Thursday, October 20, 2016

Ariya is Four Months Old!

Our sweet Ariya is already 4 months old She smiles and chatters all day long and is so alert and curious about everything around her. At her 4 month checkup, she weighed in at 16# and is 26.5" long, in the 90th percentile for both. WHY must I have the fastest growing babies of all time?! 

Ariya is SUCH a good baby, so predictable and easy to please. She's such a joy - to all of us. Her brothers couldn't be more smitten with her if they tried, they just radiate love - It makes my heart swell. For as much as they pick fights with each other, they have nothing but sweet words and gentle touches for their little sis. Their "little missy."

Ariya continues to sleep like a rockstar, 8-10 hour stretches every single night and a solid nap in the middle of the day (along with a couple small catnaps in between) She's unreal. I think Avery slept through his first night when he was...11 months and Cullen was maybe 6 months. She was 2 WEEKS and has done it consistently since then.  She still sleeps in our room and until we can figure out how to get Cullen and Avery to sleep in the same room together, that's where she will stay. She breaks out of her swaddle every night but usually falls right back to sleep with her fists up around her ears.

Her favorite spot to nap is on her tummy on our bed. When she doesn't fall asleep nursing, she prefers to be cuddled in the cradle position and have her bottom patted. It works every time!

Ariya loves bath time and kicks half the water out of her infant tub before she's finished. 

Her neck and core are getting so strong and she tries to pull herself up every time she gets a hand to grasp. She would rather sit up (with support) to look around than play on her tummy, though she tolerates it for short periods (the mirror helps). She she's only rolled over a couple of times but enjoys grabbing her feet and rolling from side to side.

When she gets scared, she lets out a very high-pitched squeal and if what's scaring her doesn't stop, the squeal turns into a cry.

Ariya's taken up the two-finger-chew (like her brothers did at this age) and drools all over everything. She LOVES watching her brothers and having them up in her face entertaining her is her favorite. She's especially fond of Avery right now because he takes his big brother role so seriously and knows how to anticipate her needs. He wipes her spitup, alerts me when he diaper gets full and knows all her favorite toys. He's very proud that he can help her sit up when she's fussing and she LOVES this arrangement :)

For as sweet and calm as she is, she has a 'fussy time' from 5-7 every evening - like clockwork. It makes preparing dinner and rounding up dirty boys from outside pretty difficult when all she wants is to be held. She often gives her lungs a good healthy workout during this time ;)

I took these photos of Ariya last month and just now got around to posting them - she has already grown and changed so much since they were taken.

I never could've imagined how perfectly this sweet little person would fit into our life. I love to see her so aware and learning so much every day, but feel a little tinge of sadness every morning I wake up and see how much she's grown during the overnight hours. I spend every hour of every day with her and somehow I still can't keep up with how quickly the time is going. I'm so grateful for the time I have with these three babies of mine. 

I've been enjoying looking back on these blog posts from Avery and Cullen's baby days. I love them so much, I'm going to make a point to continue with Ariya's updates - I knew I would appreciate taking the time to write all of this down!
Avery @ 4 Months
Cullen @ 4 Months

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Ariya Marie @ 3 Months!

Our baby girl is 3 months old! I can't even believe how fast these days have gone. Ariya is THE sweetest baby I've ever known. Since the day she was born, she has been so calm and agreeable, It's like she knew that in order to roll with her brothers, she was just going to have to go-with-the-flow, and from day 1 that's exactly what she's done.

Ariya nurses like a champ, has smiles for miles, holds her head up and is most happy when she is able to be up and looking around. She's getting good at following her brothers around with her eyes and her face lights up when they get in her face to talk to her. We think she's going to be our social butterfly- most of the time she cries it's because she's just lonely and wants someone to be talking, singing or dancing for her. Easily fixed around our house!  Tummy time is a breeze for her if she has her buddies around to keep her company. She's even rolled over a few times already!

Avery and Cullen have nothing but love, so much love, for their little sis. A few of their nicknames for her: Li'l Sis, Baby Sisser, Li'l Missy, Sister, and Cullen still loves to call her Ariya Marie. They love when they can get her to smile and watching them put on a show to get those smiles is the greatest. They just can't give her enough kisses in a day! (she's probably the most germy baby ever because of it, poor thing)

Above all else, Ariya SLEEPS! She slept through the night for the first time when she was only a few weeks old and has done so many times since. (It took the boys almost a YEAR to do that!) She usually does gets up a time or two to nurse during the night but gets what she wants and goes right back to sleep. She knows that her mama needs sleep now more than ever and, bless her heart, she gives it to me. She takes a solid nap in the middle of the day on the couch while her crazy brothers drive trucks and build houses around her.

In the evening, she tends to fuss between the hours of 5-7 every day and is really only calm if she's being held (dinnertime gets pretty tricky) or if we are pushing her in a stroller. When she's fussy or tired, patting her bottom helps her to calm the quickest.  She consistently goes down to sleep between 7-7:30 and then gets up an hour later for a little extra nursing before sleeping a 6-7 hour stretch. Every night! EVERY NIGHT! I used to think babies like her didn't even exist, this girl is just too good to be true.

We are all enjoying watching this girl grow into her own little personality and from what it looks like it's going to be a pretty sweet one. I'm sure we'll pay for this angelic behavior when she's a toddler - or a preteen. BUT, for now, we are soaking in every moment because every morning she wakes up a little bit bigger and wiser and a little less like the tiny infant I gave birth to last week (or so it feels anyway...)  Alas, she's ever so healthy and happy and we couldn't ask for any more than that. 
We love you, sweet Ariya.


Sunday, July 17, 2016

Ariya Marie Olive: A Birth Story!

An entire MONTH has passed since this little sweetie joined our crew and our family feels more complete than ever. The boys have shown nothing but love and adoration for little Ariya from the very start and she's been such a rockstar baby, totally going with the flow. As long as she doesn't have to wait too long to eat and has a clean diaper, she happily plays on the floor, travels around with me in the sling and falls asleep when she's tired. This third baby thing is the real deal - she's just pure joy.

Although she is an angel baby now, of all 3 of my pregnancies this one was the most uncomfortable for me. My body felt really heavy and achy and with the hot days setting in, I was just so ready for little miss to be here. I was hopeful after hearing from so many people that third babies 'often come early' that this would be the case, but at my last couple of weekly appointments I had progressed - and sadly, stalled - at 2-3 cm dilated, even after having my membranes stripped once. Our girl had plans of her own!

Justin and I convinced ourselves that baby girl was going to come early and come quickly and that left us a bit panicked as to what the boys would do if that were the case. Justin's mom, Jodi, was all packed and ready to come at a moment's notice but seeing as she had a 4+ hour drive from St. Louis, we weren't sure she would make it in time. So when we asked her on Saturday if she was willing to come stay with us early, she made the trip the next day. As it turned out, baby decided not to come until Thursday but we all got some good quality days with grandma and that is never time wasted. While she was here, I wore ruts in the sidewalks around the neighborhood walking laps to help move baby down and entice her to come out. Of course it didn't work, and I was extra exhausted every evening but it gave me something productive to do!

June 16 - baby girl's due date!
Throughout my entire pregnancy, I'd had some crazy Braxton Hicks contractions that had been getting more and more uncomfortable by the day. When I woke up to use the bathroom in the wee hours of the morning, I was really excited to feel what I thought were some real contractions beginning. In the morning I announced to everyone that today WAS going to be the day! (a little positive thinking never hurts, right?) I had an appointment with my midwife at 9:00 and at that point she said I was about 4 cm dilated and baby had moved way down, so finally some progress over the week before! She stripped my membranes really well and said she was sure baby would be here before the next morning. (yay!) During my early labor, which turned out to be most of the day, we hung out around the house, took a few walks and played on the construction equipment in our neighborhood (I had a funny moment of 'wow, how life has changed' as I was leaning up against a huge dirty loader tire to work through a contraction. Ha!) 

After dinner, my contractions were about 3-4 minutes apart and lasting almost a minute at a time. We called Amanda, the midwife on call, and she said she would meet us at the hospital. We left the boys happily playing in the pool with grandma and made the 12 minute trip. At this point, my contractions still weren't very painful and the ride didn't seem very uncomfortable at all so I was a little nervous maybe we were going in too early but I was set on trying for a water birth again and wanted to make sure I had time to labor in the tub for a while before baby was ready to come. 

After getting all checked in, we headed up to delivery room 6 (the same room both Avery and Cullen were born in!), I was hooked up to a monitor for 20 minutes and my IV was placed while the tub was being filled. Baby's heartbeat was regular and strong and soon I was able to get out of the bed and into the water. 

I have nothing but super positive things to say about laboring in a tub. Somehow the warm water makes contractions so much less intense and being able to sway with the water and lean up against the inflatable sides has proven to be my ideal laboring position. The next hour or so was spent chatting with Justin and Amanda between contractions, listening to Live on Pandora, and focusing on blowing ripples on the water to block out the pain. I was so much more aware, calm and confident this time around and thanks to Justin sticking mint and lemon oils in my face upon request, I'm happy to say I didn't get sick once! (more than I can say for my last two deliveries!) 

As contractions became more intense, my water broke and I was ecstatic (as ecstatic as one can be at this point of labor) to find that the fluid was clear so I would be able to stay in the water to deliver! (unlike both Avery and Cullen's deliveries, where I had to get out at this point due to having meconium-stained fluid that meant I was considered higher risk and couldn't continue with a water birth) After my water broke, contractions started to get much more intense and right on top of each other. I started to push a little through each contraction until Amanda checked and announced that baby's head was ready.  

I pushed two big pushes, one to deliver her head and one for her body - and she was here! Amanda caught her and handed her over to me under the water and I pulled her up and out onto my chest. 

For the next 15-20 minutes or so, I was able to just cuddle sweet Ariya and soak in that post-birth high. I distinctly remember there being such an overwhelming sense of calm and quiet in the room. (except for me saying over and over that "It worked!" I'd hoped and prayed for a water birth - and it finally worked!) Unlike when the boys were born and a team of NICU nurses were crowded in the room, this time it was only Justin and I, our midwife Amanda, one nurse, and another nurse that ran in right as she was born (I'm not even sure she made it in time). It was such a wonderful environment for baby to be welcomed into. Ariya was very alert and looking around right away but I think because of the peaceful, warm spot she was nestled into it took her a few minutes to cry (if that's not a testament to how calm the place was, I don't know what is!). One of the nurses started to rub her back and got her to cry so they could make sure her lungs were good and clear, and a healthy cry it was! She scored a 9 on her first (and second) APGAR and when the cord was done pulsing, Justin was able to cut it. 

A few minutes after, they took her to be weighed while I climbed out of the tub to deliver the placenta in the bed. (By far the worst part of delivering baby #3 was the horrendous tummy massaging the nurses had to do afterwards to make my uterus contract - SO MUCH more painful than it was the last two times!) 

Ariya is a spitting image of her brothers as newborns (especially Avery) She has Avery's eyes/nose and Cullen's squishy little mouth and chin. Her hair is all her own - it's DARK (darker than either of the boys' was) and pretty long in the back.

When Grandma Jodi brought the boys to visit the next morning, they were SO excited to see her! Cullen kept saying "Just born!" and Avery couldn't stop ogling over her tiny toes and fingers and they BOTH couldn't stop kissing her all over. So much love for this little sister from the very beginning. 

We were able to leave the hospital after Ariya's 24 hour screen so we made it home at about 10:30 on Friday night. Our stay at the hospital was almost like a little mini-vacation date for Justin and I, if it weren't so uncomfortable to sleep there we would've stayed an extra night! 

We are SO SO SO thankful to Jodi for being with us all week and for keeping the boys so happy while we were gone. It makes the transition much easier knowing that they were having a little mini-vacation of their own at home with grandma, they sure do love having her around!

We are all adjusting well to being a family of five. It was such a treat to have Justin home from work for a couple of weeks, we've never had so much time together at home - ever! It was awesome! We're slowly figuring out logistics and our juggling acts are pretty polished already at four weeks in. 

I've taken more photos over the last month than I have in the history of ever. Unfortunately, most of those photos have yet to make it from my camera to my computer. Maybe someday I'll have a few hours to sort through them... although probably not anytime soon.  I'm soaking up every minute of this newborn snuggle time and when I'm not, there's playtime to be had with bears. And wolves. There will likely be tractors involved.


Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Baby Girl: The Final Days on the Inside :)

As I type this, my floors desperately need to be cleaned, laundry baskets are piled up in need of folding, there are soggy swimming shorts drying on the patio and my boys are in a deep sleep after a long, full day.

But somehow, I know we're ready. This 'readiness' has taken on a much different form than it did the first and second time around. My freezer meal stockpile isn't nearly what I would like it to be, my house is never truly clean and baby girl doesn't have an elaborate nursery ready and waiting for her. (She actually doesn't even have a room yet, just a little space in the corner of our room where she will be for the forseeable future
And that's all ok. 
Because she will be more loved than she can ever imagine. Avery and Cullen are so SO excited to meet her and all that new-mom anxiety is all but gone completely the third time around, leaving me with a certain sense of peace as I think about heading into labor/delivery. 

I also have little to no anxiety about how the boys will deal with me going into labor (like I did when I was pregnant with Cullen) With Avery being older, I can explain the situation to him and he understands and as long as Cullen is with Avery, he will be A-Ok. 

I haven't posted much about my pregnancy this time around. Not because I haven't been documenting, but because taking time to sit down and write it out in this blog hasn't been high on my priority list. 

This has been my most difficult pregnancy. Not terrible by any means, but definitely harder. I've been pretty exhausted and with Avery not napping anymore, I haven't had a consistent downtime for myself everyday like I had with each of the boys. Also, my boys rarely stop moving. Like ever. I think that's been the hardest part for me, not being able to keep up with them like I'd like to. I thank God they have each other to wrestle and run with when all I want to do is put my feet up for 15 minutes. I must be getting old! 

Avery is SO ready to meet baby sister. He asks lots of questions and comes up with all kinds of ideas of things that we should do when baby sister arrives. I have no doubt he will be every bit of the amazing big brother he naturally was when we brought Cullen home, and then some. He's been very excited to take all my belly pictures for me during Cullen's naptime, it's been a fun time for us and he's an amazing little budding photographer!

He made up his own joke that he thinks is hilarious:
"Mom, I know what we can name baby sister!"
"Really? What should we name her?!"

"Yeah, Maybe Baby!"
I laughed SO hard at this because it was the first deliberate joke he's made and he was so proud of himself. He is such a ham!

Cullen is more needy than he's ever been. He doesn't want anyone else to change his diaper and still insists on being rocked before bed by nobody else but me. (even though getting comfy on my gigantic belly is a big challenge for him -and me-, I'm still his only choice)  And I must rub his neck... While humming... And rub his back when I place him in his crib... And blow him a kiss before I close the door. He's very particular about things he must do himself and things he still wants done for him. For reasons like this, I am a bit concerned about the logistics of having 3 and being outnumbered, especially in the beginning.  I fear Cullen isn't going to be as willing to share my attention as Avery was. He's got a strong personality and isn't much for listening to logic at his current stage :)  It does make me feel better that Cullen and Avery have each other and play so well together. They are such good little buddies, I know their bond will only become stronger after baby sister comes home.

The boys and I had a little photo shoot one afternoon during/after rest time. I love, love, LOVE our unstructured time together, these days are going by much too fast for my liking.

Cullen had just woken up from his nap when we pulled him in for a few shots
(he wasn't quite awake, but very cuddly)

Oh, and I have to share the one thing I have made in preparation for baby girl - her quilt!

I've been dilated to 3 cm for over 2 weeks now, with no 'real' contractions (although I've had Braxton Hicks for months). With 2 days until her official due date, I am walking loops around the neighborhood and bouncing around the house trying to coax this baby out. We're ready whenever you are, baby girl!

Monday, June 6, 2016

Avery is FOUR!

Avery turning 4 is sort of surreal for me.
I think it probably has a lot to do with the fact that I'm sitting here waiting on baby sister to arrive exactly 4 years after I was waiting on this little boy to join us and make us a family. My first baby. The one that would totally turn our lives upside down and make life so much more full and happy (and, on occasion, more frustrating too). 

Avery is such a joy in our days. I can't even believe how fast he is growing and learning, it's hard for me to keep up. He continues to have the most creative and active imagination ever. He loves nature and learning about everything around him. He asks so many good questions, I love watching his wheels turn and am amazed at all the information he can retain.
In the last year, Avery has matured so much. His speech has gotten so clear and he's come out of his shell quite a bit. He's still a pretty quiet, laid-back dude around others but has really come a long way. He's also learned what to say and do to push our buttons, how to whine, how to instigate and pick on his brother and how to use his newfound independence and stubbornness to drive his mother to the brink of insanity ;)

Some things I don't want to forget about Avery as he turns 4:

Avery LOVES:

Singing. His favorite songs are "Bear Necessitiesand  "I Just Can't Wait to be King"

Playing bear, deer hunter, and bad otter (based on the 'bad otter' in the movie Zootopia... it had quite the effect on him)

Bird watching

Talking about poop

Writing his name (mom, dad and Cullen too)  and drawing big bucks and funny monsters

Wild Kratts

Firefly/butterfly/frog catching

Teaching Cullen everything he knows... the good and the bad ("I taught Cullen that!")

Making up games for he and Cullen to play together

Playing with dad - he is OBSESSED with Justin, his daddy is truly his hero  

Riding his scooter like a champ. He's also getting more confident on his big bike

Dancing - So You Think You Can Dance is BACK! 

Jumping on the trampoline. He is very adamant about not jumping unless the net is securely zipped (after a little rolling-out episode, he learns quickly!)

Going on adventures in the woods

Wearing sunglasses and his favorite outfit - Black sport pants and a neon green long-sleeve shirt

Trucks, tractors and heavy equipment

Since about 6 months ago, Avery sneaks into our bed every night (we have nicknamed him our 'bedbug' because he's so sneaky) and I've adjusted to sleeping with my back to him to protect my belly from his twitchy kicking legs. In turn, he's adjusted to sleeping attached to me with his head between my shoulder blades. Somehow I've gotten used to this... although it could get interesting when baby sister takes up residence in our room very soon. 

(Baier is a friend of the family and Avery's babysitter - he LOVES her and her sister, Ellis.)

In the fall, Avery is signed up to go to preschool 3 mornings a week and he's pretty excited about it. I'm excited to see him interacting with some new little friends and to see how he grows in a new environmentUntil then, I'm excited to see him take on the 'big brother' role for a second time. He's so excited to meet baby sister!!  Oh, how I love this little boy of mine... to the moon and back.