Vallette Family

Vallette Family

Friday, October 9, 2015

Love is an Action

"Stop talking about love. Every (idiot) in the world says he loves somebody. It means nothing. It still doesn't mean anything. What you feel only matters to you. It's what you do to the people you say you love, that's what matters. It's the only thing that counts." -The Last Kiss

I remember watching that movie and hearing that quote. It hit me like a lightning bolt. I heard it at a time where I still had alot to learn about love. I heard it and it made me IMMEDIATELY think of the people in my life who said they loved me, but didn't live that love out. The people who thought love was a feeling. I spent exactly zero minutes thinking about how I was guilty of that.

That's what I want you to do with this article. We all know other people who have flaws, who make mistake after mistake. I bet we all know someone who could be better about living love out--not just professing it. But, just for today, just while reading this article, I want you to turn it inward. I want you to look at how YOU could improve. Look at how YOU can live love out.

Marvin and I have been married for a short 4 years. We're still in the butterflies stage. I still love him in feeling. He is still my favorite person. I still enjoy spending time with him. I love kissing him. I love being around him. I always like him. I think he's cute and funny and great and I can't get enough. People say that it won't always be that way. I have to take their word for it because they are wiser than I am. I hope they're wrong, but I'm preparing as if they're right.

One of my biggest fears is that when all the sparkle and confetti fades, when I stop LIKING Marvin so dang much I'll be too weak to LOVE him in action. I pray for that now. We pray for that together--that we'll be strong enough to work together when it's the last thing we want to do. 

Children help you exercise your love muscle because they're easy to love some of the time. They're cute and cuddly and they look just like your spouse and they have all the cute quirks that you enjoy and they're funny. They love you and want to hug you. Some of the time it's difficult. Some of the time they don't listen no matter what you do. Some of the time you just want 30 minutes to yourself and they just want more and more and more of you. I can't imagine how hard it must be to LOVE in action a bratty teenage girl who thinks you're just about the dumbest human being alive because she's 14 and she knows it ALL, duh, just like we all knew it ALL at 14. 

Love is not wanting to color, but doing it anyway. Love is being exhausted and wanting to stay home alone, but inviting someone who feels isolated over anyway. Love is wanting to give someone a piece of your mind, telling them how wrong they are, but being kind instead. Love is feeling frustrated inside, but sharing a smile outwardly. Love is accepting people for who they are and where they are, even though you wish it could be different. 

Love isn't a feeling, guys. Maybe there's a time when love and feelings coexist (like right now between Marvin and I), but that's not what love is. Love is DOING. Love is GIVING. Love is ACTION-- when the last thing you want to do is act.

St. Clare of Assisi said: "Love that cannot suffer is not worthy of that name."

I leave you with the following most famous scripture passage, but I ask you to look at it with different eyes. Look at it like it's the first time you're seeing it, and ask yourself: are you love? is the way you're treating others love? do your actions say love?

"Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7


Monday, October 5, 2015

Jumping Through Hoops to Find God

I spent alot of time during and after my conversion jumping through hoops to be close to God. I read Christian books, recited rosaries, made weekly confessions, attended daily morning mass, etc. and it was so fruitful. So, so fruitful. It was a period of time where I really fell in love with God.

If you truly seek God, He will reveal Himself to you. God had revealed himself to me and it was awesome. I was in love. It was where the foundation for my faith was laid, but it wasn't sustainable. There were diapers to change and babies to rock. The time for ALL GOD ALL THE TIME ran out--life was waiting.

Time passed and those same things that brought me peace and made me feel so very close to God lacked the vibration that once accompanied them. I was bored. I didn't feel close to God. I was going through the motions. I kept pushing myself anyway. A rosary a day! No matter what! Rosary! I told myself it was the sinful part of me that was relying so much on feeling. Keep praying those rosaries. Keep on. Ignore feelings! Feelings are human and sinful. 

And then I just couldn't any more.

I had to stop. And I had guilt when I stopped. And then (eventually) I learned something: like all good relationships, our relationship with Him changes. 

I don't go to daily mass anymore. Dane wouldn't allow that. I don't pray a rosary every day because you know what I learned? My relationship with Him doesn't depend on me! I was giving myself so much power and not trusting in Him at all. He loves me without the rosaries. He's with me without them. My relationship doesn't look the same today as it did a year ago, and I hope it won't look the same a year from now. 

These days I do a bible reading and prayer every morning. I use a prayer journal to pray because I'm a writer and it helps to keep my mind from wandering, and my husband and I do couple prayer at night. We do family prayer and I make a habit to pray a Hail Mary when I have a judgmental thought (think:Wal Mart). I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me when I'm in a situation where I might be tempted to gossip (which is a problem for me). I ask for help when I feel myself losing my patience with the kids. 

So, here's the difference, where before I made an effort to have ALL GOD ALL THE TIME, now I make an effort to live my life and leave an open door for Him. I try to make my life a prayer. Sometimes it's a sloppy one or a quick one or a chaotic one, but He doesn't mind. I ask for His help in the mundane. "Help me not to yell at Dane for being an insane person."

I remind myself that I don't have to jump through hoops to find Him. He's with me-- all day, everyday. Waiting for me. He's with me in the laundry. He's with me when I pass someone walking on the road who needs helps. He's with me when the opportunity to bad mouth someone comes up. He's with me. He's meeting me day in and day out and I don't have to jump to find Him. My life is a prayer and so is yours. Remember that. 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Miscellaneous Updates

Motherhood as a vocation:

I'm a really slow learner. I'll struggle with something on and off for a few months (or years) before I realize that God has been banging me over the head with the answer. Sometimes I'll even learn a lesson and then forget it and then have to re-learn it...over and over. (This may explain why each of my posts sounds the exact same to you.)

I just realized that motherhood is a vocation. Wow. How many articles have I read expressing this exact sentiment? How many times have I heard other people say it, and it's just NOW sinking in. 

I've stopped fighting motherhood. I've stopped trying to make my life look exactly like a kidless life that just happens to have kids sprinkled in it. I've given in. Motherhood is messy and chaotic and loud (especially with a Dane in your midst) and my house is no exception.

I'm so much HAPPIER now that I've accepted that--now that I've found my place and my purpose, now that I've stopped fighting it. I've realized that my life isn't going to be easy in this season. I'm not going to get all this time to take afternoon naps or sleep in or stay home and watch grown up TV because my oldest has school that she needs a ride to and my 2 year old wants to watch George. There's something amazing that happens when you wave the white flag--when you stop fighting the hard and slap a smile on your face and embrace it. It's amazing when you resolve to be positive despite the hard--what happens within your family when you smile through the tantrum. Leading by example, y'all!

I don't have much to add to this. I'm not re-inventing the wheel here! This is an idea people had way before Diana. I'm sharing this so that (maybe) you'll be smarter than me and get it right off the bat. Maybe you'll read this and it'll all make sense, but, in all reality, you'll probably have to FEEL it before you get it. Being a mom is annoying that way, people can give you advice and tell you things they've realized until they're blue in the face, but you don't reeeeeally get it until you go through it. 

Domestic Church:

Marvin and I met with our Domestic Church circle for the first time last week, and we've started praying together every night--which for us (specifically me) is a HUGE deal. 

I prayed alone. He prayed alone. We prayed together with our children. We didn't pray together as a couple. This is mostly because the idea gave me hives. There's nothing that I'm embarrassed or shy about when it comes to Marvin. He and I can literally have a face-to-face conversation while either of us *ahem* uses the bathroom, (and we all know Dr. Brown has had to ask Marvin to move his head out of the way a few times) but praying together was SCARY. It's been so awesome, y'all. Someone recently described couple prayer to me as "listening in while your spouse talks to God"--it's so awesome to hear that the things your spouse worries about are the same things you worry about. You don't know intimacy until you've done couple prayer. I'm excited to see how this impacts our marriage and our family.

Humble Pie:

I accidentally took on too many things this school year. I am teaching 3rd grade PREP and Spanish at Elaina's school again this year. Elaina is in soccer and ballet (which comes with normal valet mom responsibilities) and I accidentally got a job at the Quad and am facilitating a mom group there every Thursday--on top of all of that I have a 3 month old that relies on me for food and a 2 year old that doesn't do well with changes in routine and an almost 5 year old that gets really cranky if she doesn't get an adequate amount of attention (which for her is ALOT). It was too much. I was overwhelmed and frazzled and not doing great at my main job (mom), and then I accidentally volunteered to be team mom for Elaina's soccer team. I spent a few weeks ignoring emails from the coach about what I needed to do (an online background check and get with the parents to develop a snack schedule and and and) before I finally took a big bite of humble pie and emailed him back letting him know "oops sorry, I lied, I can't be team mom because I'm overloaded with responsibilities and not doing a great job at juggling at the moment". Marvin joked "great, now our kid won't get any playing time". It was hard to say "hey, I can't do that, because I can't do it all". Humbling. So humbling--especially for this mom whose pride is a lion that fights being tamed daily--hourly, even!

I'm sure the coach thought I was crazy... "I'm asking her to be team mom not president of the United States", but for me, for my family it was one more thing that I couldn't afford to take on and so I had to chance that the coach would forever hate me, chance that Marvin would see me as someone who can't handle it ALL, chance that I'd have to sit by as some other BETTER mom passed out orange slices. And that's where I am now. Wishing I could do it ALL, but realizing that I have a full (for me) plate and that it's not fair (to me or the people who live with me) that I add even one more thing (no matter how small) to my already full plate. 

I'm sure there will be a time in my life when I look back at this post and wonder how I got so easily overwhelmed, laugh at the woman who thought she was busy THEN, but that's how life is. God is merciful that way. He lets you struggle through juggling two things and master it before he shows you that you could REALLY juggle about 10. 

A mom friend recently messaged me asking for any advice I had to give. She has a 3 year old and newborn and she felt overwhelmed and like she was failing. I had no advice. I remember being there. I remember struggling to breathe. I remember wondering why I had thrown a kink in something that was moving along so wonderfully. Two kids made me wonder how anyone ever had more than 2, and here I am with 3 kids trucking along. In my world, 3 kids is easier than 2 which is just a little crazy since the math doesn't add up, but it's true for me. 

Anyway, I'm starting to ramble. I just wanted to catch everyone up. Now that school's started I hope you're learning to juggle the things you can and saying no to the things you shouldn't take on and keeping your eye out for the women in your life who could use encouragement.

Talk soon.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Why I Don't Talk About Breastfeeding Anymore

I was scared to write this post, so I figured it meant I needed to. I don't know if anyone has noticed, but I stopped sharing articles about breastfeeding and being a stay at home mom (SAHM). 

I still think breastfeeding is wonderful and I still get teary eyed when I think about the fact that I had to quit a job I LOVED because my family needed me to. So, what changed? I realized I was creating controversy when I should've been creating comradery. Sometimes my intention was pure and kind, and some of the time I wanted to shout from the roof top (and my rooftop is Facebook) that I am a mom doing things "the right way" snark snark snark. If I'm doing things the right way, then that must mean that someone out there is doing things the wrong way--if breast is best, then formula must be NOT best. 

I don't think there's any one out there in the big, bad world of social media and internet that is confused about the benefits of breastmilk, if there is, you must've been under a rock all this time. We all know, guys. We all know that #breastisbest. We don't need to be reminded. We don't need a "Breastfeeding Awareness Week". We don't need a hashtag. (I can feel all of the breastfeeding moms painting me a traitor and kicking me out of the groups and hating me, and it's ok.)

Do you wanna know why we don't need to be reminded? Because it hurts people's feelings. Not just a few people, not just the highly sensitive, not just someone I know or someone you know, but a big, fat group of people hate it when you or I post 30 articles back to back about our style of parenting or what you and I do with our kids and how it's the right way. Because it comes across like you're judging and deeming yourself better than them, and no one wants to feel like someone else is saying they're sucking at this mom thing--we tell ourselves that enough.

There's no Formula Feeding Awareness Week. That would be weird. Shouldn't it be weird that there's one for breastfeeding? Here, where we're lucky enough to always have food available for our baby (whether it's from your breast, from the formula you buy or the formula WIC aids you in purchasing), do we really need to talk so much about HOW and WHAT we feed our kids? If the way we're shoving our lactating boobs in other people's faces is making them feel put down or judged or guilty, is it necessary? Well, maybe it's necessary for you, and that's ok--no really, it is--, but it's not necessary for me anymore.

I must be a slow learner because I accidentally hosted a lot of debates between the breastfeeders and the formula feeders and between the SAHMs and the working moms before I got a clue. The groups that I'm not a part of told me OVER and OVER that they felt picked on, and rather than listen I told them they were wrong. "No, you're not offended, you're just sensitive. I'm just talking about me--you're making it about you." 

They were right. I was SO making it about them. I wasn't sharing the article about the benefits of breastfeeding so that I would know them or so that other breastfeeders would know them. I was sharing the article (at least on some level) so the formula feeders would read it and come over to the RIGHT way of feeding a child. "Oh, the mom passes immunity to some diseases through her milk? Well, let me throw away this canister and start breastfeeding STAT." Or so they would know how much better what I was doing was than the "easy" route they were taking.

If someone in a group you're not in tells you that something you do is unkind or offensive you aren't allowed to disagree with them. You can choose to do it any way, sure, but you can't discount their feelings, you don't know, you're not allowed a vote.

So, you won't see me share any memes or articles about one particular style of parenting or feeding anymore because now I think about how it might make others feel. They told me over and over and over that it was hurtful and I ignored them. I hope no one ignores me when I tell them that something they do OVER and OVER is hurtful.

We're ALL just parents trying our very best, hoping and praying that it's enough. We don't need to be inundated with what we're doing that's not QUITE best. We already know. Everyone knows.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Perfect Kids?

I am almost finished reading a new parenting book, and I have alot of ideas and feelings about it. It's called "Parenting with Grace: The Catholic Parents' Guide to Raising Almost Perfect Kids". The woman who suggested it said that if I "was really a good Catholic I probably wouldn't need it". Well, I don't consider myself a "good Catholic" so I needed the book. I bought the book. I read the book. I hate the book. Well, kind of.

First of all, I hate the title-- "almost perfect kids" just irks me for some reason. All children are perfect in that they are a perfect gift from God, but they don't BECOME perfect because of your parenting (and they definitely don't become perfect because of MY parenting). 

The book basically explains how to use attachment parenting (a phrase I didn't even know existed until after Elaina was born) in a way that will produce well behaved children that will "make other people jealous". I also hated that notion--making others jealous. I have zero desire to make others jealous of the way my children behave. I hope other people look at my children and breathe a little easier "oh, look! her kids do x too!" not "oh my, her kids are perfect, how do I do that? what's wrong with me/my kids". Jealousy is not something I hope to instill in my fellow mamas!

Attachment parenting (from what little I've come across-- I haven't specifically searched it and I don't wish to) means breastfeeding for as long as your child wants to, bed sharing, baby wearing and not spanking. I'm sure there's more to the story and maybe there's a checklist or something, I don't know!

I don't know if there's an opposite to attachment parenting. Like, if you don't "attachment parent" then you..... " detachment parent"? I have no idea, y'all. And I usually don't write about something without familiarizing myself with it first, but I just do not have any desire to fill my brain with this information. 

This book also goes on to tell the reader that doing parenting this way is the way to raise children who are generous and virtous and who are less susceptible to peer pressure and who are less likely to be promiscuous and are less likely to do drugs. Basically, attachment parenting is the RIGHT way to raise children. You're supposed to let children self wean and let them stay in your room until they're ready to leave and not leave the child (even for a few hours, think: date night) until the child is ready to be separated--age 3. 

Why is there a need for labels? I like to call our parenting style "Diana and Marvin's parenting style". That's it. I breastfeed. We room share with our babies (and occasionally bed share if that's the only way to sleep, but I sleep much better without sharing the bed), we ship our kiddos out into their own room at some point in the first year, I wean when I feel ready to be done breastfeeding, I leave them for a date night when I feel like my husband and I need a recharge--way before age 3! I don't hold myself to a checklist standard or a specific parenting style.

Marvin and I's main goal is to raise children who are self sufficient and kind. Kids who are loving and responsible. Kids who will make it to heaven one day. 

I think it's important that you give your kids the best version of yourself, and I wouldn't be the best version of myself if I was breastfeeding a 3 year old who I never had a moment away from. That's just not good for me. Now, I'm not saying parenting is all about me--about what I want or how I feel, because of course it's not! But, I don't think parenting is all about my kids either! We are a family. A family that works together for the good of one another. A team. And that means sacrifice sometimes. Sometimes I sacrifice and sometimes they do! That's life!

Please understand that I'm not knocking AP. I'm not. If AP is the way you parent and it's good for you, and you're the best version of yourself, then keep on trucking, girl! I'm just saying it's not for everyone. And, I don't think ANY style of parenting is THE way to parent. There are different parents, different kids, different dynamics, differences! And different things work. And there is NO "one size fits all".

Now, I said I "sort of" hated the book. "Sort of" because it had some great, thought provoking points that I hope will make for a stronger Vallette Team. One of them was developing a family mission statement. A few sentences that outline what virtues the family should be striving to exhibit. How we should be acting individually and reminding and helping one another to act. The book helps you identify the virtues you need the most work on. We'll be working on patience (cough, cough Diana!), kindness, gentleness (give ya one guess), solidarity, responsibility and love.

The book was also a good reminder of our (and our children's) innate dignity. A good reminder that we need to exhibit the behavior and virtues we wish to pass on to our children. That we need to work on being good people--not just work on raising them. It also reminded me that we're here to help one another. That we're here to work for the good of our neighbor, and I always welcome a reminder to stop being so selfish--something I struggle with a lot.

Some of you know I recently had a conversion experience. (I write about that here.) Well, the conversion high has worn off and now I'm back down to Earth and I want to go deeper into my faith and become the person -specifically wife and mother- God wants me to be. I love to read. Reading and prayer were really what helped to cultivate my conversion experience, so this book was a great kick off in that it got my brain back into gear. 

I've been asking around for good book suggestions. I want books that will be easy for my baby Catholic brain to read and so far I've gotten suggestions that are way too advanced for where I am right now. So, if you have a book that you read and really enjoyed, please send your suggestions my way!

Would I suggest reading the book? Yeah, I guess. If you're one of those people who is ok sifting through things that won't help. It's not a book I'd live or die by. If you're looking for a good parenting book, I suggest "How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk". That book has some great tools! 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Life as a Family of Five

Juliet is one entire month old today. I can't believe it. The most overused parenting phrase in the history of time is: it all goes by so quickly. It's popular for a reason. It's true. This morning I was sipping my (2nd) cup of coffee and thinking about how life has changed for us. How I've changed. Dane is running around the living room yelling. He doesn't have an inside voice--well, if he does, I haven't heard it. Elaina is sitting quietly on the couch watching Curious George. She takes a break from Curious George to check out TimeHop with me--one of her favorite things to do. Juliet lays on the couch in my lap awake, but calm and quiet. Marvin went back to sleep after waking up to make my coffee (men need more sleep than women, I'm convinced). I can't even believe what my life looks like now.

I've written a lot about all of the anxieties I experienced with Elaina and somewhat with Dane. I don't want to go in to all the ways that I was crazy. Go back and read if you must. Marvin and I spend a lot of time laughing now about those days. Constant anxiety all the time. Constant. I really struggled with motherhood. I really did. And, when I wasn't struggling with motherhood I was struggling with what OTHERS thought of my children--what they thought of me. What did they think of my parenting. What did they think of the way I spoke to my children. What did they think? Approval. I sought out alot of approval. If I heard enough that other people thought I was a good mom then I was ok. If Elaina was a perfectly behaved robot then I was ok. If I cared more than other moms then I was ok. I could never relax. It was exhausting. 

Elaina made me a mom, but with Juliet I BECAME a mom. I am perfectly ok with how things go now. If I go to WalMart and Elaina is asking three million questions and Dane is screaming and Juliet is fussy, I'm ok. File it under a difficult trip to WalMart and keep moving along. There will be difficult trips and fabulous trips. Keep moving forward. 

We went to dinner with Marvin's family this past week and Dane wanted to get out of his seat and run around the restaurant. He cried ALOT and LOUDLY because we wouldn't allow him to. Meanwhile, Juliet is (uncharacteristically) upset and cannot be calmed down. A few years ago I would've been brought to tears and left the restaurant in a hurry at the first cry. What did the onlookers think? Children should be seen and not heard and my kids were making SURE they were heard. How embarrassing. Now? No. Hey, onlookers! Do you hear Dane throwing a fit? Yeah, sometimes kids throw fits when they don't get what they want. Sorry. Hopefully you have kids so you understand. If you don't, oh well! Alrighty, gonna finish my salad now! Thanks!

Do you know what happened? I realized that my children are NOT a reflection of me. Wait, what? That sounds crazy, Diana! Of course your children are a reflection of you! Well, you're right. They are. Kind of. I spend alot of time with them. I make rules and raise them and do all of that mommy stuff I'm supposed to do. I make mistakes and yell and mess up, too. But, my children are their own people! They have good days and bad days. They are angels some times and holy terrors others. They get hangry or cranky from missed sleep. They aren't robots, they are people. And I cannot control another person. I can help them to navigate through life. I can instill morals and principles and rules and all that jazz, but at the end of the day I cannot MAKE them act any way. And, if they act like aliens in a restaurant I can give them consequences, but I cannot control them. And if they act like aliens, it's NOT a reflection of me because they are their OWN people. And if they act like aliens and some onlooker wants to judge me, they can, doesn't bother me. I know I'm doing the absolute best that I can. It's really alright. It's such a liberating feeling. It took me 5 years of motherhood to get here, but I'm here. 

The Cry Room is the perfect example. We have been banished to the Cry Room at our parish because: Dane. Pretty much the same families sit in the Cry Room every Sunday. There's the father and son combo. They sit in the back with their Sonic bag and a videogame playing on Dad's phone. There's the family with girls. The girls color on the floor in the corner. And there's us. Dane screams loudly when we don't let him out of the row. He tries to rip the missal and takes off his shoes. He's loud. He's the loudest one in there. Marvin sometimes gets to hear the homily and sometimes I get to hear it. We never BOTH get to hear it. Because: Dane. Why am I telling you this? I've seen/heard others talking about OTHER parents in Church. "Did you see x, they were letting their little boy EAT, that's a bit much, MY kids don't eat in Church" (said with sanctimonious pride). That's a comment I would've made, too. You know what I realized? Maybe my kids don't eat in Church, but Dane screams in almost every situation and I CANNOT keep him quiet (trust me, I have tried). I bet there's someone out there who has watched my family go through life and think "Did you see Dane, they were just letting him SCREAM, that's a bit much, MY kids don't yell!". 

As parents, we all deal with things. Some times OTHER parents have to deal with things we don't have to. I have a close friend who has 4 littles. All of her kids are born with this innate physical aspect to them. They are rough. They weren't taught to be rough. It's just them. They see a shove or a push between friends as an act of endearment. Five year ago Diana would've thought "why can't she calm her kids down, why can't she control them". That mother, my friend, is a good mom! She is! She's a good mom who has to deal with different challenges than I do. As parents we all deal with different challenges. Maybe another mom has a kid who never yells. She looks at my Dane and thinks "why can't she get him to be quiet". Trust me, lady, I've tried, no dice. We all have different parenting expectations, different kids and different things that come easily to us or are challenging. So, remember that the next time you look at a family and think "Why can't they just x". Maybe they don't want to. Maybe they've tried and their kids aren't robots. Maybe it's an off day. Sooooo many maybes. So many. Don't judge the mom next to you. Or go ahead and judge if you must, she probably doesn't care anyway--she has enough going on.

Anyway, the purpose of this blog post is just to say: Hi blog readers! We're a family of 5 and we're settling into that new milestone beautifully. I've calmed down. My kids are sometimes crazy. I love this life. I've settled into motherhood and I'm happy. I hope you're happy, too! And, I hope you'll take a second to remember we're all trying to stay afloat the next time you think "why can't they just..." when a family nearby is struggling with something that isn't a challenge for you.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Juliet's Birth Story

Here's the story of Juliet's birth! I still can't believe she is here and we are a family of 5. We are about one week in and thus far it's been the easiest transition for our family, but check back with me when she does more than just sleep and eat all day and night.

The end of pregnancy was full of the "I'll be pregnant forever" despair. It was tough. I was terrified that I'd have to be induced. Elaina and Dane were born two weeks early, and Juliet came just 3 days before her due date. The days were long!

As usual, I lost my mucus plug (I hate that word) about a week before she was born and started having contractions around that time as well. I got so excited thinking the end was near, but she had different plans!

Juliet was born on Friday, June 12th at 11:13 AM and this is how it went down:

It's Friday morning, about 5AM and I hear a strange noise coming from the kids' room. Dane is whining and making a coughing noise that I immediately recognize as gagging. Crap. We had a mall playdate the day before so I'm sure he caught some little stomach bug from one of the kids there. I roll out of bed, go to his room and get him and go to the living room. He and I lay on the couch and he falls back asleep immediately with his head on my chest. About 5 minutes after I lay on the couch, I have a strong contraction. Hmph. That was weird. That felt really, really strong for early labor. About 10 minutes pass and I have another. And another. Crap. This feels like the real deal, and it hurts more than I remember early labor hurting. I need to poop (not push, legitimately poop).

Dane and I are on the couch and everyone but me is asleep. Marvin has this terrible (and incredibly annoying) habit of waking up before work with only enough time to run around like a chicken with his head cut off. I decide to text him from the couch. 

He immediately wakes up and comes into the living room. I tell him that Dane threw up and I had 3 pretty painful contractions and I think I might be in labor. He asks if I need anything and if he should call in to work. I tell him I want coffee and that he should go to work and I'll text him if/when he needs to come back home. Dane and Elaina are still asleep. Marvin makes my coffee and I make cinnamon rolls. I have a few more contractions that I have to lean over for (so that my belly hangs--for some reason that helps the pain). The contractions are still coming and they are still hurting more than I remember "just 2 cm" contractions hurting. It is 6:30 and it's time for Marvin to go to  work. At this point I've had to squat and breath through the contractions. Marvin has seen me do this. I am starting to wonder if he should go to work after all. 

"Maybe you shouldn't go to work?" I say. He chuckles, "Ok, let's not be dramatic, I'll go to work and you call me or text me later." Ummmmm. Ok. Marvin goes to work. I need to poop. I go to the bathroom and sitting on the toilet hurts SO FREAKING BAD. Pressure. I cannot poop because I cannot sit on the toilet long enough to relax. I wipe. I see blood. Ok, I'm in labor. I text Marvin to come home. He doesn't respond. Elaina and Dane wake up. Dane throws up again. Elaina doesn't care that I'm in labor and wants cereal. I need to poop so bad. This is gonna suck. I'm gonna poop all over Dr. Brown later. I text my mom to let her know what's going on. She's on her way. Marvin gets home and says he got to work and juuuuust as he was about to clock in he got my text.

**The first text was while he was in bed. The next few were after he left for work.** 

Ok. I'm in labor. It's about 7AM. My mom is over and she's having coffee and toast. Marvin changes into "labor" clothes. The kids watch cartoons. Dane is back to his normal, weird self. 

**Two things- 1) I apologize for all the cursing, but a baby was about to be born! 2) Apparently we thought if we said "calmly" a few times it would magically make us calm? Just in case you're wondering, it didn't work**

We start packing bags and getting everything ready. I clean the house and load the dishwasher. I say after every contraction "I just wanna poop. This is terrible." The contractions hurt but people talking is not annoying me yet. I tell Elaina that today is the day we are going to meet the baby. She lights up like a Christmas tree. I feel a little frazzled. I would feel so much better if I could just POOP! Marvin and I time the contractions as we clean up. I yell "ok" when one starts and "ok" again when it ends. Marvin misses a few contractions and he asks me if I can say something other than "ok" to signify a contraction since "ok" is a common word and he can't tell if I'm just talking or trying to get his attention. I yell at him that I'M in labor and I get to decide what to say and he is crazy if he thinks I'm gonna say something else and he better just pay better attention. Labor hormones.  I catch my mom and Marvin whispering to each other after my outburst and I'm sure they're talking about how crazy I am. My mom and the kids leave to go to her house (where they'll be staying while we're in the hospital). They leave at about 8AM. We hang out and finish cleaning and Marvin puts on a movie for him to watch while I rock on my birth ball. Marvin is perhaps the calmest man on the Earth at this point. In fact, it would be nice if he would get just a teensy bit more nervous, but #thirdkidprobs

The contractions are starting to really hurt. They are about 3 minutes apart lasting about a minute. Other people talking during the contractions is still not annoying, but I cannot talk at this point through them. At 9AM I start to wonder if we should go to the hospital.  Not because I feel like the end is near, but because I don't want to keep worrying about when the right time to go is. I want to travel now and not have to travel when things get tougher. I tell Marvin that I think we should go to the hospital "it's too early" he says. Oh, really, Marv? "Marvin, I don't care if it's too early. I don't want to stress about when the right time is later. I just want to get there and not move." He responds with: "Alright, it's too early, but I guess we can go." Is this dude serious?

We load up in the car and call the hospital and reserve labor room 1 (which has the birth tub). We get to the hospital and Marvin parks (far as hell from the entrance--once again: zero nerves). I get out and walk to the entrance. I have to squat just outside the door and breath. It's 9:15 AM and people are looking at me like I'm crazy. I walk in after the contraction is done and tell the lady at the desk: "Hi, my name is Diana Vallette, we pre-registered and I am in labor." She has zero urgency. She tells me to fill out a paper and wait a moment. Marvin fills it out and I walk around the ER breathing and squatting when contractions hit. People are continuing to look at me like I'm crazy. About 10 minutes pass and we are sent upstairs to Labor & Delivery. We walk to the elevators and juuuuuust as the doors open to the 2nd floor I have a contraction (just like Dane's birth!) and the elevator beeps over and over and I force myself to walk out of the elevator during the contraction. 

We walk into Labor Room 1 and it's empty. Where is the nurse? I have about 5 contractions and I'm so effing hot. I am squatting and breathing and need to pee and poop. I just want to poop. It would mean the world to me if I could poop. The room is still empty except for Marvin and I. I tell him to go get the nurse. It's about 9:30AM. He comes back and tells me she said she's coming. Why is no one taking this seriously? She finally comes in and Marvin hands her my birth plan. She looks it over and tells me to pee in a cup and that she wants me to get on the monitor to see if I'm in labor and how far apart the contractions are. L-O-L. She wants to see if I'm in labor. Das funnny! A contraction hits and I squat through it and the nurse watches me breath. The contraction is over and I pop up to a standing position and resume my conversation with her. She says "Well, do you want to get on the monitor first or do you want me to check you?". I tell her I have no preference, whatever she wants, but make sure to say "this is my third kid" in an effort to drive the point home that I AM definitely in labor. I don't need her to "see" if this is it cause this is SO it. She checks me and I'm at 6 cms. Her attitude immediately changes. She knows I'm for real. She tells me she understands I don't want to be on the monitor the whole time, but she'd like to get me on it for a few minutes. I tell her I'll do 20 minutes. She is satisfied with that. She tells me at 9:50 I can unplug myself. She leaves.

I watch the baby's heartrate through contractions and it's going up. Awesome. 9:50 arrives and I unplug myself. Marvin asks if I want the tub filled. I tell him I don't want to get in the tub, but could he fill it in case I want to later? He fills it and says "oh my God, gross!" and turns off the water and starts draining it. I ask him what happened and he says the water is yellow (probably from not being used in a while). The draining noise is loud and distracting and I hate it. Marvin apparently knows me very well because he stops the draining without my saying anything. Apparently a nurse comes in and sees the dirty water chilling in the tub and calls for housekeeping. While I'm in the middle of a HARD contraction a woman enters the room and YELLS "Housekeeping" four times in a row before I yell at her "STOPPPPPP TALKING!" she runs out. I tell Marvin I want to get in the shower. By the time he walks to the bathroom to turn on the shower I change my mind. I don't want to do anything or go anywhere. This hurts and nothing is helping. Marvin tells me how great I'm doing between each contraction and I wonder why he feels the need to lie to me--it hurts!

Eventually Marvin and I develop a contraction routine where I sit on my birth ball and lay my head on the bed in between contractions as he cools me off and rubs my back softly to help me relax. When a contraction hits I jump up off the ball and he helps me hold my belly and sway and squat. The contractions hurt and I'm having to vocalize through them. After a few contractions where I vocalize I say "man, I didn't have to vocalize so early last time!". I have a few more contractions and I feel like I am sucking at handling them. In between the contractions I have internal back and forth conversations with myself about how I'm dreading the next contraction, no don't dread it if you fight against it it'll hurt worse, man this break is long the next contraction is gonna suck, I'm tired, I'm so hot, I wish I could poop, is this almost over etc. etc. etc.

I start to feel some slight pressure. Damnit I wish I had gotten to poop because now I don't know if it's the real urge to push or not and I'm probably going to poop all over the damn table.

I tell the nurse that I'm feeling some slight pressure. She asks if I want to be checked. I say yes. Marvin asks me if I'm sure I want to be checked. I say yes. The nurse checks me. I'm an 8. I have a few more contractions and Dr. Brown walks in. 

Diana: Hey, you're early! What are you doing here?
Dr. Brown:You said you felt pressure!
Diana: A little bit, but only during contractions, but we checked and I'm an 8.
Dr. Brown: Yeah, but less than an hour ago you were a 6.
Diana: You have time! Go see some more patients and we'll call you when it's time
Dr. Brown: Are you sure? I can make it back in 1 minute. Tell the nurse when you're ready and she'll call me right away, ok?
Dr. Brown leaves. There is alot of commotion going on around me. They are getting the room ready for delivery. There's a table with alot more instruments than I imagine I'll need to get this baby born! I start feeling the definite need to push. I have a few more contractions. I tell the nurse it's time to push and to call Brown. She checks me and I'm a 9. I don't care what the hell the number is. It's time. She says we can try pushing past it. Yup, that's exactly what we're going to do. Brown arrives and gets suited up. The nurses are putting covers over their shoes. I have about 3 contractions in the bed while they all get ready and I push slightly through those contractions because the pushing feels good. Everyone is ready now.

Dr. Brown asks if he can check me and I say "no, not right now, I'll let you know" and after a minute or so I tell him he can check. His finger goes in about one knuckle deep and he says "okkkkk, yeah, let's push this baby out on this next contraction" We wait around for another contraction and Brown tells me the baby has almost zero molding on its head. "Aww good" I say. He makes a face like I'm not understanding "the baby's head is REALLY round, did you have an episiotomy with your others?" Ohhhh. He means that the baby's head isn't molded so it may not come out so easily. I tell him that I didn't have an episiotomy with either of my other labors nor did I tear and I don't want one this time, I'd rather just tear naturally if I'm going to tear. I tell Dr. Brown that I've been needing to poop since before labor began and I'll probably poop on the table and I'm sorry. "It's all good" he says.   Maybe for you, dude! You're not the one pooping in front of every one. A contraction comes. I close my eyes and push with everything I have. Oh my God it hurts so much worse than I remember. So much pressure. Everyone in the room is cheering me on and I hear Marvin say "I see the head" (hearing him say that every time pumps me up so much! I wanna see!). The contraction is over and Brown says next contraction the baby is out. I tell Brown we don't know the sex and he says "neither do I" and I tell him Marvin will announce the sex. A contraction comes and I push and push and push and the head is out. I feel zero relief. Brown tells me to push and push so the shoulders can come out. The shoulders feel stuck to me, but I push and they pop out and I feel relief. Marvin announces "It's a girl!" I open my eyes and she's laying in between my legs and her hair is dark and she looks so tiny and I can't believe I did it. 

I ask Dr. Brown if I tore, he says no. I ask Marvin if I pooped, he says no. I can't believe it. I feel the placenta slipping out and I push it out. SO MUCH relief. I feel empty. Ahhhhh I can breath!

I ask Dr. Brown to see the placenta because I've never seen one in real life. It's so much smaller than I imagine. Juliet (she was not named until this moment, she was almost Maria or Marie or one of 5 other names we kept going back and forth on) nurses like a champ looking up at me. I ask the nurse how much she thinks she weighs because she's so tiny! The nurse says "hmmm, she's little, about 6 lbs I guess!" Juliet is weighed about an hour later and she weighs 7lbs 5 oz. Everyone is surprised because she looked so itty bitty.

(Marvin goes to find the lady I yelled at to "stop talking" and apologizes for me.)

We got to the hospital at 9AM I had her at 11AM. Two hours. If Marvin would've been in charge, we would've had a baby at home! 

Juliet's birth felt alot harder to me than Dane's. It was fast and furious. 6 hours from first contraction to her birth. I had some moments of self doubt. Not "I want the epidural" self doubt because I'm sure I wouldn't have had time to get it and I definitely wouldn't have been able to stay still while they administered it, but more "man, this really hurts, how am I gonna keep doing this?" I'm so glad contractions have breaks in between!

It was an awesome surprise not knowing the gender (even though I 'knew' she was a girl). 

It's crazy to me that just 9 days ago I was sure I'd be pregnant forever and now I don't even remember what it felt like to be pregnant. I keep telling Marvin how lucky I feel to have 3 healthy kids. We are blessed and we know it!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Wrapping up 2014

I haven't written a new blog post in quite a while, but that's mostly because I've been as sick as a dog. Like, so sick that I was starting to get depressed. I couldn't see the end. I'm out of it now, and it's glooooorious! I forgot how awesome it felt to feel normal!

People say "every pregnancy is different" and you kind of roll your eyes and expect more of the same (especially if this is your third go round), but this time has been SO different. I won't be surprised if the rest of my pregnancy throws me for a loop as well. I have a feeling this baby is a little trouble maker. 

Anyway, I'm sure I've written about the "phase" phenomena in other blog posts, but I'll go ahead and bring it up just in case you missed it. I've found that motherhood goes in phases. You go through "super hard, cry your eyes out, failing at life" phases and then you go through "this is cake, let's have a million kids, I am woman hear me roar" phases. I think a while back I wrote a blog post about how 2 kids was cake. I was going through a particularly awesome phase. They played nicely. I was happy. They were reasonable. It was wonderful. And then came this whirlwind of a pregnancy. And then things weren't easy. Everything was hard. Everything made me throw up. It's hard to see the rainbow when the rain is pouring all around you.

It was a nice little epiphany when Marvin and I discovered the phase thing a while back. It helps because when we're going through a particularly hard time with the kids or finances or life and one of us is having a hard time seeing the positive the other one is there to remind you "it's just a phase". 

2014 was a nice year. They've all been particularly nice since 2009 when I met the man I was going to marry. He makes life better and happier and easier. I go through moments where I am amazed that he is really THIS great and I am really THIS lucky. 

We kept a "Most Memorable Moments of 2014" jar and filled it with scribbled little pieces of paper containing our favorite memories. I found myself reading them and thinking "Wait, that was this year? It feels like FOREVER ago". I thought it would be nice to share a few of my favorites (the quotes are funny things Elaina said):

January 16th: "I like to punch people." & "I fell like a mermaid." (after flopping out of her chair)
February 3rd: Mom gets offered a job
February 5th: While out in public a sweet stranger took the time to compliment me on my patience and tell me that I was a good mom. (It brought tears to my eyes.)
February 8th: "I wish I was a coffee pot."
February 18th: 9 month old Dane slept through the night for the FIRST TIME EVER!
April 19th: The best dad I've ever met spent a sweaty, mosquito afternoon putting together his daughter's swingset
April 29th: Dane finally drinks out of SOMETHING that isn't his mother
May 8th: Dane's last time nursing. YAYYYYY!
May 9th: "We gotta buy a new baby cause Dane keeps YELLING!"
May 31st: Elaina catches a nasty stomach bug and we're forced to cancel Dane's 1st birthday
June 2nd: Elaina teaches Dane to say "no" and "ball" in 10 seconds (after Mom tries for MONTHS to no avail)
July 13th: Dane starts taking steps and Elaina is BEYOND excited!
August: Mom gets a second job!
Oct 4th: Mom and Dad find out baby #3 is on the way (and manage to keep it secret for 3 weeks)
Nov 7th: "Hello baby, I understand you're in Mom's belly?"
Nov 16th: Marvin develops the van wave
Nov 16th: What if the baby is a boy? "It's NOT! She told me!"

In 2015 Marvin and I will witness our godchild's baptism (still can't believe someone picked ME! what an honor), Marvin and I will celebrate 4 years of marriage, I'll get to party (pregnant woman style) for one of my oldest friend's bachelorette party, one of my favorite couples will get married, we'll welcome another sweet soul into our family and my very first baby will turn FIVE (crazy). Wishing you and yours a Happy New Year!