Thursday, December 29, 2011

This is Christmas

Another blog I frequent had a post about a week ago entitled "This is Christmas." And much as I've tried to come up with another title for this post (so as not to be a copycat), I just can't. Because around here...

This is Christmas. At least this year.

Christmas Eve after Santa came.

The girls in their Christmas jammies (which, unfortunately, arrived the day after Christmas).

This was actually a quite relaxed (although quite tiring, due to a certain little someone) Christmas. I spent the week before Christmas in the kitchen baking...gingerbread cookies for the neighbors, biscotti, granola bars, breakfast cookies, chocolate crackle cookies, apple pies, and making hot cocoa mix. I was a mad woman. But it paid off in that Christmas weekend and this week we have had lots of snacks around the house and very little difficult cooking to do. I got to bring plates of gingerbread cookies to my neighbors, and since you can't get molasses here, they were quite taken with the cookies. My apple pies were a hit at our big Christmas dinner.

Cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning.

Lane playing in her new kitchen (which we scored used for $20!) on Christmas morning.

Christmas Eve we went to church and had our big Christmas dinner, complete with a turkey. (I got to bring the carcass home and made turkey broth with it, plus pulled four cups of meat off the bones.) We didn't get home until almost 9:00 and by then Lane was a mess. We got her in bed and then played Santa, setting out her new toys from us, her Aunt Rachel and Uncle Lucas, and all her grandparents. I prepped cinnamon rolls for the morning. And we went to bed super, super late.

A sleeping sweetheart.

Inflatable table and chairs (so we can take it with us if/when we move again).

Sisterly love.

Christmas morning was fantastic, as Lane came into the living room oohing and ahhing over her new things. She played all morning long. We skyped with my mom for about an hour that morning, since she's in Alaska and 11 hours behind us. Shannon went to another church that afternoon and the girlies and I stayed put. I made a super easy crock pot honeyed chicken recipe that I found on pinterest for dinner. We skyped with our families in North Carolina and Alabama on Christmas evening before putting Lane in bed at about 6:30.

Lane's loot (other than the kitchen and table and chairs): an alphabet puzzle (which she's already mastered), new books and dresses from Aunt Rachel and Uncle Lucas, new books from us, a matching game, mittens, and cover-ups for art time.

Practicing cutting all that new food.

And the day after Christmas we tried to start getting back into a normal routine of a kind. Shannon's been back at work (although I have been so thankful that he works from home most of the time). We've visited with a couple of friends. We got Christmas packages from Shannon's mom and stepdad. I've taken Lane on a few quick errands with me while Noel napped (to the park, to drop off a disc of photos to a friend, to the corner grocery store, etc.). I've done a million loads of laundry. We've discussed taking down our Christmas decorations, although that's as far as we've gotten. And we've started to attempt to tackle this thing called real life as a family of four.

I'll keep you posted on how that's going.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

23 Months Old

Better a week late than never!

My baby girl will be two in 3 1/2 weeks. How on earth have I been a mom for that long already? I can't imagine what I'll be saying/thinking when she's 16, or graduating from college, or getting married...

A typical playtime in our house these days.

Anyways, I digress.

In the past month Lane has really seemed to grow up a bit.

At 23 months (and 6 days) old, Lane:

*has a blossoming vocabulary. While her pronunciation definitely needs some work, she is talking more and more. New words this month include: ball, blue, bye-bye, purple, pickle (puh-ka), more (moe), Layla (what she's named her Auburn cheerleader doll), nut (nuh), banana (neenee), grandma (mamoo), mimi, papa (baba), baby, poo-poo (bobo), hippo, bowl, ewwww, yeah, Nonna, cookie (guhgee), cracker (kaker), bread, excuse you (scoo-oo), Bible, stool (as in step stool), me, eat (eee), reindeer (dehdeh), bubble.

One of her favorite games these days: get daddy to push her around the house in his office chair.

*is learning how to be gentle with Noel. Lane likes to pat her on the stomach, stroke her face, or give her kisses. She's not big on holding her, nor is she very aware of needing to be careful around her, but that will come with time.

Helping Elmo kiss the "baybee."

*got some new books for Christmas that she really likes: Where, Oh Where is Huggle Buggle Bear and The Very Lonely Firefly.

*is getting better and better at playing pretend. She'll put Elmo's hands together for him to "pray," feed any of her Little People, dolls, or stuffed animals real or play food, have them give us "five," and so on.

Giving kitty a drink of tea.

*has turned into a "typical girl," according to Shannon. This translates into: she can't make up her mind about anything. She can't decide which show she wants to watch, which book she wants to read, or which food she wants to eat.

*loves hummus. I'll give her a spoonful with five pretzels and she'll skip the pretzels and eat the hummus with her fingers.

Mmm, hummus.

*is starting to test boundaries. For example, we'll tell her not to throw something and she'll look right at us, hold it over her head, and drop it, like asking, "is this throwing?" She does the same thing with jumping on the bed, sitting down on couches or chairs, and so on.

*is pretty much all out of her 18-month clothes and only wearing 24-month or 2t things. There are a few miscellaneous 18-month articles in her closet and chest of drawers, but for the most part...she's out of them. She's still wearing size 6 shoes. It feels like she weighs a ton.

Feeding the zoo animals (and the cow).

*is sleeping better. We put a latch-hook lock on the outside of her door and within a week she was going to sleep at a normal time and getting up at a normal time (i.e. not in the 5 o'clock hour). We don't let her out of her room until 7:00 (about the time it starts to get daylight) most days, but she seems content to play with her stuffed animals in her bed or go back to sleep if she's awake much before then. I usually lay down with her at nap time until she falls asleep, because it's just easier than fighting the fight that she puts up most days. I'd rather sacrifice 15 minutes of my afternoon to lay down beside her than to sacrifice an hour of continual door-watching/listening and repeated spankings! For now...this works for us. We'll see how long it lasts before we decide she needs to learn to fall asleep on her own at nap time without getting out of bed a million times.

*can stack blocks at least 12 high.

Now that she's mastered sorting the shapes she likes to stack them.

*is still a bit picky about certain foods (she's really not big on meat), but for the most part will still eat most anything. She loves bread and carbs. She definitely doesn't like to eat the same thing over and over again. She likes variety, so if we eat the same thing more than twice (as leftovers), she probably won't really eat it the third or fourth time.

*is definitely opinionated. She has opinions about when I can sing, what song to sing her at bedtime, if the way I'm playing with her toys is correct, how she should be helping me in the kitchen, and so on and so forth. She wants what she wants when she wants it. Like any toddler, I suppose.

Notice each animal has their own cup?

And there you have it. 23 months. My lovely, lovely mess of a girl. Golly I love her.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Noel's Birth Story

Ahh, well, it's taken me long enough to get around to this, don't you think? I want to write it down before I forget it, as seems to happen with birth stories. I'll start with the same disclaimer I wrote with Lane's birth story.

WARNING: This may be graphic in detail. And long.

Monday morning Shannon and I got up and went about our normal, daily routine, getting showers and breakfast and checking our email. Our babysitter showed up at 9:00 to watch Lane while Shannon and I left to go study language at some friends' house. We studied and I had an accountability meeting with my friend. At around 11:00 I told her, "I may be having Braxton-Hicks contractions...I'm not really sure what they're supposed to feel like since I've never had non-Pitocin-induced contractions that I could feel. It feels kind of like Noel is stretching and then relaxing." She was all excited and asked, "Do you think we'll have a baby today?" to which I replied, "No, I think they're just little Braxton-Hicks contractions." (HA!)

We left a little before noon, went to a pharmacy, and then took a minibus home. We thanked and hugged our babysitter and I got lunch ready for all of us. We ate, got the kitchen cleaned up, Shannon headed into his office to get some work done, and I laid down with Lane at about 1:10. I thought to myself, "While I'm laying here, I'll time these contractions and see how long they last." So while I was laying down with Lane (about 15-20 minutes) I had three contractions, each lasting about 30-40 seconds, none of which were painful, per se, but all of which had a definite beginning, peak, and end. I came out of Lane's room, went to the bathroom, and had a couple more while I was in there. I told Shannon that I'd had a few contractions and wasn't sure if I should go out to IKEA with my friend that afternoon. Then I went to hang up some laundry and needed Shannon's help with a sheet (you have to fold them while wet to hang them on the drying rack, and I don't like my wet, clean clothes touching the floors). While he was helping me hang the sheet I had to stop to breathe through a contraction. So at about 1:50 we called my friend to tell her I'd been having a few contractions and didn't think it was a good idea to go all the way out to IKEA with her. Then after I'd finished hanging the laundry I called my doctor and said, "I just wanted to let you know that I've been having contractions for about the last hour. They're not regular at all, but they're fairly painful." She asked me to go to the hospital to get checked.

About three hours after she was born.

So we began calling down our list of people who could watch Lane. One family was at the Emniyet working on their residency permits. Another family wasn't home (as we later learned they had just landed at the airport from their weekend trip to another city). Another friend was out at her son's school, watching his Christmas play. Her husband was at a training. We were starting to get panicky about needing to get to the hospital and not having anyone to come watch Lane when our friend decided to leave his training and come help us out. He arrived at about 2:30. Meanwhile, my contractions had started becoming painful to the point that I was thinking, "Something is wrong. This isn't right. This isn't how early labor is supposed to go. We need to get to the hospital NOW." I don't even remember what I did during that 30 minutes (I think I spent a good amount of time on the potty, as contractions seems to do weird things to your bowels/intestines), but I know that I was stopping frequently to rock on my hands and knees through contractions. Shannon was putting last-minute things in my hospital bag. When our friend showed up to watch Lane I was like, "We need to go, NOW. I don't care about what's left for the hospital bag." Our friend went and got us a taxi while I leaned on Shannon in the street, swaying through another contraction. I told Shannon I needed some water so he ran to buy me some in a store, and I got in the taxi and had another contraction. The cab driver was yelling out his window, "Hurry!" to our friend who had hailed the cab for us. (For those who are wondering, yes, we left Lane in the apartment alone for about five minutes. She was asleep and locked in her room.) Shannon showed up and we made the 5-minute drive to the hospital, our driver honking at everyone and doing a fantastic job of getting there quickly. It's humorous now to think that we had planned on walking to the hospital...

We got to the hospital and as I was getting out of the taxi another contraction hit (funny that I didn't have any on the ride to the hospital), and I put my arms around Shannon's neck and groaned through it. Someone came up behind me with a wheelchair and after the contraction had finished and I sat down, they wheeled me down the hallway, asking me (in Turkish) how many weeks pregnant I was and maybe what time the contractions had started. We got to the examining room and they checked me and announced I was six centimeters dilated. Shannon called my doctor and practically yelled, "She's six centimeters dilated!," the doctor said she was on her way, and I was yelling at Shannon that I needed a trash can because I was going to throw up. I promptly lost all my lunch, the nurses were telling me "sakin, sakin!" which means "peace," or "calm" (basically, "calm down!"), and transferring me to another bed or another wheelchair...I don't remember. I know that I got to the delivery room, got changed into the delivery gown thingamajig, and the nurses were asking me all sorts of crazy questions in Turkish, like how much I weighed, what my height was (like I can convert inches to centimeters when I'm having contractions!), and other questions that I can't remember, but I do remember that I was having a hard time translating stuff in my head, remembering Turkish at all, and answering them.

Daddy's so proud!

At this point I remember that I was on my side, laying in the bed, and holding onto the rail on the side, and my contractions were so painful that I was moaning/groaning/screaming/screeching through them. I was to the point where in between contractions my body was shaking uncontrollably. I couldn't "sakin" to save my life. The nurses asked me if I wanted an epidural, to which I replied "maybe," all the while thinking, "Uh, yeah! Stick that needle in my back and relieve me of this awful, HORRENDOUS pain!" But my doctor wasn't there yet. I really did want a natural birth. And at that point the main reason I wanted one was that I couldn't calm down between contractions and was remembering pushing for an hour with Lane and thinking that there's no way I could do that at the point where I was.

At about 3:10ish (30 minutes after arriving at the hospital), my doctor arrived. She checked me and I was eight centimeters dilated. She went and changed into her scrubs. I don't remember too much, just that she asked me if I wanted an epidural and I think I said, "I don't know." She said that the anesthesiologist would have to come down and check me and see if I was too far dilated. I asked her how long she thought it would be before we had a baby and she said she thought we'd be seeing her within an hour. I knew from getting my epidural with Lane that it takes at least 20-30 minutes before the anesthesiologist could get there, clean your back, get the needle in, and the medicine take effect. So I said no, I could do it without. So she asked me if I wanted her to break my water. I asked if it would make it go faster, to which she said yes, and that it wouldn't make things any more painful than they already were. "Yes, break my water!"

I don't remember much about the following 10-15 minutes. I remember that I wouldn't let Shannon hold my hand, because I was gripping the side of the bed so hard that I was afraid I'd break his hand. I remember my doctor asking me if I'd gone to the bathroom and if my bladder was empty. I told her that yes, I'd gone, but that I could probably go again. I asked if there was a bathroom I could use, and of course there was, but she didn't want me to use it because she said there was too much of a danger of me wanting to push while going to the bathroom, so I could just pee if I needed to. Well, I was thinking, "I don't know if I can just pee on myself!" and I had that thought for maybe one contraction, and with the next one I was thinking, "Hey, I might be able to push." So I started asking if I could push, since she hadn't said anything like, "I can see the baby's head crowning," or "you're at ten centimeters and can push whenever you're ready." So my doctor said, "Yes, you can push whenever you want to!" And with the next contraction I pushed with everything I had, screaming, "Get this baby out of me!!!!" (Yes, I was that woman.) Her head came out with that push and my doctor actually told me to stop pushing. And with the next contraction I pushed and her little body came out. It was 3:40, a mere hour after we had arrived at the hospital.

They placed her on my belly and we spent a couple of minutes just looking at her, getting photos, and marveling that it was all over. Her umbilical cord was really short so she stayed down on my belly until my doctor cut her cord after it had stopped pulsing. My placenta didn't deliver right away, so the nurses tried to latch Noel on to nurse (to encourage contractions), but at some point they had put an IV in my arm, right where it bends, so I couldn't hold her very well. We held her, got some photos, and just marveled at the miracle that had just taken place. After a few minutes the nurses whisked her away to weigh her, clean her up, and so on. I, on the other hand, had to stay in the delivery room for about 45 more minutes since the stubborn placenta wouldn't budge.

The look of relief after a 2.5 hour labor with no pain medication!

Eventually it did budge and I got to go up to my room. We spent awhile marveling over our new daughter, trying to decide if we preferred this kind of labor and delivery or being induced, and trying to get the internet to work so that we could call our families, since none of them even knew that we had gone to the hospital. At around 7:00 we got the internet working and started calling our families, who were completely shocked! Our friends brought Lane by at around 8:00 and we all visited for a bit before they took Lane home to get some sleep. Shannon stayed at the hospital with me and our friends stayed at our place with Lane.

Of course I didn't get any sleep (does anyone actually sleep the night after they have a baby?), and the next morning we started the discharge procedures at around 10:00 a.m. Shannon came home around noon to help get Lane down for her nap and Noel and I came home around 3:00 (they wanted me to stay a full 24 hours).

I do have to say that this birth experience was much better than with Lane. I'm not sure if it's because a) I didn't have any drugs pumped into me, b) it was so fast, or c) it's a second birth so my body knew what to do. I've healed much quicker this time around (no tearing!) and other than feeling like my body had been run over by a cement truck last Wednesday and Thursday, I've felt great. I'm back in my regular jeans already, Noel is nursing like a champ (when she can stay awake long enough), and we're all getting at least some sleep. I'm so glad that she came before Christmas...this has been a great time of year to have Shannon home (he took vacation through this week) and to be able to spend lots of time with my family.

And that's that! I still can't believe that I have two kids. Two!

First family photo.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Life Lately

Today I have a 23-month old and a 10-day old.

I still can't believe that I have two kids. I'm a real-live grown-up.

As seems to happen, life has just been crazy around here. Between routine 3 a.m. feedings, regular life, and preparing for Christmas, here's a glimpse into our past ten days.

Monday and Tuesday: most of these days were spent in the hospital (birth story upcoming...I promise).

Thursday: Noel and I went back to the hospital for her 3-day checkup. I did a big grocery run to stock up on things and to buy a microwave (I had been planning on doing this on Monday, but Noel decided to come and thwart my plans). A nurse came to do a home visit to check on Noel. Some men came to our apartment to replace our hot water heater.

Noel. Being cute.

Saturday: we went to church.

Sunday: I went to the local bazaar to buy produce. I walked almost all the way home (about a mile) before a bus ever drove by me.

Monday: Our microwave broke. I couldn't find the receipt. I went to the post office to track down a missing package. They couldn't tell me anything other than that it had gone out for delivery three times but hadn't been delivered. Noel and I went back to the hospital again for her hearing test, and I left her booklet at home (here they give you a booklet to keep track of that has all the baby's stats in it). I left my itzbeen there and returned an hour later only to find out it was gone. I walked home, crying the whole way, feeling like a postpartum idiot for leaving the itzbeen, forgetting Noel's booklet, and throwing the receipt for our microwave away.

Tuesday: Shannon took a trip to another post office (where our package was supposed to be located), only to find that earlier in the day they had moved the box to the post office that's only a five-minute walk away. He also went back to Carrefour with our microwave and without a receipt to attempt to exchange it. Miraculously, they let him. The hospital called and said they'd found my itzbeen, so I went back to get it and to get the hearing test lady to write in Noel's booklet.

Wednesday: we took our first family outing to a shopping mall. We had heard that they had lots of Christmas lights (for New Year's, here) out. Lane had a blast. We all survived.

Lane at the mall yesterday, enjoying a chocolate muffin and some chai tea latte.

Today: A friend watched Lane while I went back to my OBGYN to get checked out, post-delivery. Another friend came with me to a store where I had bought an ink cartridge that doesn't work and had tried to return it, only for them to call me and tell me that you can't return it without the box it came in. So I took my friend to help me tell them that's ridiculous, since my Turkish is not good enough to do that. I also went to another bazaar to buy things for Christmas dinner.

And in between all the above I've washed three loads of laundry, two loads of cloth diapers, made biscotti, hot chocolate mix, breakfast cookies, granola bars, and gingerbread cookies, cleaned sinks, and changed approximately 85 of Noel's diapers. I made two pie crusts today (for apple pies I'll make tomorrow), have almost finished Noel's birth story, and (with Shannon) wrote our Christmas newsletter to friends and family back home.

In short: we've been busy.

***Lane's 23-month post will follow soon. Tomorrow, hopefully.***

Monday, December 12, 2011

She's Here!

Elizabeth "Noel" Scarbrough

5 lbs, 15 oz.
19.3 inches
3:40 pm Istanbul time

2.5 hour labor
Mama and baby are doing great. More to follow soon!

Friday, December 2, 2011

38 Weeks (second time around)

It's almost time to have a baby around here!

I went to the doctor on Tuesday and she is finally satisfied with my weight gain (12 kilos, or 26 pounds). I'm glad to know that I can stop eating like a pig just to put on some pounds! I hate eating junk just to get some calories, but I feel like that's all I did for the past two weeks. I guess that maybe it paid off, though, as Baby Girl is measuring a bit more 'normal' sized now. So yay!

Taken this morning before I went Christmas shopping. Wearing pre-pregnancy jeans. Can't believe I can still get them on! (Although they're NOT comfortable to sit in, I didn't feel like I had 'saggy butt from maternity pants' syndrome for this photo!)

It's so interesting, being pregnant here versus in the States. I haven't had a UA since the very first time I went to the doctor at nine or ten weeks. In the U.S. you get one every single time you go to the doctor. On Tuesday, at 37.5 weeks pregnant, my doctor didn't check me to see if I was dilated. She didn't do a group B strep test. She didn't ask me about my birth plan or desires. And she didn't want me to come back in until next Friday, when I'll be 39 weeks.

As far as how I'm feeling...I'm feeling fine. That same spot beneath my sternum is killing me, just like it did with Lane. My first doctor thought it was muscles stretching. This doctor thinks it's my liver (I think...maybe it was a different organ) pressing up against my sternum, since the liver (or the other organ...I really don't remember) is a hard, not-flexible or squishy organ. My upper back hurts in the same spot as it did with Lane. And my lower back, on the left, almost into my rear-end smarts sometimes when I step funny. If I overdo it (which I seem to have done, oh, almost every day this week) the insides of my hips ache. And it's really sad, because all that 'overdoing it' entails is doing something normal, like taking Lane to the park or the bazaar, or going Christmas shopping like I did today.

I'm ready to not be pregnant anymore, at least as far as how my body is feeling goes. As far as practically-speaking'd be nice if she'd hold on for another week. I have a baby shower tomorrow. I have a few Christmas things left to buy, maybe a new purse/diaper bag, and possibly a bouncy seat (depending on if I can find one to borrow). And quite honestly it'd be nice to shop alone and not with newborn in tow. As far as my outlook on how long I think my body carries babies for...I'm planning for a 2012 baby, even though she's due in two weeks.

This past week some ladies with whom I attend a Bible study surprised me with a small baby shower. I haven't known these ladies for very long so didn't invite them to my "real" baby shower, not feeling comfortable asking them to come after only knowing them for six or so weeks. But they surprised me with pretty desserts and lots of packages to open, mostly full of practical things like diapers, wipes, and baby shampoo, which was so perfect since we will need those things, whereas we have a good amount of clothes and toys and things from when Lane was little. I was so blessed by them.

So...that's life at 38 weeks (or 1 week shy of being able to say "nine months") pregnant in the Scarbrough household. Once again, I'm going to hope there's no 40-week belly photo, but...I'm not holding my breath!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree,

how much you make me smile!

I absolutely love the look of our decorated Christmas tree when all the other lights in the room are out. LOVE it.

Since last year's Thanksgiving Day experience, we decided to start a tradition while we live overseas (and don't generally have Thanksgiving Day off to eat and spend with family). On Thanksgiving Day (or evening, actually) we put up our tree and eat pizza for dinner. Then we celebrate "real" Thanksgiving on Saturday with others who had to work, or had to go to school or language class, or for whatever other reason were unavailable for a real Thanksgiving feast on the fourth Thursday in November.

This year, however, we didn't stick to tradition. A tradition that only started last year, actually, so I'm not sure if it's officially a tradition or not yet. Anyhow, this year we put up our tree on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Shannon, Lane, and I were all home sick. We all felt awful. I think I felt the worst, since I had just contracted the cold on Tuesday, whereas Shannon and Lane had gotten it the previous Friday, but still, the point remains: we were all home and all felt like doing nothing. So we decided to have our "Thanksgiving Day tradition" on Wednesday instead of Thursday. We put up our tree. We listened to Christmas music. We watched A Charlie Brown Christmas while putting the tree up. We let Lane help hang ornaments and lights. I made homemade pizza for dinner. We set out our nativity scenes, put out all of our fun Christmas stuff, and hung schizophrenic blinking lights in Shannon's office (as opposed to on the tree...our only colored lights are insane and blink and chase and altogether drive me batty. So they're not on the tree this year [by the way have I mentioned my opinion on colored lights as opposed to white lights on Christmas trees? No? Colored lights are WAY better...there you go]).

And we haven't stopped smiling since. Christmastime makes me happy. Our Christmas mugs from Poland make me happy when I drink tea or coffee out of them. Holiday candles make my nose happy. Watching Lane tote our stockings around the house makes me grin from ear to ear.

And once again, I'm ever so grateful that we paid that $200 to check an extra bag full of our Christmas things. Ever. so. grateful.