Friday, June 29, 2007

Put, put, put......

Like a car running out of gas. That's how I feel.

Not sure why no one bothered to mention this to me when we talked of having a second baby or even throughout the entire 9 months that I was pregnant with Maddie. Why didn't anyone find it relevant to tell me that having two kids is HARD - really hard? I know people do it all the time and maybe it's come very easy to everyone else but, man, am I having a tough time getting it together. Now don't worry. Everyone over here in Ullsmithland is alive, well-fed, and seemingly happy. That I have managed to do. But, if you know me even a little, you know that's not enough to qualify for my definition of having it "together". My house is forever a mess, the laundry seems to never get done, the vaccuum is sure to be covered in cobwebs, and I AM EXHAUSTED - not tired, EXHAUSTED. I actually thought I was going to be able to do this (and do it well, I might add). I genuinely thought, after a couple of days of settling in, I'd be able to keep my house clean, keep the refridgerator well-stocked, cook dinner almost every night, play with Ana, and take care of Maddie, all while looking fabulous, of course. Ha! It's been so long since I've cleaned the toilets that I literally live in fear of what may be living in them. Milk, Pepsi, eggs, and yogurt describe the contents of our refridgerator. I've cooked once, once, since having Maddie. And a daily (quick) shower has become a luxury rather than a staple. But Ana and Maddie? I've at least been able to manage that part. I keep them clean and fed and they seem very happy (even Maddie in her adorable infant, newborn way) but it, of course, doesn't seem like enough. I'm somehow blessed with enough energy to get through the days (and nights with Miss Maddie) but come early evening I am spent. It's an exhaustion like I've never felt before. Even back in the day when I would stay up until 5 in the morning only to be at work by 7 did I not feel this tired. I'm the "energizer bunny" for God's sake! I never used to get tired! I was always the last one to leave a party and could keep up with the best of 'em.

There have been way to many nights to mention that, as I pray, I throw in a prayer for God to get me through this, to remind me why it's all worth it. And then the next day Maddie gives us her first smile, or Ana repeats the ABC's almost perfectly and I remember that that's what it's all about. I know it won't feel like this forever. I know that once I get our "routine" down I'll wonder what I ever complained about. But until then, it's my party and I'll cry if I want to.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Monday, June 25, 2007

Maddie Mondays: She's Her Own Girl

That's right. She gets her very own day. I figure this will help me remember to write at least once a week. And let me tell ya, I could use reminders for just about everything right now.

I know I just wrote a big long post about Maddie on Friday (or was it Saturday? See what I mean?) so not too much is new today in her world. Ok, so I guess those 7 straight hours of sleep were just a teaser though. Haven't had a night like that since. But she does sleep at least 3.5 hours straight on any given night and more often than not it's closer to 4.5 or 5 hours so I can't complain. She is, after all, only 4 weeks old. She still naps a lot during the day but when she's awake her eyes are so big and bright it's like looking at Ana as a newborn all over again.

I'm trying very hard not to compare my two kids but quite frankly it's a heck of a lot harder than you'd think. I remember when I was still pregnant with Madelyn Anthony had said to me that we should do everything exactly the way we did it with Ana because she was such an easy baby. And, being the ever-so-logical one, I reminded him that this baby may be completely different than Ana so things may not work the same. Sounds very "put together", right? Right. So tell me why then, if I'm the one that said it, is it so difficult for me to remember that now. I have to admit that Maddie seems to be a lit bit more temperamental than her sister was at this age (although I do think, in comparison, she's still a good baby). And every time see fusses or cries I can't help but wonder why, what worked to soothe Ana doesn't work on her. It frustrates me. It shouldn't, but it does. I thought that everything was going to be so much easier this time around because I had already done it. Truth is, sometimes I feel like I've never done this before and it's completely new to me. Sure, certain things are easier like the diaper changing and bathing and dressing. But everything else? Well it's a whole different ball game.

Maddie is her own little person and she reminds me of that constantly. She's a great eater but only likes to eat 5-10 minutes at a time and likes to follow that with a 5-10 minute nap. She loves being held when I have a million other things to take care of at that exact second. She's usually pretty content but when something's bugging her there is no "quietly letting me know". No, it's a full out scream (it only lasts a second but I guess she wants to make sure I hear her the first time). She seems to like bath time whereas my Ana never did and she doesn't mind when I dress her. Ana never seemed to mind a dirty diaper but Miss Maddie? Oh, she's a totally different story. Wet or dirty you can rest assured that I will know about it within seconds. This does lead to pretty easy diaper changes though. She's not a huge fan of the swing that Ana loved but she can spend hours in the Baby Bjorn that Ana didn't much care for.

I could probably go on and on listing the differences in these two princesses but what's the point? I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that Maddie is her own person and am accepting that she, too, has a whole lot to teach me. I think that once I abandon the notion that this should be easy just because I've already had a baby things will be much easier. What I know for sure about what they do have in common? They both love their mama and I feel it :).

Friday, June 22, 2007

Miss Madelyn Grace

I finally feel like I have a minute to sit and write about what's been going on in the wonderful life of Miss Madelyn Grace.

First, the important stuff. Maddie had a checkup last night and is doing just great. Our little chunk of heaven weighed in at 10lbs. 15oz. (95%) and is 21 3/8 inches (75%) long. Needless to say, she is definitely thriving. It's funny to think that a baby that sounds so big is still, to me, such a little peanut. She spent her first few weeks with a bit of a gas "problem" but seems to be doing so much better. She would grunt a lot and often look pretty uncomfortable but, after some great advice from her doctor, that seems to have pretty much gone away. Holding her more upright during feedings seemed to do the job! She holds her head up longer and longer and doesn't seem to mind tummy time at all which is great. She does prefer to sleep on her side than her back which makes me a little nervous but she wakes up in the exact position she falls asleep in so that's good. I still wrap her like a little burrito so she can't really move much anyway :). All in all, physically, she's doing awesome so thank God for that.

Now, otherwise....

Oh, Miss Madelyn. She is something else. So sweet and so chunky :). I swear this little girl just keeps the blessings coming. Every day, at the exact same time that Ana takes a nap, she blesses me with a nice long nap of her own - just the break I need to get me through sometimes. It's a blessing to have that time to myself but, I have to be honest, most of the time I end up napping right along with her. I cherish my alone time with her beyond words and feel the need to take in as much as I can. Maybe because there's not as much of it there, or maybe because she just makes it so darn wonderful. Anthony has already dubbed her a mommy's girl which is just fine by me. When she fusses all she needs is my touch to calm her down and I love that. I could look at her for hours and kiss those chubby cheeks for days. She has big bright eyes and a smile that you can't help but fall in love with. The more awake time she has, the more curious and interested she is in everything around her. When I hold her on my chest she's constantly pushing up with those little legs. And when we go out, what a trooper. She is definitely my little girl and Ana's little sister because she does awesome whenever we go. Everyday, no matter how small the trip, the three of us make our way out the door. We've hit countless stores, friends' houses, and the park. And every morning we go for our daily walk/very slow jog :). She does awesome. Never a peep out of her (well, except for when I put her in her car seat but the second that car starts up she's good to go). How did I get so lucky to have another girl that meshes with me so well? I have no idea but I really hope God knows how thankful I am.
I wish I could say that I've been able to permanently engrave these last few weeks into my memory but honestly it's all gone so fast. A lot of it is a blur and it's felt a little surreal to have so much going on at once (a newborn, a toddler, a husband, a home, my friends, my family) but boy oh boy, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Even though I may not be able to tell anyone what day of the week we're on I have somehow managed to treasure every second of the last 3 weeks and 4 days. And even though I may not be able to recite, in 5 years, what Maddie was doing when she was just 3 weeks old, I don't doubt for a second that the feelings I have right now will stay with me forever.
P.s. Did I mention she slept 7 hours straight last night? I told you, she just keeps 'em coming!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My Girls

Not too long ago I was browsing through my friend Angela's website and read about how, when she goes anywhere with her kids (2 and 6 months old) they always end up holding hands. Reading that made my heart melt. Maddie wasn't even born yet and I could only imagine what it would do to me to see my kids do that. Well, it happened. And let me tell you, there were tears.

As the girls and I were making our way to the store last week all I could hear as I drove was Ana going on and on talking to Maddie in her own little language. That in itself pulled at my heart. As I looked back to tell Ana how cute she is, there it was - my Ana had reached over and grabbed Maddie's hand and just sat there looking at her little sister. Sigh. My heart runeth over. It's amazing what the sight of two people you love so much loving each other can do to you. I've had a lot of moments in my life where I've felt blessed but that moment, that moment felt like the closest thing to Heaven. Never before had I really felt the meaning of the saying "Thank Heaven for little girls". Thank Heaven for my little girls.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The King of our Castle

Why do I call him this? Because he calls us his princesses....and because he is. He is the reason I get to stay home and spend this precious time with the girls. He is the reason we live in a home where we each have our own bedrooms with walk-in closets. And he is the reason we will never be without our share of shoes. He is our king.

We had a great day dedicated to showing him just how much we love him yesterday. Although at this point I'm really the only one that can really show any true appreciation, I'm pretty confident in knowing that I appreciate him more than enough for the three of us. I appreciate him and the father he is to the girls in a way only a fatherless girl can. My dad passed away a year and a half ago but I lost him well before that. At 6 years old, him and my mom divorced. At 10 I was only seeing him once in a while. At 17 he moved back to Mexico. And by 22 I would see him for the last time. I remember being 19 when it stopped affecting my life so much that he wasn't in it but it's funny how, no matter what, I never stopped wanting to be Daddy's little girl and I certainly, to this day, have not stopped thinking about him. I have never been able to get through a father-daughter dance at a wedding without tearing up and I've never been able to get through even the cheesiest "after school special"-like episodes on TV about a dad and his daughter without wondering, even for a moment, how different I may have turned out if only my dad had been around. I gave up the hope of having him in my life long before he passed away but the fantasy of it is still with me. The difference now is that I'm watching my girls live it out. Anthony is so much more to them than I had ever wished my dad could be to me. It's bittersweet to know that they will never be able to appreciate the incredible father he is the way I do because they will never know life without him. They'll never really know how incredibly lucky they are to have him as a dad. And, although they may never be able to appreciate him in the sense that I can, I know that as they grow they will quickly learn to see him for all that he is. But for now, for my girls, I will tell you what I love and appreciate so much about their dad.

  1. The way he teared up the moment they were both born (he NEVER cries)
  2. How hard he works for the life we have
  3. He is one of the best people you will ever know. Genuine and kind-hearted beyond belief.
  4. He has a smile that will make you melt
  5. The way his eyes light up when he smiles
  6. The way his entire face lights up at the sight of any one of us
  7. The way he dances when we're the only ones in the room
  8. His innate ability to put our names into any song
  9. His inability to learn the right words to almost any song
  10. The pancakes he makes for us every Saturday and Sunday morning (Mickey Mouse being his latest creation for Ana)
  11. The dirt on his hands after a long day of work
  12. His ability to wake up at 3:30 in the morning to go to work for us
  13. When he calls at the end of the day to let us know "he's on his way to us"
  14. How he calls everyday to see how "his girls" are doing
  15. That he tells me everyday that he's missed "his girls"
  16. The endless paces back and forth he's taken during Ana's, and now Maddie's, fussy times
  17. The spa treatments he gives Ana when he puts her to bed - bath, massage, teeth, ears, hair, the works!
  18. The way he loves their mom after all this time
  19. How important he is at work because he's so darn good at his job
  20. The incredible amount of respect he has and shows to his parents
  21. The yummy banana milk shakes they'll come to love as much as their mom does
  22. How respectful he is of people
  23. How much he loves having their Aunts Dana, Kristie, and Carie around even though he always gives them such a hard time
  24. How he's already making plans to turn the loft into a huge bathroom to accommodate his three girls
  25. The way he always checks on Ana one last time before going to bed
  26. The way he kisses Maddie goodbye every morning and says "I love you"
  27. The way he's taught Ana to sing all the words she knows
  28. How happy it makes him that Ana loves, loves, loves his truck
  29. The little boy inside of him that runs to the window at the sound of a cool car
  30. The way he's put so much of his own wants on hold for us with little complaints
  31. The way that we, his girls, fill up his heart so completely that it shows in his beautiful face
  32. The way that, as long as he can help it, Ana and Maddie will never, ever know what it's like to be without a dad
I could of course go on forever but I'll break here.
Happy Fathers Day to the most wonderful dad I could have ever hoped to have for my kids.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Ana's gift to us....

In her short 12 days here, Maddie has already brought so much more to me than I could have possibly imagined. I've often heard parents say they wondered, after having their first baby, how they could possibly love another. I never wondered that. There was no doubt in my mind that I would have enough love for another baby. What has surprised me though is just how much love I have for her. I am so completely in love with this little girl it makes my heart ache. When I hold her I don't want to let her go. When I kiss her I want to let my lips linger on her tiny head forever. And I get it. I get why I love her so much. I just don't get where all this love was before. Where was I keeping it? I know I loved Ana with my whole heart and everything I had so where was this part of my heart? The only way I can possibly reason this is that this part of my heart grew along with Maddie and exploded the moment she was born.

I think it's only natural to compare the experiences in your life and having children is no exception. I can't help but make comparisons between having Ana and now having Madelyn but it's the differences in me as a mom that are the most striking. When Ana was born I spent a large portion of our first weeks together unsure, uneasy, and insecure about myself as her mother. So much of my time was spent reading up on the "right" way to do everything from bathing her to nursing her to getting her to sleep that, looking back now, I really feel that I missed out on just being her mom at first. It took a little bit for my "maternal instincts" to kick in so I did what I could with what I had. But this time? Oh, this time has been totally different. In her 20 months my sweet little Ana has taught me how to be a mommy in the truest sense of the word. She has molded my heart into something I had no idea was possible. The best way I've found to describe the difference between giving birth to Ana and giving birth to Maddie is this: when Ana was born I was just a girl having a baby but when Maddie was born I was a mommy having a baby and it was completely different.

I fell completely in love with Madelyn the second she was born. I began to love her when I found out I was pregnant but I fell in love at her birth. Because of all that Ana has taught me I have been able to enjoy these first days with Madelyn in a way I wasn't able to with Ana. Instead of worrying about whether I was going to break her or not measure up, I am able to immerse myself in all that is her - her tiny fingers and feet, her sweet face and the precious little noises she makes when she sleeps. Instead of being preoccupied with whether or not she was latching on correctly I am able to more completely feel that bond a mother and her nursing infant share. And instead of obsessively counting her wet diapers I am able to trust my gut and know that my baby is doing just fine.

I have known for a while now that Ana is my little angel from above that God has sent to teach me and help me grow and I treasure that. But for her to have given me this time with her sister that I missed out on with her, that is something for which I will forever be grateful.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Madelyn Grace Ullsmith

It's a girl!!! What a surprise - what an incredibly wonderful surprise. I didn't really have a strong feeling one way or another that this baby was a boy or a girl but hearing "it's a girl" after 95% of everyone else thought we were having a boy was definitely a surprise.

I had completely surrendered to the fact that I would likely be induced the Friday after my due date and had no plans on having this baby any sooner. At my 39 week checkup I hadn't progressed at all from the previous week and I had no "feeling" that labor had any intention on heading my way. I have to say I did feel pretty pooped in the days prior but come on, I was 39 1/2 weeks pregnant and carrying what felt like a 40lb baby - feeling "pooped" was hardly cause for alarm. So I went about my business making plans for Ana and I for that next week and looking very forward to enjoying a relaxing, uneventful holiday weekend. Ha.

Fast-forward to Sunday, May 27th. My Aunt Maria had a Memorial Day/Christina's birthday bbq so the 3 of us headed over there. My family has a long standing tradition of playing volleyball at each get-together so I, as always, wouldn't miss it. My mom and aunt thought I was crazy but I figured "hey, this baby's due tomorrow, yes, tomorrow, so what's the harm?" So I played, for all of 1 full game. It's rough playing with a baby in tow! Anyhow, the bbq was great and we said our goodbyes and wishful "hopefully the next time you see me will be with a baby!" comments around 8pm. We got home, put a very tired and cranky Ana to bed and decided to turn in early and watch some TV. About 9:30 as I sat in bed I felt a little gush of fluid and ran to the bathroom. I wasn't 100% sure but though maybe, just maybe my water was leaking. Not having been certain, I went back to bed and it happened again. This time I was a little more sure but not positive since I wasn't having any contractions. I went to bed again and fell asleep. At exactly midnight I woke up and it happened again. This time I knew. I called the hospital and the nurse said to come in even though I wasn't yet having any contractions. Almost the instant I hung up the phone the contractions began - and they didn't waste any time! They started at 3-5 minutes apart so we called Anthony's mom and waited for her to come stay with Ana. We took my last belly pic and by 1am we were out the door.

I have to say I was soooo excited that I was getting to experience what it felt like to go into labor. Although I had succumbed to the idea of an induction, it made me sad to think of missing out on this. I wanted to experience what they do in the movies - "honey, it's time!", rush out the door, husband trying frantically to get his wife to the hospital as she screams profanities at the top of her lungs. Ok, so it wasn't so dramatic, but it was still exciting for me. I did really well through the contractions, I thought. They were painful but bearable and I was totally fine in between them. In fact, so fine that I couldn't stop talking to my half-asleep, heartburn-ridden husband about how excited I was. Oh yeah, my husband. Let me tell ya, not the best listener at 1 in the morning. Sure he didn't feel good and sure he was probably nervous at the thought of not getting his laboring wife to the hospital in time but hey I wanted to talk and I wanted an audience!

So by the time we got to the hospital I was 5-6cm and my water had in fact broken - the latter which took a very uncomfortable test to prove. Let's just say I was in tears. Contractions were nothing next to that. Anywho, I was admitted and quickly called my mom and, of course, my bff's. Within the hour, my mom and Dave and Kristie were there with us. I made it all the way to 8cm without any drugs and then I had what felt like the mother of all contractions. It hurt like hell!!! At this point all I could think was "I haven't started pushing so I'm going to guess this isn't as bad as they get". Um, epidural please. I plowed through my feelings of disappointment in myself for not going natural and gave in to the drugs. Looking back, maybe I could've handled it. At the time, there's no way. By 5:30am I was almost complete and was told that I'd probably be able to push within the half-hour. Sure enough, just after 6:00 I began to push and at 6:12am and 4 strong pushes later (I pushed like a champ)......"it's a girl!" A big girl. 8lbs 10oz and 19 1/2 inches. Madelyn Grace Ullsmith was born. OH. MY. GOD.

Because Maddie's umbilical cord was pretty short, the nurse had to take her right away so the doctor wouldn't drop her. Because of that, it had to be a good 20 minutes before I really even got to see her. I did NOT like that at all. One of the best memories I have from when Ana was born was holding her on my chest only moments after taking her first breath and crying. I loved that moment. I can still feel that moment when I close my eyes. Yeah, yeah, I know it was for Madelyn's safety but still, I wish that could have been different. Instead of holding her and crying, I just laid there and cried all the same. By the time they brought her to me and I took a look at those chubby little cheeks, I was smitten. The truth is, I didn't even have to have looked at her to fall in love with her. She was my baby girl and I honestly couldn't have been happier. We now had 2 girls. Two incredibly beautiful, perfect girls. OH. MY. GOD.