Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Ahead

When I think back to last New Year's Eve, I feel like so much more than a year has passed; I had no idea last December what 2012 had in store for me.

Amidst long stretches of everyday life, I experienced both mind-numbing heartbreak and absolute joy.

Two dates from the last twelve months define 2012 for me:

  • June 1st: The day I unexpectedly lost my mom. It took me two days before I could write about it. I still haven't fully processed the loss, and I'm pretty sure I never will. Tomorrow marks seven months without her.

  • December 6th: The day of Justin's birth. A third child was always a possibility, but in December it became a reality. We couldn't be happier with this new addition; our family is now to truly complete with him here.

When 2012 started, I had no earthly clue that I would both say goodbye to my beloved mom as well as welcome a new (and final) son to our family.

So I'm kind of struggling with a weird dynamic today; I'm more than ready to put the pain and suffering of the last twelve months behind me, but at the same time, I don't want to forget the good that came from the year.

So I'm looking ahead. Sure, I've got the typical new year's resolutions, like losing the baby weight (from all three boys!) and getting on track financially. But I resolve to do so much more than that.

Tonight, I'll flip the calendar to 2013, and resolve to love my new family more and live a better life to honor my mom's memory.

Let's roll. :)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Week (51) in Instagram

 Sunday 12/23/12: Early morning dance party on the couch.

 Sunday 12/24/12: Santa came to our house one night early 
so Daddy could watch the boys open presents the next morning. 
We compensated his flexibility with a Christmas Ale.

Monday 12/24/12: Santa feet, complete with tiny hats. Not much cuter than that.

Monday 12/24/12: Justin & I made it through the whole day in our PJs. We win at Christmas. :)

Tuesday 12/25/12: I hope Christmas is as good in heaven as
they say it is, Mom, because we sure missed you down here.

Tuesday 12/25/12: Best. Decoration. Ever. I wouldn't be surprised
if these eventually replaced Christmas trees.

Tuesday 12/25/12: Ending a good Christmas with a good beer.

Wednesday 12/26/12: Morning After Christmas = Play with ALL THE TOYS

Wednesday 12/26/12: Finally, his very own Cecil Seahorse
(since Nolan refused to give his up). He's a fan.

Thursday 12/27/12: This art set is one of the least expensive things 
Santa brought, so of course it's his favorite item. 

Thursday 12/27/12: Goofing around with Aunt Abby during lunch at Noodles & Co.

Friday 12/28/12: At-home McDonald's dinner date with The Middle. :)

Saturday 12/29/12: More icky white stuff. We've gotten more snow
in the last three days than we did all last winter. YECH.

Saturday 12/29/12: New snow pants & boots. Ready to help Daddy shovel.

Want to link up? Head over to Suzanne's blog!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Monthly Mumbles, December Edition

10. It's already the day after Christmas. I'm having a serious WTF moment about that. I mean, really?! But I suppose we have had quite the month here in the Cotter household.

9. Justin will be three weeks old tomorrow. I already feel like this is going entirely too fast. He's focusing on faces and trying to "talk" to me, which both seem like they shouldn't happen for another month or so. And other than some nasty congestion that's making him pretty uncomfortable, he continues to be the easiest baby of the three. To say we're enjoying him would be a complete understatement. :)

8. It's snowing, and if you've read my blog at all since its inception, you know that this is NOT my favorite weather. Our total forecasted snowfall keeps changing, though--3 inches, 6 inches, 10 inches, and 3 inches again--whatever, it's all too much. No worries today, though. My plans are to stay inside and cuddle with all the boys--Daddy included. :)

7. Nolan had a pretty rough spell last week. He started off fine, then suffered through a REALLY bad respiratory issue for a few days. It seemed to clear up, but then it came back and settled in his ears, which had him screaming bloody murder at me Friday evening. So we spent 3 hours of our Saturday-morning-before-Christmas at the local urgent care, then had to brave the last-minute shoppers at Target to get his prescription. Obviously I did NOT have a good Saturday. At least not until night fell, Mike was came home from work, the boys went to bed, and I could relax with a beer.

6. Speaking of beer, can I just affirm for you how nice it is to have my body back to just myself? I really, REALLY enjoy being pregnant, but after this third time, I'm definitely done with it. All that miracle of life stuff is well and good, but it's also nice to sleep at night without a foot in your ribs or never-ending hiccups and heartburn.

5. My sister Megan (PRETTY sure I mentioned her before) took Justin's newborn photos last week. Here's the sneak peek she sent me; you can imagine how excited I am to see the rest of the shots...

4. With Christmas over, it's time for me to start planning Aiden's birthday party! I can't believe he's going to be FIVE YEARS OLD in March, and then Kindergarten in the fall...(cue nostalgic tears). He got lots of good learning-centered toys for Christmas, and the kid is a SPONGE when comes to those kind of things. He makes this mama so darned proud. :)

3. I've got all three munchkins home with me until next Wednesday. Mike is home for a few of those days, too, but it'll be mostly me as Single Mom. BRING IT! :)

2. Although we had a fantastic holiday overall, there was definitely a gaping hole in the festivities. Oh, how I missed my mom's voice and laugh, especially this time of year...

1. Eight years ago today, Mike & I met each other face-to-face for the first time and went on our first date. Weird how it feels like only yesterday AND such a long time ago at the same time. For better or worse, though, it's easily been the BEST eight years of my life. :)

Sunday, December 23, 2012

My Week (50) in Instagram

Tuesday 12/18/12: Our elf--Ermahgerd--is quite the daredevil.

Wednesday 12/19/12: Still waiting for this kid to get difficult (knocking on wood).
He only gets up once overnight and then goes right back to sleep. No joke.

Wednesday 12/19/12: Someone was feeling MUCH better on his second day at home with a nasty cold.

Wednesday 12/19/12: Santa Baby. So glad we got to use this pram
with another baby (it was originally Nolan's):)

Thursday 12/20/12: Like father, like son.

Friday 12/21/21: Celebrated the Apocalypse by letting my
amazing sister Megan take Justin's newborn photos :)

Friday 12/21/12: Justin snoozing under the blanket Aunt Megan made him. Yup, she does it ALL. :)

Saturday 12/22/12: Can't believe it's this close already. Where did December go?!

Want to link up? Head over to Suzanne's blog!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Justin's Birth Story

Just a little background: Justin's delivery was originally scheduled for December 7th, but due to preeclampsia, the doctors moved things up a day, to December 6th...

December 6th, 2012, was a very long day.

With my C-section scheduled for late afternoon, I had to spend my morning and early afternoon hours on the couch (SIDE NOTE: Bedrest SUCKS--I feel really bad for the mommies out there who have to spend an extended period doing it because man, those 3 1/2 days were HARSH), and hadn't been able to eat or drink anything since the night before.

And then there was the fact that my employer announced layoffs that morning. Nothing like thinking you could lose your job in the morning and giving birth that afternoon! So I was literally glued to my phone as I got text after text of who was leaving. The company lost some great people that day, but I'm happy to say me, my sister, the bestie, and a few other close friends are all safe. 

Once news from work settled down, it was time to take a shower. The lack of food and water, though, made me really lightheaded, so back to the couch I went before I even dried my hair. An hour later, and we were in the car, headed to meet our newest son.

We arrived at the hospital, finished a brief registration, and before I knew it, I was gowned up and getting an IV in pre-op. We had an absolutely FANTASTIC nurse named Tricia, who talked and joked with us the entire time.

Mike & I took our obligatory pre-baby goofy photos:


My blood pressure was still pretty high at this point (stupid preeclampsia). And they drew blood to check on my platelets one last time (stupid gestational thrombocytopenia). I was cautiously optimistic for a higher count since I'd been prescribed ste.roids for 10 days. And so we waited...and waited...and waited. My scheduled time for surgery (5:30 PM) came and went due to a 40-minute backup at the lab.

And during this time, I got to experience some lovely, regular contractions. Apparently Justin knew it was game time as well. :)

Then the nurse got the call. My count was down to 69,000, the lowest it had EVER been for any of my babies. Suddenly the nurses were talking about general anesthesia (read: getting knocked out) as opposed to the spinal, and calling my OB to see what type of surgery they should start prepping for.

And so there Mike & I sat, trying to digest this new situation. General anesthesia meant he couldn't be in the OR with me, and that I wouldn't hear the baby cry when he emerged from my womb. But I decided that as much as that sucked, I was at peace with whatever kept everyone (both me and Justin) safest.

Not long after, my OB arrived. She & the anesthesiologist talked to another anesthesiologist and assured me that it was probably safer to do the spinal than the general; with general anesthesia, apparently the possibility for aspiration was a bigger concern than me throwing a clot in my spine and becoming paralyzed. Fun stuff to hear right before someone wants to slice you open. And so we all decided to do the spinal as originally planned.

So at 7 PM--an hour and a half after I was originally scheduled to go back for surgery--I took the short walk down the hallway to the OR. I sat up on the table and immediately started shivering. I was facing the tray full of surgical tools, stunned to think they would need all of that FOR ME. Then out of curiosity, I peeked at the monitor to see my blood pressure--156/116. WOWZA.

The spinal didn't take long, and before I knew it, I was on my back with that warm, fuzzy feeling cascading down my legs to my feet. At this point, my OB was pinching my stomach with some rather large tweezers and asking if I could feel that, to which I responded, "Uh, yeah!" And so they tilted my the table to an angle that lowered my head so that the spinal could travel further up my back and numb my tummy.

Really, really weird sensation. But we won't dwell on that.

Next Mike came in, and the real work began. As per usual, I joined in the random conversation; instead of talking about the Buckeyes like we did for Nolan's birth, we discussed how awesome the mac & cheese is at Panera Bread. 

Random, right?

And then I heard, "Okay, time for baby!" which I knew actually meant "Time for us to stand on your chest to pop this baby out!" But luckily, they didn't have to fight as hard as they did to get Nolan out, and so at 7:34 PM, Justin Steele was born.

And Mike was there. And I got to hear his first cry. Exactly how I wanted our last child to enter the world. 


Before I knew it, I was stitched up and back in pre-op, waiting for the feeling to come back into my legs so I could head up to my room. This was also the point where the pain and nausea kicked in, so I had to hand Justin to Mike for his first feeding out of fear that I would drop him. Then Mike took Justin to the nursery, stopping to see Abby & Angie on the way. They texted me that he was 6 lb 4 oz, a full pound smaller than we expected him to be and easily the smallest of all my boys. Oh well. Still perfect. :)

Finally, I was wheeled upstairs, where I greeted my small group of visitors by throwing up (some pain meds and I just DON'T get along). But I got to hold my newest munchkin and kiss him and just enjoy his smell a bit--and then I threw up again. By this time, it was 10:30 PM, so my guests left, Mike departed to go home and get some sleep before working a 12-hour shift the next day, and I sent Justin to the nursery in anticipation of getting some sleep.

YEAH, RIGHT. I never sleep the first night.

And the next morning, I was greeted with a completely broken-out face that was likely the result of an allergic reaction to the spinal anesthesia. So I was NOT in the mood to have my picture taken for the rest of the hospital stay. No worries--there'll be plenty of opportunity for photos later. :)

Fast-forwarding a bit: Justin is two weeks old today, and so far has been a DREAM. He eats well, he sleeps at night, and he's just so content. I even got a genuine, non-gas smile out of him the other night after a 3 AM feeding. He's just been an absolute joy, and I'm trying my best to soak up every minute of it.

More posts to come, detailing the brothers' reactions to one another and all those fun things, but for now, I'm going to go snuggle with my littlest. :)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: The Littlest Meets The Big Man

Ran some errands with Mimi on Monday (since I'm still not allowed to drive). There just happened NOT to be a line to see Santa at the mall, so guess who got to meet him before even turning two weeks old? :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sunday, December 16, 2012

My Week (49) in Instagram

*Full birth story still in the works. For now, enjoy some photos of our first week home :)

Sunday 12/9/12: Excited about my new PJs. And about the fact I got out of bed without help.

Monday 12/10/12: Ready to bust out of the hospital.

Monday 12/10/12: Playdoh fun with Daddy :)

Monday 12/10/12: First night home went GREAT; he's both a good eater and sleeper. 
We'll probably keep him.

Tuesday 12/11/12: All chilled out at his first pediatric checkup. Nothing phases him.

Thursday 12/13/12: Lego towers are a good distraction.

Friday 12/14/12: Late lunch.

Saturday 12/15/12: Aiden LOVES to hold Justin. He's my little Mommy. :)

Sunday 12/16/12: Coffee tables make awesome beds, even if no one is sitting on the couch...

Want to link up? Head over to Suzanne's blog!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Justin Has Arrived

Justin Steele
Thursday, 12/6/12, 7:34 PM
6 lb 4 oz, 19.5 in

Birth story to come once I'm off drugs and can recall everything clearly.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Preeclampsia and Such

It's been a banner week with this pregnancy, lemme tell ya.

With my ankles swelling like c-r-a-z-y in the evenings, we decided to keep an eye on my blood pressure over the weekend. Good thing; we got some high readings. I'd already decided to call my OB Monday to let her know what we'd observed, especially with a 160/102 before I left for work.

Long story short--they had me come in to the office right away, and I'd barely had a chance to pee in the cup before they told me my maternity leave was starting four days early; I needed to go on bed rest.

Which is just AWESOME for a busy mom of two who wasn't quite ready to hand off her projects at work to hear. But it is what it is, and so after a frantic, early goodbye to my co-workers, home to my couch I went.

Once more results came back on my blood & urine, my OB's office called yesterday to confirm preeclampsia and let me know our C-section would be pushed up a day.


And so tomorrow evening, we'll be meeting our Justin.

I'm excited, relieved, anxious...


Next time I post, I'll have someone to introduce to you. :)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Not Like This

Hi Mom,
Six months ago this morning was the last time I spoke to you.
Six. Months.
It feels like both a lifetime ago, and only a moment ago.
In these six months, not a day has passed that I haven’t thought of you.
Some moments are silly; every time an aging celebrity meets their end, I think of how upset you would be that you died first. I can hear your voice, high-pitched with irritation, saying, “You mean I died before Andy Griffith?! AND Larry Hagman?! Are you kidding me?!
Other moments are harder to move through. Last month, during a concert by Joel, Heidi, and Abby, the tears fell freely as Heidi & Joel sang “Pie Jesu” from Requiem, a favorite of yours. I had to FIGHT HARD to keep from outright ugly sobbing in the middle of the church.
I have a similar problem every time I see a preview for Les Miserables. You were SO EXCITED to see that movie, sending me any spoiler you could find while it was in production. So again, I’m excited to see it, but so disappointed that I can’t discuss it with you afterwards.
Good days and bad days. And this pregnancy has allowed me to blame a lot of my bad moments on hormones.
But I’m quickly running out of time to use that excuse. In less than a week, we’re going to do something that I NEVER dreamed I’d be doing without you; we’re going to welcome another beautiful baby boy into the world.
And while the majority of my soul is thrilled and excited for this new life to arrive, I’d be lying through my teeth if I didn’t admit that a sizable part of me is crushed that we won’t be able to share this occasion with you.
The image of you holding Justin, just as you did Aiden & Nolan, is not going to become reality. And that HURTS.
But it’s also a reality I’m going to have to accept. It’s been made a bit easier by our decision to gift Justin with your maiden name as his middle name. So you'll always be a part of him.
We put out our Christmas decorations last week, and I found the toy Santa & snowman you got Aiden & Nolan for The Feast of St. Nicklaus last December. Reminding Aiden that they were a gift from you seems to have a triggered some sadness, though; he’s mentioned several times in the past week how much he misses PooPoo.
So do I. So do we all.
When putting up our tree, I hung up all my favorite ornaments first (and near the top, to thwart Nolan's search-and-destroy mission). I took a moment to smile at “Our First Christmas” from the year Mike & I were married, and the “Baby’s First Christmas” for both of the boys.
I decided at that moment, though, that we were missing an ornament, and so I ordered this for you:

So again, you’re constantly in our hearts and thoughts.
But it’s not how it should be.
Missing you always, Mom.