Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Westley is 2!

Our silly, chubby, clown of a baby turned two today, and it was a very sweet day. The weather was almost exactly like the day we brought him home from the hospital---cold, cloudy, and wet. (Except on the way home from the hospital, we were crazy enough to stop by Costco for lunch and some shopping. "You know you're a veteran parent when...")

Westley is our resident goofball, doing crazy things both for our entertainment, and even when he doesn't realize anyone is watching him. Odd little shuffle-walks, squinched-up faces, and impromptu wiggling of his fingers in the air like he's tickling someone are some of his tricks. He also has a fearsome fencing stance, and a mighty roar, just to keep up his reputation as a tough guy.

He still nurses, and we call him the "all-terrain nurser", because he will drink while laying down, sitting down, standing up, or upside down. Really. (Side note: between the last two babies, I've nursed every day for more than 3 1/2 years now. That's got to be some sort of record, right?)

He is hitting that 2-year-old verbal explosion, acquiring new words every day. He's able to put two words together, such as "read...book", or "eat...cake". He got really good at that second one tonight as he caught sight of all that sugar. His favorite article of clothing is shoes, which he pronounces "yooz", and he scrambles to put his yooz on any time he thinks someone in the family may be going bye-bye.

The kids still treat him like he's a little baby. Ok, to be honest, we all do. They fight over who's going to get him out of his crib, they make him scream by smothering him with affection, and tonight everyone wanted to sit next to him for his birthday dinner. I must admit, for all the insanity that comes with having lots of kids, the sweetest part as a parent is getting to see their love for one another.

We decided Westley probably wanted Chick-fil-A for his birthday dinner (which he showed his approval of by plowing through his meal and then requesting us to go buy him more). Then we came back home for cake and ice cream with grandparents. His older siblings remarked that "it was their best birthday EVER!", which is funny---low-key, homemade cake, two simple gifts. Thankfully, they're easy to please.

I feel compelled to write a little about Westley's birth, since he sort of missed that whole post during my blogging hiatus.

Remember the wild birth story of our fourth child? The exciting one where Shepherd was almost born on the side of the road? Well, we'll just think of it this way---if Shepherd was the Hare, Westley was most definitely the Tortoise.

We were determined to not cut it quite so close this time, and assured the new midwife that we weren't planning to take chances. As much as I loved to do most of the laboring at home, we intended to make it in plenty of time this go 'round. And that we did. In fact, this was my first pregnancy to ever have a dry run to the hospital. That's right, folks. The fifth-time mom was just sure she was in labor, and headed in to have a baby. Only to not have a baby. It was cold, it was late, and of course, the hospital was locked. (We seem to have a theme going with that.) Only THIS time, because we were delivering at a new hospital, we actually went so far as to head to an entirely different building than the one we were supposed to be at, so it's a good thing it wasn't delivery time.

(Doesn't this look like a fake belly?!?)

Take 2: a week later, contractions are convincing again, and we head back in. I'm really calm, so they don't take me very seriously. I get that patronizing "ok, honey, we'll send you to triage to check you in a minute." While I'm back there, I debate as to whether I should fake like I'm out of control so I can get a little attention from the nurses. I decide against it, and eventually the midwife is there and they do a check. "Wow, you're 7 centimeters! But you look so composed!" Yes, ladies, that is what I've been trying to tell you. They knew I wanted to have a natural childbirth again, so thankfully no one tried pushing anything on me.

So here's the deal. This is real labor. Only, because I had so much amniotic fluid, and because my uterus just wasn't in prime shape any more, the contractions were doing no more good than if they were squeezing on a really strong water balloon. For hours. And hours. Aaaaand hours. Fifth baby, the fourth one sprinted his way out, so what's the deal, kid?

This was a tiring labor, physically and mentally. The progress was so slow, and I wasn't used to working for hours through contractions with such little movement toward the goal. It stopped being fun after awhile. Eventually, I let the midwife talk me into breaking my waterbag of steel, which is always what keeps me from delivery. Every time, I know it will help get me to the end, yet every time, I'm so scared to let them do it. (Well, except for with Shepherd, because I was already at the end with him, and I knew I could be done in a matter of minutes if only the water would break.)

So Niagara Falls was let loose, and that big ol' baby finally started deciding to do his part. The progress was still slower than normal, but at least we were getting somewhere. It came time to push, and we stalled out yet again. Why was this guy so stubborn? Then the head showed itself, but the ever-calm midwife was hiding some concern---the cord was wrapped around his neck, so she tended to that.

Usually after the baby's head is born, the body is only a push away, but not with this little guy! He was still taking his sweet time. Only after he came out did we figure out why. He was huge! Well, huge for me. My babies had all been in the 5 1/2 or 6 pound range, but Westley was 8 pounds. I was too tired and shaky to even hold him after such a long labor, so I just stared in disbelief at that scale. Who WAS this chubby little dude, and what had he done with my typical peanut of a baby?

I remember how heavy he felt. Of course, it was love at first sight. He was worth the drawn-out labor, the stretch marks that I'd finally earned, and being the size of a house for the last few months of pregnancy. (p.s. This was the first pregnancy that I wasn't sick as a dog, so now we know what happens when you don't throw up for your first few months---all that extra nutrition really makes for a plump baby!)

Please don't think I expect you to still be reading. I just need to chronicle this next part because it was such a noteworthy time for our family. You know those routine newborn screening tests they do to check the baby for genetic abnormalities? The ones you just assume will come out normal? Well, sometimes they don't. We got a call late one evening when Westley was just a few days old. Our pediatrician was letting us know that Westley had tested positive for an abnormality called "Biotinidase Deficiency". It means that his body couldn't make it's own Vitamin B7 (Biotin), which is an essential trace nutrient. He needed to be seen by a genetic metabolic specialist to see if the test results were correct, because if they were, permanent damage could be done to his hearing, and if the problem weren't corrected in time (quickly!), he would begin having seizures that meant it was too late. Even if we began treatment after that, his hearing would be gone, and death could follow soon after.

No need to panic, right? Wrong. The specialist couldn't see us any time soon. Really. He was the only one in the state that dealt with this problem, and he was only in town on Mondays. Of course, his Mondays were booked out for months. Even after talking repeatedly to a very kind nurse, there was no chance of an appointment in time to stop this freight train that I was just certain was going to take my ticking time bomb of a baby any day now. So the nurse tells me that in the meantime, we just need to start him on Biotin treatments, which we could do with a prescription from our pediatrician. Sounded simple enough.

That is, it WOULD have been simple if our doctor was in town to prescribe it. Thus began the frantic search for anyone who could help us get a hold of our records from that one office, and get prescription-strength Biotin in our hands. Meanwhile, the lab that was performing our second round of bloodwork (to determine if the first results were incorrect) was taking for.ev.er. I called them as often as I thought prudent, only to be told that those results take weeks to come in. Are you feeling my pain yet? To say it was a tense few weeks of agonizing stress is an understatement.

I'll fast forward a bit, though, and take you to our answered prayer. Finally, after what really was a ridiculously long wait for lab results, we heard the news we'd been praying for: the second screening came out negative. Apparently, when the phlebotomists are taking those blood samples, if they don't let them dry all the way on that little sheet of paper before sealing the baggie, it frequently shows up as a false positive. Who knew? Who knew that a lab worker's haste that day would cause our family's world to turn upside down for over a month, costing us so much anxiety and quite a bit of money?

I'll tell you what, though. I will never again take for granted a normal test result. It is a beautiful thing. We are fearfully and wonderfully made by our Lord, and when you think of all that has to go right in order for a healthy baby to be born, it's staggering that we should think of it as anything but miraculous.

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