Monday, September 15, 2008

A Few Days of Heather...

When the world was created, the hillsides were bare, and it was decided that a plant was needed to beautify the slopes

The giant Oak, strongest of all trees, was asked but he declined saying that the soil was too shallow for him to take root and flourish

Then the yellow-flowered Honeysuckle was asked if she would spread her beauty and fragrance throughout the hills. She, too, refused because there was nothing in the inhospitable terrain against which she could grow.

The Rose, sweetest of all the flowers, was the next choice. However, she explained that she would not be able to survive the hillside’s bitter winds and driving rain.

Then a small low lying green shrub with tiny petals, some purple, some white, some pink, was chanced upon.

It was Heather! Heather flowers

The Heather was asked, "Will you grow up on the hillside to make them more beautiful?"

The Heather reflected on the poor soil and harsh climate and was not sure whether she could do the job; but to the delight of all, she replied that if they wanted her to try, she would do her very best.

They were all so pleased with the Heather that they decided to bestow three gifts upon her.

  • The strength of the Oak – the bark of the Heather is stronger than that of any other tree or shrub

  • The fragrance of the Honeysuckle – the Heather’s gentle fragrance is used to
    perfume soaps, potpourris, and cosmetics.

  • The sweetness of the Rose – the sweetness of the Heather makes her one of the bee’s favorite flowers

And to this day Heather is renowned for these three gifts as she fulfills her task.

I have been wanting to post more photos and descriptions of things as they have happened since the labor, delivery and birth of Heather, but we've had a few hiccups along the way. Now that it's Monday, things are a little calmer, so here are some new photos and videos of Heather, Chase & Isabelle...

A few hours after Heather's birth Chris picked up the children from friend Trina's house and brought them to the hospital to meet their new sister.

When babies are born to diabetic mothers there is risk of low blood sugars, which was the case with Heather. After breastfeeding her, waiting awhile to see if her sugars would go up and determining that they weren't going to, the midwives tried to give her a "top-up"* of formula from a bottle. She was not having it. After trying several times to get her to drink the formula, the pediatrician said it would be necessary to use a feeding tube. She didn't much like that either and fought (with Hulk-like strength) against their attempts to get the tube in. After two tries, two different midwives, Mommy lying in bed trying to pretend it wasn't happening, Daddy closely supervising the midwives, and big brother and big sister patiently (and calmly) standing out of the way, they finally managed to get the tube in.
It really wasn't so bad -it's a tiny tube, and it did get her blood sugars up. And by the middle of the night the tube was out (I swear I didn't pull it out on purspose - really, it was an accident) and she was maintaining her blood sugars on Mommy's milk alone. This is one of the first times I saw her with her eyes open and looking around.

While Mommy took a shower and tried to make herself look like a real person again, Daddy gave Heather her first bath and styled her hair, "Oooh, that's feels goooood."

"Whew! My spa day was really exhausting!"

Isabelle and Chase missed school on Thursday so they could meet their new sis, but Friday Daddy took them to school and picked them up again (of all the school uniforms in the world, wouldn't you choose these colors first? Gryffindor of Hogwarts it is not!)

When it was Chase's turn to hold Heather he began singing Hush Little Baby and Chris managed to capture it on video. He told me later that on Thursday before coming to see the baby for the first time, Chase and Isabelle went home and listened to the song on Isabelle's iPod until they had every word memorized (including the additional verse of humming at the end). Chase has now been enlisted as the official soothe-by-singing technician when Mommy needs a minute or two before she can nurse the baby.

The Girls waiting for the cab to pick us up from the hospital to go home.

Daddy and Heather watching football.

Warning: the video is probably only cute to watch if you are the mom, the dad, or one of the grandparents. Otherwise you may get slightly bored. It is filmed in real time and has not been slowed down.

Mommy's little baby.

Baby number 1 (Isabelle) only cared about eating every 4-6 hours and even then we had to strip her down to get her out of her warm comfy-cozy zone before she would wake up to eat. (DeeDee prayed she would outgrow that habit by Prom. I think we're out of the woods on that one). Baby number 2 (Chase) ate about every 4 hours, though did not need quite as much coaxing. This one thinks she needs to eat every 2 hours, but then she falls asleep two minutes into it and then gets mad if mom "closes the kitchen." So, Sunday afternoon, we decided to try giving her a pacifier to see if we could hold her off long enough to build up a better appetite so that feeding her was more productive.

Hmmm, I think she likes it!

Don't you just love those little fingers?

Bath time!

Daddy quote, "Oh! That's not cute at all!"

DeeDee, notice the soft cushy knitted blanket Heather likes to sleep on in the push chair.* Grandma, notice the redwork on the cloth.

*Noun 1. top-up - an amount needed to restore something to its former level

*Noun, British, Push chair - a small folding chair on wheels in which a small child can be wheeled around: escalators are difficult with pushchairs

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Heather Londyn Taber

Please join us in welcoming Heather Londyn Taber to our family.

Heather Londyn Taber

I'll let Anne post the rest of the details tomorrow or Saturday, but for now, here are the basics along with a few photos.

Name: Heather Londyn Taber - We had originally been leaning towards Londyn Heather, but everyone, from Chris down to Chase said when they held her that she just seemed more like a "Heather Londyn" than a "Londyn Heather"

Born: 3:50 am on 11 September 2008. After a 24 hour delay due to no beds available at the hospital (first 12 hours of delay), then not enough doctors available if Anne's labor progressed quickly (ha! not this time! - second 12 hours of delay), Anne got started at 7:30 am and labored until almost 1:00am. Thankfully, she got an epidural at about 6:00pm and had a much better time of it after that. I'll leave the rest of the details for one of Anne's posts

Weight: 4.514 kg, or 9 lbs 15 ozs. For those keeping score at home, this is slightly larger than Isabelle (9 lbs 6 ozs) and much more than Chase (6 lbs 15 ozs).

Length: 22 inches. This is an unofficial measurement, since they don't measure length for babies born in the UK - they measure the circumference of the head - which I suspect most Moms would find a more useful measurement than length, but what do I know? (Of course, I forgot to write down the circumference measurement, so I'll leave that to Anne to share)

Hair: Yes. Lots of dark brown hair, similar to Isabelle when she was born. In fact, see if you can tell which is which from the photos below...

Eyes: Dark brown, though Chase and Isabelle are convinced they are dark blue. I will say that the light in the room where we were when the children came to visit was not the greatest, so this "stat" should also be considered unofficial.

Now a few FAQs from some of the emails and Facebook responses I've been getting from people over the past few hours, so I don't lose track of who asked which question when:

  1. How is Anne doing? She's doing well - exhausted, but well. I took the children over to visit from 10:30 or so this morning until about 4:00, and then left for the day so that Anne could get some much-needed rest. I then fell asleep on the bus several times and Isabelle and Chase had to keep waking me up to ask if we had missed our stop - we hadn't. I'll go back in the morning after taking the children to school (they didn't go today) and hopefully they'll be able to come home then.

  2. What was it like giving birth in the UK vs. the US? I'll let Anne give more details if she likes, but overall I think Anne had a fairly positive experience, though being far from family and not having any of them here this week meant that we had to rely on our extended ward family to help us out with taking Isabelle & Chase to school, letting them stay overnight, etc. - even laundering their school uniforms when we they had to stay a night longer than expected. They were absolute lifesavers!

  3. What's the standard of care like in the NHS? Again, Anne can share her opinions, but one thing we were really grateful for was to be able to deliver in the newer Queen Charlotte's & Chelsea hospital rather than the older Hammersmith hospital which adjoins it(and we're talking WWII-era and looks like it hasn't been updated or cleaned since then). Probably one of the biggest adjustments was adjusting to the different names and terminology used. Anne's diabetes management had to switch meter readings from mg/deciliter to mmol/liter, two totally different scales where the adjustment factor between the two is to multiply the latter by about 18 to get the former, so lots of mental math involved. Diapers are nappies. Finger sticks (to check blood sugar levels) are referred to as BMs...took me awhile to figure out why they kept asking about that once an hour or so. Not all "doctors" are referred to as "Dr." So-and-so, but some are "Mr." or "Mrs.", while others are "Dr."... The doctors refer to the midwives as Sister So-and-so, even though this was not a Catholic hospital.

  4. How do British and American hospitals differ in their philosophies on childbirth. Agin, my male-oriented observations only at this point, but it seemed to me that this time around, Anne was really encouraged to take things as slowly as possible, whereas in the States, sometimes it seemed like "OK, we need you to move along now, so we're just gonna do this with your medications, etc."

  5. Will the baby have dual US-UK citizenship? Most likely not. Everything I've read seems to indicate that since 1983, the UK does not automatically grant citizenship (or the right to dual citizenship) to babies born here. In order to claim dual citizenship, we'd have to either show that the baby's grandparents were British Citizens or that we had a reasonable expectation to remain in the UK indefinitely, neither of which are true (though my father's mother was born and raised here)

I think that covers the most frequent questions we've been getting, so if I missed one, leave a comment and I'll try to respond.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Back to School

So now that the school year has officially started, I was thinking it would be appropriate to fill in what we've been doing since I last bothered to update our blog:

Today was the first day of the new school year. Isabelle is now in Year 3 and Chase in Year 1. They must have been excited because they asked me to make routine charts for them again (which we haven't done since we lived in Texas) and this morning when the alarm went off, I opened my eyes to Chase standing right next to my side of the bed fully dressed in his school uniform. "Are you excited to start school today?" "Yeah..."
By the way, Chase did his own's a faux-hawk:

Shortly after the last entry, we travelled to New York for Drew & Polina's wedding. All the guests were dressed in white as well as the bridal party. The event took place on a beach in Brooklyn, with a light breeze and blue sky (despite the several days it had been forcasting rain). The men sang Iz's version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow as they escorted the women in. Then the two Dads walked together, followed shortly by the bride escorted by her mother. Polina was dressed in a flowing gown the color of sunshine, which was beautifully backdropped by the blue and white of the sky, sand, bridal party and guests. It was a joyous occasion and hopefully, everything Drew & Polina had hoped for.

So, if Isabelle's eyes were open this would be a nice family photo:

Anne & Aunt Katie:

The weekend went much too quickly with not nearly enough time to spend with family, but the time we did get to spend together was memorable and a lot of fun. Katie had never been to NYC before, so on the last day some of us went sight seeing together and then branched off; Uncle Mark, Aunt Katie, Isabelle & I enjoyed roasted nuts from a street vendor and walking down 5th Ave and through Rockefeller Center. Uncle Carson took Chase to Central Park and Lincoln Center and enjoyed authentic NYC hotdogs for dinner. It was a fun day and a great way to end the trip.

Uncle Mark & Isabelle near Central Park NYC:

A couple of weeks after we got home, Isabelle and I had a "girls day out" and saw the stage production of "High School Musical." We speculated before it started about whether or not it would be with American or English accents - they were American. It was a lot of fun and Isabelle got a notebook that looks like a letterman's jacket.

To make things fair (of course), Daddy and Chase also got an outing: they saw Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull. It was many days after that we heard Grandpa would be in our neck of the woods, so (at Isabelle's suggestion) Daddy and Chase took the train to Paris to spend a couple of days with Grandpa. (As generous as Isabelle may sound, I think it was a self-serving motive so she could have some Grandma-time all to herself!) The report we got upon their return home was that Chase loved Paris and wants me and Isabelle to go, and we got several etiquette lessons and reminders - esp when it comes to table manners. One of the highlights of the trip - aside from seeing Grandpa, of course - was trying escargot for the first time. "So how was it?" I asked. "It's only my favorite food in the whole world!" was Chase's response. How weird is that? Isabelle's favorite food is shrimp and Chase's is snails!

Coincidentally, Grandma Colleen arrived in London for a two-week visit around the same time Grandpa arrived in Paris. The children planned most of the places they wanted her to see and highlights included the Butterfly Exhibit at the Natural History Museum, the chocolate room and sweet shop at Harrods, and of course Hamley's Toy Shop. Grandma and I also worked on Redwork embroidery squares for a quilt for the baby. We found an alphabet by British illustrator Kate Greenaway (1846-1901) which has little children playing around each of the letters. The quilt is turning out to be even cuter than I was hoping! Just have to get to work on piecing it together.

Butterfly Exhibit, Natural History Museum:

A Midsummer Night's Dream, Open Air Theatre, Regents Park:

Inside the Secret Garden, Regents Park:

Picadilly Circus:

Inside the London Eye:Redwork letter for baby quilt:

Which leads us to the present: I am scheduled to be induced, unless she decides to show up even earlier, the baby will be born 09/09/08, which means we are down to the very last few days! We spent last weekend getting the house cleaned and everything washed and put away, and today Chris took the kids to a "Helping Hands" service project at a park in North London. Our church has challenged all the members living in London to do 10 hours of community service this year, with an overall goal of 10,000 hours of service, so they spent two hours today pulling weeds, pruning trees, planting blue bells and primroses, and raking and bagging up leaves. When they got back, Chase announced to Mom "yeah, Dad wore me out today..."

...which is what you probably all are with how long we go between blog posts - we'll try to do better. Chris will post photos and news of our new arrival next week when she arrives, so stay tuned!