Category Archives: Kids/Parenting

Tips, tricks and adventures in parenting two kids.

Benjamin’s birth

I’ve only had people asking basically for three months to hear Benjamin’s birth story, so here it is (finally!). There’s not a whole lot to it…

Friday, I had my usual appointment with my doctor. “Don’t have the baby this weekend!” he said. “I’m away.” The baby said, IS THAT A CHALLENGE???

Saturday morning, I woke up feeling some contractions. I was kind of surprised because it was still a week until his due date, and that would make him the earliest of our babies. Hazel was our first “late” baby, so I had no expectations of Benjamin arriving before his due date.

Ha.

The contractions weren’t going away, though, so I told Ryan and got to work on the biggest thing I was hoping to accomplish in the following week before he came: my business taxes. Because what better way to relax through the contractions than doing my taxes, right? I sent Ryan out to get a few things for me, including a birthing ball (yeeeah, I was hoping to find my old one. No luck) and a treat. He got me a pack of fun size Kit Kats. I ate the whole thing (sharing some with the kids & him). While he was gone, the kids always seemed to pick the worst time to come into my room (i.e., during a contraction, while I was trying to use my hypnosis).

However, by about 1 PM, the contractions had kind of trailed off. Since that was what happened when I first went into labor with Hazel, I accepted it and (eventually) went downstairs to do the usual mom thing.

I still had one or two strong contractions every hour, though, which was really annoying. Because if I’m not going to be having this baby today, I said, I deserve a rest!

We got the kids to bed around 8, as usual, and settled down to watch a movie (Galaxy Quest, which we’d never seen before). And right about then, the contractions picked up again. I’d brought my ball downstairs just before bedtime for a couple contractions then, but all of the sudden, we meant business again. I was sitting on the ball, but lying back (on the pile of clean laundry) on the couch, and using my hypnosis for a long time.

When it really set it in that this was happening, we had a problem: it was about 10 PM on a Saturday night, and we had nobody to stay with our four kids. (Every other time, my mom had already arrived at this point.) We called one of our home teachers and asked for help. He and his wife were more than happy to come over and sit with the kids. After Ryan hung up, it hit us: we’re having a baby. Like now.

We rushed around to gather up the last few things to pack—after four kids, I have a very minimal hospital bag. It actually took me probably over a week to figure out even one thing to put in it other than toiletries. Fortunately, I’d finally figured something out (PJs, bathrobe, etc.). So we gathered up my toiletries and things. I couldn’t find the earbuds I’d used for my HypnoBabies practices, so we ended up getting my over-the-ear headphones.

We got to the hospital at about 10:30 and had to figure out where to go. We went one entrance where I thought my OB had said to go afterhours, but I wasn’t sure. They said we should go to the other entrance—not the best news for a lady in labor. Fortunately, one of the desk clerks got me a wheelchair and wheeled me over to the women’s center.

They got us to a triage room and I was at a 5. Disappointing for someone who usually is much further along when she gets to the hospital! But good enough to keep us there. I’d started my HypnoBabies in the car and kept it going. We got moved to a room and I kept going with the HypnoBabies. The doctor on call from my OB’s office came by and I got to meet her. She asked if I wanted my water broken, but I declined. She was fine with that and left me to work.

I kept doing my HypnoBabies. Ryan watched the rest of Galaxy Quest on his phone (!!!) and, I don’t know, played games. I was kind of busy.

After midnight, the contractions were getting really intense. I came out of hypnosis (middle position on the lightswitch if you know what I’m saying) and told Ryan. He asked if I wanted the nurse to check me when she came in next. I said I did. I was at an 8—encouraging but discouraging at the same time.

Back to hypnosis. I don’t really know what to say about the time I’m in hypnosis. From the outside it probably looks like I’m “chilling,” to quote Ryan. My body is relaxed, I’m breathing pretty normally, and I’m quiet. My mind is basically somewhere else. I have to focus VERY intensely on the HypnoBabies recording I have playing in a loop (I hate the minute or so at the end before it loos around again). Focusing on Kerry’s voice is really what gets me through.

My contractions are kind of weird—when one starts, it has peaks and valleys, but it doesn’t stop for a good long time. The nurse would try to wait to ask me questions, but eventually she’d just have to ask. And I’d wait to answer. Kinda funny. I’m pretty sure the nurse must have checked me again, but I don’t remember that now.

After I don’t know how long, the lights flickered on overhead. When the contraction plateaued, I opened my eyes (middle position, of course) and saw the doctor was back. “What’s going on?” I asked.

“You’re complete. It’s time to push.”

“Oh, okay.”

This is the good part, because you’re almost done, you almost have a baby and you can finally DO something. We waited a few minutes until I felt the urge to push, and then I started pushing. My water broke on the first push. We didn’t count pushes, but we did time how long it took: two minutes of pushing. Benjamin was born at 1:50 AM.

We got to hold him for a minute, then I asked the doctor not to use cord traction, so we just kind of waited around while they cleaned him up. He had a little trouble breathing. He would cry a bit but was kind of gray. We were still waiting to finish up so I checked the time on the computer next to me—3:00. I was really concerned that more than an hour had passed since he was born—it didn’t seem that long!—until I remembered what day it was. Daylight Saving Time.

My son, Benjamin Franklin McCollum, had the first hour of his life stolen by the government.

(See the second paragraph here if don’t see the irony above.)

Just when they were worried they’d have to take him to the nursery for oxygen, Benjamin suddenly started breathing much better and immediately pinked up, so we got to keep him. After a couple hours, they took him to the nursery and me to my recovery room. Ryan finally returned home around 6 AM to relieve the home teacher and his wife, and catch some sleep before 11 AM church.

I was pretty bored for the next two days because my kids couldn’t visit and therefore my husband couldn’t come much either. A friend watched the kids for a couple hours after church so Ryan could visit, and my mom changed her flight to come in the next day (two days earlier than her flight had been). She got to visit with us in the hospital, and Ryan got to spend some time with us too. The kids finally got to meet their brother when I got home Tuesday.

In the weeks after I had Benjamin, I read 37 novels, and in them there were a dozen or more birth scenes. Not a one of them was anything like any of my births. I realize that my births aren’t the same as the experience we’re conditioned to have by the media, but #1 screaming makes it MUCH MUCH worse and #2 there’s a huge variety of experiences, not just the freaking out screaming option (and #3 if there’s frank blood (it’s a medical term, Mom, who knew?) before the baby is born, something is probably wrong).

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day gets a bad rap. We hear so many people praising their angel mothers and we wonder if that title could ever apply to us. No, we finally decide. I’m not as perfect as this man’s mother. I’m no angel. I don’t deserve any praise.

We are way too hard on ourselves. At church today, Brother Rick McAlister noted that no one said anything about a mother being perfect. “Because there’s no such thing as a perfect mother,” he continued, “and it’s a good thing, because there’s no such thing as a perfect father or perfect children, either. But every family has the perfect mother for them.”

Normally when I hear that kind of platitude, I dismiss it just as easily as I would the praise of angel mothers. I’m not perfect, and I’m keenly aware of how far short I fall. Especially right now, two months after my fifth child is born, I’m sleep deprived and snappier than I should be. But when Brother McAlister said that, I knew immediately that he was right. I don’t know what about me—trying to ignore the long list of faults that immediately pops up here—makes me the perfect mother for Hayden, Rebecca, Rachel, Hazel and Benjamin, but I do believe that Heavenly Father has a plan. He didn’t assign us to families by throwing darts. He hand picked each parent and each child.

Yesterday, my visiting teacher shared this video with me, and I loved it:

The talk is “Because She Is a Mother”. I quoted it in a Mother’s Day talk here which I still love. Still feeling inadequate? Maybe it’s time to change the measuring stick.

A baby’s smile

I could tell right away that Hazel was going to be a smiler. She smiled in her sleep constantly. Though it took her a couple weeks longer than the other kids to start smiling as much in her waking hours, smiling quickly became her favorite activity, and she especially likes smiling at me.

Today at church she was engaging in her favorite smiling-at-me hobby when my friend commented, “Doesn’t it seem like they can see into your soul?”


I joked back, “If she could, she wouldn’t keep smiling.” (And then I commented, “Nah, she’s my favorite. She doesn’t disobey 😉 “)

But thinking more about that unabashed smile, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes:

It was one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may have come across four or five times in your life. It faced—or seemed to face—the whole eternal world for an instant, and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just so far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself and assured you that it had precisely the impression of you that, at your best, you hoped to convey. (The Great Gatsby)

So, yes. I think maybe a little baby can see right into our souls (and still beam up at us).

Dear new neighbors

When I’m upset, I blog.

Dear new neighbors,

For the past two and a half weeks, I’ve felt extremely lucky to live in this neighborhood. Thank you for welcoming us.

Thank you for looking out for our children—and most especially for CALLING THE FREAKING POLICE FOR “NEGLECTING” OUR CHILDREN. That one right there—that‘s what it means to be a good neighbor, right?

I’m guessing you heard me shouting to my 3-year-old that I was leaving her. I’m guessing that you somehow missed the massive fit she was throwing. You couldn’t have known that her cruel, cruel mother was forcing her to leave the house through the garage with everyone else, instead of through the front door.

I’m also guessing that you do not have, probably have never had, and, in fact, never were a 3-year-old. If you had, surely you would remember and understand how difficult this age is. This particular 3-year-old typically responds best to idle threats. I tell her I’m leaving her somewhere on a weekly basis. As you can see by her continued presence in our home, either she’s got a very good internal GPS or, hm, I’ve never left her anywhere. (Here’s a hint, since I can’t trust you to jump to the correct conclusion: I’ve never left her anywhere.) Telling her I’m leaving her (often accompanied by hopes that she’ll find a nice family to take her in) is the only way to get her to come when I need to go—such as when we’re five minutes late.

I’m also guessing that you were not actually watching my home. Because if you were actually watching my home, you would have seen the 7-year-old, 4 (not yet 5)-year-old and said 3-year-old all in my front yard. You would have seen me applying sunscreen to all of them. You would have seen me load all of them into the van before, yes, I did leave. To take those “neglected” children to their swim lessons.

You would have also noticed that the house was very quiet while my van was gone. Not a phenomenon observed very often with three unsupervised children, is it?

You would have also noticed me arriving back home with all of my children in tow—getting in and out of a car is always a production with that many children.

Not sure how you missed so much, but hey, WTG on calling the police anyway! Why wait for the facts? Idle welfare checks to ascertain reality are the cops’ FAVORITE THING TO DO.

Since we’re missing so many of the facts, let me give you a little fodder for your next chat with the cops:

  • Just this morning, I made my children CLEAN. Couldn’t you hear the protestations from your home?
  • Then there was that awful episode where I stopped my children from fighting. I’ve considered instituting a “death match” policy in the future, but the cleanup would probably be too much effort.
  • Oh, did you hear that I had to go to the bathroom today? By myself?? The kids don’t like that either.
  • The baby fell asleep and (gasp) I put her in a swing instead of cradling her for every second of my day.
  • I’ve made my children wear sunscreen, rinse off after swimming, take turns getting in the car (surely you heard that screaming match), and even practice reading and math. Next time you should just call Child Protective Services directly.

It’s a good thing you filed this report anonymously. I’m actually happy to not know who you are because I might very well be on your doorstep telling this story. Also, filing a false police report is, y’know, illegal. So at least you made sure to get that one really important fact right: you’re anonymous.

The thing that makes me the angriest, though, is not dealing with the fourth fit in as many hours from my three-year-old. It’s knowing that someone out there—whom I will now be forced to live by indefinitely—truly believes that I would and did neglect my children, and nothing I can or will ever do will change that first impression.

Hazel’s birth

Hazel is one month old today! So I thought I should write out her birth story before she gets too much older, right?

I swear, I went into labor on Thursday, March 28th. I had contractions that were getting stronger and closer together, even though I kept moving. I told the kids before Hayden left for school, and he was so excited that he’d get to meet his new sister that day. Ryan was at work and we kept texting back and forth about when he should come home.

But after about 10:30, my contractions petered out, and by 1 PM, they’d stopped. I went for a walk for 45 minutes-1 hour, but nothing. I didn’t want to give up hope, but the hours stretched into days, and I was going crazy.

My first three kids were all born 4-5 days before their due date, which would have been the 26th or the 27th. I was SO DONE being pregnant—not able to dress myself or tie my own shoes or climb into bed. Friday and Saturday I spent about one minute away from a panic meltdown.

Easter Sunday, the 31st, was my due date. I almost couldn’t go to church because I didn’t want anyone to talk to me. Along with Ryan, my youngest sister, brother-in-law, and mom were there to run interference (fortunately, it was unnecessary).

One of my deepest fears has always been being induced—I don’t want to labor in the hospital and I know too many people who’ve gone through the “cascade of interventions,” ending with an emergency C-section, another of my deepest fears. But I was GOING. NUTS. I was convinced my body was broken, and I wasn’t going to go into labor on my own because I’d done something to ruin my one chance. So I mentally prepared myself for an induction. I called to get in to be induced or see the doctor on Monday, but they couldn’t fit me in.

I had a doctor appointment on Tuesday, April 2. I’d conceded to the appointment because it was my birthday and I didn’t want to go to the doctor, but that was the only day he’d be in the office all week, and when I agreed to the appointment, I figured I wouldn’t need it.

I brought everything I’d need at the hospital with me (including Ryan) to my appointment, and asked the doctor to induce me. But he was literally leaving on vacation in minutes, and another doctor at the practice was also out of town (spring break), so the other two doctors were really strapped, and they couldn’t fit me in.

Naturally, I went home and cried for two hours. My mom took my kids out to get me birthday presents. Though none of them could get me what I really wanted, they did make my day better. Ryan had just started a health challenge at work the day before, and one of the challenges was not eating out, so he took me to the grocery store for my birthday date. (Romantical, I know.)

A little before we left at 4, I started having contractions, but (as I told Ryan) I figured it was just my body teasing me again. Un. Fair. We walked the aisles for about an hour, and the contractions didn’t stop. But it wasn’t real. So my mom and I went out to dinner at 6, and walked around the mall afterward.

And the contractions kept getting stronger. (I didn’t tell my mom, though, and she had no idea, LOL.)

We got home in time to help put the kids to bed. By this time, I had to work with positioning to get through my contractions. I had to concede that this seemed pretty real, so I grabbed my Hypnobabies tracks, propped myself up on the couch with pillows, and listened to the first birthing track.

I’ve made it through two previous Hypnobabies births without pain medications (woot!), but I used my tools better this time and managed better. Plus, I’ve finally realized how REAL the fear-tension-pain cycle is, and that panicking brings on pain faster than anything else.

We’d had to re-inflate my birthing ball twice in the previous couple days, and I kept thinking of that as my muscles would tighten—it felt like my belly was inflating like that ball. I also spent quite a bit of time in a state of hypnotic amnesia, as it’s called, which is a lot like being asleep.

By the time my track ended, I figured it was time to go to the hospital. We timed my contractions, and I had like three in ten minutes—so, yeah, it was time to leave. We’d worried about the admission process, since they refused to give me a tour of the hospital without a prescription from my doctor, even though I was 39 weeks pregnant. When we called to ask where to go, the hospital informed my mom we should go to the lobby, take the elevators, and get off at the fourth floor.

That didn’t sound right, so a couple days beforehand we went to the hospital—which has no lobby, no elevators, and no fourth floor. (Fortunately, one of the admission people caught us and answered our questions.)

And when I was in labor, we were ushered right in! By this time, it was about 10:45. I figured if I was at least 7 cm, I might have her on my birthday! If I wasn’t at least a 6, I’d know to let that idea go. The nurse measured, and announced I was a 6-7.

Uh.

I kept listening to my tracks, because things were getting more intense. I was kind of clinging to them like a lifeline (and when she wasn’t talking about my contractions [pressure waves], but about something else like how I could start the track over, it was a lot harder). The nurse, however, had no idea. She’d called the on-call doctor for my practice, and I guess she mentioned I was going to go natural. The doctor called back while she was putting my IV in, and he asked if he’d need ear plugs. The nurse laughed (apparently they’d delivered a screamer the day before) and informed him that she was sitting right next to me and I was in the middle of a contraction, quiet as a church mouse.

The nurse was great about my hypnosis. She told Ryan she could always tell the ones that had practiced, and she directed her questions to Ryan. He told her it was my birthday, and she asked if I wanted to have the baby on my birthday. He said he thought so. (Of course!) So the nurse did what she could to help things along, and the next time she checked me, about 11:20, I was a 9.

They called the doctor in. A little after 11:30, it was time to push. Fortunately, the doctor was in the hall, so he made it in time. Ryan checked my chart after Hazel was born, and it indicated that I started pushing at 11:36 and she was born at 11:38. It certainly felt a lot longer to me!

Then the only thing to settle was her name! Ryan and I didn’t agree on what order to put her first and middle names in, but we came to an agreement a few hours before I was released.

My recovery has been pretty great. (A big blessing, because my mom had to go back to NC on the 11th [even then, she’d extended her stay to do that]. My sister and brother-in-law generously came to stay with us for the next week, but I’ve been managing four kids by myself for the last two weeks. If I weren’t feeling well, I don’t think I’d make it!) Nursing was a little rough for the first week and a half/two weeks, but we’re doing very well now.

She’s an okay sleeper, depending on the night, and she has a bit of reflux. She does spend long stretches awake (sometimes during the day!), and she loves to be held (surprise, surprise). I think it’s pretty much a crime to put a little baby down, so that works out okay, even though sometimes I feel like I’ll go crazy (or my trapezius will snap) if I don’t get a minute with empty arms.

The household is a little bit crazy, but we’ll get the hang of this soon enough. But nobody in the house is looking forward to summer vacation (and not having to have everyone ready to go outside by 9 AM!) as much as I am!