Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mindy's Story

Dear Mindy Rayne:

This is the story of you.  I've probably forgotten details, but I hope that the most important parts are here for you.  Regardless of what I remember to detail for you, I hope you'll always know just how much your dad and I love you, not to mention just how much all of your siblings adore you.  You are truly the SuperMom Family Treasure.

Back in August 2011, I announced that CJ and Liam would be getting their cochlear implants and the way I announced it made it sound like we were announcing that I was having another baby.  Your grandma and grandpa were even a little upset because they heard that I was having a baby and hadn't told them.  The funny thing was that I wasn't at all pregnant...until one month later. That's when we found out you were coming. You were a complete surprise.  

Being pregnant with you was more challenging than all the other pregnancies I had with your siblings.  I think that's because I'm older.  34 doesn't feel very old, but I guess it is old when you're carrying a baby.  That, and I have Liam around. By the time you read this, your big brother Liam will be more mature and hopefully a little less exhausting. I'm hoping he doesn't teach you too many of his tricks.  But if he does, at least you'll be learning from the best.

It didn't take us long to choose a name for you.  We had a great boy name chosen and a great girl name chosen.  In my heart, I think I knew you were going to be a girl, but with four boys already I wanted to be prepared in case you were a boy.  I did love the name we had in mind for you. 

Your name comes from two very special people to us.  Mindy is a friend that I hope you get to meet someday.  Maybe you'll even inherit some of her traits, which would be amazing.  She and her husband, Henry, came into my life when I was 13 and set an example for me that would change me forever.  They taught me how families should be, how to love, how to work, and how to live the Gospel.  My own mom wasn't able to be a mom for me and your great-grandparents raised me from when I was eight.  Mindy and Henry picked up a lot of the slack for them.  They were even in the temple when your dad and I were married as witnesses.  Mindy is one of the most talented, kind, loving people I know and I named you after her because I hope that bearing her name will somehow entitle you to some of her phenomenal traits.  

Rayne comes from my friend, Vina.  Well, sort of. Vina and her husband, Monty, are good friends of your dad and me and they are funny and smart (except Monty isn't so great at playing Scrabble) and strong in spirit and in the Gospel.  Vina and I became fast friends and have a lasting bond. I've always wanted to name a baby after her, but her name is...well...a little different (then again, so is your brother Drezden's name).  It just never felt like it flowed right.  After we'd chosen your first name, we were trying to find a middle name that was equally as amazing. Your dad remembered that Vina has a daughter named Rain. Rain is smart and gorgeous and funny and athletic and talented in so many ways.  Daddy asked me what I thought of the name Mindy Rain, and I just knew it was perfect.  Just because I love to make things a little unique, I asked what he thought of spelling your middle name R-A-Y-N-E.  Daddy liked that as much as I did and it was decided from that moment forward.  And that's how you became Mindy Rayne.

The day after Christmas, I was getting ready to take your brothers and sister to the zoo and I slipped and fell on some water Liam left on the kitchen floor.  Let me just tell you that HURT.  I went to the doctor the next day because things weren't feeling right and we wanted to be sure you were safe. Your dad took me in and the doctor ordered an ultrasound.  That's when we learned that you were a girl.  I'm not going to lie. I was THRILLED to be having a girl even though I tried to play down my enthusiasm.

For the entire first trimester, I was tired and felt sick to my stomach.  The second trimester was better, but still challenging.  The third trimester?  Well, I thought you were trying to kill me.  Did you really have to plant yourself with one foot in my lung and one in my ribs?  No matter what I did, I just couldn't get comfortable.  Your dad and I promised up and down that we'd punish you harshly for all the discomfort you put me through.  Luckily you are so spectacular that we promptly forgot all of that the moment we met you.  

On Monday, May 7th, I noticed that my backache was a bit worse than usual. There was nothing I could do to get more comfortable.  I called your dad and complained about it, but it didn't occur to me that my aching back could be a hint of what was about to happen.  I also sat down on my bed for a few minutes that morning and woke up a full two hours later.  I didn't know it then, but my body was getting ready to help usher you into the world.  

That night, I went to bed around 11:30 after spending some time with your dad. I was just exhausted.  Your dad went to bed around midnight and I was sound asleep.  About 15 minutes after he went to bed, I woke up feeling like I really needed to use the restroom.  I tried that, and the cramping pains didn't go away.  That's when it occurred to me that the pains were coming about every two to three minutes.  I tried to wake up your dad, but he was too sleepy so I called my friend, Taffi.  We kept count of the pains and decided I should try a shower. That didn't stop the pains, either. I knew I was in labor and that the contractions were coming faster and closer than the doctor wanted me to let them be before going to the hospital. I decided it was time to really wake up your dad.

I woke him up and he started out a little groggy until I turned the lights on.  Once the lights were on, he took one look at me and he knew we needed to go right away.  The trouble was that it was too soon to allow you to be born.  You needed to cook longer.  I wasn't ready. The house wasn't ready. I didn't have a babysitter ready.  I started frantically throwing things into a bag while Daddy worked on finding someone to come stay with your brothers and sister. By this time, it was 1am on May 8th.  No one was answering their phones and we got worried. We even considered leaving Aiden in charge while we kept looking for someone to come stay at the house.  Finally, at the last minute, Tracey and Gerard were reachable and they came right over. Gerard helped your dad give me a blessing and we were off to the hospital.

I was in so much pain and the contractions were right on top of each other lasting long and hard.  Your dad drove as fast as he legally could (he's all about rules!) and kept me calm as I yelled and cried a little through the pain.  As he focused on driving, I called and talked to Taffi who helped me breathe through the contractions until we got to the hospital.

We had no idea where to go once we got to the hospital, so we went into the ER.  The ER people took one look at me and rushed me straight to labor and delivery.  They very quickly got me hooked up to monitors and informed me that my doctor was on the way to deliver you.  I remember asking if they meant you were coming right then. I needed your dad to explain it to me a few times because I think I was in a state of shock.

Before I knew it, the IV was in, the doctor was there, the spinal was in, and I was laying on the operating table with your dad holding my hand giving me the play by play as the doctor worked to bring you into the world.  At 4:05am on May 8, 2012, the world became a slightly more spectacular place as you came screaming into it.  You, Mindy Rayne, are perfect and you have been since the second you took your first breath.  And I am slightly more perfect just for being in your presence.  Just like each of your siblings, you make me a better person.

Because you came a bit too early, you had fluid in your lungs so you couldn't be with me for long before you were taken to the NICU where you could receive a higher level of care.  I hated having you away from me. It was miserable.  I didn't get to hold you until several hours later, but I made sure I pumped milk until you were ready to nurse. The minute you were ready to try eating, I was by your side all the time. Every 90 minutes, your dad would wheel me down to your room so I could try feeding you.  It was a miserable time having you in the NICU, but we were so blessed in that you only had to stay in the hospital a day or so longer than me.  

All of your siblings came to see you and tell you how excited they were to bring you home.  They just couldn't wait, and neither could Daddy or I.  I was so thrilled when they finally let us bring you home.

So, here you are. You have monitors that tell us about your heart and lungs and oxygen, but I don't mind that one bit.  You love to be held and snuggled and you hate to be put down. You are the snuggliest baby any mama could ever ask for. You are pure perfection.

We love you, Mindy Rayne. We love your cute little grunts. We love your long fingers and toes and your outie belly button.  We love how tiny you are and how big your cry is.  We love your soft skin and fuzzy little head. We love how you giggle in your sleep and stick your cute little legs and toes straight up when you cry. We love you.  

And that, my love, is your story.  Welcome to the world, Mindy Rayne.  May you follow your dreams and step into your majesty.  


 CJ came to visit you and wanted to bring you home right away.
 You had some trouble clearing fluid out of your lungs, so you were in the NICU in a CPAP machine for a few days.
 Just seconds after you were born, nurses started helping clear fluid out of your lungs. You were not impressed with that idea.
 Your big brother, Aiden, is so loving and gentle with you. I can always count on him to hold you and keep you safe for me.
 CJ and Drezden are so eager to take care of you.
 Drezden is probably most excited of all. He couldn't wait for your arrival!
 Garrett came to visit you a couple weeks after you came home.
 Miss Gracie is so loving and gentle with you. She helps Rachel and Drezden show you love
 Princess Rachel can't wait to teach you how to be a princess.
 Even Liam came to visit you in the NICU. Don't worry. I promise not to leave you alone with him.
 You started showing us your pretty eyes more often at around 2 weeks old.
 3 weeks old.  You must be drifting into a very happy dream.

 This was the first time I really got to meet you and hold you. I was so relieved to finally hold you in my arms. The wait just felt so long.
 2 weeks old. This was your first try of your fancy pink bouncy chair.
 You had to do a carseat test to prove you were big enough to come home. You passed!
 That yucky feeding tube in your nose made Mommy cry! We got it out as early as possible.
 Your daddy loves you so much. He was so thrilled to have another princess.
 Aiden came to meet you before anyone else.  He is such a great big brother to you.

 You looked oh so cool in your billi light bed. We called it your tanning bed.
 The very first time we met. It was brief, and I wanted to stay with you so much longer.  
CJ and Drezden meeting you for the first time. They wanted to bring you home right away!

Rachel loves reading to you!

Your big sister was so glad to meet you.

Monday, May 28, 2012

I'm Finally Learning To Let Go

Mindy Rayne was born three weeks ago tomorrow.  I know. Where is the birth story?  Well, it's coming.  Really.  It's actually one of the more exciting birth stories of any of my children, so I'm eager to write it all down before I forget it.  It's a little challenging to find time to sit down and really write it the way it deserves to be recorded because all of the kids (yes, that includes Liam) are out of school for the summer and Byron is back to work. That means it's just ME at home with all the little monkeys.

As much as I want to write down Mindy's birth story (she's PERFECT, by the way!), I want to record something I've learned over the past few weeks mostly for my own benefit. Maybe someone else will learn from it, too.

Here's what I've learned:  When a mom has a new baby, a few special needs kids, everyone at home, and a million chores to catch up on, it's impossible for her to make things picture perfect all the time. It can't be done. Is this common sense to some?  Yes, and it should be to me too.  On paper, I get it. But, in my head, it just doesn't always add up. I can't let go of the idea that someone might come over and see things out of place and think to themselves, "See? I knew she couldn't do it all.  She's a crappy mom all the way around.".  Or maybe someone will decide to help by offering a play date. Most moms would jump for joy at the idea, but my twisted brain goes right to "Shoot! If I do a play date, the other mom is going to write it down and remember that I owe them a play date, and I just don't have any room on my plate for that right now...and what if my kids are heathens while they're on a play date?  Then other parents will know I'm a complete failure as a mother."  Yes, I am completely neurotic because anyone who has ever met a single one of the amazing people I call friends would know that NONE of them think that way.  Still, I have this goofy idea of how things need to be.

So, if a mother isn't willing to let others help, but the chores still need to be done, and the Liam still needs to be managed, what is that mother to do?  Well, she is forced to let go of the idea that SHE is the only one capable of doing things. Guess what?  Byron is able to run the washing machine and load the dish washer!  Aiden can be a great helper, too. For that matter, all five of the big kids have things that they can do to help out.

In the past three weeks alone, I've done the following things to take some of the burden off my plate:
1. Allowed Byron to help discipline the kids more rather than thinking it always had to be me.
2. Taught Byron how to sort clothes and run the washer. He's also learned where all the kids' clothes go.  (Yes, I've always done it on my own because I was convinced only I could do it "right")
3. Taught Aiden to wash his own clothes.
4. Shown Aiden how to use the oven and follow simple food prep instructions.
5. Set up chore charts that all the kids are actually eager to follow and been consistent about requiring them to do their jobs. We split them up by morning and evening jobs to break it up for them a little bit.
6. Taught CJ how to load the dishwasher.
7. Introduced Drezden to how the broom and dust pan work.
8. Taught the three biggest kids how to keep Liam safely entertained. This is the biggest one.  It finally occurred to me that each sibling plus Byron and I could each take 15 minute blocks of time being in charge of Liam. This provides him with a variety of activities, keeps him safe, doesn't burden any one person, and teaches all of us what it means to literally be our brother's keeper.
9.  Learned to look away.  Just because the kids don't do things exactly my way or leave them looking like a hired maid was here doesn't devalue their contribution to the family and household.  If I can learn to let them do their personal best and accept that as good enough for now, my work load gets dramatically cut.

So, laundry is almost totally caught up, only dishes from this morning remain in the sink, Liam hasn't ruined anything, the lawn is mowed (way to go, Aiden!), the kids are happy and feel successful, Mindy is fed (I really am the only one who can do that for now :) ), and we're all okay.  There are still "off" moments where I'm not sure this ship isn't sinking fast, but those are fewer and fewer.  I still wake up in the morning and take a deep breath dreading what is in store for me, but my fears have been generally proven unfounded.  And, the kids are going on occasional play dates that I'm coming to realize no one expects me to repay in the immediate future.

So, there you have it.  I've taken a deep breath and a giant leap of faith and I'm finally learning to let go.