Sunday, May 19, 2013

Isla's Newborn Photos

Nathan and I tried our hand at a little photography again and we are pretty happy with the results!  Here's our little Isla...I especially love the ones of all three at the end.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Isla Bea Larson

A little background before I get into the labor details...

Our 3rd Baby was due May 23rd, 2013.  We decided even before we were pregnant that we wanted to keep the gender a surprise this time around.  Having already had a boy and a girl (during the same time of the year, even!) we figured we were prepared either way.  Honestly Nathan and I were not hoping for one or the other, either.  And once I had made that decision to wait, it really wasn't as hard as I thought!  In fact, it saved me a lot of money not knowing ;).  As early as 6 weeks I had a hunch that it was going to be a boy, based on how my pregnancy was going.  And that hunch felt stronger and stronger as time went on.  I was pretty much convinced in my mind that it would be a boy.  I made a 'boy' car seat canopy (since I already had a girl one), and I bought a couple boy things that I didn't have from Sawyer.  I was sure of it (mostly).  Until a couple months ago.  My grandma in Germany wasn't doing so well.  She's been in and out of the hospital with various health issues over the past years.  And there were many times we thought we may not see her again.  But she always seemed to spring back into action!  At the end of March my parents flew to Germany for a week to spend some time with her, thinking it really might be the end.  During that time Omi (my grandma) told my mom that she had a dream.  In the dream a nurse was holding a baby girl and she introduced the baby to my grandma as 'Jessica's baby'.  I know dreams are dreams, but Omi has some pretty serious dreams sometimes and they usually seem to somehow come true.  Suddenly I was very skeptical of my convictions.  But another month went by and I reverted back to feeling like it was going to be a boy.

As far as my plans for labor went, I had been induced around 39 weeks with my other two and I figured we would probably end up doing the same.  But a part of me thought it would be fun to wait this one out and let things happen on their own.  Unfortunately, being due on Memorial Day weekend and having preschool graduation, visitors, father/sons campouts, etc was making 'planning' the event sound a little more appealing.  We went ahead and scheduled an induction for the 19th, and I decided I would just cancel it if I changed my mind.  Meanwhile, my grandma's condition was worsening.  For a good week we were all fairly certain that she was dying.  My mom battled in her mind for days with whether or not to fly back over there to be with her.  They are in the middle of renovating and putting their house on the market and moving to Arizona so they have been pretty busy.  And it is so hard to plan an overseas trip when you are unsure of the circumstances and when to book the return flight.  She had already visited and spent some time with her mom recently, but she just wasn't feeling right about not being there.  So on the Friday before Mother's Day she quickly packed her bags and flew back to Germany.  The entire time my mom was with her she spent at her bedside.  It was clear that she wouldn't make it much longer.  At one point, my Omi was coming out of the sedated state that she was in and she asked my aunts if I knew what I was having yet.  Trying to make a dying woman happy, they said yes and that it was a girl!  She was SO happy and kept repeating how 'she just knew it'.

Skip forward to Sunday morning, 2:30 am.  I woke up in a delirious state because I was fairly certain I had just peed myself :).  When you are 38 wks pregnant with your 3rd, it happens.  As I started to slowly wake up I began to wonder if my water might have broken.  I dismissed the thought because, frankly, that just never happens to me and has never happened to my mom or sister...I didn't think it was in my genes.  But I could not go back to sleep.  And an occasional trickle of fluid kept me wondering.  It was a very restless next couple of hours.  I also kept thinking about my grandma wondering how she was doing.  I couldn't help but think that perhaps her passing and my baby's arrival were somehow connected.  I finally woke Nathan so he could help me decide what to do.  Finally, around 4:30 am I decided we needed to go have it checked out.  We called Nate's mom over, and we got to the hospital around 5:30 am.  (also, I had not packed bags previously)  They hooked me up and ran their tests.  The first test (nitrazine) was positive, but it can sometimes have false positives.  They ran a 'ferning' test two times, and they came back negative.  But I knew when they checked for those that there was very little fluid at the moment and I was skeptical that they had even collected any of the fluid that I was feeling occasionally.   Three hours later I was going home.  Honestly, I was fine with going home, I was not prepared for things to happen that day, but I didn't feel good about it.  I knew there was always the possibility of having a 'high leak' in the amniotic membrane and not being in active labor (I wasn't contracting at all really).  I also knew that if my water was broken for longer than 24 hrs, that I would be at risk for infection.  In the mean time I learned that my grandmother had passed away.  My mom sounded relieved that her suffering had come to an end.  It was a surreal moment, knowing that she had gone.  I was happy for the reunion with her husband and loved ones that she was surely experiencing on the other side.  I was sad that I wouldn't get to hug her one last time.  We went home and I took a short nap, and tried to ignore the occasional trickle of fluid every time I moved into a different position.  We went to sacrament meeting, and I decided when it was over that I needed to go back.  Having worked L&D for 5 years, I did not want to be that crazy persistent lady that just HAD to have her baby on Mother's Day.  But I couldn't ignore the symptoms or the feelings that I was having.  It wasn't worth the risk.  So we took the kids back to grandma and grandpa's, ate some lunch, and headed back.  This time we got there around 5:30 pm.  They ran the ferning test again.  The nurse was able to see some fluid this time so I was feeling more confident that whatever the result, it would be accurate.  She came back saying it was negative again!  I was surprised.  But she (being an excellent nurse) recommended that they run another test called Amniosure.  It's a bit expensive and kind of a last resort, but much more accurate.  It works kind of like a pregnancy test and if there is any amount of amniotic fluid in there it picks it up and 2 little lines appear on the test strip.  Sure enough, it was positive.  They later looked back at the ferning slide and saw that it had turned positive too!  (either missed it the first time or hadn't given it enough time to dry)  I was so relieved that I wasn't crazy!  Haha...but that meant that we were having this baby, at least a week earlier than I had planned.  I guess we got our 'surprise labor' experience.  In the end I think I prefer induction.  Way too much back and
forth for me :).

First and second run to the hospital...

So as for the labor.  Because I wasn't really in 'active' labor, they essentially had to induce me.  Once your water breaks, you can't use many of the cervical ripening agents anymore.  So they gave me cytotec (orally) to get some contractions going.  I wasn't sure how well it would work, but within a half hour or so, I was starting to feel it.  I took the cytotec around 7 pm and we had to wait 4 hours before starting pitocin.  I was only about 2 cm when we started.  The contractions became very regular and the last couple hours of that time period they were pretty dang strong!  I planned to get an epidural at 11 when they started pitocin and checked me again.  11 pm came, they checked me, I was 4 cm...but anesthesia was not available at the moment.  When he got back to the floor an hour later, they called a code blue from another part of the hospital so he had to rush to that!  Another hour and I finally had that epidural.  I don't know why I ever imagine going without.  It was such a relief.  Dr. Sherm (the doc on call whom I had never met before but ended up LOVING) came and broke the rest of my amniotic membrane.  And at 315 am when they checked me it was VERY apparent that the moment was about to happen!  We would finally find out the gender.  Finally get to see if my grandma was right, or if my hunches were on track.  Nathan got to suit up and help with the delivery, which was really fun for him. He delivered the head and Dr. Sherm helped him ease the rest of the body out.  It seemed like an eternity waiting for Nathan to catch a glimpse of the private parts!  I just watched Nathan, waiting for him to say 'boy', when a very surprised and happy smile came over his face as he said, somewhat questioningly, "It's a girl!!!!!".  I could not believe it.  I still can't believe it.  I don't know what surprises me wrong my feelings were, or how right my grandma's dream was!  And as my dad stated that day, "If it's a girl, I'll be more convinced than ever that God is a poet".  Such a special day.  Heavenly Father took my Omi back home, and sent us a beautiful little girl.  The tears flowed as I held her in my arms early that Monday morning. I felt so blessed.

The next day and a half were kind of a blur.  Trying to catch up on sleep, recover, and decide on a name.  We had already decided on 'Isla' for a girl, but were debating hard with the middle name.  We generally like to pick a middle name with meaning, or a family name.  I had thought about using my mom's name, but it didn't seem to flow very well to me.  We also thought, because of the circumstances, that we wanted to somehow incorporate my grandma or at least the story.  Nathan and I were searching the internet, reading about 'names with meaning' when we stumbled across the name 'Bea' (pronounced like 'bee').  It means 'blessed bringer of joy or happiness'.  That seemed fitting.  And it also sounded similar to my mom's nickname, 'Bina', which means 'bee' in german.  Lastly, we just loved the way it sounded together.  Isla Bea.  Cute.  And open to hundreds of nicknames.  Lima Bean.  Little Bea...the list easily goes on.  So that was that.  And we made it official.  It may not be blatantly obvious that her middle name is linked to her Omi and her Great-Omi...but we know it, and she'll know it.  Isla will always know the story of her birth and the miraculous and special experience that it was for all of us.  She will always know what a wonderful woman her Great-Omi was and I hope she feels a special connection to her.  I know that she will be watching over us, and that gives me great comfort.

And some of my favorite pictures...Sawyer and Violet meeting their new sister for the first time.  It was so sweet.  They were both super excited and just mesmerized by her.  Grandma had taken them to a play place that morning where they had face painting.  So Isla thought she was meeting Captain America, but it was just her big brother Sawyer.  Violet opted for flowers on her arm so she maintained her own identity.  :) 

Me and my THREE babies!  Ahhhh!!! :)  My heart is full.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

4 Years Old!

My BIG boy Sawyer is 4!  Its weird to think I've been a mom for a whole 4 years already, but at the same time it seems like it's been a lot longer than that!!!  I am so grateful and happy to be home with my sweet kids everyday and to be witnessing the miracles of growth and development that happen constantly. It really is amazing.  I just went back and read over my post from his 3rd birthday.  Some things have changed, but overall Sawyer is the same energetic and loving boy he's always been.  

After our summer adventures in Germany and Virginia, we moved to Las Vegas and started him up in preschool 3 days a week.  At first it was a bit of a challenge, for him and me, lol.  He wasn't sure how to handle following classroom rules or sitting still for long periods of time.  And I wasn't sure how to handle having a child that was the 'difficult' one in class.  I've suspected for a while now that Sawyer definitely has some characteristics of ADD, just like his daddy.  Knowing Nathan, I've been prepared for that and it is fine with me, but starting preschool was my first introduction with helping him deal with it outside of our home.  He has some awesome teachers, though, and they discovered fairly early on that he does really well with positive reinforcement.  And as long as he is interested and engaged in what they are doing he does fine.  They said once they figured him out things got a lot better.  And I think he became more comfortable with the routine, etc.  He still needs more reminders and 'refocusing' efforts than some of the other kids, but he's doing so much better!  We had some similar struggles when he started Sunbeams in Primary at the first of the year, but I think he is learning to adapt in there as well.  And he is happy to go to both Preschool and Primary, so I am glad that he enjoys it.  That's not to say that I don't frequently hear moans and groans as I tell him it's time to go, but he always seems to have had a good time when it's over!  It's just getting out the door that's a struggle!  I think we can all relate to that :).  His preschool also teaches letters by sound, and he seems to have really grasped it over the second half of the year.  He knows his sounds/letters very well and also is learning several 'sight words'.  He loves learning and succeeding!  His eyes truly light up and pride just emanates from him when I praise him for doing something well.  I love to see that.

I have seen some tremendous growth in his maturity levels over the past few months.  He is starting to take more responsibility for things in general.  I made him a little magnetic chore chart a couple of weeks ago and he was so excited!  He still needs reminders, of course, but giving him that little bit of responsibility and independence to do things on his own (say prayers, get dressed, make bed, brush teeth, go potty, eat breakfast, pick up toys) has truly motivated him!  Some mornings he will go pick out his own clothes and get dressed without a reminder, and he always comes and finds me with a certain look on his face that says, "Look Mom!  I did it all by myself and I am so proud of myself!  Aren't you proud of me too?!".  It's super cute and I make sure to praise the heck out of him.

This past year we've seen a bit of a picky eater emerge, and it's been a struggle for me.  In fact, most times as I would bring dinner to the table, Sawyer would plug his nose and exclaim, "WHAT is that AWFUL smell?!!??".  It was driving me crazy. He's always been great about eating fruits.  But the main dish has been a huge problem.  And veggies are hit or miss...raw carrots and cucumbers are favorites, and he even likes broccoli.  But to get the kid to eat some lasagna!?  Forget it!  Well I finally had the idea to make him a "New Foods List".  Each time he tried something new, we put it on the list. After a certain number was reached, he got a special treat.  Call it bribery, or call it positive reinforcement...whatever it was it worked!  If I can just get him to try things I'm happy.  And he's become more adventurous with food thanks to that.  I think he'll be ok afterall :).

Sawyer has always been technologically minded.  He has a true curiosity for how things work and for figuring things out.  The other day he changed the batteries on a toy pretty much by himself.  Found the screwdriver, took it apart, and put it back together.  I just had to tell him to match the + and -.  And he got some Star Wars Legos for his birthday and did super well with following instructions and putting it all together.  He has no trouble focusing when he's doing something he should have seen the concentration on his face while he built those legos!

He is also officially riding a bike with pedals!  He learned on a balance bike, and a couple weeks ago found a regular bike at grandma and grandpa's house and literally took off!  The only trouble he had was getting started a couple times but he's got it figured out.  So of course he got a bike for his birthday.  And he is loving it!  We also started him in a little baseball league at Nellis.  It's pretty low key and mostly involves learning basic skills but he's having fun being part of a team.  His favorite part is the huddle and yelling "Blue Bugs" at the count of 3.  The other day he told us his name wasn't Sawyer anymore, it was Blue Bug.  

We are finally pretty much done with naps.  If the kid goes down for a nap, he sleeps FOREVER.  And then he won't go to sleep at night.  So I stopped pushing it.  And if we do take one, I wake him up after an hour or so.  Somedays he struggles in the afternoon/evening because he's tired, but overall he's done pretty well with it.  We also have advanced to a high back booster in the car and he is loving the independence/freedom that it offers.

Sawyer makes friends wherever he goes.  Seriously.  He has never been shy and I don't see that ever being a quality of his.  He is also the best big brother I could have asked for for Violet.  His fearless, energetic nature is a good compliment to her more sensitive personality.  He loves her so much and, despite the teasing, goes out of his way to help her and share with her.  He is so excited for the new baby to come.  He kisses my belly all the time and talks to the baby in there, saying "Hey baby, we're excited for you to come out!".  He's always been a little 'aggressive' with his love, but he's getting better at being more gentle.  I'm looking forward to seeing him interact with the baby.  I know he will be my big helper.  He's a loud, rough and tough little boy but inside he is such a sweetheart.  He recognizes when he does something wrong and feels bad.  I probably don't even need to reprimand him because he  senses it already.  He seems to really understand prayers and I have often seen him run to his room, kneel down, and then get up a few minutes later.  I love asking him afterwards what he was praying's always awesome.  He loves his family and tells us often.  Tells me I'm pretty and gives me hugs and kisses...what more does a mom want!?  And he ADORES his daddy.  Those two are peas in a pod.  For real.  They look the same and they act the same.  I love watching them together.  I'm so glad Sawyer's got someone to play super heroes with and to build legos with.  I'm so glad that he wants to be like his daddy and do the things his daddy does.  And he's definitely got his Daddy's sense of humor.  The kid is constantly making us laugh!  He's such a sweet, funny boy and our family would NOT be the same without him!  I'm grateful to have my little buddy around each day (and I'm glad I've got another year to enjoy him before he goes off to school for reals!).  Happy Birthday Sawyer!  Thanks for making me a mommy and for being such a bright star in our family!  We love you!

We had a Star Wars Party this year.  Sawyer was super excited about it and I definitely felt the pressure while making his cake.  I made the mistake of letting him look at cakes on Pinterest with me, so his expectations were a bit higher than I had anticipated.  But I am glad to say that he approved! :)  It was my first time really working with fondant to cover a cake.  I'm so glad it turned out ok!

We opened the presents from Omi's package in the morning!  Always a fun treat!

For the party we just invited a couple of friends and Grandma & Grandpa.  We had it at a park by our house and it was SOOO windy that day.  My attempt at streamers, balloons, and decoration in general was futile, to say the least.  But we all had fun so that was the important part :)

Our poor Darth pinata went through the ringer the week before the party.  It got broken several times by our stinky kids, so in the end he had a nice chin strap of packaging tape to hold him together.  It was a pull string pinata so Nathan ended up just holding it up while the kids pulled away!  Fun, nonetheless.
We also did a mini water balloon toss...which turned into just throwing them at each other.  They thought it was pretty fun!

It is hard to watch your brother open presents :(

And these were his cupcakes to take to Preschool the next day :)