Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Levi Grant

I realize I have abandoned this blog.  I'm afraid the ease of Instagram has taken over many of the functions I was using this blog for.  That said, Instagram doesn't allow for details and when it comes to birth stories--we moms love the details!

So, with this little guy lying fast asleep on my chest, I'll write about the birth story of our newest little guy:  Levi Grant Cranney.

Apparently my body doesn't signal that it's in labor the standard way posted on internet sties to answer queries of anxious soon-to-be-mothers.  Nor does it behave the same way with every pregnancy. I thus went into the hospital afraid I had pre-term labor at 36 weeks only to be shown out the door.  When Levi continued to still be content within my womb at my 39 week appointment I started to get a little nervous he would come quickly--as did my doctor who told me to not wait for the standard 3-5 minutes apart, but to come at 7-10 minutes since I was already dilated to 3.5.  On Sunday some more painful contractions started happening when I walked around, but would practically cease when I sat turning into 20-25 minutes apart. but that kind of hurt.  (I know, I know, boring details, but apart of this is for future reference if ever needed for me).  Anyway after a day of indecision I finally told Stephen that we were going to the hospital and if they sent us back again, they sent us back, but I needed to know if these contractions were doing anything.  Stephen's amazing mom had arrived two days before to help out with him and it was perfect timing.  It was so nice to be able to leave the kids with her as we left around 10 at night to the hospital.  When I arrived they checked me and said I was a 6.5.  Since I had not been admitted with Simeon when my contractions were slow and I was a 6, we were still slightly worried they would send us home--but thankfully they kept us.  My contractions continued to be spaced out pretty far and only at one time did they come closer than 10 minutes, though they were also longer.  My doctor that I had seen throughout the pregnancy wasn't on call and had surgery the next morning so they told me it would be Dr. Patterson.  She had actually seen me before when I was hemorrhaging with a miscarriage a year and a half ago.  I had like her then and was happy to have her again.

I had already told my other doctor that I had wanted to go natural, didn't want my water manually broken, only have a heplock (no IV), no pitocin, and that when it came to pushing--I didn't want to overpush.  In general I try not to be a demanding person and so even talking with my doctor about this was a little uncomfortable, but I'm glad I did.  He communicated all of this to Dr. Patterson who indulged me.  When I was 10 cm I really felt the urge to push.  I would say that the contractions to this point while definitely more painful than the ones I had with my other boys, were WAY more mild than they are with other women.  I've always been able to talk, walk, and even laugh through contractions which makes me always hesitant to say that I do natural births because I realize that there is such a difference of experiences I would hate it if someone were to compare when such a comparison would be utterly ridiculous. Anyway, I just have crazy labors including that every time I give birth I have multiple nurses say they have never seen anyone be so calm and not medicated. I really wish it were a matter of self-discipline, but it's not.

At 10 cm. my water still hadn't broken and I asked if I could just continue to labor and see if I didn't have a "mermaid baby" or "angel baby" with the baby being born with the amniotic sac still in tact (incredibly rare--more common though among pre-term labors).  They moved a mirror so I could see (which was a first, and I really liked having one) and I started pushing when I had contractions.  At first it felt odd with the nurses and doctor not telling me when to push by looking at the monitor, but after awhile it was nice.  My contractions were still several minutes apart which allowed everyone to start up an interesting conversation just in time for me to interrupt with me having to push again.  At first I could see the head through the amniotic sac it was incredible!  When I started to pushy however, the head receded and the sac started coming out first.  It started to make a large balloon of sorts and they handed Stephen a hospital gown in case it exploded on him.  The pushing wasn't terrible when it was the sac, until it was getting to the point that the head needed to come out too and then it started really hurting.  I have never screamed out when pushing before, but with this one I did.  At first I started just the low moaning (which really did help), but when it got really bad I started screaming "Come on baby! Come!"  When the sac was the size of a grapefruit it finally popped.  In some ways this was a relief and took some pressure off, but then came his head.  It had probably been 40 minutes of this off and on pushing, but when the head was there contractions started speeding up.  I started to scream that I couldn't do it.  Stephen and the nurses and doctor assured me that I could (I know, I know, I had no other choice).  Stephen held my leg since he was helping out with my leg cramps and I held the nurses' hands.  When I got to that ring of fire I screamed I was never having any more children, but then 3 seconds later his head was out, I only had to do his shoulders quickly and he was out in my arms.  It was glorious to hold him!  Perhaps the reason this labor was so painful in comparison was due to him being my largest baby at 8 lbs 9 oz.  He was born at 5:12 a.m. on Monday the 17th of April (right after Easter and a day before taxes were due).
I'm not sure anything compares with holding your newborn on your chest after giving birth--I really don't.  I was in tears, half from the pain and half from the joy of finally having him here.   The cushion of the amniotic sac left his head incredibly round according to the nurses and everyone was amazed when there perfectionist NICU nurse gave him a 10 APGAR score since she never gives such high scores.

So there it is, there is Levi's birth story.  Everything has gone pretty smoothly.  The placenta came out, there was a small superficial tear that she stitched up just in case, but it was a wonderfully unique and uncomplicated birth which I am so grateful for.  I so appreciate the nurses and doctor that were so supportive.  Stephen was pretty grand and while we both slept as I labored from a 6 to 8 or 9, when it came time to be there for me, he totally was.  He got the cramps out of my legs (he's had practice since I've often woken him up in the middle of the night needing help to get them out) and honestly his random conversation starters with the doctor and nurses about their jobs or his research in fertility etc. were a nice diversion between contractions.  What's more, he loves and admires motherhood and womanhood and I'm grateful for that.  He cut the cord which neither of us could remember if he had done before.  All is well still and though he had a little trouble maintaining a high blood sugar level, it has since stabilized and I'm glad it's been good stay.  We were going to go home earlier today, but the doctors wanted to keep him just to be sure another day.  Alright, I haven't re-read this or edited this so this may be somewhat jumbled, but I'm playing the new-mommy card that let's one be forgiven (hopefully) for what grammatical errors or self-centeredness a post like this must have.

*Stephen just e-mailed me the following corrections:

"First, you weren't screaming "come on baby," you were screaming "come baby, baby come." I just realized it was reminiscent of Christ calling forth Lazarus into life: "Lazarus, come." 

Second, it wasn't the size of a grapefruit, it was the size of a melon when it popped. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas Letter 2017

Merry Christmas from the Cranneys!

When I asked Stephen for input for our Christmas letter this year he wondered if we should even send an update.  For the first year in our marriage we have no new babies, jobs, degrees, or states of residence which may make this our most stable/boring year of adulthood yet.  Lame!  Luckily the boys have been keeping us from having to download solitaire on our phone just yet, and we’re enjoying our time in Texas.

Joshua Lev (3) is our charmer and gold loving pirate. All that is sparkly or sweet has his attention. He literally has nightmares about cookies being stolen from him which we know for a fact since he still somehow finds his way into our bed in the middle of the night.
Simeon (5) can imagine himself as a British solider or lightsaber wielding Jedi for hours on end. He sometimes can't finish a book or movie because of his need to pretend play it out. I never thought I would regret wrestling scholarships being virtually non-existent until I saw Simeon take down his older brother with a Full Nelson--to think of the future he might have had  . . .
Christian (7) is our nature child.  He begs to skip parks with playgrounds to find forests and river areas.  I have nearly daily arguments about his use of sticks in the house, and next year's Christmas presents may simply be a stash of sticks, nuts, and rocks. If he's not begging to go outside he's pleading to listen to an audiobook and I have to insist he's got to turn it off for meal times. (He can read fine, but listening allows him to fight with his stick and listen at the same time).
Mid-process on several job applications, Stephen has yet to find out if he is to continue this oasis of academic postdoc research with the freedom to study whatever enters his mind, or if he's going to join the rest of his cohort, settle down and get a job. His time here has been productive though, and he now has about a dozen publications.

I'm enjoying the extra time I get with the boys while homeschooling for another year and expecting a baby boy this next April (got to spice up these Christmas cards somehow).  Hoping to see gains in my parenting from this seeming specialization in boys we've got going on.
We hope this update finds you and yours well,

Rachel, Stephen, Christian, Simeon,
and Joshua Lev

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

We're back!

Having returned from our glorious gypsy summer of eight weeks in five different homes in Arizona and Utah, we're back in Texas! Stephen has started teaching classes again (the summer was spent researching from home or his alma mater's library) and applying for jobs for the 2017 school year.  We're homeschooling Christian another year till we settle down somewhere more permanent, and Simeon and Joshua are just partying it up.

I believe in celebrating when you can celebrate, so I'm happy to announce I'm pregnant!  I'm only 9 weeks, but we've heard a healthy heart beat which is huge.  I've had three early miscarriages (7,10, and 4 weeks) in a row since Joshua, but with none of them did we get to hear the heart beating.  (Seriously, someone needs to consider making those heartbeats into soundtracks for nervous mamas--nothing sweeter).

I've attached a multitude of photos, but I just couldn't pick from these sweet ones that our own Becca Bird took. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

us again

Life has been good to us here in Texas.  Stephen is loving the freedom to research whatever he wants (which is pretty much everything) and teaching his first course.  We're getting ready for this next academic year on the job market and am finding with the diversity of Stephen's interests and publications he can categorize himself in such different boxes, and yet still not quite be what they want, that I often find myself singing Mika's "Grace Kelly" to him.  However, since he doesn't listen to lyrics it's usually lost on him--also, apparently I frequently sing sharp so he's probably just trying to ignore me altogether.    

I'm paying for all the Saturday's chores I skipped out on or hid from as a kid and find I have three mess making, wild, chaos loving boys just like me as karma.  Homeschool only adds to the chaos and to-do list, but somehow we are slowly improving.  Some organizational books may claim to have their secrets to success, but I have it.  I'm tempted to require your firstborn as payment for the secret, but since it's Easter I'm in the generous mood and giving it too you for free: good audiobooks.  No podcasts or Netflix just don't do it.  It's got to be something addicting, but not distracting.  Finding a good podcast or something worthwhile to watch can take so much time it's not even worth it.   So there it is, audiobooks. Simple, look your kitchen is looking cleaner already! I've started a book group in the ward and after 8 months finally got my hair cut again.  It may have been the first haircut the poor girl at the beauty school had ever done, but hey it was better than my own attempt at a trim.  I'm relishing the stages the boys are in right now and wish I could just press pause, though when they're having a melt down the skip button wouldn't be so bad.

Christian:  This kid can get lost in a book,usually an audio CD that I also find myself getting lost in (the latest being the Penderwicks series).  His favorite subject in homeschool goes back and forth between history and math.  He could care less about handwriting, but we're finding ways to make that more interesting.  He loves having both Donaldson and Cranney cousins near and it's fun to see him deepen those friendships.  We often go to the"friend" park where he always seems to make new friends or meet up with old ones.  We do a co-op that once or twice a month which has been good.  I should do more, but somehow I feel that when all three kids are together they overwhelm whatever home or public space we may be in and I find myself just yearning to let my children be happy in their wild ways at home.

Simeon has been changing and growing immensely. He's got an amazing primary teacher that has done wonders with making him comfortable at church and I will be eternally indebted to her.  He's getting over the Star Wars obsession (I think we won't even have to show him the 7th edited, but just pretend it never came out, and has turned his obsession to red, William Howe, and the British.  Thanks to Grandma Elaine and Grandpa Dean for sending some simple toob toys a couple years ago to the boys, now both Christian and Simeon have had revolutionary war stages.  It's adorable to hear him tell other people about the revolutionary war because he still can't quite say 'Revolutionary War' clearly and no one is expecting a four year old to be drawing  a full fledged battle for them.   Also, no one really knows who William Howe is, but hey he is his father's child.

Joshua is potty trained!!!!!!   I know this is something that all children do eventually, but whenever that happens to be, I think all parents feel (as they should) an immense amount of pride.  Honestly, the pride levels I feel about myself are so ridiculous that you'd think I was the first mother to potty train her child before the age of----ever.  Also, if you would like to know why children aren't suppose to watch TV before the age of two?  It's so that when they're two you can potty train them by bribing them with Jake the Pirate and they'll find it so exciting they might just do it. (We tried everything else but Joshua was a stubborn one and it felt like I was doing cloth diapers for three months.  Desperate times call for Jake the Pirate).  I seem to get compliments on this kid's charm constantly. Those big blue eyes (that he insists are green since that's his favorite color) are dangerously heartwarming.

Other random photos from the last little while: