Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 In Review: Felicity and Clare

Name: Felicity
Age: 2 years 10 months
Height: 36 inches
Weight: 35 lbs
Clothing Size: 3T

Favorite (Felicity is very resistant to the idea of choosing a favorite of anything, which I find sort of endearing, so I ended up answering these from my perspective so you didn't have to read "all of them!" 5 times in a row)
Food: peanut butter
Show: Paw Patrol
Activity: playing with mama
Book; any Berenstain bears
Friend: probably our 5 year old neighbor, Marshall (I actually did ask this one and she said "all my friends" followed by "my buddy Marshall").

In 2017
I want to learn: a wipey (clearly she was confused by this one lol).
I want to go: to the museum (she said a dinosaur museum... not sure where she got that from but we will do it!). 

Name: Clare
Age: 9 months
Height: 27 inches
Weight: 19 lbs 2.5oz
Clothing Size: 12m

Food: Shepherd's pie and sweet potato casserole
Show: Not currently interested
Activity: Eating inedible things
Book; Good Night book with animals you can pet
Friend: her sister

In 2017
I want to learn: to walk! (I'm guessing.)
I want to go: wherever my sister goes (again... guessing :) )

Friday, December 23, 2016

Goodbye, My Sweet Kitty

Yesterday we said goodbye to our cat, Buttercup. It was awful. Horrific. But blessedly fast. Yesterday around 4, when Felicity was napping and Steven was out running errands with Clare, Buttercup came up beside me on the couch, which she normally does when she knows both kids are out of the living room. But, she couldn't settle which I thought was just the slightest bit odd. She jumped down and went over to the Christmas tree and I just watched her for a second. I realized that her sides were moving a LOT when she was breathing, like she was having to work really hard. I decided to call the vet and hopefully get an appointment for today so that we didn't go into a holiday weekend with a potential issue. The vet tech asked if she was open mouth breathing. I stood up to look at her and, not only was she breathing in with her mouth open, but she then tried to hide under the Christmas tree skirt which is entirely unlike her. The vet tech said if I could come right then, they could see me, and that she was showing signs of pain or distress. My heart sank immediately and I just had this feeling that it was the end.

For the past 6 or so months, Buttercup has been showing her age. She's always been very kitten like, playing with her beloved fuzzballs, playing at night, coming up to me for love, but that's all slowed down. She's 14, so it didn't surprise me, but it's been a bit of a sad realization. After I noticed her breathing funny, I remembered that she hadn't eaten much of her wet food for 2 days in a row, and had missed the litterbox a couple days ago. Adding all that together, I just knew it wasn't good. I tried to get a hold of my neighbor to come sit at my house while Felicity napped until Steven got back (I immediately called him to head back), but couldn't get her. So I woke Felicity up and rushed her and Buttercup into the car. I text my mom and sister and a couple friends to pray for me to make the right decision. I tried to keep it together as I drove, for Felicity's sake.

As soon as we got to the vet, they got us right in... another sign that this wasn't good. Thankfully Steven got there about 5 minutes later and I sent Felicity with him and told him to come home. I didn't want her to see/hear anything just in case. The vet came in and was able to draw fluid off her chest cavity, which he said is what was causing the breathing issues. He analyzed the fluid and said there were cancer cells, likely lymphoma. He offered treatment to reduce the fluid, but I knew that didn't make sense for her. Obviously the lymphoma would take her at some point, and I didn't want her to end up in a ton of pain, or have some horrible episode while I was home alone with the kids and I'm trying to drag all of us to the vet and, worse, put her down with the kids there. I knew that for all of us it was best for it to happen then. I of course started crying and the poor vet gave me a hug. Even though I was prepared for this option going into the appointment, I just couldn't shake the feeling that in minutes my sweet cat would be dead.

I got Buttercup in 2007 when she was 5 years old. I wanted a persian really badly and she came up on my petfinder search at the shelter near my mom's house. I called my mom who went to visit her, and the first thing she saw when Buttercup looked up at her was her tongue. Mom said to me on the phone "you HAVE to get her!" and then jumped through hoops for me (I was an hour and a half away at college) getting the adoption rolling. I drove up a couple days later and my mom and I went together to pick her up. She lived at my mom's house for a couple months until I moved into a pet friendly apartment for grad school. Buttercup somehow knew I was her person and would stay with me any time I came to visit. When I moved into my apartment, she was my companion, my buddy. She kept me company for many years, moved with me to Raleigh, got to know Steven with me, and welcomed my babies into our house... well, at least tolerated them ;). I had her for 9 and a half years, which is so hard for me to believe!

After I paid and signed paperwork, the vet took us into the room where they euthanize. They try to make it comfortable and non clinical with art work, tissues, comfortable couches, but I felt like I was walking her into a chamber of death. The worst part of it, and the part that will probably haunt me for quite some time, is that Buttercup fought the medication. The first shot was supposed to slow her heart rate and lower her blood pressure so she'd relax, and the second one would stop her heart. They give the first one, then the second one like 5 minutes later. He gave her the first shot and walked out, I guess so I could have time alone holding her, but she began to fight, then her jaw was making some awful grinding noise that is etched in my mind, and she began to dry heave on my arm. It was awful. So awful. I felt like I was torturing the poor cat who spent her life loving me and keeping me company. Thankfully he came back in pretty quickly and, once I told him, gave her a bit of a shot that almost immediately made her go limp. I held her while they shaved a spot off her leg for the final shot, and then held her for just a minute or two after he said her heart stopped beating. I cried into her fur and told her she's been such a great kitty, and thanked her for loving us.

Going through that experience, I'm not sure how people open their hearts to love another pet again. I'm sure it will happen for us eventually, but right now I can't even fathom it. She was such a special girl, in a way I can't even explain. Buttercup seemed so different than other cats, with this quirky little personality. We knew each other so well. I keep thinking I see her around the house, and realize it can't be her. I see where her food dishes were, that is now just an empty spot. I expect her to come up to me meowing for her canned food, and she doesn't. I miss her "doing her rounds" where she'd walk into our bedroom and our bathroom before circling out multiple times each day. I went to wrap presents today and realized I could use tissue paper, because she wouldn't be there to consume her favorite 'snack'. I cleaned up all of her supplies today to donate to a lady at church. It was too hard seeing it all and I just want it out and to let someone else benefit from it. I think the worst part, besides the awful grinding noise playing over and over in my head, is thinking about her body just waiting to be cremated. I know it's just a body, but I hate the thoughts of her being alone. The whole thing just stinks. I've been spending intentional time today looking back at old pictures of her and talking about memories with family and friends. I've actually had fun finding pictures from certain events and texting them to people :). I'm going to try to focus on the memories and get yesterday out of my head. I miss my matty girl.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Clare Sophia: 9 Months

Let the birthday prep begin! Well, not really. Felicity's birthday comes first, and we're just doing something simple at home for both of them, but wow, 3 months until my baby is 1!!! It's been a very, very busy month for her!

Weight: 19.8 lbs... she is starting to thin out!

Height: Not sure

Medical issues: possible food sensitivities... she's often super cranky but I haven't been able to link it to food (ie isn't always after eating or nursing). Clare is like that more with me than anyone else, and often will cry until I pick her up, and then cry and push away when I do pick her up. It can be exhausting! She has a slight bug currently, and had pink eye a couple weeks ago. Basically someone in our house has been sick for almost a month!!!

Sleep: Clare is all across the board on sleep. Some nights and days she sleeps great, others she wakes up a lot or after a very short period of time. But I roll with it because I make her roll with our schedule and don't plan around her naps. She IS on more of a schedule which is nice. She does a short nap about 2-3 hours after waking up and a longer nap around 1 (which is awesome since that's when Felicity goes down). Her bed time is later, around 7/7:30 where it was 6:30 until about a month ago. She is an early bird, waking between 5:45 and 6:30 most days. Some days she actually gets less sleep than her sister! I find it funny that she seems to change preferences on going down from week to week. For a few days or a week she wants to be rocked to sleep, then switches to being nursed to sleep.

Clothes/diaper size: 12 months and size 4 diapers

Likes: Rubbing her head/face on soft things like stuffed animals or blankets, getting whatever toy her sister is playing with, yogurt drops, crackers, drinking water from a straw cup, being held, 'wrestling' with Felicity

Dislikes: mommy putting her down, being at the table after her food is gone, bumping her head (she does it a lot!)

Nicknames: Clare Bear still, and I call her Clara as her alter ego when she's getting into trouble or super cranky

Nov 21 Began sitting on hands or knees after nap (vs still laying down)
Nov 26 Bottom middle, left tooth officially through the surface
Nov 29 Pulled up to standing on me, now can pull up and stand holding onto a surface with one hand
Nov 30 Gives kisses to her reflection
Dec 1    Says "mama"

I don't want to forget this:
The day Clare said mama, she had been crying a lot. I ran an errand to home depot and she screamed the entire way there and back. I was so frazzled and over it. I pulled up to our house, went around and opened her door to get her out, and she happily said "mama!". Now I know she had no clue what it meant, but it was the perfect moment because I was feeling so DONE and all those feelings of love and happiness came flooding back in. I went in the house in happy tears to tell Steven.

I love her pure innocence and joy at discovering new things. One day she found a ziploc bag containing yogurt raisins leftover from Felicity and began shaking it. She never expected anything to come out, and when it did AND was food, she was so thrilled with herself!

Clare has an amazing laugh. She is kind of reserved with it, but it is the best thing to hear. I often tickle her belly because it's an almost guaranteed way to get her to giggle.

Clare generally has her mouth pursed. Looking back at her newborn pictures, she has always done that. I wonder how long it will last! I consider it her trademark :).

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Enjoying the Baby Days

Maybe I knew this when Felicity was an infant and just forgot, but I really struggle with the baby stage. I enjoy toddlers so much more. I can somewhat reason with them, or at least distract them with a snack or tv show. Their personalities really shine, and it's fun watching them take their own interest in things. On the other hand, you can do every single trick in your book with a baby and still not come close to figuring out what it is that they want or need.... multiple times a day. Felicity was a pretty difficult baby, and Clare has turned out to be harder than I thought she would be based on her super easy first few months, but part of me wonders how much of that is me and not them. I know my anxiety and lack of patience plays a big part.

Parenthood is a constant lesson in patience for me. I pray ALL the time for God to make me more patient, and I'm pretty sure he just chuckles and gives me more opportunities to practice. Clare cries a lot these days. Crying is supposed to bother us as a survival technique for our babies; I get that. But it revs up my anxiety and then I find myself doubting everything I'm doing and being so short with Felicity when she probably needs even more grace because she's stressed by the crying, too. Once Clare is over it? We're all fine again. I feel completely different within minutes. Constant work in progress, I tell you. I have to work on not letting it overshadow an entire good day, because I do that. We can have a really wonderful, or at least ordinary, day together and then Clare cries from 5-6 and I find myself thinking all kinds of spiraly towards self doubt thoughts, and texting Steven to complain about how hard it is and how horrific the day is.

 I guess the progress is that lately I've been able to say "wait a minute... what about the nap they took at the same time, the quiet time I had, the laundry I got put away, and the fun play date we went on? This sucks but it will be ok". Sometimes I find myself wishing away babyhood to get to toddlerhood, and then I feel horrifically guilty because it's going entirely too fast (Clare will be 9 months next week!!!), and I already have an awful memory so add that to how fast it's gone and OH MY GOSH I WON'T REMEMBER HER BABY DAYS AT ALL. And then I spend 30 minutes going through her birth photos and feeling sappy. Hormones, man. Babies. All of it. I remind myself that these are the best days of my life. Everyone may not feel that way and that's totally fine. But this is what I've waited my whole life for and I'm living it right this very second! How incredibly lucky and blessed am I to have these two, precious baby girls to love, form, protect, raise, and influence? It's ok for them to not always feel like the best days of my life, but I'm practicing being still in them, absorbing them, and not wishing for any next experience. So quickly these baby days, and toddler days, will be gone and I will miss them so so much. So much that it aches even just thinking about it!

 Clare is already thinning out and so physically active. There's not a shred of baby-baby left. No stillness in her, no laying and looking around the room. She is full on headed towards toddler. I have just a few months to relish holding her everywhere we go, who knows how long to snuggle her against my skin to feed her, and not that long before she runs off to play with the big kids (she already crawls off to play with them!). I'm going to continue to work on being still in these days, even the hard parts, and enjoying being the majority of her life while it lasts. Her day starts and ends around me right now, and what a privilege!! Felicity is at the point now where she is imagining things and will run off with friends to play instead of staying near me, and is totally happy to be dropped off with friends. That is beautiful, my friends, and I've been waiting for that. There is a joy, but also a sadness, in knowing that her sun doesn't rise and set around me anymore... that she can have experience outside of me now! And Clare is headed that way so quickly.

There is a lady at church who takes care of her husband and it floors me to watch her. He needs probably 90% of his care provided for him and she does it lovingly, willingly, never seems exasperated or put out. I get pissy when my husband has a man cold. And short with my children when they're having a hard day. I am now working on reminding myself that these hard days of motherhood are building my patience, tearing apart my selfishness, and building perseverance, so that I can one day have the honor of providing care to someone outside of my children, whether that be a parent or my spouse. What love it must take to give of yourself day in and day out like that, and these precious babies are giving me the chance to practice that. As maddening and as exhausting as it can be, it's also really beautiful. I love these girls so much.