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Dear Benjamin,
Six days ago you turned three. My mind still can’t wrap around that entirely. Where did the last year go?!

Year two was definitely the year of the superhero. You have embraced a world where superheros exist and it is weaved into the fabric of your life.

You have learned so many things in this past year.

You have learned about cancer. You have learned about hospitals and beeping machines and how Nanny is sick and there’s nothing we can do to fix it but take her to the doctor and pray.

You have learned about death. Having to explain to you that Mimi (your Papa’s Mommy) had died was difficult for us. Making that decision on whether or not to take you to the viewing was a tough one to make. And now, just a few weeks later, you’re in the car traveling again to Senatobia for her husband’s funeral.

You have learned how to sing. It makes me so happy to hear you in the back seat of the car singing about how the Wonderpets are going to save the baby deer. “Wonderpets! Wonderpets! We’re on our way! To help the baby deer and save the day…” Even though I think that show is a bit obnoxious.

You’ve learned about counting. We’ve been teaching you about counting for ages, but you’ve finally learned how to *actually* count things. You can tell me how many fingers I’m holding up, and if I ask you to count how many of something there are (like, apples, or shoes on the floor) you can usually count each item and give me a relatively close number. Instead of just counting to 12 really fast, you’re taking the time to count now.

You’ve learned to say “I love you,” and “you’re pretty,” without prompting. Oh, my, how you melt my heart when you do.

You’re so young, and the world is still so full of magic. I hope we can keep that alive in you even in spite of tragedy, struggle and heartbreak.

You have a baby sibling on the way – you keep telling me you want two baby sisters. I keep telling you that you only get one, but I’m not sure you’re convinced. We had initially only planned on having you, and adopting another child, but the more we thought about it the more we thought you’d benefit from another sibling earlier in life. We’re still open to adoption or fostering, but we’ll see how this new baby fits into the family first. Girl or boy, I have high hopes that you will be a great older brother.

You have a lot of friends, you’re quite social. You call all small children “my kids!” If Aedan and Kaylee show up to play: “My kids are here!” If Dylan and Noah show up: “My kids!” When you leave church, “I had fun with my kids!”

For your third birthday I asked you what kind of party you wanted. You said, “I want a Batman party!” When I asked you a week later, “I *said* I wanted a Batman party!” So we had a batman party, and we invited Batman to come to the party. We spent WAY too much on a really good Batman costume rental, but considering the adults had as much fun as the kids did, I’m calling it a success. You were afraid of him at first, when he picked you up and tried to take you away from me you burst into tears and snuggled into my neck for safety. Once he introduced himself to you, though, you warmed up to him. It was amazing. He played with you and “your kids” in the backyard and through the house. I’ll probably never tell you that “Batman” was played by your Uncle Cory.

Oh, son. This was such a fun year. You’ve been a beast for quite a lot of it, I won’t lie. You’ve spent lots of time in the corner with your hands on the wall for various transgressions. But you’ve also spent a lot of time having FUN. Running, playing, swimming, jumping, and going on adventures. I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for us.

Love,
Mama

My birth story ended up being pretty long. Longer and more detailed than some of my readers probably want, so it’s been added to my blog site but on a separate page from the normal stuff. It’s my birth story: it talks about contractions, what pushing feels like, and how I felt about delivering the placenta. I wanted to write down what happened so I would remember, and I had enough people ask me about the experience that I decided to share. There are pictures, but no worries, they’ve all been cropped and there are no private parts or anything gross showing. Again, I thought that may be the type of thing some of my readers wouldn’t want to see. But if it makes you feel any better, let me put it to you this way: my husband is generally a pretty private person, and he personally approved the pictures for release to the internets.

Anyways. I would have gotten everything posted sooner but we decided to drive to Houston to surprise my Aunt Tina for the 4th of July – she just had foot surgery and hadn’t gotten to meet Benjamin yet. We had a blast hanging out with her and her family and they all adored Benjamin. Also got to visit with Aunt Lynn. Hopefully next trip we can meet more people! All the excitement threw Benjamin’s schedule off and we’re still kind of coping with that (hence this being posted at 2:25am).

So, without further delay, I present to you: My Birth Story.

Enjoy.

After a lot of this:

And this:

And some of this:

I got this:

Benjamin Charles Sullivan
June 15th, 2010 at 4:29am
8 pounds, 7 ounces, 21 inches long

Absolute love.

Ok, I’m posting these nursery pictures because I love what we did but the nursery is NOT DONE! We still need a crib.  We will get a crib, but not until a few days after Benjamin is born because it’s traveling from my sister-in-law in Magnolia and it won’t probably make it before he gets here.  It’s not worth an extra trip for someone since I have the pack-n-play in my bedroom for the first few weeks (at least) anyways.  Also, the nursery is missing the rocker we have, but that’s because it’s currently in regular use in the living room.  That will probably end up in my room initially anyways.  So, keep in mind that it’s still in progress.  We haven’t added maternity pictures to the walls yet either, but we’ll probably add some of them in the room when we develop pictures next.  So, all that disclaimer, now, pictures!

First, lets look at how it was before:

The curio cabinet has a TON of knickknacks that are now boxed up in my garage. I will eventually be strong enough to part with some of my mom’s treasures, but that day is not today or tomorrow or probably anytime soon.  There’s a huge couple of boxes of CDs that still need to be gone through, and the chair is at my friends David and Judy’s house, David is repairing some damage to the wood for me.  The jumparoo is a bit big, but that was a gift from my friend Alyssa and has already been utilized by visiting relatives and I fully anticipate getting a lot of use out of it.

Bookcase.  The only thing different with this is the stuff on top has been relocated and the stacks of books have somewhat been re-organized.  The two shelves on the left are all my fiction and the shelf on the right is all my non-fiction.  And no, that’s not all the books I own, but it is most of them. Thankfully.  I refuse to relocate these bookshelves, do you have any idea how long it took me to get these suckers together and all those books alphabetized? Yeah, I don’t know either but it was a LONG TIME.


Yeah. Stuff was broken.  There were sweaters.  Backpacks. Crazy stuff.  Maracas.  Amazing framed art by Frank Wu (I moved that piece off my wall because the glass broke but I have several of his pieces on my walls; he’s incredible!)

So now lets take a tour of the room….

…this is the view of the door to his room…

This is what you see as soon as you open the door:

To the left you’ll see the crib mattress leaning against the wall. As you guys know we went for a science theme.  So there’s a chemistry poster, a cloud poster, and against the back wall some random stuff about science experiments.  The solar system mobile is AWESOME and put together by Justin and I.

Over here is the changing table and the toybox.  Also, beautiful diagrams of the cell and the periodic table of elements.  Note the border: it reminds me of the borders from my science classroom as a child.

And yes, Benjamin has a toybox, but it mostly has stuffed animals and spoons and outlet protectors in it for now.  Oh! And in the corner is my AWESOME handmade diaper bag from Babyness Custom Designs.  It’s halfway packed with stuff to go to the birthing center with me, so it’s out and about.  I can’t wait to really start using all this crazy stuff.

This is the closet.  Got the boys to fix the doors.  Top shelves are clothes from Alyssa that won’t fit yet, second shelf is thick blankets and my iron (since the ironing board is against the back of the door and won’t be leaving there anytime soon) along with sheets and thin blankets.  The clothes are self-explanatory, that’s just the 0-3 months for the most part.  In the black crate thing I have more clothes, books, and random other baby stuff.  And my chicken dance Elmo.  Because doesn’t every baby need a chicken dance Elmo?

Here’s a close up of the mobile.  It will hang slightly over the crib.  We did this today and I am SO FREAKING PROUD of it!  We hand painted everything, which was fun and slightly messy and probably good practice for elementary school.

I made Justin do the earth. He is WAY more artistic than I am.  He wasn’t super happy with it, but I think he did an AMAZING job considering we had standard cheap paint and brushes.  You’re looking at Africa.  I love the clouds.

So, there ya go.  Our nerdy, nerdy nursery.  When we get the crib we’ll also get some awesome bedding that is science/astronomy themed and will match the diaper bag.  It will fit nicely with the mobile.

I hope you guys enjoyed the tour of his room.  We’re really, really, really happy with how it turned out. And you can see the flickr set here if you’re so inclined.

Now I just need a super-cute baby to put in the room!

Today I’m 38 weeks and 3 days pregnant.  Far enough along that I can go into labor any minute, but not far enough along that I can be impatient about it.

I totally am though. Impatient, that is. I’m getting excited – I get to meet him soon! I get to have a baby soon! I get to start the process of reclaiming my body soon!

Just not right this minute. Ahhh!

Today I worked some on the baby book.  Yes, I know the chances of me doing one for each child is slim, but I am still going to try!  It was fun to fill out answers about how Justin and I got engaged (we decided to get married and elope while sitting in Arby’s… romantic, I know!) and talk about things we liked to do together.

It was not fun to write stuff about my parents in the past tense.

I’m OK, really. I’m fantastic, all things considered.  I’m really hoping that I don’t completely fall apart during my labor and cry for my mommy, although it’s a real possibility.  I think I get a lot of peace from knowing that who I am is directly related to who my parents raised me to be and me being able to handle this – me being strong even though I am in pain – that is a testament to my parents and proof that I’m carrying part of them with me.  That’s a long, long sentence but I’m leaving it because it’s all true.  My children will know my parents by the legacy they have left behind, by the stories that Justin and I will tell them, by the pictures they will see and the things that we will teach them.

When Benjamin learns how to whittle a stick he will learn about how my Dad taught me at the campfire.  When we go fishing I’m going to tell him about the time Uncle Jake caught a fish so big that my Dad was the proudest guy at the lake that day.  When he helps me in the kitchen (oh yes, yes he will) he’ll learn about how I worked in the kitchen with my Mom and Dad.  How it was my Dad, not my Mom, that taught me the beauty in a loaf of homemade bread.

Gah, I have to stop, I’m gonna start bawling, but you get the idea.

I’m so excited that Justin’s parents are still here, that they’re such amazing people and that we have an entire group of extended family on both sides to call our own.  I think that probably helps a lot, you know?  It would be easy to focus on my parents not being here but it’s much happier and productive to be grateful that we have so many aunts and uncles and cousins and siblings that are going to be amazing parts of Benjamin’s life.  And that doesn’t even tap into the great church family we have.

Yeah.  I think I’m more grateful than sad.  God has been good to us and we are, above all else, incredibly blessed.

I’m quickly getting to the impatient-i-want-the-baby-out-and-here stage.

The past few days I have had to continually remind myself not to worry and freak out.  Benjamin moves like CRAZY!  I know people keep telling me that the bigger the babies get the more dramatic the movements seem, but I have seriously watched his body move from one side of my stomach area to the other. It’s by far one of the freakiest things I’ve ever seen.  One of his favorite times to move around is when I’m sitting in my comfy chair in front of the TV watching Highlander.  He bounces around and has a grand time in my tummy.  And just before bed he usually wakes up and does a few rotations before settling down for the night.

I was pretty concerned he was actually getting out of the head-down position – especially at night when I was laying on my back when I would first lay down… but I think it was more him switching posterior/anterior than changing from head down.  I keep being reminded that once they’re head down they generally stay head down, so I’m counting on that being true!

I’m not worrying anymore.  If he’s moving around that much then he’s obviously not uncomfortable enough for me to be ready to give birth. Dang it!

It’s pretty painful when I accidentally run my stomach into, well, anything at all.  The skin is all tight and stretchy and funny shaped, but I’m OK with it because as soon as Benjamin gets out I’ll be bathing it in Vitamin E oil.

He’s hanging out pretty low as far as I can tell.  Of course, it seems like he’s been low the whole time but now he really seems lower. I hate to say he’s “dropped” since I don’t really know how to tell (and it’s different for different people) but since I haven’t had any of the rib kicking and major difficulty breathing I think I’ve been pretty lucky.

I keep waiting for it to get terrible, like everyone says, but it hasn’t been.  It’s been uncomfortable, sure, but nothing major and nothing as bad as the horror stories.  I haven’t passed out or broken a rib or bruised from the inside or had him throwing ‘bows internally.  I’m hoping that trend of not-as-bad-as-I-heard continues for the remainder of the pregnancy (specifically the birth).  We shall see.

I’m still slightly terrified about the whole labor thing, in the healthy way that women are.  I don’t expect a painless delivery or anything, but I do wish I had a better idea of what to expect.  To my knowledge I haven’t had any braxton-hicks contractions, no real contractions, no nothing.  The only reason I know I’m going to have a baby soon is because it hurts to walk because he’s so low, my calendar says so, and this feeling inside of me that says so.  Well, all of that and the fortune cookie I got yesterday at lunch: “You will be graced by the presence of a loved one soon.”

How soon is soon? Is soon like, a week away? Two weeks? Three? A few days?

I’m not really too worried. I’ve got plenty of work to keep me busy until he gets here, and plenty of naps to sneak in before I become a sleep-deprived mama.  I’ll get pictures of the nursery on here, hopefully before he gets here but no promises.  I don’t want to post pictures until the nursery is done, and I’m still waiting on a few small things before it’s “finished.”

For now I’m just going to keep bouncing on my birth ball, taking frequent naps and reminding myself that sometime in June I’ll get to meet my son.

Last night Justin and I went to a park in Leander with our friend and photographer Chad (of Image Studios).  Chad and his family are good people we met from Legacy Fellowship, and Chad also happens to be an amazing photographer.  I never thought I was the type of person to need a professional photographer in my life, but that was only until I saw Chad’s work and came to realize that great photography isn’t just about capturing persons A and B in this stage of their life… it’s about telling a story through the photography.  Most people can’t do that, at least not with any consistency.  But Chad can.  He’s shot family pictures for us the past two years (including some amazing family-reunion portraits) and at the end of last year we purchased a package deal he offered giving us 4 mini photo shoots any time during 2010.  It worked out great since we’re broke now :)  Anyways, I’m digressing.

So yesterday we took maternity pictures.  You know I wasn’t really looking forward to pictures because I haven’t been the most self-confident pregnant woman… but of course I shouldn’t have worried.  Chad and I talked a few weeks ago about the nursery theme – science – and how cool it would be to incorporate the science theme into our pictures.  Justin and I, we’re nerdy people.  We like sci-fi and science and space and chemistry and the scientific method.  Science is, while not all-encompassing of our nerdism, nevertheless a part of who we are.  So we had some ideas and we left the design stuff up to Chad (he’s the professional, after all!)

Justin hates taking pictures. But he loves me very much, so he puts up with me and my need to document life changing events. Yay for having a great husband!

Here’s what is probably my favorite picture so far of the ones I’ve seen:

Chad posted a preview of the pictures on his website.  So go over to his website and check them out.

Things I’m thinking about right now:

-Baby poop.

-Whether or not Justin finished the border in the nursery or not .

-I have to give birth. Soon. Without drugs. (edited to add: I know I don’t have to give birth drug free, but that’s the birth I want. If the birth I WANT and the birth I NEED are different, then I am *OK* with that, but the goal is drug free!) It’s going to be scary! I keep trying to remind myself: I can do this. I am capable of doing this. It is best for me and my baby to do this. But I’m still absolutely terrified if I *actually* stop and think about it.

-Breastfeeding. All the books talk about getting my nipple aimed/lined up with the babies mouth, but I don’t have depth perception. And I’m really bad at depth awareness for things very close to me – say within 12 inches or so. I’m kind of scared I’m gonna try to poke the kid in the eye with a nipple before I get it figured out right. I’m joking, except for the part where I’m not. I’m glad I’ll have my husband and midwifes there to help me line everything up until me and Benjamin get the hang of it.

-Back to the birth thing – can I pick when I go into labor? And can I go into labor once, with none of this false labor crap? Because I’d like to be able to go into labor at about 2am, so I can call into work if I’m scheduled to work the next day and not have to worry about going back to work after that. I’d like to be able to focus on labor. That would be great!

-I’m really, really, really missing my mom these days. I ran across a picture of her holding one of my infant nephews the other day and I absolutely lost it. It’s so hard when people ask me if my mom lives close enough to come help me out with the baby. I know I shouldn’t be parentless and the loss is felt very keenly – by both my husband and me these days. Yes, this is a time of joy… but also of a quiet and perhaps deeper mourning than I have experienced in some time.

-Finances. My brother-in-law is out of work and he pays ¼ of our bills. We can cover him if we need to, but if we have to continue this into June and July then Justin won’t be able to take time off work like he needs to. How do you politely beg someone to find work for the good of your family unit?

-Birthday Bash at the Bahn! Our Schlitterbahn tradition of a few days at the water park COULD be interrupted by me having a 2 month old, but the more I think about it the better of an idea I think it is. I’ll have enough family around so that I can take a break to go sit in the sun, swim in a pool or ride a few slides, and Benjamin will be old enough to survive a hotel stay with minimal emotional scarring (I hope). It will be expensive, but we’re going to start setting aside money for it as soon as we can. Assuming the aforementioned bullet point eventually takes care of itself.

-Pictures! I have to take pregnancy pictures even though I feel like a fat cow. Because this might be the only baby I ever have, and I need to document it. But I feel huge and ugly and unattractive and I’m not sure how excited I am about the experience. Luckily I have a good photographer. But still.

-Work. We lost a dispatcher to the Police Academy last week. I’m absolutely thrilled for him, but will miss him terribly. Then I just found out this week that we’re losing another dispatcher. This means that my wonderful plans of a modified schedule when I come back from maternity leave are out the window until we’re fully staffed. I’m sad, and hopeful that we get new dispatchers that are as awesome as the ones we’re losing.

I think that’s pretty much it. Thanks for letting me core dump.

33 days until my due date.  Justin thinks I’m going to have Benjamin early, which means even less time than that if he’s right.  I have a pack-n-play set up in my room:

And I am huge:

So, yeah, in 2 weeks I can “go” at any time.  That’s a little insane.  I’m glad I have those two weeks though. I still have to finish decorating the nursery (which he won’t initially sleep in, but heaven forbid I try to do it after he gets here!) and I need to wash more baby clothes.  But mostly, I’m ready.

I’m ready for lots of reasons.  I’m excited to meet my son and I’m excited to become a mother and see my husband become a dad.  But I’m also really ready to not be pregnant anymore.  Don’t get me wrong – it’s been an amazing experience, I’ve had a textbook pregnancy (for a fat chick) and really can’t complain.  I am so incredibly blessed that I’ve been able to carry this child inside of me so well, and I definitely recognize that and am grateful.  But really? Pregnancy? Not the most exciting time of my life.  I’m large and uncomfortable and my hormones are even more wacky than usual and my husband is not one of those people who thinks pregnancy is sexy, so I kind of feel like a large beached whale.  I’m ready to get back into exercising and moving around and I know it won’t happen right after the baby is born, but having the baby is a step in the right direction!

I think a lot of women glamorize pregnancy.  That’s fine.  I won’t.  It’s pretty exhausting.  And I’m one of the lucky ones who can still sleep in her bed and get a decent amount of sleep each night (even taking bathroom breaks and insane heartburn into consideration).

It’s definitely been an experience.  I’m thankful to experience it. I’m blessed to experience it. But I will be glad when it’s over.

Things are coming together. I’m 34 weeks, 2 days along… only 40 days left. That’s just a bit over a month! HOLY COW! Where has the time gone?!

Nursery: I’m still working on it! I picked up a thing called “chain gang” which is a long chain that has clips attached so you can put stuffed animals and soft toys on it. It looks slightly more organized than some of the other stuffed animal holders, and gives me the ability to have stuff out instead of hiding in the toy chest. Still have a LOT to organize, and not sure where to store baby bottles and kitchen stuff just yet. Guess I need to organize some more in the kitchen!

Baby: Benjamin is doing good! At the midwife appointment yesterday they said he was doing great. Heartbeat was a little slower than usually – it usually runs exactly at 150 and yesterday it was 140, but still well within normal range. He’s had the hiccups A LOT lately. Usually in the morning – be it 2am or 10am (in fact, he has them now, as I’m typing this)!

The midwife found him to be posterior, but since I’m only 34 weeks they’re happy he was head down and not worried about his posterior position. She said he has plenty of time to rotate anterior.

So yesterday, during my birthing class, Teresa (my cousin and secondary coach) was helping me and we were doing birthing-position-practice. She was poking at Benjamin and he poked a limb out at her, she pushed it to the side, and ROTATED HIM. It was the CRAZIEST THING EVER. I mean, feeling a baby move every once in a while is pretty cool, but having his entire body rotate was something I hadn’t quite experienced to that strength. He sure did rotate anterior, but by the time I got home he’d moved back to posterior. That both made me happy and sad. I’m glad he was willing to move anterior, but the fact that he pretty much went right back to posterior means it’s more comfortable for him there. I don’t want him comfortable posterior, I want him comfortable anterior :) I’ll keep doing pelvic rocks and keep trying not to worry. The important thing is head down. The anterior just makes birth easier (and we ALL want me to have an easier birth, don’t we?!)

The crazy thing is, I think Teresa showing Benjamin how much he could move just made him realize all the fun stuff he can do. He has been moving like CRAZY all morning!! Even last night, it was like he’d suddenly discovered half of my womb and is now busy exploring. He’s staying head down but definitely poking limbs all over the place.

Pictures: Justin and I are going to get maternity pictures taken by Image Studios ( http://imagestudios.tv ) as soon as we get around to booking him. I’ve been putting it off because we really didn’t know what to do – we didn’t want traditional maternity pictures, for lots of reasons. Firstly, I’m not a pretty pregnant lady. I mean, I don’t have super low self esteem or anything, but I’m not the skinniest person anyways, and I just am not one of those women in love with being pregnant. It’s amazing, incredible, occasionally slightly freaky and humbling and wow, but I don’t feel the need to take naked pictures of myself (or even slightly unclothed ones) to remember this experience. I have nothing against those pictures, mind you. My cousins got maternity pictures and they were BEAUTIFUL! They are just not for me. Justin and I want to do something a little more “us” so we have been brainstorming. My friend Leslie and I were talking and she is trying to talk me into painting my belly – something that I’d probably manage with more grace than just exposing my stretch marks to the world… and we came up with a few cool ideas for the pictures – something a little more “us” – that we’ll be talking over with the photographer. I’m not ready to share the idea with the world yet in case Justin or Chad (the photographer) hate it..but if it works out, you’ll know.

Pregnancy brain: Holee-molee! I had no idea how bad pregnancy brain is!! I swear, I think I’ve dropped about 50 iq points. And lost my short-mid-term memory. I’ve worn my clothes inside out to a hockey game (which ended up working out OK since I also dropped nacho cheese on my huge belly), I’ve forgotten my cell phone, lost my wallet that was right in front of my face, miscalculated the amount of money needed to take out of the ATM, taken out what I thought was the wrong amount only to have it accidentally (thankfully) be the right amount… I could keep going. I think, so far, it’s the worst pregnancy symptom I’ve experienced. I’m terrified I’m going to forget to pay bills – I already keep forgetting if I’ve paid them yet and keep double checking… in a few weeks am I going to forget to pay them at all? Hope not! Justin is fairly amused by the entire thing, I guess I’m just glad he isn’t being driven crazy by my absent-mindedness (even if I am!)

So in less than 2 months I’m going to have a baby. Craaazzzyyy!

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