Monday, December 19, 2011

Lauren at 6 months

We are in the midst of the busyness of the holidays, as Lauren turns six months old. Time moves as quickly as ever with our third baby. She is wonderfully healthy, weighing in at 19 lbs. 13 oz. and measuring 25.75" long at the doctor last week. I am struck by her sweetness. Not that the boys weren't sweet babies too, but she just seems especially so. Of course, she is quite different from her brothers as a snuggly, cuddly, smiley infant, contrasted with their collective bundle of energy that includes lots of tackling and yelling at the moment. Lauren is entertained endlessly by them and cracks the widest smiles at the craziest of antics. She mostly goes with the flow, hardly ever getting fussy being carted to and fro. And she sleeps. Knock heartily on wood. We joke that she is making a play for favorite child as she often sleeps until 8am or later. We are so thankful for the sweet blessing she is. Stay tuned for Christmas pics . . . if one of us can spare a hand to grab a camera.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lauren at 4 months

Lauren is 18 weeks old today. Earlier this week, at her 4-month (plus 2 days) well baby check-up, she weighed 16 lbs. 14 oz. (90-95th percentile) and measured 25" long (50-75th). She is thriving in every way and is such a delightful baby.

In the last few weeks, she started giggling. Just today, she was laughing at Tobin who was jumping up and down to entertain her. Both her brothers adore her in their own ways. Tobin is unabashedly affectionate with her and while we're in the van, he'll count the number of smiles she gives him from her seat right in front of his. The record is 40! Evan has been known to playfully punch Lauren and otherwise test boundaries related to gentleness--or lack thereof. And he hasn't been quite as interested in her as Tobin is, but he seems increasingly so. Lately, he's been telling other kids waiting with us in the hallway outside Tobin's class that she is "Wauren," his "baby sister" and then leaning into her car seat carrier to kiss her. And he always has to kiss and hug her when heading to bed.

In addition to charming us all, she is wowing us with her physical feats. She's been good at pivoting and scooting on her back for a while, and is quite adept at grabbing interesting things within her reach, like Daddy's napkin or Mama's hair. And then just this afternoon, she rolled over from her back to her tummy! We're enjoying her so much and smiles like this one make us think she's pretty happy with us too.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Lauren at 2 months

I had the pleasure of taking Lauren in for her 2-month well baby appointment yesterday. The longer I'm a mama, the more I appreciate the difference between well and sick child visits to the doctor and am mindful of what a blessing it is to have a thriving infant--yet again.

Proving she will have no trouble holding her own with her big brothers, Lauren measured 23" long (75th percentile) and weighed 13 lbs. 3 oz. (95th!). Like they were, she is healthy . . . and huge. She smiled and cooed for everyone who talked to her, even the nurse who administered her multiple immunizations. Also like her brothers, she took the (two) shots with only a little crying.

The last couple of weeks have been particularly sweet with Lauren. She's very smiley and coos, especially after nursing and when she hears the voices (laughing, yelling, singing, whatever) of her big brothers. Dare I say she's mostly done with the evening fussiness and that time of day is a lot easier than it used to be. I have quite a bit more to say about this past week, as Matt returned to work, but I'll save that for another post. Here's one of my favorite recent photos of my beautiful, healthy girl.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Stats for all three: 5 years, 2 years & 1 month

In the last week, we've taken all three kids to the pediatrician's office for well-child visits. This will likely be the case for years to come, since their birthdays fall within 6 weeks of each other.

Tobin, at 5 years plus 2 months, weighs 43 lbs. and is 43" tall, hovering around 50th percentile for both. Tobin thinks it's neat that both measurements are the same number. So does Mama, because it's easy for her sleep-deprived brain to remember. Twenty-five-month-old Evan weighs 28.5 lbs. (50th percentile) and is a fairly tall 35" (75th percentile). I'll remind you that he weighed almost 26 lbs. at 9 months old, so he's spent the last year-plus growing into a much leaner kid. Each boy had to get one vaccination and incredibly neither cried when given their shots. Both are wonderfully healthy in all respects.

Little Lauren weighed 10 lbs. 14 oz. (90th percentile) and measured 21" long (50th percentile) at one month old. Like her brothers did at her age, she's growing like a champ on her mama's milk. As she just passed the 6-week mark, we're seeing smiles and hearing some almost-cooing. Lauren has definitely had daily fussy stretches, usually in the morning and evening but really they could happen anytime a day. At these times, she's been unsettled--not completely inconsolable but also not easily consoled. She'll fuss and won't nurse, so we just try hard to soothe her to sleep. The last few days we've seen less of this fussiness and more happy awake time followed by easier transitions into longer naps. Her fussiness, which I'm hesitant to label as colic, is similar to her brother's except that theirs was more predictably during the evening hours, whereas hers has been at different times on different days. Mercifully, it's only happened for short periods over two or three night times. We're hopeful that the last few days are a sign that she's settling more and more into life outside the womb. I just marvel at the simple yet tremendous blessing it is to have another healthy and relatively easy infant.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Evan turns TWO.

diving into said confection

Evan turned 2 on June 28, concluding what will now be the 6-week period in which we celebrate all 3 kids' birthdays. With Lauren's birth on June 16, late spring/early summer became an even busier, fun time in our family life. Also, our wedding anniversary is just 3 days after Evan's birthday. Last year we celebrated our 10th with an overnight date. This year we celebrated by taking Lauren for her 2-week checkup and a brief but sweet little date at Starbucks right after with our sleeping babe in tow.


Evan's birthday was certainly a low-key affair, compared to his birthday last year (2 parties! 2 cakes! 2 families! 2 states even!) and compared to Tobin's 5th birthday bash (so many boys in our house!) in May. But it was a sweet celebration of our precious baby boy nonetheless. Mimi was still visiting and our friends Bryon and Miles came over for an afternoon playdate, followed by pizza and ice cream cone cupcakes. Evan was excited about both the pizza and the cupcakes, but ate the pizza heartily while he just kinda licked a little frosting and nibbled on a cupcake.

He got quite a few presents from loved ones near and far, including lots of the movie Cars 2 toys and gear (light-up sneakers, bike helmet) and a bigger, better Fisher-Price basketball hoop.

birthday boy!

The transition from one to two years old is so dramatic. I was prepared for the transition after going through it with Tobin, but I think that experience also helped me appreciate it even more with Evan. Last summer, he was very much still a baby but now he's so suddenly a little boy. In a sense, I am very proud of how he's handled the transition from babyhood to toddlerhood, especially since he had to do it while simultaneously becoming a big brother. Tobin got an extra year to be my baby.

In my post marking Tobin's 5th birthday, I described Tobin as gentle. Were I to choose a word for Evan, it would be enthusiastic. He's such a joyful child. He gets so excited about everyday things like waking up, putting on his shoes to go outside, eating a snack, playing ball with Matt and Tobin. I always feel so affirmed and special, when I walk in the door and am greeted with a happy "Hey Mom!" or bring him something to eat and am given the sincerest sounding "Thank you!" "Thank you" was actually Ev's first, distinct word, which is so appropriate because as it turns out, he uses that phrase profusely.

True to form, Evan has enthusiastically embraced being a big brother. Like Tobin, he likes to kiss and hold Lauren. They're both so sweet the first time they see her each morning. Evan will run up and say "Kish bay?" ("Kiss baby?") or "Hold bay?" Increasingly he's calling her by her name and will say something that sounds like "Hi Wauren!" One of the sweetest things I've ever witnessed in my life was when he pulled my Boppy (nursing pillow) around him and said "Nurse bay?"--as in he wanted to nurse her.

This instance of sweetness particularly melted my heart because the most difficult transition Evan and I have experienced is his weaning from nursing. I was able to nurse Tobin until he was 2 1/2 and gently get him to stop nursing once I was ready, which happened to be when I was in my first trimester with Evan. But with Evan, I started the process when he was much younger, during my second trimester with Lauren. I was uncomfortable nursing him during pregnancy so I wanted to limit it, and I didn't want him to be nursing much--if at all--by the time Lauren was born; the thought of nursing a toddler and a newborn was too overwhelming for me. When I started the process a few months ago, Evan was basically nursing three times a day: morning, naptime and post-bathtime (before Matt put him to bed). With some distraction, patience and tears, we were able to get down to just one nursing session. Ultimately, I decided that Evan could keep the evening nurse as long as he wanted. Plus, it's just a special part of our day. After Matt dresses him in his pajamas, he runs to find me and he nurses for maybe 5 minutes before Matt takes him to brush his teeth and finish his bedtime routine. The brevity of the nursing session was tolerable even when it was uncomfortable during pregnancy and now it doesn't really interfere with Lauren's nursing, so it's working out well. I'm thankful for the sweet continuity it provides for both of us, now that Lauren's here and needs so much of my time. He's very curious about Lauren's frequent nursing and has even asked to "Have some?" from the breast she's not nursing on. I gently tell him "No nurse right now," and he may give me an obligatory "Why?" but then he'll happily go play with a toy and leave it be. Nursing my kids has been such a precious part of my motherhood experience, and I'm thankful Evan and I were able to reach this somewhat hard-fought, but eventually sweet, compromise. Like I said, I'm so proud of him for handling this part of growing up so well.

I don't want to give the impression that Evan has had a completely easy time welcoming Lauren. In the first couple weeks especially, he was clingy but, mercifully for me, it was Matt he clung to most. And there have been the times when he's told me to put Lauren in the swing. Or when he's run to me and asked to be held just as I'm heading to pick up a crying Lauren. I imagine things will be considerably tougher for him in the fall when both Matt and Tobin go back to school. But I'm hoping that by then Lauren's schedule will be more reliable and I can find ways to make special time for the two of us. And of course, his increasing attachment to and reliance on his dad and brother are hallmarks of growing up. There is so much joy in my heart as I watch Matt and the boys as a threesome, playing, laughing and enjoying each other. Evan is proving that he can keep up with them quite well. We think his basketball jump shot and baseball swing are quite impressive, especially in form, for a 2 year old. He pretty much tries to do anything Tobin does, including mimicking whatever sports game Tobin is playing on our Wii--everything from table tennis to disc golf to bowling.

bday baseball

Right as he turns two, Evan also seems to be talking more clearly everyday. As we understand it, it's fairly common for second-born children to talk less than first-borns. That wasn't really the case with Evan as he has always talked a lot--at least as much as Tobin did. It's just been harder for us to understand what he's saying. We've joked that he actually speaks Mandarin, because that's what his words sound like sometimes. We've learned to understand many of his unique pronunciations (ta = pizza, Tum = Tobin, nah = water) and lately they've been getting more conventional. For example, just in the last few days he's gone from calling Lauren "Wars" to calling her "Wauren." He's also increasing using multi-word, understandable phrases like "I hold Wauren?", "I have" and "I try." We have no doubt that our already hilarious child will be even more so as he starts talking even more clearly.

Happy birthday, Baby Boy!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lauren's 2-week stats

At this writing, Lauren is actually 3 weeks and 3 days but way back on July 1 (our 11th wedding anniversary!), we took her in for a well baby appointment. At 2 weeks and 1 day, she weighed 9 lbs. 2 oz. (75th percentile) and measured 21.5 inches long (90th percentile). She's smaller than her brothers were at 2 weeks; both were over 10 lbs. at that point! But "small" is relative only to her siblings as she's obviously a large infant. I will say I'm a skeptical of her length measurement as it has her growing 1.5 inches in two weeks. Maybe she's just able to stretch out more easily now and it was actually the earlier measurement that was off. Although I knew she was nursing well, it's always nice to have the reassurance of a healthy weight gain. She is perfectly healthy in all respects. And we are so thankful. Here's a picture of her at 2 weeks old, snuggling with her big-big brother.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lauren Lantrip: Her grand entrance

On Thursday, June 16 at 2:40am, we welcomed our beautiful daughter, Lauren Lantrip Smith, into the world. She weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces and measured 20 inches long. She's healthy and nursing well. I was feeling well enough that we came home from the hospital Friday afternoon. She's been sweetly received by her brothers. Tobin is super affectionate, and likes to hold her in his lap and admire her, saying things like "She's just so pretty" and "I just love the way she smells." Evan, while not quite as interested, is nonetheless curious and very sweet. When she cries, he is concerned and says "Baby okay?" He will also shower her with kisses when prompted. Our little home abounds with sweetness right now.

If you read my last blog post, you will note that Lauren was born just four hours after I posted. Incredibly, that post was recounting Evan's birth story. Here is Lauren's.

Her Birth

My labor with Lauren was fast and chaotic, so I think it's best told with a (loosely recreated) timeline. Also, this is a birth story, and although I spare some details, there will be references to fluid, crowning and the like.

Thursday, June 16, 12:30am - I woke as I did many times a night, needing to pee. When I stepped into the bathroom, I had a small accident on the floor. I thought this might be my water breaking, but was unsure because there wasn't a lot of "water." (My water had not broken spontaneously with either of the boys. ) I told Matt I thought my water might have broken. He immediately got up and started reading on the Internet, suggesting I should lie on my side for about 30 minutes and then get up to see if any amniotic fluid came out. While lying down, I had a few strong, but well-spaced contractions. When I got up, there was no extra fluid.

1:00am - My contractions continued, but remained irregular. I called the midwife on call at the hospital to describe what had happened. She wasn't convinced my water had broken--thought it was maybe just some urinary incontinence--and told me to lie down and call her back if the contractions came more frequently. The guideline for active labor we were working with was the 4-1-1 rule: contractions every 4 minutes, lasting at least 1 minute each, for 1 hour. Basically, we were just in wait-and-see mode.

2:00am - We called our friend Bryon to come stay with our sleeping boys. My contractions were intense but irregular up until about 1:45 and then they started coming 2-3 minutes apart and I was having trouble discerning much of a break between them. This was the point at which I hardly was able to do anything except have contractions. Fortunately, our hospital bag was mostly packed. I got my driver's license, insurance card and some cash from my wallet and put it in an envelope. I remember asking Matt like 10 times if he'd put that envelope in the bag. I did the same thing about the baby's coming-home clothes. And our toiletries. Matt was the one who had the presence of mind to call Bryon; he did so when I threw up after a contraction. By some act of God, I put on a bra, tank top and yoga pants.

2:25am - I called the midwife at the hospital and told her "WE ARE COMING WE ONLY LIVE 15 MINUTES AWAY." (Or at least that's what I think I said.) Matt urged me to get in the car. Bryon was not quite there, and I hesitated. I then had a huge contraction while on all-fours in the living room. I think this was the point when I started to panic that we might not make it to the hospital on time.

2:30am - After this contraction, we walked out to the car. Again, I feel like it was miraculous that I was able to walk the 20 yards (including 9 steps down) to our car. Bryon pulled up at the same time. I contorted myself into the front seat of our Honda Civic and somehow managed to put on the seat belt. I was sitting kind of on my side and gripped the center arm rest and the back of Matt's head rest when I had a contraction. I was well aware that I was fighting the urge to push. I tried short exhalations during contractions. I think I fought the urge for a few contractions, but then I really couldn't control what was happening. I was yelling the whole way. When Matt told me it would be okay, I said, "Okay, but I still need to yell. And I really think she's coming right now." The main drag between our home and the hospital is NC Highway 54. At one point, Matt looked down and saw he was going 80 mph; the speed limit was 45. I was telling (again, yelling at) him that he could NOT stop at red lights. For those of you familiar with the drive, I am fairly certain Lauren crowned around Meadowmont shopping center, which is 3 miles from the hospital.

2:40am - Matt pulled up in front of the hospital, which is what we would have done even under less emergent circumstances. When he opened my door for me, I had already pulled my pants down to my knees and I was holding her head, trying to lean back. I told Matt, "She's here, and you need to catch her." Up until that point, Matt may have believed I was exaggerating, but then he saw that her head was delivered up to her nose so he put his hand on her. I gave one push and she slipped out, gently into her daddy's arms. She started crying immediately and Matt handed her to me. She was slimy and bloody but perfectly beautiful, and I remember the sound of her crying was absolute music to my ears. I was still sitting in the front seat of the car.

A valet came out to greet us and quickly realized we did not just need to park. He ran back in and at the same time Matt banged on the front window of the hospital so hard that he hurt his hand, trying to alert the staff inside that we needed help. I lost all sense of time at this point. Everything happened so fast. I just remember holding Lauren and looking at her. Matt said it took a few minutes for a team consisting of our midwife, a pediatrician and a few nurses and techs to come out with a stretcher. Everyone was so friendly and reassuring. They helped me get on the stretcher. I was still holding Lauren, and I think at this point I actually felt comfortable enough to maneuver her to confirm that she was a girl.

They wheeled me up to labor and delivery, where the midwife began examining me. They did look at Lauren and gave her a hat and a blanket, but I remember it was so sweet that they just let me hold her. They didn't whisk her away. They knew she was fine. My midwife said something like "When babies deliver that quickly, they're usually perfectly fine. They rarely need us." I appreciated hearing this. I also loved that they waited until Matt made it up to the room (he had lagged behind to get our bag and try to clean up the car a little before handing it off to the valet) to let him cut Lauren's umbilical cord. In fact, it was probably a good 30 minutes before she left my arms and that was only briefly so they could weigh her. As I was holding her, I thought she seemed so tiny. So I was tickled when they weighed her and sure enough, she was a robust 8 pounds, 7 ounces--which is smaller than her brothers but then again she was born 10 days before her due date.

Right now, I am marveling at what a blessing it is to have three beautiful, healthy children. I am also thankful for my sweet, modest husband, who seems perplexed that in the telling and re-telling of Lauren's birth story he has emerged as its hero. Well, here's my attempt to explain it to him. First, he was calm and steady in the chaos that reigned at home during my labor. Everything happened so fast for me and I was so suddenly overwhelmed physically and emotionally, but he held it together enough to call Bryon and get me out the door and into the car. He also got us safely to the hospital very quickly, despite what I recall as my absolutely crazy, panicked laboring (trying not to push) in the seat right beside him. And then finally, when I told him that Lauren was ready to be delivered, he did not hesitate to help me. He remained calm, and he caught her. The first person to ever hold sweet Lauren was her daddy. And though I wish Lauren's entry into the world had been less adventurous, I can't help but think what a tremendous gift the moment of her birth is--for Matt and Lauren, for all of us.

Her Name

Both of our daughter's names have family connections. Lauren is the middle name of both my mom and my sister Ashley. I've just always liked it and, though a lesser consideration, we also think phonetically it goes well with Tobin and Evan. Lauren means "crowned with laurel," which we think is appropriately regal for our girl. And finally, as a form of Laura, it is a feminine form of Lawrence--in memory of her Granddad, Charles Lawrence "Larry" Smith, who we miss so much and know would have been delighted to meet this little girl. Lantrip is my mom's maiden name. Mom has two brothers and three sisters, so Lauren has an abundance of Lantrips in her life who she will get to know and love.

And here are some pictures of Lauren's first day with us. More can be found at our Flickr site.


with mama
1st day
proud dad

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Second-time slacker mama (Or, an ode to Ev)

There is much nesting going around here, as I have now reached 38 weeks. There's the physical part of that: decluttering, organizing, cleaning, folding lots of pink hand-me-downs and swooning. But there's also an emotional aspect to my nesting. I'm watching my beautiful boys play and marveling at what amazing little people they are, trying to be present in our presence--even as I anticipate our very near, exciting future that includes another little one.

And I find myself especially enjoying Evan. He still feels very much like my baby because, well, he is, and because Tobin by comparison seems increasingly grown up. But Evan is changing so fast too. He still keeps close tabs on me, but he's forging stronger bonds with Matt and Tobin. He's talking more clearly and purposefully. He wants to be part of everything his big brother does, including trying to sneak in the dugout during T-ball games.

I've been reflecting a lot on what it's meant to be the mama of two. Tobin radically changed my world. But the same can be said of Evan. Welcoming another child made the world even bigger, literally and figuratively. There was that moment when I first held Evan and looked at him and realized, oh, I love you too--sooo much. And then I've spent the last 23 months witnessing the wonderful person he is becoming, appreciating how he is similar to his brother and adoring how he is different.

One reality of having a second child is the exponential increase in work. Or at least it feels that way: much more than double what we were doing before. From time to time I have harbored some guilt about how we are often too busy to post here and I fret that we have missed documenting Evan's development with the same detail as we have Tobin's. I know we have increasingly relied on the microblogging that is Facebook, Twitter and even Flickr, hopefully capturing snippets of Evan's life with some regularity.

But there is one experience I need to record in this archive here: Evan's birth story. I told Tobin's on his first birthday, so I figure getting around to Ev's just shy of his second is right on time. Perhaps the perspective of time will distill only the most important details and help me be a little bit more succinct. Of course I'm thinking a lot about both of my birth experiences as I anticipate my third.

Evan was "late." Tobin arrived four days before his due date, so I was inclined to think Evan would be early--and for some reason, I was convinced he would be here even earlier. My mom and sister arrived right around his actual due date, and while everyone enjoyed that week or so together, there was definitely some impatience, especially on my part. It's hard sitting on "ready," particularly when you're nine months pregnant and physically uncomfortable and often exhausted. We scheduled our induction for 41 weeks instead of 42, officially in anticipation of a big baby and unofficially because we were just ready to meet him.

One of the things I did appreciate about the induction was being able to leave Tobin in a very orderly manner. We got up early on a Sunday morning, had breakfast and left him happily playing golf with Mimi in our yard. It was hardly the tearful parting I'd imagined. Of course I shed a few tears on the drive to the hospital, but mostly I was thinking about meeting Evan, feeling so very good about how happy Tobin had been when we left.

The orderly calm of the morning continued as we parked in the hospital parking garage, walked up to labor and delivery and checked in. There was none of the chaos and anxiety of valet parking and triage we'd had when I went into spontaneous labor with Tobin. That said, the two experiences were similar in that I felt like I totally didn't know what to expect, even though this was my second time. I wondered how different induced labor would be.

I'll admit I spent a lot of the day discouraged. My midwife deemed my cervix "unfavorable" (wished she would have used a different word) so I had to some cervical prep (think saline-filled water balloon--and I'll leave it at that) in addition to starting the pitocin, all beginning around 9am. I was hooked up to a fetal monitor that was wireless, so I was able to walk around for the first few hours. I did this until the contractions got really painful around midday. I felt I needed some relief, so I asked about an epidural. My nurse checked me and said I was about 4 centimeters dilated, which was disappointing to me. My body had been doing a lot of hard work, but I had just barely reached the point of "active labor" and I felt I really needed the epidural, even though I'd hoped to progress longer without it. But I thought back to my labor with Tobin, when I'd also had an epidural and how thankful I'd been for the break it provided, so I decided it was time. Again, my experience with the epidural was near flawless. I was so thankful to have some relief from the pain and, perhaps more importantly, the tension of the pain. Matt left me for a bit to go get some food for his lunch. I settled down with his laptop to, of all things, watch my very first episode of Arrested Development streaming on Hulu. Ha!

I remember the afternoon being quiet. I was bed-bound because of the epidural and mostly comfortable. But as the afternoon slipped into the evening, I started to get more uncomfortable. The contractions were stronger and stronger. Around this time was when my mom arrived at the hospital. She'd been home with Tobin but my sister had come back into town that afternoon, so Mom had Ashley and Tobin drop her off at the hospital after dinner. She'd sweetly come just to check on me, but I told her I'd love for her to stay for the birth if she could--with the caveat that I had no idea when that would be. I think my midwife may have been hedging, but she left me with the impression that I would be laboring well into the night and possibly next day. And in her defense, when she did check me around 7pm, I was "5, maybe 6 centimeters." Things seemed to be moving so slowly and the relief the epidural provided me was definitely fading. I felt kind of lost, totally unsure of what was ahead.

At that point, my midwife decided to break my water, to see if that would help things progress. I was lying on my back for this, and almost immediately after I felt nauseated. The nurse helped me sit up a little and I threw up. This was odd because the procedure didn't hurt at all, but I did suddenly feel very uncomfortable. My midwife told us she would be back in an hour to check on me. As she was leaving, I told the nurse that something felt very different--in fact, I was fairly certain I had the urge to push. She was rather dismissive and said I couldn't push because my cervix wasn't ready. I kept saying that I was really uncomfortable. Matt and Mom helped me change to a different side-lying position, but it didn't help much. I felt a bit of panic setting in, because I really felt like my body was telling me it was time, but the nurse was just telling me that she could call the anesthesiologist to bring me some drugs.

Things happened very quickly from that point on. I don't think I noticed at the time, but something happened on the fetal monitor. My midwife and a couple other nurses rushed in because of this. About the same time, the anesthesiologist arrived too. Quickly, we figured out that Evan had just slipped down in my pelvis quite suddenly and the fetal monitor had slipped too. My midwife checked me and said, "You're complete," meaning I had gone from 6 centimeters to 10 in a matter of just a few minutes! I was so incredibly relieved to hear those words. It was time to push. They sent the anesthesiologist away. With Tobin, I pushed for 45 minutes, which felt like an eternity (even though I was later told that was pretty short for a first-time labor). With Evan, I pushed for like 15 minutes, maybe 20, and it felt very fast. At the end, my midwife was scurrying to get her gloves on. At one point, she told me to "wait" and I thought "How do I do that?" The next thing I knew, Evan slipped out and my midwife handed him to me.

His delivery had felt so chaotic at the end that I almost wasn't ready to hold him--like I couldn't believe he was there. But I was brought rapidly to reality when we locked eyes and he just screamed. I held him tighter and told him I was so glad to meet him, and I remember thinking, Maybe he's mad because he wasn't ready to come out yet. He did have quite a wild ride in those last 30 minutes. As best we can remember, they broke my water around 7:20. He was born at 7:53pm. His reaction to life was very different from that of Tobin, who just stared wide-eyed, almost completely silent. These different reactions would foretell one of the main personality differences between my boys. Evan has always reacted more strongly, both positively and negatively, to things. Whereas Tobin is calm, almost understated, Evan is considerably more enthusiastic.

To sum up the nearly 12 hours that was my induced labor experience with Evan: 11 of those moved so slowly but the last hour made up for everything because at the end of it, I was holding another perfectly healthy and hearty (8 lbs. 13 oz.) baby boy. He nursed well from the start, and has been charming everyone he's met ever since, including his big brother who upon meeting him the next day just said, "Cool." On that precious day nearly two years ago, our blessings increased exponentially too.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Birthday Festivities

Here's the video to accompany Allison's account of Tobin's 5th birthday. The video combines Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday of his birthday week.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011


Two weeks ago, Tobin turned five. I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the fact that I'm mama to a five year old. But then again, I'm not doing too well comprehending that in the next month or so I will have three kids, one of whom will be a GIRL. So much is changing in our little family, and I feel like I'm just kind of along for the ride. I feel quite peaceful and grateful about it, but very cognizant of how little of it I control.

Our Boy

So I catch myself looking (staring) at Tobin's face sometimes and studying how much it has lost almost all of its roundness and how his features are more refined. He is so much more my boy than my baby now. While there is some sadness in letting go of that part of who he is, there is much joy in watching him experience life. Throughout the past year, Tobin would randomly and somewhat frequently say, "Mom, I just really like being four." Or "Bein' four is really fun." And hearing him say that always made my heart swell with gratitude, because on a very simple level that's all I want for each of my kids--for them to be happy.

By extension, this past year in Tobin's life has been fun for all of us. One of the biggest additions to our family life was preschool. Heading into the school year, I fretted a bit about how my somewhat shy firstborn would handle the new social experience. His school year ended last week, just a day after his birthday, and I can unequivocally say that it was a wonderful experience for him. He loved school and would often remark on the way home, "Today was my best day of school yet, Mom!" He made some fun friends, quoted his teacher Miss Julie as an authority on many issues and learned many valuable things like "Nobody's perfect, Mom. Except for Jesus." This particular lesson was relayed to me one evening as the counterpoint to my contention that Tobin's pace in picking up toys left something to be desired. (Touché, son.) I just can't imagine his school experience having been more positive.

Tobin also has enjoyed his forays into organized sports. Soccer was fun last fall, and I'd venture to say T-ball has been even better this spring. Tobin is one of the youngest and smallest members of his team as his team includes four- to six-year-olds. But he's done really well, showing improvement in hitting and fielding throughout the season. His coaches are great, very encouraging and helpful. And Matt and I are always proud to hear Tobin's voice from the dugout during games; he's one of the most enthusiastic supporters of his teammates when they're batting. He's really embraced his T-ball experience with the positive, pleasant attitude we know and love.

Pleasant. That word sums up Tobin so well. He remains such a pleasant and gentle child. Sure, he has times when he's neither. Life as a big brother apparently requires that you yell and occasionally push your little brother away, especially when he's trying to mess with your stuff. And of course, he disagrees with some of his parents' rules and scheduling from time to time. But those moments are relatively infrequent and fleeting. Mindful both of how quickly he's growing up and how much will change when I'm tending to his newborn sister soon, I've especially enjoyed the past week, his first week at home since the end of school. It's just nice having him home. He plays with and entertains Evan. He's cooperative and helpful during whatever morning errand I have planned. I asked him the other day if he misses school, and he said, "I like both: being home with you and Evan and being at school." One of my favorite parts of each day is when I tuck him into bed, kiss him and whisper something like "I love you. Have sweet dreams." He'll often reply, "Have sweet dreams, Mom. The way to not have bad dreams is to just open your eyes."

There are so many more things I could say about my boy at five, but one of my most poignant experiences right now is watching him as a big brother. Unsurprisingly, Evan adores Tobin, and Tobin in his own more subtle way reciprocates. At school pick-up, more often than not, Evan would get the first enthusiastic hug when we reunited with Tobin. Tobin's also really proud when Evan learns new things. Today in the van, Tobin dropped his bag of Goldfish crackers and Evan started saying, "Dropped it? Dropped it?" Tobin exclaimed, "Mom, do you hear that? Evan's saying 'dropped it.' That's two words together!" He's also pretty protective of Evan. When we're at a playground he sticks close by Evan most of the time, following him up stairs and down slides and even occasionally intervening when another kid "bothers" his brother--e.g., retrieving Evan's baseball cap from another toddler who took it.

Also unsurprisingly, Evan antagonizes his big brother, which Tobin also reciprocates. But I feel that Tobin is getting better about not retaliating. Lately, Evan has been hitting Tobin and even throwing inappropriate objects (Matchbox cars) at him--sometimes provoked, sometimes not. Tobin is more likely to appeal to Matt or me for help, rather than responding in kind. Of course, he's also quick to recommend that Evan needs a timeout. I know we'll continue to spend a lot of time and effort negotiating these sibling encounters in the future, but I'm thankful that at least sometimes it seems Tobin is taking to heart our attempts to teach him the value of turning the other cheek.

The Celebration(s)

So how did we celebrate this milestone of a birthday? Appropriately, our celebration was extended, including three main parts. The first was Tobin's actual birthday, May 18. He woke up to his presents from us (Lightning McQueen remote control car and UNC basketball jersey) and the birthday cards others had sent. He went to school and then I let him pick where we went to lunch. He chose, in his very independent way, McDonald's because "I like their chicken better than Chick-fil-A's." (What???) For dinner, the four of us went to Chuck E. Cheese's, where both boys had pizza and played lots of games--and we parents remarked about how relatively cheap and surprisingly pleasant the whole experience was.

Celebration part two was the day after his birthday, which happened to be both the last day of school and our assigned assisting day. Matt took the day off and was the helper in Tobin's class. Tobin got to celebrate his birthday with his classmates, replete with birthday crown and cookies. Evan and I joined them later for the end-of-the-year picnic. It was really wonderful that we could spend the last day of school as a family. After school, while Evan napped, Tobin and Matt headed out to play some mini-golf, enjoying a fun Tobin-Daddy afternoon.

And then, on May 22, we had The Party. Recently, Tobin has been to some rather elaborate, large birthday parties of his classmates. We wanted to balance his expectations with our own desire to keep things simple. And truth be told, I think his expectations were pretty simple: he wanted to decorate the house, have some friends over and have a chocolate cake (with chocolate frosting and M&Ms and chocolate chips on top). So that's what we did. We had some of his school friends (all boys no less!) plus his good buddy Miles over. Our friend Mika, one of Matt's Riverside colleagues who teaches science, helped out by showing the kids some of her bug collection and teaching them how to make gak with glue and liquid starch. She also wowed them with the classic baking soda-vinegar reaction. After cake and ice cream, the boys spent the rest of the time playing T-ball or kickball or some derivative thereof in our yard. Although there were a few chaotic moments--completely unavoidable with eight four- and five-year-old boys running around our small home--overall the party was so much fun. And our boy had a blast, which of course was the most important objective of the day.

(We hope to post photographic evidence sometime soon.)

Sunday, May 08, 2011

T-ball Slugfest

T's Little League held its "fan appreciation day" fundraiser on Saturday. Many of you reading this contributed so Tobin could participate in the slugfest. Each player who raised money got a number of swings based on his contributions. Thanks to you, T took the most swings of anyone on his team. Tobin had a blast. As you'll hear on the video, his name was announced to the whole ballpark while his coaches, other players, and fans (including his parents and brother) watched him take cuts on "the big-kid field." He talked for the rest of the day about how well he thought he hit it. In his charming 4-year-old non-modesty, when he was done he told a teammate "I'm only 4 and I just started; I can't believe I'm so good already!"
T's slugfest

T's slugfest

As part of the day, we had hot dogs and watched other kids hit. It was a fun way to spend the afternoon. Thank you very much for supporting T's fundraiser this year. Enjoy the video of his hitting.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Ev, Musician

Among the many things I worried about when we were expecting Evan was a concern that I wouldn't be able to duplicate the experiences I had with T--for Evan. I had some naive notion of "fairness" that, for some reason, expressed itself in my wanting to be sure I spent as much time, energy, and effort with Evan as I did Tobin. It's naive, of course, because that just can't happen. Both boys make demands of us, and as much as I'd like for both boys to experience the 2:1 adult-to-child ratio T enjoyed, I'd be wishing away T's essential big brother influence.

That said, in the last few months I've realized how special my relationship is with Evan, in a different way than it is or has been with T. We play a lot of the same games, but Evan is bossier (hilariously) and more stubborn than T was at that age. He's a bruiser, and plays rougher and with a fuller head of steam than T did (probably due in large part to T's influence). The difference really stands out in the music-play we have developed. Frequently, when I get home from work, Evan points to me then to the stereo in the living room: this is our cue to dance together. I scoop him up and we dance to music I have on my iPod or phone, played through the stereo. At first, any song would do. As we've honed our dancing (and giggling) skills, his taste has become more specific. We've even made a playlist called "Ev" to be ready for dance time. He especially loves a couple of songs on the Black Keys' record Brothers, which I take as a good portent. In the last few weeks, he's added singing along to the music while we dance. His eyes are electric, his fists pump, and he bobs his head while he laughs and sings along.

When we're not dancing, Evan and I enjoy playing music together. He strums my ukulele, dances, or sings along with me while I play. He says "guhtah!" when he sees the guitar case in the closet. He points to the electric guitars I have hanging up and enjoys pushing buttons and turning knobs on the amps. He loves to play his Aunt Sarah's old Yamaha keyboard, usually on max volume. This isn't to say that Tobin hasn't been interested in music--if you're reading this I'm sure you remember his rendition of "Blue Suede Shoes," but Evan plays more intently and reacts to music more strongly than T. We were watching a video of B.B. King on Youtube last night. Evan squinted his eyes closed and shook his head rhythmically along with King's guitar solo. He feels the music.

I wanted to make a video to share his enthusiasm for music with you, so I pulled clips together from the last few months. I think you'll see that even in that time he's changed the way he plays and the attitude he plays with. As much as I enjoy this video, I warn you that it falls well short of communicating the energy and intensity he brings to playing. His development of this independent interest has been a delight. Music was the interest that my dad and I shared most strongly. When Ev plays, I think of my dad a lot, and am thankful for the musical house I grew up in. And I'm thankful for Evan, who is doing just fine being himself despite his sometimes-fretful dad.

Evan loves music from matt smith on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

T, Ball

After the fun we had with soccer last fall, we decided to sign Tobin up for t-ball this spring. He's playing in a league for kids aged 4-6, so he's one of the younger kids on the field. I was a little worried about how it would go, in part because he missed the first couple of practices while enjoying time with Granpa and Mimi in Florida. His first practice put any concerns I might have to rest. He loves it. We take it as an especially good sign that he's on the Marlins, since he's in the Fish class at his preschool and he got to see the real Marlins play a spring training game when he was in Florida.

Later in the same week after his first practice, he participated in an opening ceremony for the whole Little League.
happy fish

He had his name announced when his team was recognized. His response was "That's the first time I've heard my name on a microphone."
hat-swiping bull!

He has wanted to spend more time hitting off the tee Grandma got him for his 4th birthday and plays a lot of baseball-like games inside (sometimes involving golf, football, and basketball elements--it's a lot like Calvinball).

On Saturday, he had his first game, an entertaining affair against the Rangers. Each side gets three outs or 5 runs. The game goes on for about an hour, which was enough for three innings of controlled chaos. T's coaches are nice, and do a good job of trying to teach skills while emphasizing fun and provide positive reinforcement. You can tell from the video below that T had a pretty great time.

Monday, January 24, 2011


This afternoon as we headed out for my 18-week ultrasound appointment, Matt took the poll. He and Tobin both said our baby was a girl. Evan said "gopty-gop," which they interpreted as "girl." I said I felt rather certain this one was a boy. Although I hadn't had a strong sense with either Tobin or Evan, I did predict they were boys. I felt a bit more confident this time around, especially since this pregnancy had been similar to my others--if not easier. Isn't the old wives' tale that you're sicker with girls? And in any case, it was just hard for me to imagine anything except a baby boy in my arms and, later, a little boy running around our home.

I was wrong. After taking a good 10 minutes worth of images of our baby's other important parts, the ultrasound tech moved to the most important parts. The baby was coy at first; one foot obscured our view. After a little jiggling by the tech, the parts became clearer and she said, "Do you see that? I know what your baby's going to be." And I thought, well, I know what I don't see: a turtle! (At the risk of being indelicate, a penis looks exactly like a turtle on an ultrasound.) That's when I knew she was a girl. I was genuinely shocked. But oh so happy and excited and maybe kinda nervous . . . and did I mention I was surprised? I teared up a little, but then I just entered this kind of dazed state that I still haven't left. All the while, I've also had a smile on my face. I would have felt this happy if our baby was another boy; I just think it would have been for very different reasons. Even though he thought she was a girl, I think Matt has been similarly dazed. Most of all, we're thankful that she looked perfectly healthy on the ultrasound.

Tobin smiled broadly when we confirmed the baby was a sister. As we were walking out to our car, he declared that when we got home we should make the baby her own Mii on the Wii. Ha! Then he asked, "What are we going to name the baby?" We told him we would talk about it, and Mama and Daddy would decide later. He said, "Well, we should probably give her name while she's waitin' to be born." Matt playfully suggested Lola Granola, which got a good laugh out of Tobin but also a firm "No, Dad!" Then we suggested Baby Sister, and Tobin thought we would call her simply Sister, which in his lovely 4-year-old, Southern accent sounds like "Sista." So that's what we're calling her now. Later this evening as I was waiting for Tobin to put on his pajamas, I lay down for a minute on our bed. He looked at me and said, "Mom, you should get some rest for that girl in your tummy. In fact you should probably sleep until 6:29 in the morning." That's terribly sweet, since the earliest he's permitted to get up is 6:30.

And I don't mean to leave Evan out, but at not quite 19 months, he doesn't seem to understand much of what's going on. He did do pretty well in the ultrasound, making it almost a full ten minutes sitting in Matt's lap and watching the ultrasound screen before he started pointing at the door and saying, "Go?" We also got a kick out out of his exclamations of "ball!" every time Sister's head was in focus. I've been pointing to my growing belly and saying "baby" occasionally, but I kind of think he's more likely to call it a "ball!" (as it will indeed become more spherical) than a baby.

Here's a profile shot of our daughter. More ultrasound images are available at our Flickr site.

no. 3, profile

Sunday, January 09, 2011

A Fifth Smith

We apologize for the dearth of posts over the last few months. In addition to the usual holiday activities and traveling, we were also trying to keep up with an especially busy Evan, who decided around 17 months (November) that he was ready to walk. He's all over the place, usually chasing after a "BALL!" or trying to entice various family members into a game of tackle football or, most recently, throwing things--e.g., a tube of chapstick, a toy saw, a train engine--in the toilet. More on all of that in another post--hopefully sooner than later.

And as many of you have heard and the title of this post implies, we are so very excited about this summer, when we will welcome another member to our family. Our littlest one is due June 26, just a couple days before big brother Evan's second birthday. I'm about 16 weeks and feeling good, which is most fortunate given the aforementioned busyness of our household. Happy New Year, y'all!