Monday, January 30, 2012

Moving Percy

At this very moment the movers are scurrying around our home like ants, boxing up everything in sight.  Having someone else move you is pretty awesome, but my favorite part so far is that when they boxed up Tenny's train set they accidentally hit the on switch for one of the toy engines so we now have a constant serenade coming from deep inside the mountain of boxes filling up our living room:  

"Chug, chug, chug, chug, toot, toot!  I'm Percy.  I'm the  number 6 train engine.  I'll huff and I'll puff to be there on time!"

We're also going to keep huffing and puffing so that we can be there on time.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Our other kids

A lot of the focus has shifted to the adorable little sister, but her two older brothers are still around and still as cute and crazy as ever.

Some recent Tennysonisms:

  • "Daddy, why don't you have very many friends?  I have tons, so I'll share some of mine with you."
  • "Daddy, did you lose a tooth?  There's a big space between your teeth where I think a tooth is missing."

Now that's just mean.  Anyway, Tenny has really adapted well to having another younger sibling.  Tait, on the other hand, realized right away that some of his allotted attention was being diverted to the new kid in town, and he's adopted a coping strategy commonly referred to as:  "The squeaky wheel gets the grease."  And boy does he squeak.  Cute kids, and doing remarkably well considering how much is happening/changing right now.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Baby Julie - 1 Week

Suzy:  "What's wrong with me?  I've had a sweet tooth ever since I gave birth.  I just can't get enough sugar!"
Jeremy:  "Well, you did just lose 8 pounds 5 ounces of pure sweetness."

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Julie's Birth Story

For three weeks leading up to Julie's due date I often felt like I was in early labor.  I would have consistent contractions for hours and then they would just stop.  Last Thursday night I had some consistent contractions before bed and I was hopeful Julie would be born soon.  I fell asleep but the strength of the contractions woke me up at around 2:00 am.  I felt like I was in labor.  My contractions actually felt good.  It felt good to be in labor.  I had a feeling today was the day.  I called the midwives and Laura was the midwife on call.  She asked me a bunch of questions that I had anticipated, about my water breaking and such.  But one question that she asked me that caught me off guard was, "Are you moaning?"  Huh?  Moaning?  I was definitely not moaning.  We decided I would call her back in about 30 minutes to give her more information on the timing and strength of the contractions since I hadn't even thought to keep track of them.  Jeremy and I had recently installed this handy dandy app on my new iPod that helped keep track of contractions.  We excitedly timed and analyzed the contractions.  I called Laura back and reported that they were 5 minutes apart and moderately strong.  We determined that I would call back when I felt they were getting stronger.  I spent the wee hours of the morning breathing through contractions and obsessively recording them on the iPod.  I called back at about 5:00 am and said I felt like it was time.  They were getting stronger and closer together.  I called my birthing assistants.  The assistant on call was Mary Beth.  We called our friend Elizabeth to come watch the boys who were still sleeping.  We all met at BirthCare in Alexandria, VA,  about an hour later.  On the car ride there, we stopped by McDonald's for breakfast.  It had kind of become a tradition.  My contractions were definitely uncomfortable at this point.

And then we got to the birth center a n d  e v  e  r  y  t  h  i  n  g      s     t     o     p     p     e     d.

I don't know why.  Maybe it was because the sun came up and I hate laboring in bright light.  Maybe it was the pressure to perform since I had woken everyone up in the middle of the night.  Looking back I think I should have ditched the iPod.  It was stressing me out.  Or maybe I was just sick of being pregnant and willed those contractions to happen.  In any case, I left BirthCare about three hours later with no baby.  At first I felt *really* stupid.  I woke up my midwife, my birth assistant, the midwifery student (I will hereafter refer to them collectively as "the midwives"), my husband, the babysitter and my mom and made them leave their nice warm beds so that I could chill in the BirthCare bed in Old Town Alexandria.  Giving birth is a lot of pressure.  Pun intended - couldn't resist.  The midwives were so nice about it though, and told me funny stories about similar situations that made me feel so much better and I left feeling guiltless.  But Tennyson was really disappointed when we got back home without baby Julie.  

Which brings us to the next part of the story:  
A Two-Bedroom Row House + 2 Adults + 2 Sick Kids + 1 Woman in Labor = CHAOS.

At this point I ditched the iPod.  I took a nap.  I ate.  I took a bath.  I cursed the bath because there wasn't enough hot water.  I cursed my two bedroom row house.  I stepped over toys and other random household items that the kids were pulling out.  My attitude was now, "Labor, meh."  Everyone kind of ignored me.  I mean, they didn't neglect me, but I definitely wasn't on stage anymore. When I'd have a contraction I would just stop what I was doing and "breath."  But over time I did start noticing that things were starting to hurt.  Like really hurt.  It did not feel good to be in labor any more.  But my contractions were really far apart and sporadic.  I remember at one point I was laying on Tennyson's bed watching Tait play on the floor and I had a pretty strong contraction.  I started moaning through it.  I looked down at Tait and he laid down on his blanket and started moaning too.  How can you not laugh at that?  It was so cute.

I decided to take a nap.  We put Tait down for a nap and let Tennyson watch "Shaun the Sheep" on Netflix.  And Jeremy and I took a nice nap.  I don't remember even having contractions during that nap.  But when I woke up a few hours later I stood up and *bam* - painful contraction.  That's when things started getting serious.  I don't even know what I was doing.  I just roamed the house in my moo moo, moaning and groaning through random contractions.  It's all a blur of whining kids, crying, talking, etc.  I remember loving my fireplace mantel.  It was the perfect place to deal with the contractions, which now were uber painful and really frequent.  At one point I was dealing with a contraction at the fireplace mantel and Tennyson said, "Mommy you're scaring me.  You sound like a ghost."  From then on I tried to use silly sounds so as not to scare the children.  I thought about Laura's question, "Are you moaning?" and realized I was progressing way past moaning.  So I started barking commands.  "We need to go now.  We need to call Elizabeth back.  Call the midwives and tell them we're coming.  This is getting serious.  We have to go now!"  I was in some serious pain and letting the more dramatic Suzy manifest herself.  

Then we had a small miracle:  in DC rush-hour traffic, we made it from Capitol Hill to the birth center in Alexandria in under 30 minutes!  OK, the miracle might have been helped along by Jeremy breaking a few traffic laws (running three stop signs, four stop lights, and speeding the entire way).  Totally impressive.  But still, the ride was miserable and now I know why people plan home births (among other reasons).  I arrived at BirthCare at 5 pm.  It was so different from my arrival that morning.  No salutations.  No talking.  No moo moo.  Just me trying to cope.  I was eight centimeters dilated when we arrived.  Thank goodness.  I wanted to get in the giant tub.  That usually works wonders.  I got in the tub at 5:30.  And then I got out 12 minutes later.  I was way past that whole tub thing.  

At this point I don't think I was what you'd call "coping" very well.  I was not really trying to breath through my contractions.  That is probably because I was in transition.  All the signs were there. I felt like throwing up (which I never actually did surprisingly).  There was no where to hide from the pain.  I did not know what I wanted except for it to be over.  "Why do I do this to myself?"  I wondered.  I went back to the bed.  I was hot.  Then I was cold.  I was on my hands and knees.  Then I laid on my left side.  This whole time the midwives were helping me and coaching me with breathing through each contraction.  But breathing through the pain felt tortuous.  I had been wanting to push way back when I was in the car.  I told them I wanted to push.  I went with my instinct and started bearing down.  It did not take away the pain but it felt right.  And then things happened really fast.  

Ring of fire.  I knew I was close.  Laura said I was fully dilated.  I pushed away.  More ring of fire.  Inside I wondered if she would be born in the caul.  I got my answer just then when my water broke.  I pushed and I remember hearing my mother say, "Oh she's got dark hair Suzy!"  I remember the midwives slowing me down so I wouldn't tear.  I remember pushing out her shoulders.  And then she was mine!  Her slippery, warm body was snuggled in the nook of my left arm.  She was so quiet.  She didn't make one peep.  But she was perfectly fine.  She was exceptionally fine in fact.  Just really peaceful.  She was born at 6 pm, exactly one hour after I arrived at the birth center.

We let the cord finish pulsating and Jeremy cut the cord and said, "You're on your own now kid," which has been his tradition.  The placenta came a few minutes later.  I was so glad the worst was over.  I was so glad she was healthy.  I was so happy to meet her.  She seemed so small to me.  She was the smallest of all my children.  Maybe that is why it only took two pushes to get her out.  But she measured 8 pounds 5 ounces.    She was exceptional.  Within minutes she was already latched and sucking.  Great instincts.    

We named her Julie after my mother whom I love with all of my heart.  Anyone who knows my mother knows that she is patient beyond patience, selfless beyond selflessness and kind beyond all kindness.  I have tried my whole life to emulate her example.  I only hope I can be like her one day.  And I would love for baby Julie to desire the same.  If one human being could be that good, imagine how good God is.

Julie's middle name, Day, is my maternal grandmother's maiden name.  And I think it also adds a certain cheerfulness to Julie.

I feel I have learned a lot having had three unmedicated labors.  I feel baby Julie's birth created a bridge between my experiences with Tennyson and Tait, which seemed so opposite.  I do not think labor was any easier or less painful this time.  But I did understand it better.  The language of labor is pain.  It is a language I do not speak.  But I understand enough to get around.

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Julie Through The Glass"

The 1981 Mormon ad that we fortuitously rediscovered today (by reading this).  Our Julie wasn't born in a hospital, but the cognitive journey portrayed in the commercial is precisely what we've experience with the birth of each of our children.  When you first hold your little miracle, it's impossible not to focus on all the life that awaits her.  This video certainly touched a nerve with Suzy tonight.  The song, btw, was written and performed by Carly Simon, one of Suzy's favorite musicians.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Baby Julie

Our Little Angel Baby

She doesn't open her eyes much, but we'll keep trying to get a picture showing her pretty, dark eyes.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Julie Day Stewart

Born January 20, 2012 at 6:00 pm
8 pounds 5 ounces, 20 inches, Suzy's brown hair
Absolutely beautiful!

Suzy was amazing, as usual.  Suzy and Julie are doing great and resting at home.

Julie Day with her namesake, Grandma Julie.

Tenny and Tait are so happy to have their sister.

Here's a video of the boys meeting their baby sister for the first time this morning:

More details and pictures to follow . . . after we sleep a bit.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Brewing Storm

Storm approaching Gunsight Bay in Lake Powell

This may seem off topic, since Suzy's on the brink of birthing our brand new bouncing baby girl.  But really it's the main topic for Ye Stewart Clan right now.  Why?  Well, because there is evidently a correlation between a significant drop in barometric pressure and the onset of labor, and we're about to have a significant drop in barometric pressure in our neighborhood:

So, we're (especially Suzy) hoping for progress by tomorrow night.  With that in mind, we took some time at dinner tonight to place our bets on the birth stats for our baby girl.  Here are our guesses:

Feel free to add your guesses in the comments.  The winner will receive the grand prize of a one-month supply of diapers to help you change our baby girl, plus free lifetime access to Ye Stewart Clan.

Hopefully we'll have wonderful news for our next post!



40 Weeks Reached
And Baby Remains
In Utero

No rush baby, but we gotta get movin'!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Union Station

I think it's one of the most fabulous buildings in DC, and it's never more so than when it's decked out for Christmas.  This year, when Tennyson saw those giant wreaths, he gasped and said:  "Holy cow, look at those giant wreafs!  How do they even fit those in their Christmas box?"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Supreme Court Field Trip

Today I finally did something that I have wanted to do for many years:  I attended a session of oral arguments at the Supreme Court.

(Blackberry self-portrait)

It was awesome.  OK, it probably wasn't that awesome for the 50+ teenagers visiting with their high school class; they had fallen asleep on each others' shoulders within 10 minutes of the Justices entering the room.  But I was as giddy as a schoolgirl (a schoolgirl at junior prom, not one who is being forced to sit through a Supreme Court oral argument).  For an attorney such as myself, this is the big dance, and I loved it.  Some observations:

1 - All of the Justices were super impressive.  I did not expect to leave with that impression, particularly after having spent a few years in law school learning how to tear Supreme Court decisions to shreds.  And I know that politically I'm supposed to abhor four or five of the Justices, depending on what side of the aisle I'm on.  But I'm not talking politics or judgments.  At the oral argument today I saw something that wasn't discussed in law school and never makes headlines:  the Justices were incredibly thoughtful, very well prepared, shockingly funny and wicked smart.  I watched with pure delight as one Justice after the other made comments and asked questions that cut right to the heart of the complicated issues and dismantled the various arguments being advanced.  (As for Justice Thomas, who has been famously silent during oral arguments and remained so today, I was even impressed by him because he had the chutzpah to laugh out loud at the silliest arguments that were advanced -- his own pithy commentary, I suppose.)  I had to feel sorry, though, for the poor attorneys who were left begging for mercy.  Which brings me to my second point...

2 - The attorneys making oral arguments today were underwhelming and overwhelmed.  Granted, the cases today were very complicated (which explains why they were before the Supreme Court).  But the attorneys weren't ready for the tough questions, and it seemed like they were so blinded by the strengths of their cases that they had failed to prepare against their weaknesses.  Of course, the Justices focused almost exclusively on testing the weaknesses.  This led to a lot more stammering than I had expected.

3 - The Supreme Court building is amazing and instantly secured a spot on my list of top 5 buildings in DC (along with the U.S. Capitol, Union Station, the Library of Congress and the National Gallery of Art).

4 - Every American (who is not a teenager) should sit in on a session of the Supreme Court.  It did a lot of good in renewing my confidence in the U.S. judicial system and made me feel patriotic, and it probably would do the same for you (of course, I say the same thing when encouraging people to go to rodeos, which also have a patriotism-inducing effect).  And it's much easier to attend a Supreme Court session than I thought it would be.  Sure it can be tough to get a seat when a blockbuster case is scheduled for argument, but most days don't have blockbuster cases (which you can verify in advance on the Court's calendar) and you can just show up early (7:30ish) on the morning of the session and ask the guard for a placeholder ticket.  It's that easy.    Plus you just never know what you're going to get:  the two cases argued today (Coleman and Roberts) aren't going to be making any headlines, but I did get to watch Chief Justice Roberts read the Court's unanimous decision in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church, which is an important First Amendment/Religion Clauses case that is definitely making headlines and will continue to be an important decision for a long, long time.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Tait is part of the 1%

In size for his age, that is.  We love our little boy.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Harpers Ferry, WV

If you want a fun day-trip about 2 hours from DC and you like outdoor activities, preserved old towns, American history, shopping and/or Mountain Dew Cake, then Harpers Ferry is a must.  Somehow it took us 8 years to make the trip, but we finally made it (back when the weather was about 70 degrees warmer) and had a great time.  It really is a beautiful place and there is so much to do (like tubing the rivers).  The above shot is of part of the historic town.  Below is at the point of the town, at the confluence of the Potomac and the Shenandoah rivers, where three states are visible (Virginia top left, Maryland top right, West Virginia bottom).

John Brown's Fort/fire engine house

This is one of those place we definitely should have visited sooner, because now we wish we could go back but it's not going to happen any time soon.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

In 2011 we resolved to:  (1) improve our living conditions and (2) learn how to make portrait photographs.    We knocked the first one out of the park -- sure it was the bottom of the 9th inning with two outs, a full count and the bases loaded (i.e., day 363 out of 365), but what better way to end the game than a walk-off grand slam?  As for the second, well, you can't win 'em all.

In 2012 we resolve to explore:  (1) the Uinta Mountains; (2) City of the Rocks; (3) the Great Salt Lake; and (4) Goblin Valley.

We hope your new year is even better than the last!