Thursday, October 23, 2014


Emmett Scott Allan was born 5 days early on Sunday, August 31st at 5:36 in the morning. We barely made it (he was delivered naturally-- which was not our plan-- in triage)! We were only in the hospital for 5 minutes before he was in our arms! But at least we didn't have him in the car or the lobby! He weighed 8 lb 1 oz

That is the synopsis. Here are the details:

I had been having contractions every evening since Thursday. In fact, they were so intense on Thursday that I put my toiletries in the already-packed hospital bag because I just knew I was going to wake up in labor. I had 4 distinct dreams that night that I WAS in labor and was sorely disappointed each time I got up (to go to the restroom) to discover that it was only a dream and I was NOT in labor. Same deal with contractions on Friday and Saturday. So you have to understand that when I woke up at 3:50 am on Sunday morning with contractions, my first thought was NOT "let's get to the hospital!". Actually it was more like, "hmmm. let's see if this does anything today."

Well, within 20 minutes I knew I would have a baby that day. So my second thought was, "well, it is only 4:15 am. I'll be in labor for a couple of hours. Might as well let Eric sleep a little while he can and I'll just labor a little here before rousting him." By 4:30 I was unable to keep quiet and Eric woke up. So, I texted our middle-of-the-night babysitter. Had to wake her up and all, so while we waited I went ahead and ate breakfast and brushed my teeth and everything. The contractions were painful, but still very far apart, so I thought we had time. 

We left the house at 5 am and discovered our tank was empty. We went ahead and stopped for gas. Contractions were painful, but STILL very far apart, so I wasn't worried about the stop. I texted family members that we were on our way to the hospital during our 25 minute drive down there. We pulled up to the hospital and Eric asked if I wanted to be dropped off while he parked the car. I said I'd rather stay together. (good thing too or he would have missed Emmett's arrival!) So we parked the car about 5:27 or so. Everything was still manageable. 

When I stood up to get out of the car, things were not so manageable. I could barely walk. Eric practically carried me to the bridge between the lot and the hospital, then he ran and found a wheel chair for me. The contractions were REALLY painful, but still at least 3 minutes apart, so the thought never occurred to me that maybe we were cutting it close. 

When we got up to triage, the receptionist seemed to share my feelings. I heard her say later that I was so "calm and coherent, she never thought"... Well anyway, we spent a couple minutes at the reception desk filling out paperwork. Yes, PAPERWORK. I stood up from signing... and felt recognizable "pressure". I was surprised! I think I even remarked "that's a lot of pressure to be feeling already!" before the receptionist cheerfully and unhurriedly gave me a gown and showed us to a triage room "where the doctor will come check you to see just how far along you are, sweetie". 

Right about then the intensity picked up about 10-fold. Everything happened so quickly. I was in the midst of very painful contractions, but Eric managed to help me undress and get the gown on. I stood up so he could tie the back... and then I peed all over the floor. Or so I thought. I was crying and apologizing over and over (certain that I had just peed all over Eric's feet or something equally embarrassing) but Eric took one look and assured me that was not pee. Apparently it was pink tinged. My water had broken. 

The contractions were awful at this point and Eric's proddings to get on the bed were met with me saying "I can't, it hurts to much to lay down!" But he was firm and persistent, practically putting me on the gurney (not bed, I should be clear) himself when I was deliriously struggling to get up there. That's when the fire started. 

Now I did not intend to deliver naturally, so I had not done any research. Apparently this is a common feeling often described as "ring of fire" when the baby has entered the birth canal. That name does NOT do it justice. I was certain there was a flame torch on my skin, inside my skin, on my legs... it was EXCRUCIATING. Nothing I've ever experienced has been so painful. and I was terrified. Of the pain. Because I didn't know how much worse it could get. (Lucky for me, that WAS the worst. As you'll see, we weren't in pushing mode for long at all) 

Eric took a peek between my legs as soon as he got me up on the gurney and said later he could see Emmett's hair. I was just screaming by this time, so Eric stuck his head out the door and saw doctors and nurses scurrying around in Labor and Delivery, trying to locate the woman on their floor giving birth at that moment, unaware of the fact that I was actually in triage still. Because the receptionist had not even had time yet to enter us in the system. They didn't even know we were at the hospital. Eric called out that we were here, in triage, and a baby was coming RIGHT NOW. That only took 10 seconds for him to accomplish, but when he came back in the room, Emmett's head was out. 

I could feel his head come out and that worried me. Because I couldn't see what was happening, there wasn't a doctor there yet, and what if the umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck? I know Eric is a doctor, but if something went wrong I didn't want that to be on him. So at this point I was holding Emmett in. As soon as I saw a flicker of movement at the curtain, I knew a doctor had arrived and I just let him go. He popped right out. And just like that the pain was gone. I never pushed. Quite the opposite, actually. :)

Needless to say, I was in shock. So was Eric. (He says he held it together while I was screaming and he was the only one with me, but as soon as the medical team arrived, he pulled up a chair next to me because he was a little woozy.) So, shaking all over, pleased to be holding my boy, but honestly just in disbelief that all of THAT actually happened, I was informed that the time of delivery was 5:36. Time in the hospital, about 5 minutes. 7 if you count the parking garage. Quite an adventure! I guess Emmett was just in a hurry to join us!

I am proud to say I did it all by myself, naturally, I mean (since I wasn't alone-- couldn't have done it without Eric by my side). Though I have to admit I'd prefer an epidural next time. Interestingly, I discovered that my tolerance for contraction pain must be very high, but I definitely don't have a high pain tolerance for the actual delivery. Wooh, if I can not do that again, that would be great! Good news is that I no longer need to fear natural child birth. I know I can do it if I have to. 

So that is the story! Exciting, eh?

Anyway, Emmett is healthy, recovery has been great for me, we were home by middle of the day on Labor Day, Eric took a couple days off since my mom didn't get here til Thursday and we both loved the time to cuddle and get to know our little man. The girls adore him, he nurses like a champion, and makes the most adorable snorting noises when he is ready to eat (mostly because he seems to be congested more often than not)! We are so blessed!
 Emmett 4 days old
 these precious portraits were taken by my talented MIL... THANK YOU!!!!
 The girls LOVE their brother

Everyone getting in on the snuggle action. Mama Allan and her magic spankings could put this boy to sleep almost instantly.
Grandma Sugar arrived just in time to catch the HEINOUS cold that Gwen shared with the whole family. We were all exhausted!
 Caroline maintains that NOTHING is quite as exciting as a newborn brother!
 Gwen tries very hard to be a good big sister.
Grandpa got to come for a very brief visit, but made sure to get lots of Emmett snuggles during that short time! 
While Eric spends much more time holding the boy or helping Emmett get some shut eye, I just love this one of my two boys sleeping side by side. ;)

Emmett regained his birth weight and then some by his 1 week appointment. At his 1 month appointment he was 11 1/2 lbs in the 83rd percentile. Quite a change from my 25% girlies! The good news is that his chubbiness also makes him a good night sleeper. 4-5 hour stretches are the norm (when he is not so congested that he gags on his boogers). Now that he is just a week shy of being 2 months, his grins are starting to be bigger and easier to get out of him. Love that boy!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Caroline at 3 years old

Well, now that Caroline's third birthday was almost a month ago and today is actually Eric's special "life day" (sorry, a Korean ism that I doubt any of you will get) and I ought to be dedicating a post to him... since I haven't composed one yet and this one was just begging to be published in its raw and unedited state, well, this is what I'm posting today! So, for our family history efforts, I present Caroline's 3rd year isms!

favorite foods are bacon and berries. favorite drink is milk (she gets mad when we give her water at dinner but she'll drink it anyway). favorite time of day is her 'zen' time of laying on the floor drinking and pulling all the barrettes and rubberbands out of her hair with glossed over eyes. Favorite color is yellow. favorite shows are Team Umi-zoomi, Super Why, and Leapfrog. Favorite books are Pete the Cat and Going on a Bear Hunt. Favorite toys are Magna-Tiles, stretchy dinosaurs ("compies"), cars, mini princesses, and her Noah's ark boat. Favorite person: definitely Daddy. :) Or Grandpa (either of them). Or any Uncle. And randomly, Brother Bair in our ward whom she identifies on the stand weekly, points, and waves like crazy to try to get his attention. Sadly, they just moved out of our ward. Caroline doesn't know yet. She's going to be devastated. :) She basically still just loves men more than women. :)

 "you SILL-LAY pot!" (her response to 'you stinker pot')
"critter bed" = her crib, which she is sad to not be able to use because it is 'broken' (mattress removed) to help her use her "Princess bed"
"ril-lay, rill-lay tired. I go bed now."
"tickle fast?...TICKLE!!!" (while insistently waving her arm or bare belly at you)
"I got i-trouble"
"en-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh..." (her slight stutter when she can't think of what to say)
"not THAT one! I go nover one!" (meaning, she wants to sleep in mommy and daddy's bed)
"where my Gwen?" or "where my Daddy?"
names her poops members of the family. Uncle Bryce is the only extended family ever to receive the honor.
named the Elk taxidermy on the wall "Sven"
sings a choreographed version of "Let it Go" from Frozen
plays with her food-- it becomes cars and boats or families quite often
can sometimes be persuaded to consume more bites because they are "sad and want to go to the party" and she'll say "alright, you can!"
"ah co-wease!" (of course)
"WHAT!?!!!" in a growly voice. Her favorite joke. 
"soap!...Candy soap!" another favorite joke of her own invention. 
She likes to invent words from her own language and laugh when we repeat them back to her
"I ready get u-up!" between 5 and 5:30 in the morning while she knocks on her door (we put a child proof knob on her side and removed her light bulbs to try to encourage her to go back to bed, but she basically just squalls at the door until we get her out.)
"I pretty princess". twirling and primping in her pjs. 
"Chase me!" not a request. 
"my daddy! my daddy! My daddy HOME!!!" 
"go up high?!?"... and she contorts herself while being thrown up so that she comes down in different positions. Sort of like a prelude to a flip...
just about every day she states that she is ready to get on an airplane to go visit grandma and grandpa and sleep at their house. She even packs 'bags' and will go fetch her shoes so she is ready to go. She bawls when we tell her we are not leaving for a visit to them for another month. And she's been doing this for the past 2 months. 
LOVES to terrorize Gwen: hang on her, pull on her clothes, tackle her, sit on her, push her down and wrestle her, etc. Sometimes she still bites and pulls hair, but she gets in pretty big trouble for those ones. Basically, she just adores her sister to the point of abuse!
She loves to jump, particularly on the yellow chair. 
She says "tada!" and wants much praise for climbing or building things... and I should mention that she LOVES to climb, is not at all intimidated by height or challenge, and often figures out how to get up places before Gwen does.
"I did it! I so big!"
Caroline loves to build castles and towers. Her creativity is rather impressive, as her building designs are quite varied and interesting. She becomes extremely frustrated if it crashes down before completion, if she can't find the right piece for a specific spot, or if a friend dares to try to 'help' her with her creation. She is definitely a lone wolf and possessive of her creative autonomy!
She identifies places she has been on sight as we drive past: "PLANET PLACE!" (the mall playground), "plant place" (Straeder's Garden Center), "paint place" (Home Depot, where she gets to do a project with Daddy once a month), "playground with the bumpy slide" (Carriage Place park), "playground with the head" (Leatherlips park), and of course Aldi, Meijer, the library, Gwen's school, the zoo, and church. 
she loves to water herself with the hose, even on chilly/windy days.
She LOVES to "nuggle" (snuggle) and insists upon you running your fingers on her back and limbs throughout the nuggle time.

We love our little independent imp! Our family would be missing a big personality without her craziness and her unbridled affection!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Where Grief and Joy Meet

We are expecting a new addition to our family in September!

but this post is not, as you might be expecting, a gushing post about the excitement and anticipation for the big event or a dialogue of how my family is feeling. Instead, I feel that since this blog functions as my journal, I need to record some things I've experienced. Perhaps someone else can benefit from reading them.

I had a miscarriage in August. Not the first time I've had one, but it really hit me hard. A nurse told me to grieve however it felt right; whether that meant screaming or crying or whatever. For me, the coping mechanism was to not acknowledge it. And that isn't because I didn't have a support network of friends and family that were ready to listen if I wanted to talk. I've heard people say that often women feel like they are alone after such a loss and that the subject is too taboo for them to talk about it. Not the case for me. I never felt it was taboo or that people didn't want to discuss it. I just didn't WANT to talk about it. In fact, for about 2 weeks I carried on all conversations without direct eye contact because I was afraid that someone would see the pain in my eyes and ask me how I was doing. Well that phase didn't last forever and I eventually was able to talk through some of my feelings with Eric. But honestly, I didn't explore everything I felt at that time. I busied myself with a conveniently demanding Thesis (it was actually a great blessing to have such demanding work to think about constantly so that my mind didn't wander.) I buried everything down deep until I felt strong enough to process it.

Therefore, months later, I'm still sorting out my grief. There are 2 emotions that I have found lingering, not easily resolved; they seem to crop up again and again in new forms and variations. Anger and Fear are the fallout from the event.

Rage is interesting. While it helped me to be "strong" and get through the hardest days, it has impeded healing. I'm relieved to say I never felt angry at the Lord for the loss of our little one. Nor did I blame myself because I knew there was no reason to feel guilt. However, I was honestly furious at my body. You have to understand, I take good care of myself. I exercise hard, play hard, sleep regularly, eat healthily... at the time I was in fabulous physical shape (quite possibly the best shape I've been in all my life). So when my body paid me back with a terminated pregnancy, I felt rage. I wanted to hurt my body the way it had hurt me (irrational, yes, but real). I contemplated running a marathon just to punish my body, but knew I wasn't physically up to that. So instead I stopped taking care of myself. Granted, I had the excuse of a thesis, but honestly...I just didn't have any desire to exercise or watch what I ate. You could attribute that to depression. Sure. And I'm sure that had a part to play. But I was aware and perhaps even vengeful in neglecting my physical health. I was just so angry at my body's failure. It has taken me months to forgive and strive to regain the health I had before.

Right about December when I was finally ready to be nice to my body, I discovered another facet of my anger. Anger at weakness. I found myself responding terribly to family members when they were not at their best. For the first time I truly understood the heart of a bully because I too was inflamed by vulnerability I saw. Rather than being compassionate and understanding, I wanted to squish it. To grind the weakness I saw until it was obliterated. Ultimately, I was disgusted by my own weakness, by my own vulnerability, by my own lack of control and was transposing my anger towards my body's 'failure' onto other people because I saw my weakness in them. This has been a lot harder to work through. Honestly, I'm still struggling. I know the Atonement of Jesus Christ makes it possible to change even the deepest failings into strengths. But I can also say that healing my mind and heart so that my first response to vulnerability is not contempt...well, it takes time. Unfortunately, as I'm a perfect example, not every adversity makes people more tender and compassionate towards others. The Lord is helping me to be soft and compassionate rather than hard like a flint.

Fear is crippling. I am in the thick of this one. I didn't really discover the depth of my fear until we had another positive pregnancy test (in January). THEN I realized JUST how terrified I was. I didn't want to say I was 'pregnant' and didn't talk about the baby as a 'baby' for weeks and weeks because I was absolutely terrified that I was going to miscarry again and thought it would be less painful if I didn't get all excited. I spontaneously burst into tears at doctor appointments because I was terrified of what I would see or not see on the ultrasound. I was not even "happy" to have a successful pregnancy because I was afraid to be happy and suffer a crushing disappointment. And I certainly didn't enjoy the great blessing of NOT having hyperemesis this time around because I was terrified that it meant I would miscarry (since both my previous successful pregnancies I was over-the-top-hospitalization-inducing-vomiting and both my miscarriages I was just nauseated). It was actually a relief to hit that stride around 8 weeks of feeling sick almost all day and vomiting 1-2 times a day. Still better than hyperemesis, but more reassuring than just nausea. Once I felt confident that I was "sick enough", it was much easier to be grateful that I wasn't crazy sick like before. Then I could finally start to celebrate the possibility of a new baby. Still, I was hesitant to invite others into my circle of celebration lest it turn out to be a circle of mourning in the end. I was slow to divulge the good news and only just recently announced it. Ultimately, the Lord is helping me to replace fear with hope--- but that requires increased trust in God's plan and a true 'come what may' attitude. A tall order for me since I really DON'T want to go down that road again and I'm not sure I can say 'sure Lord, I'll trust Your will even if it isn't what I want'. But I can clearly see that until I replace fear with hope, I can't be legitimately happy, even in happy circumstances.

In all of this joy, celebration, and gratitude, my heart is still healing from the loss of what might have been. It makes for a sort of weird complicated response to the present. It is not as easy to be happy in this pregnancy as I expected it to be...Everything is going really well, the Lord has blessed us with our desires, and I should be happy as a clam...and perhaps others would be puzzled to hear that I'm not just overflowing with joy. I find that even my happiness is laced with a hint of sadness---because grieving takes a longer time than we often give it. But I'm going to continue to take the advice of that nurse: I'm going to allow myself to feel what I feel. And through the Savior's wondrous Atonement, I'm certain my path of healing will one day allow me to feel peace and joy with all my heart.

in the mean time, we are so looking forward to welcoming you into our hearts, little one. See you in September!