Wednesday, January 28, 2015

She's Here! (Ruby's Birth Story)

In keeping with tradition, I wanted to write out Ruby's birth story. Unlike Ellie's or Hazel's, there's not a lot of intense detail, as it ended up being a scheduled cesarean. 

We went in for a check-up on Monday, January 12. It was my 39-week check and an ultrasound. Everything had been looking good up to this point. I was very pleased with my weight gain overall, as I gained less than I did with either of the other girls and gained exactly in the range I had hoped for.

The doctor predicted she was about 7 and half pounds, and then paused to tell us that the cord seemed to be wrapped around her neck. I have to say that technology is so amazing. Using infrared technology, the doctor could detect where the blood flow was, and suddenly a bright orange cord showed up around the base of her head. Sure enough, the cord was around her neck.

We talked about our options. We had been planning on this last week for work and wrapping up details before my mom arrived that following Sunday. We had just found out that morning that the girls were supposed to start school THIS week, not the next like we thought (which meant we had school supplies to buy, paperwork to complete, etc.). The timing wasn't ideal (it never really is with babies). Given my history with long overdue babies, and bigger babies, and being induced every time, our doctor was concerned about what could happen if I went into labor with her cord wrapped around her neck. 

So of course we chose to do what would be best and safest for our baby. We scheduled the C-section for the next afternoon. I went outside and started panicking. I couldn't stop crying, for the sake of my baby's health, of course, and I couldn't stop worrying about what we'd do with Ellie and Hazel. We didn't have much of a back-up plan, and a C-section meant at least 2-3 nights at the hospital. 

Fortunately, we've been blessed with awesome neighbors and co-workers who all pitched in. We knew the girls were happy and safe and well-taken care of, and they got to stick to their routine of starting their new school, which we decided was best for them. 

So, Monday night we spent time calling family, writing out instructions for the girls, and getting details ironed out, like, finally choosing her name! On Tuesday morning we ran a few errands, finalized details at the girls' new school, and headed to the hospital. It was surreal to know that within a few hours, our baby would be here.
Me at 39 weeks, a few hours before we went to the hospital.
We checked in and got settled into our room. We realized it would be an interesting experience doing everything in Spanish. They wanted to know my height, in centimeters, and it took several of us and a calculator and conversion chart to finally calculate my height. Silly Americans not using centimeters. When it was time for me to head into the surgery room alone, it hit me what was about to happen. I laid there on the surgery bed, back exposed, waiting for the epidural, and I found myself cold and a little scared. It was hard to be dealing with everything in Spanish. I felt out of control, laying there, knowing there was nothing I could do but wait and hope and pray our little baby would come out safe. Our awesome anesthesiologist spoke English and loved using it with me. He talked me through everything and helped me feel included in the process. 
Being coached by the anesthesiologist. 
Her arrival. 4:00 PM.
My favorite moment was right after Ruby was born, when Michael put Ruby up next to my face. I was still strapped down, but our cheeks were touching. She was crying, and when I started talking to her, she stopped, turned her head towards me, and listened to my voice. We have a sweet video of this that I will always treasure. 
Ruby Mayana Chapman
born at 4:00PM on Tuesday, January 13, 2015 in Guatemala City, Guatemala. 8 lbs 1 oz. 

Ruby is a name we've always liked, and considered using it for Hazel.
For her middle name, we wanted a name that was a form of Marie or Maria or Mary, because she has a grandma Mary, a great-grandma Mary, and another great-grandma Marie, plus several other family members with a similar name. 
Mayana, at its roots comes from the name Mary, so it was a perfect pick.
My mom's middle name is Anita, a form of Ana. 
We also wanted a Guatemalan, Mayan, or Spanish connection, and Mayana contains "Mayan," an important cultural part of Guatemala and people we work with here.
I had been searching online for names and found this name a few days before she was born, despite our family thinking we had had a name picked out all along. 
Moments after birth.
Getting acquainted.
After her first bath.
When we had toured the hospital a few weeks earlier, we had been told that the hospital policy is that the baby can only be held by us and the nurses, and that if we ever have visitors the baby couldn't even be in the room with us. They also said that the baby would stay in the nursery all night long except if we wanted her for nursing. I had been upset at the time, because I wanted my girls and family to be able to meet Ruby at the hospital. Well, we're not sure how it happened, but this rule didn't seem to get enforced while we were there, which meant our girls got to come to the hospital and meet and hold Ruby. It was a special time, and I missed them so much I was happy I got to see my girls for a short time.

Some of my favorite pictures from their first meeting:
First family photo.
Big sister Hazel.
The three sisters. Pure Love.
Checking out little fingers.
Super proud oldest sister.
Hazel loves to kiss and hold her baby sister. Almost every picture I have of these two are of Hazel kissing Ruby.
Overall, we were proud of having had a baby in a Spanish-speaking hospital. It felt like we accomplished a big feat, especially for me, with my Spanish not being as strong as Michael's. There were only a few language misunderstandings, like when I accidentally said yes to getting sleeping pills instead of just pain pills.

It was interesting to be in a hospital where nursing a baby exclusively is not the norm, and is not understood, even by (or especially by) the nurses. We had to explain to them that we wanted her every few hours to feed her, even if it meant waking her up. A few times during the night we had to request that they bring her to us. The nurses just assumed we'd feed her whenever she woke up, which could be several hours. The norm here seemed to be to bottle feed during the night so the mother can rest, and maybe, if nursing at all, to nurse some during the day. They wheeled her out of the room every time she needed a diaper change, and wouldn't bring her back until we asked for her, which was frustrating, at times. 

Had this been my first baby, I may not have lasted more than a day or two with nursing. There was absolutely zero help or support in this area. Our experience in California was starkly different, with a lactation consultant on staff at the hospital, and our pediatrician taking specific time with us to make sure nursing was going well (and eventually clipping both Ellie and Hazel's tongues to aid with nursing). I think eventually the nurses gave up understanding us, and just mostly left us alone. They knew it was our third baby, or they may have been more pushy. 

It's been good to be home. We are adjusting to life with three. My mom has been here for over a week and it's been nice to have extra help. Ruby is sleeping and eating about every 3 hours at night. During her first week or so, only her Daddy could soothe her at night, unless she needed to be fed. She loves to be held, although fortunately she's getting more used to falling asleep without being held. 

One difference with the birth of our third is that because the girls go to school every morning, I'm actually able to rest and take some time for myself, something I could do after Ellie's birth, but was much more difficult with Hazel, as I was home full-time with both girls. 

As Ruby turned 2 weeks old yesterday, here are some highlights from her life so far:
So many snuggles lately.
Lots of photo opportunities. 
Ruby's first overnight outing was to Antigua. 
Michael got some funny looks with his bulky sweater.
Playing games and quality time with all three. 
Ruby couldn't have more proud sisters than these two.  
2 weeks old. Hazel is excited that Ruby can roll her tongue just like her and Mama.
Happy 2 weeks, Ruby Mayana!

Friday, January 9, 2015

December. Cousins. Beach.

December is always busy, and this year proved to be no exception.
We had a new staff person to orient and train.
I had a birthday. 
We celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary. (Not really a ton of celebrating went on...we might plan a trip for next year to celebrate the big One Zero).

Then, what we had been looking forward to for months: cousins arrived for two whole weeks!
The last time we were together was two years ago. A lot changes in two years!

If we are friends on Facebook, you may have seen a majority of these pictures, but here are some highlights of our time together:
 Making Christmas cookies.
 We went to the beach for a couple nights. Hazel loved the hammock.
 Relaxing with Daddy.
 Black sand beach. 
 She can't help herself, she HAS to doublefist the sand.
She fell. And thought it was hilarious.
A Daddy and his girls.
 The pool water was cold.
Hazel was enamored by her little cousin. 
Enamored Baby James Picture #1
 These two older cousins played My Little Pony for basically two weeks straight.
 Reading the Christmas story on Christmas Eve.
 We love our Christmas stockings made by a family friend. 
 These two got "Best Friend" My Little Pony necklaces.
 Hazel is really into her baby. I think she's preparing to help me with baby sister. She's been paying a lot more attention to her babies lately.
 An attempt at a sister Christmas photo.
 Attempt at a photo with all 5 cousins.
Enamored Baby James picture #2.
 Two little peas in a pod.
 Enamored Baby James picture #3
 Probably my favorite picture of the 4 girls. 
My new favorite picture of me with my (3) girls. 

Happy New Year! We officially have 11 days until our due date.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

November (Yes, I mean November) in Guatemala

It's been a busy two months. I know the holidays are a busy time for everyone, so I thought I'd summarize our November through pictures. It included a lot of travel, plus activities at home.

Here's a glimpse of November in the Chapman household:
Decorating for Christmas
7 months or so pregnant.
Making our own Christmas wreaths.
Making our own Christmas ornaments. 
The girls are starting a new school this month. In November they had a chance to attend for a month of vacation courses, and they both absolutely loved it. These are cupcakes they made with their new classmates.  
Hazel showing off her cupcakes.
We had a team retreat in Antigua during this month. Our staff threw me and one of our other pregnant staff members a baby shower. She is due any day, 5 days before me. 

I don't know how to explain this picture except to say they lost a game.
Because every baby shower should include a melted candy bar inside a diaper.
On our retreat we visited a local coffee cooperative.
It's always fun for the girls to spend time with our team.
Learning about coffee.
Picking red coffee beans.
I'm pretty sure she spit this right out.  
Hiking up to the farmer's coffee section. 
Ellie and one of our team members, Beraldo.
After hiking up a ways to visit one of the farmer's lots, we hiked down and spent time roasting the beans over a wood stove. Then of course, we got to enjoy the fruits of our labor with a hot cup of coffee.
For the second year in a row, we shared a Thanksgiving dinner together as a team during this retreat.
During another part of the month we took a quick trip up north to Alta Verapaz, where we have a couple of projects. We went especially to attend the graduation of the Spanish literacy program that MCC helps support. The majority of these students were very proud to be graduating from 6th grade, and we had the honor of handing out some of the diplomas.
The girls enjoyed taking swim classes during November and December. They are both little fish in the water and we saw a huge improvement of both their skills in a short time.  
Hazel LOVED to go down to the floor of the pool and retrieve toys. She also learned to float by herself with no one touching her. She has no fear in the water.

Our big news for this month? After being in Guatemala for more than 18 months, after dealing with several lawyers from the States and Guatemala, several meetings in different offices, multiple rounds of paperwork and more lawyer visits, we FINALLY are considered the legal representatives of MCC in Guatemala. This makes simple things like signing documents and going to the bank MUCH more simple. It was a pretty big deal, and of course we had to celebrate in our office.

And thus went our November!