Sunday, December 16

Christmas Newsletter

Merry Christmas to our Family and Friends!

We hope this letter finds you and yours well, and able to reflect on a wonderful year.

We entered 2012 as a family of six, and are pleased to leave it with seven.  Declan Peter was born at 9 lbs and 4 oz. three days before Thanksgiving.  Zach got to do the delivery again, and we started off the holiday season truly thankful another brother has come to complete our family.  Four days early, his timing couldn’t have been better: we still had Aunt Lara visiting and had just picked up Zach’s mom the night before.  Zach was able to get work off, and Summer had the most pleasant hospital stay out of any of her delivery experiences.  We’re so grateful for the help of our parents and family and friends the last few weeks.

Kael turned 2 this July, and has made the transition from baby to boy; at the beginning of the year he was swallowing money, and now he’s counting it.  We enjoy knowing what’s on his mind now that he can speak full sentences.  One of his favorites,“I’m so excited!” gets applied to pretty much everything from getting his clean blanket out of the dryer to choosing a piece of candy out of his Halloween bucket. He loves his new brother and never likes to stop holding him.

Bree and Anya started Kindergarten this year.  The charter school in our area had no openings, as we expected.  We can’t say we’re too sorry about it.  They are zipping along at the pace they want in the K12 curriculum, and enjoy school.  They take after their sister at the playground and lead groups of kids in games every time we go.  We can’t help but wonder if they would take such initiative meeting people if they were with the same friends every day.  After the inevitable worries about “socialization” that come when one ventures into homeschooling, it has been good to see them so unafraid and friendly every time we’re out.  We’re trying to convince them to donate their long hair, but they’re still set on having it as long as Rapunzel’s.  Anya loves drawing pictures and playing the piano.  Bree prefers running around outside with Mia and Kael (who still can’t tell his twin sisters apart, ha.)

Mia has grown up a lot the last couple of months- it is hard for people to believe she just turned seven. She is two grade-levels ahead in school, and is working on her 6th Harry Potter book.  She was a great helper running up and downstairs on little errands while her mom was rendered much less mobile during the last trimester of pregnancy.  She demonstrated a lot of maturity keeping herself on task in school and took a lot of pride in the fact that she learned how to make two different kinds of lunches: peanut butter sandwiches and mac and cheese cups.  Although it is such a relief to have things back to normal now that the baby is born, it was touching to see Mia serve so willingly and admirably.

Summer spent a few months teaching a neighbor boy to read before he started Kindergarten.  In exchange for the daily lessons, his mother taught each of our girls piano lessons: Bree and Anya alternated each day with Mia.  Because of the frequency of the lessons, everyone progressed rapidly, making for a very fulfilling summer.

Zach is halfway through his second year of his surgical residency at UMC, with three to go.  He’s grown comfortable removing appendixes and gallbladders on his own, and thinking of him as a doctor isn’t such a novelty anymore.  On top of his 90 hour work week, somehow he manages to be there when we need him, put the girls to bed each night, keep a saltwater fish tank, and maintain the yard and house.

We’re grateful to be busy with such rewarding tasks, and hope this New Year will be just as full with satisfying challenges.  May you be blessed this holiday season and all through the year.
 Love, the Van Wagoners

Wednesday, December 12


Our last baby!  Declan is almost a month old, so I figure I should get around to writing about his birth. Poor blog.  If I want to share something publicly, it goes on Facebook.  And most things I want to extrapolate on end up in my journal.  I'm having a hard time figuring out what I want this blog for anymore! One drawback to Facebook is that nothing is really recorded or publishable, so maybe I'll start writing my posts in both.

Declan's delivery wasn't at all what we were expecting, but it was pretty uneventful all around. I got induced with Kael, and the twins came a month early, so I figured this would be another quick one like Mia's.  Four days before his due date, my sister was visiting and we picked up Zach's mom at the airport.  I woke up at 1:15 in the morning and started timing contractions for the next half hour at 2 to 5 minutes apart.  So I woke up Zach and we figured we'd head to the hospital.  Contractions stopped once we got there, but since I was dilated to a 5 and strep B positive they said they wouldn't let me go home.  They wanted to get two rounds of antibiotics in, and once they started that there was no going back.  We waited around for those, and then waited around for my doctor to get into work and give the okay to break my water.  I got the epidural I thought I wouldn't have time for. (It didn't hurt nearly as bad as the one I got for Kael's delivery and I was so relieved.) They broke my water around 11:00.  Even with the epidural I was feeling contractions, but they weren't showing up on the monitor.  They believed the monitor instead of me- even asking whether I'd like to start Pitocin now or later ... totally ignoring the fact that I was at a 7.  (These doctors and their Pitocin- holy cow.   I told her I'd hold off and see if I kept progressing.  No wonder everyone is surprised I haven't had a C-section- good grief.)  Finally I was in so much pain and feeling the need to push with each one, I was very frustrated that the monitor wasn't showing what I was feeling and had to convince them to check me again at about 1:00.  Sure enough, I was at a 10 and he was born 15 minutes later- exactly 12 hours after I'd woken up that morning.

I've been thinking this baby's 9 lb 4 oz weight may have been a little exaggerated at birth.  I was so pumped full of liquid, he might have been retaining a lot of water, too.  My feet and legs looked like this for a week.  And he looked kind of bloated in his first photos, too.

He eats "like a champ" and still isn't back to his original weight.  He was only 8 lbs 7 oz on day 6. Even though that is still more than any other of my babies has ever weighed their first two weeks, the pediatrician was saying I should pump after feedings and feed it to him on top of the regular feedings.  Which doesn't make sense to me.  Why not just feed him again and skip the middle man.  I decided to just ramp up his feedings before the next weigh-in and see what happened.  I just went in today and he's "only" 9 lbs.   So when the doctor asked if I was given a lot of IV fluids during delivery a huge weight left my chest.  Zach had never seen a delivering mom so pumped full of liquids as I was.  (They were trying to keep my blood pressure up.  My body hates epidural medicine and tries to faint.) The doctor said they've been starting to notice a trend with moms and babies in the same situation, so I don't have to worry about starting pumping or formula anymore.  Whew. Glad my usual doctor wasn't there today- this one had her head on.

 So funny how the doctor is supposed to be there for your baby's health, but really most of the time all they do is prick your kids and take their blood for no reason, make you drive in and disrupt hours of your schedule each week for no reason, stress you out for no reason...  I am grateful however, that in my kids' cases it's all been for no reason.  I don't think I can ever complain about anything baby-related... ever.  4 uneventful pregnancies, 4 problem-free deliveries, 5 healthy kids.  I spent so much time preparing for the inevitable catastrophe I almost can't believe my own statistics.  It's such a relief to have that stage in life over with.

He's started staying up between the second and third night-time feedings.  So this week it takes me 12 hours to get 6 hours of sleep.  I seem to remember this trend with the others before they started sleeping in 6-hour stretches. I hope it's on the horizon.

He's still a little yellow.  But his bili levels keep dropping, so they're not concerned.  The doctor I talked to today said they've stopped recommending putting babies in the window for jaundice.  Good grief- nothing stays the same for longer than a year. No wonder post-partum depression is higher now.  There's so much more to stress over than if you could just stay home and take care of your baby. Put them in the most uncomfortable position possible for sleeping, worry about feeding them enough even though they're perfectly fine. I guess it's a trade-off.  At least I don't have to worry about polio or cholera or whatever.