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.)