Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Baby in the H1N1 Era

The H1N1 virus has been making the rounds through Bend. The hospital has been hit really hard and we already know people who have been down with the high fever flu that is assumed to be H1N1.

As a pregnant woman, I got access to the vaccine pretty early. Protecting Josh is our next priority. Owen will be getting his vaccine in the next week or two and we’re trying to figure out how to get one for Scott. (They say the best way to protect a little one is to make sure all his caretakers are flu free.)

The flu had a much bigger impact on our experience at the hospital. No visitors under 12 are allowed in the building – period. So Owen didn’t get to visit the hospital. The birth center has also implemented a STRICT policy of only 2 visitors per patient… and dad counts as a visitor! That means if you have a doula or labor support person in addition to your husband, nobody else can come in your room for the duration of your stay. Our nurses said they have had families “meeting” babies through the hospital windows and some women laboring with support people watching from outside. Even my friend Shawndi, who works at the hospital, couldn’t use her credentials so sneak in a visit!

Thankfully, we only had one grandparent in town during our hospital stay, so we didn’t have to do some sort of crazy “Josh Lottery” to see who could visit. Ethel got the privilege, but she was had to walk the halls like this:

Better safe than sorry!

Friday, October 30, 2009


Two year olds are unpredictable. Yes, they have their definite patterns and can be very particular about how they want things (warm milk in a sippy cup!), but in new situations, it's anybody's guess whether they will dive in, hold back, or run away screaming. We did our best to prepare Owen for baby brother by reading books, giving him his own baby doll, and talking about baby coming like it was part of our day to day life. But, we really didn't know what would happen when we brought Josh home.

Both Scott and I were hoping for curiosity and prepping for dis-interest and even dislike or frustration. I realize that we will probably go through those stages, and many others including jealousy, anger, and annoyance. However, the meeting of the brothers has been light-years better than we anticipated. That homecoming was possibly the most awesome parenting moment I have experienced.

Due to H1N1 restrictions, Owen wasn't allowed to visit the hospital, so Grandma had him waiting for us on the front porch when we got home. He ran to greet mom and dad (took a nice digger in the driveway in the process) and then Scott brought out the baby. Owen was so, so, so excited and kept saying "Hi baby, hi baby, hi baby" in a higher and higher voice as he got closer and closer to Josh. I think he would have climbed in the car seat if possible.
Right away, Owen wanted to hold the baby and carried on a running dialog of "Hi Baby, Baby Joshua, Hi Baby Josh..." He squealed in delight as Josh moved his arms and legs and even touched Owen's face - toddler bliss. Mommy delight.
We're doing our best to ease him into the big brother roll. Between daycare and outings with grandparents, he's only been home for a couple hours here and there. But when he is home, he continues to check in on the baby in between playing with his new Little People School Bus (a gift from baby brother) or new lego man from Grandma. Of course, we have a long road to go (and new movies ready to help with the transition), but I'm optimistic the excitement will dominate the jealousy in the long run...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Who's Who?

We joked in the hospital that babies are "one size fits all" in our family, but apparently they are also one look suits all...
Maxwell Baby Circa 2007

Maxwell Baby Circa 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Details

I love a birth story. All of 'em. From the scheduled C-section to the home birth in a bathtub, each story is a wonderful celebration of new life. No matter how many stories you've read, each one brings a new perspective because each story reveals something new about the amazing power of the human body. Plus, each baby gets ONE story - all his or her own. As a mother, nobody can change that story or take the experience away from you. Ever.

So this is Josh's story. It's quick, but it's all his.

Like Owen, the lead up to this birth was a little more involved than I would prefer. I had about a month of annoying contractions (felt like stretching across the top of my belly) and had dilated to 3 cm. With those things and my history with a tiny baby, I got some extra monitoring at the office and extra ultrsounds. On Monday's ultrasound we were thrilled to see that baby's growth had made good progress from 3 weeks earlier. Dr. Ackerman was optimistic that baby would hold on for two more weeks and should be "over 6 lb no problem." Great!

I was personally hoping to get past October 24 (Saturday) when we had a big birthday party for 7 of Owen's playgroup friends. So, we spent Saturday watching the Huskies get crushed by the ducks - boo! and I was thrilled to be at the birthday party (Pool Party!) with all our friends Saturday evening. It was great to get some water time to relax my muscles, and I was feeling good that we made it through Saturday without going into labor.

(this is where you would normally post the picture of your nine months pregnant belly, but, well that photo doesn't exist.)

Saturday night, Scott and I were watching the last 5 episodes of Season 3 of Weeds. I had my standard contractions sitting on the couch - annoying, but nothing new. Then, I thought I felt some MINOR leakage. Hmm... I told Scott that I didn't think my water had broken, but just wanted to give full disclosure in case something interesting came later. (Looking back, it was more of a gut instinct than any physical sign that got me to give him a heads up.) Of course, once I said something out loud, I wasn't going to hit the bed easily. Scott suggested I pack my hospital bag, just to give me something to do and see if I had any more contractions. Being up walking around, the contractions seemed to go away, so we went to bed about 10:45.

Over the next hour, I felt 4-5 contractions and realized that they were waking me up. I didn't think they were really noteworthy because they felt like low menstrual cramps, not the "top of the belly" contractions I'd been having for the last month. At 11:45, I realized that these WERE top of the belly contractions, COMBINED with stronger cramping pain, and probably worth paying attention to. They seemed too short to be worrisome, but Scott timed one anyway - 90 seconds. Wow! That got us talking and finally up and out of bed just after midnight.

Through this whole time, my mind was less on what might be happening to me and more on the fact that it was starting to get late to call someone to come spend the night with Owen. While our friends were on call and more than willing to help, I really didn't want to have to wake anyone up at 3 AM! We decided to start calling at 12:30. I grabbed the phone and Scott set to work packing his things and putting sheets on the guest bed. We made three phone calls to Alisha and Neil with no answer. By the third call, I was dialing and shoving the phone at Scott while I took deep breaths through the contractions. At 12:50, we got Julie on the phone (second call to Kevin's phone), and I was so relieved to hear "All right... I guess I'm on my way."

At this point, I was pacing the living room and calling out items for Scott to add to the car - contact lenses! Camera! phone chargers! Baby name book! In less than an hour we had gone from "Is this labor?" to active labor that required Scott's full involvement. It took us a few contractions to find our rhythm because we were both so caught off guard. I was telling Scott "say this, do that" and at one point said, "I am probably not going to be very nice to you for the next 12 hours, but I just need you to stick with me and not take it personally." That seemed to settle us both down and I ended up working through contractions in a standing position, with my head buried in Scott's chest, squeezing the life out of his fingers. He coached my breathing and shook my arms to release the tension after the pain... before dashing off to throw something else in the car.

Scott remembered to call the nurse hotline, to notify the doctor and hospital we were coming. I was anxiously watching for Julie's headlights. At this point, I started thinking that if these were early labor contractions, there was NO WAY I was going to manage a natural birth. And at the same time, with the level of discomfort, there was NO WAY I would be able to hold still for an epidural. (Post birth, Scott said he was having the same thoughts.) Julie walked in the door at 1:20 AM. We worked through three contractions while Scott got her oriented and then jumped in the car.

Thank goodness we are just a few minutes from the hospital. I only had to do one (blessedly short) contraction in the car. We parked, I did one contraction against the car door and panickedly told Scott I thought I needed to push... "Don't Push! Let's go!" was the reply. I was like that classic movie scene where the woman walks in the hospital and gets raced down the hall in a wheelchair. The poor security guard was a little freaked out by a laboring woman - probably the fastest he's pushed a wheelchair in a long time. The birth center nurses met us in the hallway and joined Scott in the chorus of "don't push - breathe!" while I was wheeled into the closest birthing room.

From there, it was a sea of hands and blue scrubs. Belly monitor, blood pressure cuff, internal exam, and an attempted IV - didn't work. Through this, Scott was awesome - kept making me open my eyes and focus on him and breath instead of whimper and push. The nurse announced that I was completely dilated, but my water hadn't broken. Dr. Howell raced in the room - fully gowned up because she was prepping to deliver a different woman down the hall. After a short debate, they decided that woman could wait (Sorry!) and Dr. Howell would deliver our baby first. Good choice - there was NO WAY I was waiting. I remember Dr. Howell saying, "This is why I sleep at the hospital."

(At our 2 day follow-up visit to the hospital, I actually got to meet that other mom and her new daughter, born 12 minutes after Josh. I told her I owed her a big thank you for being in labor ahead of me to get the doctor ready and apologized for making her wait. Crazy!)

They got me in position and Dr. Howell broke my water. Sweet relief! All that pressure was eased up and Scott actually had a chance to pull out the camera and take a breath. Scott asked for a squat bar because that helped me push with Owen's birth, but the Dr and nurses were convinced that this baby would come quick. I was skeptical - Owen took 2 hours. I gave a moderate pushing effort on the next contraction to get myself oriented. The next contraction, I pushed for real and was shocked to feel the baby on his way out. Head, shoulders, arms and legs... and a pink, wiggling, screaming baby was on my chest. 1:48 AM - less than 2 hours after getting out of bed and less than 20 minutes after we arrived at the hospital. I was in total awestruck disbelief - screaming and laughing with joy.

Scott and I spent the next several hours in total shock. After Owen's delivery, we were both exhausted, but this time we were on an adrenaline high. Most of the nursing staff cleared out, we turned down the lights, and baby set to nursing like a champ. It took about an hour to get the scale in our room because it was with that other baby down the hall. During the time we were convinced this baby was bigger than Owen. Of course, the scale told the real story - another one at 5 lb 2 oz. Apparently I grow babies in only one size.

It took us about 18 hours to settle on a name: Joshua Todd Maxwell
Small, healthy, pink, and wiggly. Beautiful in every way.

I would wish this labor and delivery for ANY mama. Crazy fast and stressful, but over before you have time to process what's happening. One of the nurses said we're welcome to deliver at St Charles anytime. They love those fast deliveries. Of course, they also told us that if we ever decide to have another one, it might be a good idea to just head to the hospital as soon as we think we MIGHT be in labor. Dr. Howell told us later that she had three deliveries that night - all were early babies, and all were less than 7 pounds. Something with the moon?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

He's Here!

After a ridiculously fast labor and delivery (which I will post about later), we welcomed the newest member of our family:

Joshua Todd Maxwell
Born October 25th at 1:48 AM
5 lb, 2 oz and 18 1/2 inches long

Apparently we are a "one size fits all" family with both boys hitting the exact same weight. Josh is over an inch shorter than his big brother is, so not as scary skinny, but still a tiny little guy. We are infinitely more relaxed this time and enjoying the wonder of new life. We are having a quiet, peaceful day at St Charles and expect to be home tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Monday night, I pulled a classic Alissa mistake. I got too focused on the "plan" for the evening instead of adapting to the current reality. I was really excited for our planned dinner of Chicken Carpese Sandwiches, so I walked in the door after work with Owen and headed for the kitchen. It's not an elaborate dinner - one that can easily be completed in 20 minutes and one with a decent set of options for my pint sized helper to participate in the preparation.

However, the situation on Monday included two tired, cranky, hungry people (one 2 year old, one pregnant lady). Instead of being a happy helper, Owen was begging to be held, throwing tantrums, and whining for foods that I just couldn't produce. I was apparently not in stellar form myself - misjudging portion sizes, dropping food on the floor, and getting more frustrated with myself and Owen by the minute. And so went the downward cycle that left us both angrily sitting at the kitchen table, Owen refusing to eat dinner and whining for strawberries (we have NONE) and me frantically downing a sandwich trying to prove that the effort was worth it.

It was not a proud parenting moment and put me in a worse mood the rest of the evening.

What I should have done: Recognize that Owen was tired and crabby after a long day at school - I had plenty of signs on our drive home from daycare. Recognize that I was tired and crabby - at 37 weeks pregnant, this is kind of a no brainer. Set the planned dinner aside, reach for the fish sticks, and be glad that frozen peas and milk mean a Owen will still get 3 food groups in his dinner. That would have given us 15 minutes of "mom&Owen time" to decompress and reconnect while the food cooked...

But no, I was too darn focused on those sandwiches. And the result was not a pretty scene when Scott walked in the door. Thankfully, he was up to the challenge and took over the Owen duty for the evening - to the extent that I even took a mini nap while Owen was in the bath. I got to re-connect with my kiddo while reading bedtime stories and all was well in the world.

I realize it all comes down to expectations. Both setting realistic expectations and ADJUSTING those expectations as the reality of the situation becomes clear. And I realize that I need to be even more focused on staying in the moment (and letting go of the expectations) as Baby #2 joins our family.

Parenting is a constant learning experience... and one that will keep teaching you the same lesson over and over and over and over and over until you (hopefully) figure it out.

On a positive note - Today was a day of NO expectations and Owen was in a remarkable "go with the flow" mood to accompany my tired, achy, sluggish body. We played happily at the auto repair shop, made some halloween crafts, ran a lazy errand, and even managed to vacuum the house. Oh, and I did the dinner prep while Owen was napping.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Field Trip Updates

Our First Friday Field Trips have continued through the summer and into fall, but my picture taking has certainly slacked off!

July - We visited Big Star Farm to check out the produce and eggs that have been filling our kitchen every week.

August - Our destination was the Deschutes County Fair for their free friday. The kids loved, loved, loved looking at all the animals, but it was scorching hot, so we hunkered down in the entertainment tent for snack and let the kids run all over the stage. Most people go to the fair for rides and crazy food, but 2-year olds have a much different (and cost effective) idea of entertainment. =)

For the rest of August and September, we were having too much fun at the pool on Fridays to plan anything else, but we're trying to get back into it for fall.

This month, we ended up having two outings because we wanted to visit the local Children's Museum before they closed for good and then, of course, you have to go to a pumpkin patch in October. Today, we went to DD Ranch, which is a smaller pumpkin patch/harvest festival, but they still have a petting area, hay rides, random play toys, and tons of pumpkins. When Owen is older, we'll take him out to Central Oregon Pumpkin Company with the giant pumpkin launcher and massive corn maze, but the kiddos were plenty happy this morning.

Two Owens on the old school teeter totter...

Shannon and I were laughing because we took the boys out to the Parks and Rec Fall Festival last weekend and rode the ponies, took a hay ride, and played a few little games. But neither of us wanted to haul pumpkins around, so we steered Owen and Kaden away from the actual field of pumpkins. So today, when we were headed out to DD, both boys were associating "pumpkin patch" with a hay ride through the spooky barn. Today, we made sure to at least let them play in the pumpkin field, but I still didn't have to haul home a pumpkin. (We have a friend that's going to let us have 1-2 of her home grown ones...)

I think we're hunkering down for "indoor" field trips this winter. November and December are always dicey with the weather, but hopefully we can get to the High Desert Museum at least once and start planning more fun spring outings - I'm thinking a fire station tour has got to get on the schedule pretty soon...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Grandmas are Great

It's a week of awesome grandmas around here. Scott's mom stopped by on her way down to a California wedding last week and is back this week helping out. I've been able to put in a couple extra half days at work while she watches Owen - may seem silly, but it SIGNIFICANTLY lowers my stress level to check the stuff off my list at work. Last week, we made freezer meals, and this week she's cleaned my house from top to bottom. On one hand, it's pretty embarrassing to have someone see the "ick" we've been living in (in our defense, I wasn't doing any cleaning in the midst of the big painting project). On the other hand, having someone witness the mess up close is TOTALLY worth it for the sparkling result in the end.


On the other side of the world, my mom is busy playing soccer in the World Masters Games in Sydney. Her over 50 team of women from Seattle and the East Coast seems to be dominating with a 5-0 record so far and not a single goal allowed. Thursday they play the other top team and then Friday is the semis. Of course, my mom is the one who managed to get a concussion in game #4 and is (thankfully) being smart to sit out a few games. She may be back on the field if they make Sunday's final.

Not to be discounted, the grandpas are getting in on the action as well. Jeff comes into town on Thursday and will join us at Friday's Pumpkin Patch field trip before driving back to Seattle with Ethel. My dad heads off to Sydney on Sunday and, in addition to enjoying the sights, I think his main challenge will be to keep my mom from catching an early plane back to Seattle. As much as we would like them here when baby arrives, I would feel awful if they cut their vacation short only to loiter here in Bend waiting for a baby that decides to take his time. Or worse, get here and find out that the H1N1 restrictions* don't allow them in the hospital. Message to Baby - WAIT for November 1.

*We found out this week that the hospital has restricted visitors to "immediate family members 13 years and older." We don't yet know that that means for grandparents. =( We DO know that Owen won't be allowed to meet baby brother until we bring him home. In addition to missing out on those classic photos of our family snuggled on the hospital bed, I'm going to be missing my kiddo like crazy and pushing to get baby out of that virus factory and home (to our clean house!) ASAP.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Baby Progress Report

I'm 35 weeks pregnant. Baby #2 is officially due November 12, but we started having some indicators this week that this baby will not stay (or be allowed to stay) where he is for that long. My doctor and I are hoping for at least November 1 as I will be past the 38 week mark (best for lung development), finished with work (best for my stress level), and my mom will be back from Australia (best for a successful labor).

The relevant history: Owen had IUGR (inter-uterine growth restriction), and was statistically a low birth weight baby (less than 5 1/2 pounds full term). Basically, he stopped growing in the last few weeks of pregnancy, and I was induced at 38 weeks because he was showing signs of distress. Our scrawny kid was beautiful in our eyes, but most full term babies have chubby legs...

People keep looking at me and saying, "You're 35 weeks?! You look tiny." Yes, a compliment, but also a good summary of the potential challenges. Over the last month, my belly has grown very little and I'm not putting on weight. Awesome for losing baby weight later, but not so awesome for the end of pregnancy when the baby is supposed to be doing two things: finishing lung development and PUTTING ON WEIGHT.

For those reasons, we are watching this baby's growth a bit more closely this time around. I was measuring on track through 32 weeks - yea! - but my measurement was starting to lag at this week's doctor visit. We had an ultrasound at 34 weeks that showed baby was about 1 1/2 weeks behind in growth. Not that big of a deal, as nobody expects me to grow an 8 pound baby. What will be more important is whether baby shows good growth between now and our follow-up ultrasound on October 19.

I also had my first session hooked up to the monitors this week and we discovered that some of the "baby stretching" that I've been feeling is actually contractions. Not frequent, not painful, and thankfully not producing any action that would land me on bed rest, but enough that I should be aware. As my doctor said, "Maybe this baby will show up early on his own and we won't have to push him along." Wait for November 1 please!

What it means: I will likely be spending quality time attached to the monitors at each of my weekly doctor visits. This will gage my contractions and also watch for slow baby heart rates that would indicate distress. If all looks good, we'll just keep waiting for a natural occurring later. If we see challenges, then I get to make more frequent visits to the doctor (yea!), all the while trying not to stress out about the things that I'm NOT getting done while sitting in their little closet of a monitoring room. Maybe I can bring my laptop and get some work done...

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Big Dig Day

I'm playing a little blog catch-up because I wanted to get pictures posted of the best EVER kids event that Owen and I attended a few weeks back. One of the local childrens' charities held a "Big Dig Day" fundraiser. Knife River is a heavy construction company (the kind that builds roads, bridges, etc), with an equipment yard out in Tumalo. They opened up the yard for the day and for a $5 donation, kids of all ages had the opportunity to climb around and "drive" the dump trucks, cement mixers, excavators, bull dozers, etc.

These machines were HUGE - in some of them, I couldn't reach Owen from the ground and had to climb up in the cab after him. Thank goodness for tons of understanding parents around who were more than willing to let the pregnant mommy pass her kid down to a stranger and help me down the ladder!
Knife River even gave the first 100 kids free admission with free t-shirts and plastic hard hats. They also set up a few huge gravel piles and invited everyone to bring their toy diggers along for some major construction. Throw in a pizza booth and you have kiddo bliss. Too bad it's only a once/year event. We'll be back!

Monday, October 05, 2009


I'm not one to take belly shots throughout my pregnancy. I kind of wish I had, but I can't go back now. However, in Seattle I did get to connect with two dear friends who are also expecting boys in the next month or so. Amy and I got this pic after our night out with Liz. She's due any day, so she would have been about 36 weeks in this pic and I at 32...
Doesn't she look great? I'm stretching to try and hide the double chin, but Amy is slender except for that baby belly.

Sheri and I also got a great pic at her baby shower. She's due just 5 days after me, but is such a tiny little thing that her belly has no where to go but straight out. So cute.
Someone's camera also has a picture of Tara and I from her shower two weeks ago. They welcomed baby Ian into the world Sunday night - Hooray! What a treat to have all these little ones joining us in the next couple weeks.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Are you kidding me?

Nine days ago: We were enjoying playgroup at the pool - splashing, floating, soaking up the sun, and eating lunch outside in our swimsuits.

Eight days ago: Owen and I spent the day at my parents' Bend house and he played naked in a bucket of water on their deck. We were staying away from our house because this has been the scene for the last couple weeks:
(Scott is bravely tackling painting a large majority of our house before the baby arrives. Not a small task with our open ceilings and a large amount of painted trim. A task made harder when a 2-year old "helper" is around.)

Seven days ago: We rode bikes over to the high school to play in the volleyball pit.

Four days ago: The temperatures started dipping below freezing at night and I tried to save my tomatoes by covering them with a plastic drop cloth (that painting project has its perks).

Yesterday: I finally got my act together and got the tomato plants hung upside down in the garage to see if any of those 20 plump green ones will turn red.

This morning: I woke up, thinking we had gotten our first real overnight frost and then realized that it was a wee bit of snow falling at 7 am. An hour later, we were getting a solid dumping and the view out our front door was starting to resemble January:
By the time Owen and I left for Kiddoz (the indoor play place) to try and keep him out of the paint for the morning, the roads were covered with two legitimate inches and people were shoveling driveways. [Follow-up: Newspaper reports say we got 3-4 inches around town and up to SEVEN in some areas.] Are you kidding me? It's October 4th. I checked the calendar... twice. What happened to autumn? Everything is still summer green around here. I'd like at least a few weeks to enjoy some changing fall colors, please.

The summer/winter juxtaposition did make for some extra snow play accessories. The buckets and shovels we use for summer water play worked great to dig in the snow, and Owen spent at least a half hour digging up the leftover sidewalk chalk around our driveway and mashing it up to make red, orange, purple, and blue snow. Pretty fun. Pretty crazy!