out with all the other kids up there.

One more little story:  A few days ago, we had just gotten on the road for our quick house-hunting trip to the Cherry Point, NC area.  It's a five hour trip.  We had literally only driven past two exits on 95 when Delaney piped up with, "Are we there yet?"  We are going to have some good times in the car this summer, with the long car rides we've planned!