Monday, April 30, 2012

More Malcolm

Some more pictures from his birth:

And one from almost 4 weeks old that I'd wanted to post earlier but couldn't until Ryan's family had seen his longer hair in person:

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Birthday Party, Pedal Bike

We got lucky this past weekend and had beautiful weather for Gareth's birthday party on Saturday. We opted for having it outside. Due to spring break, only three of the six friends we invited were able to make it which was just fine as it kept things a bit more manageable. Gram finished the tent she was making for his birthday the night before and the kids loved playing in that. My siblings and I had one of these as kids and it's looking like Gareth and his brother will enjoy theirs just as much as we did ours.

A great thing about young kids is that they're so good at entertaining themselves. They were content to run races and play with the tent and all our soccer/bounce/basket balls for the most part. We did play pin the tail on the donkey, though without making any of the kids dizzy first which definitely helped their tail placement success. But considering we had a two and a three year old playing as well it seemed best to leave out the disorientation.

The cake we purchased at the Central Market bakery on the recommendation of a friend from clarinet choir. It was a good choice for a kid's party, since children don't have highly developed taste, but not as amazing as the cake from Simply Desserts that my mom had treated us to a few days earlier (we'll get one of these for my birthday I think). We made it better by requesting whipped cream frosting (can't stand the nasty shortening stuff). It was a good cake, just not amazing.

Gareth chose a Batman theme for the cake, with the writing in pink (one of his three favorite colors right now, the others being red and green). The only problem with being outdoors was the breeze that made lighting the candles tricky. In the end someone held up a blanket long enough to get the candles lit and for Gareth to blow them out. After cake and presents we let the kids play some more while the adults visited.

Gareth also got to celebrate his birthday at preschool the week before the actual event. His teacher makes a big deal out of their birthdays. Everyone in the class signs a card, one of the parents makes a crown for the birthday child, they sing several versions of "Happy Birthday", get to sit on the "big cheese" pillow at circle times, and get to pass around pictures of themselves as a baby/toddler, and even blow out candles on a "cake". I forgot to take my camera that day, so had to settle for a shot of him with his card and crown here at home. His crown is perfect for him - a combination of jet plane and batman stickers as well as "beautiful things" like fairy stickers, sparkles, etc.

Our birthday gift to Gareth was a pedal bike. He's loved the Strider we got him last year, but we've now extended the seat (which was already an extra-long one) to its maximum height. He's been doing so well balancing on the Strider that we decided he was ready for a pedal bike. Sunday we had another gorgeous day so we headed down to our local bike store to see what we could find. We took a 16" bike out for a test ride and it seemed to work pretty well. Hopefully he'll get several years out of this bike, but it will be a good investment no matter what since we'll use it for two kids. We had them remove the training wheels before we brought it home. A little later we were off to the elementary school playground to see if he could transfer his balancing skills from the Strider to his new bike.

It took some time and a bit of practice to help him figure out how to get started without the training wheels to maintain balance:

Then Ryan tried to help him out for a while by keeping his hand loosely around the front bar (though he says he thinks he was hindering more than helping):

And within a short time he was riding all on his own:

The Strider was worth every penny we paid for it (especially considering we'll use it for two kids)! He still needs some practice getting himself started, but I was surprised at how quickly he was riding on his own. Hills, both up and down, will probably require some more practice as well as braking since his reflex right now is to put his feet out to brake. But with a few more days of good weather I'm sure he'll get the braking thing down at least.

Gareth really wants a bell for the bike, but Ryan was smart and pushed not to get one now. I realized it would be good not to have the distraction of a bell while trying to work on figuring out how to ride properly. Plus, they're a bit pricey. I told him he can ask for that for Christmas, figuring by then he should have the riding aspect down really well.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Malcolm at Two and Four Weeks

Malcolm is slowly adjusting his internal clock and realizing that daylight (what we get of it) means he needs to occasionally be awake and that darkness means time to sleep. He eats well (though he's just recently started struggling with gas and that's causing some issues) and we're usually only up with him once or twice after putting him down for the night. Here's hoping he sleeps through the night soon!

Ryan worked from home a couple weeks ago and we took Malcolm in for his two week check. He was up to 7 pounds, 8 ounces and grew a whole inch in those two weeks. He was still a little jaundiced, but his doctor didn't seem worried about it. She explained to us that there are different types of jaundice and she's sure this is just from breast milk (apparently sometimes breast milk has a hormone in it that interrupts the breakdown of bilirubin temporarily) and as long as he continues to eat/sleep/poop well we don't need to worry. Hopefully it will be gone by the time he has his next visit at two months.

Adjusting to two has been made easier by the large gap between them. Gareth is perfectly capable of doing many things on his own and able to help out more. I honestly can't imagine having a two year old and a newborn. Though I know plenty of people who have had that, I think it would have been overwhelming for me. It is strange to have to carry around a diaper bag again, but otherwise not too bad. Of course, we have family visiting for the next couple of weeks which makes things easier but I think I was doing pretty well all on my own for the week before family got here. The house wasn't perfectly clean (but then, it wasn't before Malcolm came either), but the big things usually got done. I've yet to figure out how to fit practicing in, but we've also been a little busy with Easter and figuring out plans for Gareth's birthday in addition to adjusting to life with a newborn. Hopefully this next week will bring more time to practice. I've got to admit, I'm also looking forward to preschool being done for the year at the end of May. I love Gareth's preschool and so does he, but right now it makes it difficult to get things done. Not only do I have to plan things around when Malcolm will want to eat, but I also have to make sure we'll be back from any outings in time for school/before school is over and it's just an extra thing to worry about. Gareth is on spring break this week and while having both boys home presents certain challenges, I think it will be easier to get errands and projects done when our time is a little more flexible. And when school starts back up again he'll be going full-time and Malcolm will be five months old and hopefully have a more set routine.

Our neighbors across the street just had a baby boy almost exactly three weeks after Malcolm (another couple on the street is also expecting a boy in June sometime). We met him a few days ago and it was amazing to see how big Malcolm is compared to him. They were about the same size at birth, so it made it obvious just how much Malcolm has grown since we brought him home. I'm excited for him to grow, but do find myself missing the newborn Malcolm.


We knew he'd grown a lot, but not how much. I opted to take Malcolm in to the doctor a couple days ago to get a prescription for gas drops (can't pay for over the counter stuff with the fsa unless we have a prescription) and so we got to find out his current weight again. In the two weeks between his last visit and this one he put on a lot of weight - he's now 9 pounds, 3 ounces. And a little happier (if more spit-uppy) now that he has help getting rid of gas.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Gareth's five now. It's still hard to believe I'll have a kid starting kindergarten in the fall. Gareth seemed so little until we brought Malcolm home and now he seems huge (I'd swear he's doubled his weight) and so accomplished. I was watching him get dressed the other day and realizing how impressive it was that he was putting his socks on by himself. This is something he's been able to do for quite some time now and that I'd come to take for granted, but I was suddenly struck by how far he'd come in the last five years and even in the past year.

In the past year he's learned all of the letter sounds and can read basic words. Preschool has been excellent for his social and emotional skills, not to mention all the random stuff he learns in small group from the various parents. He's trying to skip right over the whole addition/subtraction thing and go right for multiplication ("two 3's is 6 and three 3's is 9...!"). And his most recent development has been to start painting/drawing actual images. At the beginning of the year he'd just paint a line in every color that was available with no intention of creating anything in particular. But last week he brought this home from preschool:

This is an octopus. I've never seen Gareth create something so intentional. I'd just assumed he wasn't all that into art, which wouldn't be surprising considering his parents' lack of talent where the visual arts are concerned. And I was okay with that. But I've got to say, it's rather fun to have some art come home that he's excited to tell you about and that actually looks like something.

He had a very relaxing birthday - we'll have a low-key party on Saturday with a few friends. His Gram bought him a pink princess ball yesterday which he's totally in love with. We were hoping to make it outside with him, but missed out on the nicer morning weather. So we pretty much spent the day watching Avatar: The Last Airbender (he's very excited for Gram to see all the episodes), playing with his ball, and just generally hanging out. We had pasta salad for dinner (his current favorite) and then it was off to bed a little later. He seems happy to be five and already excited for what the next year will bring (especially elementary school).

Monday, April 2, 2012

Birth Story

For those who aren't interested in the nitty-gritty details of birth stories, feel free to skip to the very short version and pictures at the bottom. :)

The Long Version:

Turns out it was a good thing I got Gareth's school registration in when I did - Malcolm surprised us and came a couple weeks early. I was expecting the pregnancy to go on longer because things were shaping up much like they had for Gareth at this point. I had an appointment a couple of days before Malcolm came and was told again that I was not effaced. I hadn't been having many contractions either, though more than the zero contractions I'd had with Gareth. So, yeah, I figured that I'd at least make it close to my due date with this kid.

I very much wanted to avoid an induction this time around, so I was hopeful that something would start progressing soon. This meant I was pleasantly surprised to feel some pressure a couple of days after my OB appointment. I didn't think much of it, figuring it was just my body slowly starting to prepare for labor. I went about my day as usual, practicing, making granola, having a picnic lunch with Gareth, etc. After I dropped Gareth off at preschool I came back home and realized I was losing my mucus plug but, again, didn't think much of this as it sounded like the actual birth could still be a couple weeks away. I told Ryan what was happening, but assured him there was no need for him to come home.

I walked down to pick up Gareth and we went to the park with our friends. About 5 pm we headed back to their house and hung out there for about half an hour. The occasional contraction was still happening. We were invited to stay for dinner, but by this point I was feeling a bit tired and really just wanted to be home. Gareth and I arrived home just before 6 pm. Usually Ryan would be home by this point. I had forgotten that on Friday afternoons his team socializes and plays foosball. I messaged him asking if he was on his way home (he was) and telling him that we might want to order something for dinner as I was not feeling up to being on my feet cooking. I told him I thought I should maybe start timing the contractions, but that it probably wasn't a big deal, that we should just do it to have a better idea of what was going on.

Ryan got home and helped Gareth fix some problem he was having while trying to play Portal. I called our doula to let her know what was happening. She was in her car and we agreed she'd call back when she got home and check in. I scarfed down some granola and yogurt since I was extremely hungry. She called back just before 7 pm - I'd timed just a few contractions at this point, having started timing just after 6:30. They were about 30 seconds long and coming every 6 or so minutes. Ryan left just after 7 to go get some Greek food for our dinner. Shortly after he left, the contractions started becoming more intense. Poor Gareth, who's never really been very sick, never seems to understand when I'm not feeling well and kept wanting to play with me. When he asked me for the password to go up the stairs right in the middle of one of my contractions I totally yelled at him (and instantly felt horrible about it). He seems to have gotten over it okay though, so I don't think I did any permanent damage.

I was still uncertain about whether I should call my doctor or not. I finally decided to call once I started feeling shaky and like I was going to vomit. And, still timing contractions using an app on Ryan's phone, I saw that they were anywhere from 1 minute to 1.5 minutes long and only 2 to 4 minutes apart. Since it was an evening, I knew I'd be stuck with whatever doctor was on-call, which thankfully turned out to be my doctor. She told me to come in to the hospital. Ryan was a block away with our food when I called him about 7:45. He ran in the door just as I was vomiting all over the bathroom floor and grabbed some things for Gareth and took him to our friend's house. That gave me a few minutes to get my shoes on and then we were on our way. I called our doula en route so that she could meet us at the hospital.

There was, thankfully, little traffic and the ride was mostly smooth (I've noticed that since our snowstorm in January the route to the hospital has been riddled with potholes - they started fixing them a couple of days ago). We got to the hospital a little after 8 pm, pausing a couple of times on our way to my room to wait for contractions to pass. The nurse, Linda, was wonderful, taking the time to make sure I was comfortable and showing Ryan a way to help me through contractions before putting in the IV I needed for the Group B strep antibiotics. She checked to see how far along I was. Expecting to maybe be a 4 or 5, I was surprised when she said 7-8 and that I was in transition. This was very encouraging.

Our doula made it a few contractions later and was able to help Ryan and I through contractions. Ryan's hands were getting tired from applying pressure to my lower back so he had to switch sides once in a while. I appreciated having two people around because I came to depend on holding someone's hand with my left hand and someone's shoulder on my right. When Ryan needed to switch sides, I didn't have to switch my routine.

As things got more intense I mostly kept my eyes closed so as not to be distracted by everything going on around us. My doctor knew we wouldn't have time for the four hours of antibiotic I was supposed to have, but they were trying to make at least one hour. I was starting to doubt my ability to make it through without an epidural. It was interesting to me that, while some part of my brain was totally focused on what my body was doing, another part was calmly weighing the pros and cons of the epidural. Thankfully, I only went through three really bad contractions before they finished the first hour of antibiotic. I think I would have made it through regardless, simply because I kept thinking that I wanted to know what it felt like to give birth, something I felt I didn't have the first time around since I couldn't feel anything. If I gave in I would never know. My doctor offered to break my water. We talked (well, Ryan talked) with the nurse to see if there were any possible disadvantages or concerns about doing so at this stage. When she said that there would be early on in labor, but not at this point, we agreed to do it. My doctor broke my water and then informed me that I'd been almost at a 10 before that and once she broke it I was there and could start pushing whenever I wanted. Malcolm was born just a few pushes later, about an hour and a half after we got to the hospital. The nurse told me it was good I hadn't asked for an epidural as it wouldn't have started working until after I gave birth anyway.

They placed Malcolm on my chest right away, which was pretty cool. With Gareth they whisked him away and did all sorts of stuff before giving him to me and never bothered to ask if we wanted that or not. This time around they wiped the baby up a bit while on my chest and while Ryan cut the cord. The doctor delivered the placenta - I remember having to push a little bit with Gareth for that, but this time it pretty much slid right out - and then started stitching up the small tear I had along the scarring from the episiotomy they'd given me with Gareth. Slowly the room emptied of people and I worked on getting the baby to nurse with the help of our doula and the nurse. After a few tries he managed to latch on. Our initial nurse, Linda, had to go attend a c-section (there were two or three deliveries shortly after ours that night) and was replaced by Carolyn. Things are a little fuzzy for me at this point, but at some point Ryan went home to pick up some clothes and toiletries since we hadn't got around to packing a hospital bag yet before the baby came. He got back and Carolyn weighed Malcolm (6 lbs, 15 oz and 19 inches long) and gave him a bath. Things were a bit disordered since they'd had so many babies come (when I called back to give the hospital his name for the birth certificate form the woman said there were seven births that day) and since Malcolm had come so quickly. They didn't manage to measure his head circumference until the next day. We finally got around to reheating some of our Greek food around midnight or 1 am - something really late. By 2 am we were all trying to get some sleep, though there wouldn't be much for me as I still had so much adrenaline in my system that my mind was racing all night long.

Overall, I'd say this second time around was the better birth experience. I feel like things were too baby factoryish in Provo. Looking back, I feel that I was induced because it was more convenient for the doctor rather than what was best for me or Gareth. That doctor was basically there to catch Gareth when he came out, whereas here my doctor was much more present and didn't leave after breaking my water. She was there guiding my pushes. With Gareth it felt like nurses were coming in every few minutes asking if I wanted an epidural yet whereas here the nurse asked once and then said she wouldn't ask again unless we brought it up - and she didn't. The nurses seemed more than happy to have a doula around and didn't seem like they'd fuss if we had decided not to have the Vitamin K or eye goop. And I know from the tour that they would have been supportive of me laboring in the bath, moving around, doing what I needed to to deliver without medication. I didn't have time to do any of that, but definitely got the feeling that it was supported. Basically, the culture here is more open to less medical intervention than I felt Provo's was, though it's possible that things have changed at Utah Valley in the last five years.

Gareth came to meet his brother the next afternoon and we all came home around 7 pm. Hospital beds just aren't that comfortable and we were rather eager to get home and start adjusting to our new life. I was feeling great, though I did take some ibuprofen the second night we were home just to take the edge off a bit and help me through the night. Gareth spent a second night at his friend's house, for which I was grateful. We eventually got around to mopping up the bathroom floor and Ryan spent a couple of days making sure bills were paid, laundry got done, etc.

We spent the rest of our free time in those first couple of days trying to come up with a name. We'd been told we had six days to submit a name to the hospital for the birth certificate, so we had a definite deadline there. I'd liked Graeme for quite a while, but we knew that the spelling would cause pronunciation difficulties (no one would say it "gray-um" like you're supposed to, opting instead for "gram" and many would just be confused by it like I was as a kid) and it would cause confusion for Gareth and my nephew, who already call my mom Gram. We also figured he'd also get called "Graham cracker" (a co-worker of Ryan's who has the name Graeme confirmed to us that he did get called that as a kid). Plus, the Graham spelling of the name was something like #128 on the social security list of the top 1000 boys names - far, far too popular. We were really hoping to find another Gareth - something that is easily pronounced when you see it but no where to be found on that top 1000 list. Ryan tossed around the names Merrick and Darwin for a bit, but both of those struck us as primarily last names (which they are), and I'm not a fan of the last name as a first name thing. We also considered Damon or Damien (both too common in the end, plus they fall into the trap of taking anything and adding the -on, -en, -an ending that has become so ridiculously popular for boys these days) and even Nigel for a bit. But in the end we kept coming back to Graeme and Malcolm. In the end, Malcolm won out due to it's lack of popularity (in the 500s), but general familiarity that people have with the name and it's spelling. I'd long been considering Rhys for a middle name and though we tossed around other possibilities, we stuck with that in the end. So Malcolm Rhys it is.

The Short Version:

Malcolm surprised us by coming early. I had a very rapid active labor, giving birth about three hours after I started timing contractions. I enjoyed experiencing birth without pain medications. Our doula took most of the pictures in the hospital and, unfortunately, our computer doesn't seem to like the disc she put them on. Hopefully we'll be able to get those off of there soon. Until then, here are a couple of ours from the hospital as well as a few after coming home. And apparently we need to take more pictures of Ryan, Gareth and myself with Malcolm.