The niece experiment

31 10 2008

If you know me or follow this blog, you know that a couple months ago we asked our 17 year old niece to move in with us for the school year.  She moved in two days before our baby daughter was born in mid august.  Well, it has been an interesting experiment to say the least and very much a learning experience.  Well, I am sad to report that the experiment is over.  One week ago, she moved out.  Her mother rented a new place in another town and together they made the decision for our niece to move in with her.  She had to switch schools mid-semester which is something she is all too use-to.

My wife and I have a myriad of emotions about the situation.  We have never wavered from our priority of making this a successful school year for our niece.  We put that above everything in our lives and I am happy to say that we have no regrets and that we never changed our stance on that at all.

So, because of that, we are sad that she moved out.  We really did sacrifice a lot to make it work.  And, when we initially invited her to come live with us, we asked her to commit to staying for the year (which she did).  So, we were also hurt by the decision.  It is hard for us to understand how our efforts and sacrifice can be so easily traded in.  It is hard for us to understand how anyone can see it as a positive thing for her to once again switch schools mid-semester, especially considering how good a start she was off to.

But, of course, it is not at all surprising.  The very fact that we pushed for such a commitment from her demonstrates that we anticipated this day would come.

Along with sadness and hurt that we are feeling, comes relief and even some excitement.  There were times in these last two months that we actually looked forward to this day.  We never wavered in our efforts to maintain a stable environment for her, but at the same time, it was an incredible stress on our family.  She brought a drama to our household that we were not used to, and as much as we expected the drama to come, there was really no preparing for it.  For those of you wondering, adding a teenager and a newborn to a household at the same time is pretty much an insane thing to do.

Honestly, I think the biggest sacrifice that we made is one that most people involved will never even know.  We gave up the first two month’s of our daughter’s life.  In other words, instead of being able to enjoy and savor her and welcome her into our family like we did her two older brothers, we had to do it in the midst of other changes and tumult.  My wife particularly has felt this loss the most.  So, now, we have a tingle of excitement in our lives for how we can make up time with our daughter.  We really do have some catching up to do.  I am not writing this because I am angry or because I am upset, I am writing this to get it out.  This is therapeutic for me.

So, what did we learn from this experience?  Wow, it’s a long list.

We definitely learned more about the mystery that is the teenager.  Even though once upon a time, we ourselves were teenagers, there is a world of difference between being a teenage and being responsible for one.

We learned more about how to communicate and motivate a high schooler.  We learned how to communicate with parents of teenagers.  (Or should I say we learned how not to communicate with a high schooler and parents of said high schooler?)  We learned that actions speak louder than words.  We also learned that even actions can very easily twisted and misconstrued.

We learned that teenage boys like teenage girls.  We learned that teenage girls like it when teenage boys like them.  We learned that myspace and the internet have completely changed the high school social scene.  We learned that teenage sexuality at its core has changed quite dramatically since our high school days.

We learned quite a bit about medical insurance and what it means to have someone in your family that may not have it.  We learned how to distinguish between real medical emergencies and those that need to be slept on and checked in the morning.

We learned that you can’t hide good food.  🙂

We learned that it is better to give than to receive.  We learned that despite your best efforts, things don’t always turn out the way you hope.  We learned that my wife and I are a good team (actually we already knew that but it was nice to have it reconfirmed).  We learned that we can set a goal and prioritize it and not falter no matter what is thrown our way.

We learned a lot of things the hard way and in some cases we learned that we already have good instincts.  We learned that we still have an awful lot to learn.

So, would we do it all over again?  I can honestly say that I don’t know.  Knowing everything that we know now, I am still not sure we have enough information to make that call.  I still think we helped her get out of a bad situation.  There is no telling what we may have saved her from.  Further, there is no doubt in my mind that we got her off to a good start for the school year.  We hope and pray that this will carry over to her new school and her new home life.

All I know for sure is that we gave it all we had.  We have no regrets.  We layed it all out and didn’t hold anything back.  Only time will tell whether this will have any permanant results.


The birthing center experience

12 09 2008

OK, my daughter is over 3 weeks old now, and I still have not blogged about the birthing event itself.  For those of you following this blog, you know from previous posts that we planned to have the baby at a birthing center.

Well, here is my account of the event followed by my editorial comments on the birthing center experience.

When I woke up on the morning of August 19, my wife informed me that she had been having irregular contractions since the wee hours of the morning.  When I asked her if I should go on into to work, she replied that she didn’t know and it was up to me.  I decided to stay home.

It just so happened that we had a bio-physical exam (sonogram on steroids) scheduled that day at noon.  Since she was having these contractions, we weren’t sure if she should cancel the appointment or not.  So, my wife called the birthing center.  They asked us to come on in for an exam and they would make a determination on whether or not the bio-physical was necessary or not.

So, we went in at about 10am.  By this time, the contractions had gotten pretty regular and were starting to pick up some steam.  The midwife checked her out and said she didn’t think the bio-physical would be necessary because it looks like we might have a baby today.  Although, she emphsized that she didn’t think it was going to happen within the hour.  She encourged us to go get something to eat so our energy would be up (so my wife’s energy would be up, who am I kidding?) and told us not to go to far and to come back if things started intensifying.

Nothing sounded good to my wife, but she forced down half a roast beef sandwich from Arby’s.

After being home for maybe a couple of hours, my wife decided things had escalated to a point where we better go on back to the birthing center.

We got back there at around 2pm (if memory serves me) – maybe a little earlier.  They had the room all prepared for us, so we slowly made our way up the stairs to the room where we would have our baby daughter.  While we waited for our midwife to come back and re-examine her, my wife asked me to go ahead and call her mom at work to come and join us.

My wife laid on the bed for a while as I massaged her lower back (my main role for all three of our babies).  Pretty soon, my mother in law arrived.  The midwife said my wife could get into the big hot tub whenever she liked.  My wife put it off for a little while because she wasn’t sure if she would like it.  But, after a bit, she got in the warm water of the tub.  (I transitioned back rubbing duties underwater).

After being in the tub for half hour maybe, I asked if I should get my swim suit on and join her.  She said yes.  (FYI – at the birthing center, the mom can wear anything she wants or nothing at all…not so for the dad ;))

Soon after I got into the tub with my wife, the midwife examined her again and said she was dilated to a 7.  My wife and I were dissappointed to hear this because in our hospital experiences, we knew she had to get to a 10 before they will even allow you to start pushing.  The dissappointment must have registered on our faces because the midwife said not to worry because that can all change with one contraction.

Boy, she wasn’t kidding.  On the next contraction, the midwife just told my wife to do whatever her body was telling her to do.  She started pushing…and boom (to use the words of the great John Madden)…our daughter was born.

I couldn’t believe that she had arrived.  The time was 3:58pm.  I expected to be there for several more hours before the birth.  It caught me by such surprise that I shed a few tears even (not so with our sons).

That’s the story of the birth of our daughter.  One of the best days of my life.

OK, now for my editorial comments about the birthing center itself.  As you may know from previous posts, I was extremely skeptical about having a baby outside of a hospital.  I only agreed knowing that there was a hospital right across the street.  Well, let me tell you, that I could not have been more wrong.  This experience was by far the smoothest of our deliveries so far.  They allowed (encouraged) my wife to eat something to prepare…not so at a hospital.  They last checked her at a 7cm dilation…hospitals will not let you push until 10.  We had the baby in a tub which my wife later told me she wished she hadn’t waited so long to get in…not an option at most hospitals.  My wife had the baby in her arms before the umbilical chord was cut…not normal at a hospital.  They didn’t even weigh or measure her prior to her first breath-feeding…not typical at a hospital.  All in all, it was a terrific delivery.  Both wife and baby are in wonderful health.  And, best of all, we were home by 8pm.  We spent the next week or so having visitors come to our home instead of to a hospital…much better for the visitor and the visitee.

So, if you are considering having a baby using a midwife either at home or in a birthing center, I would highly encourage you to go for it.  I certainly don’t regret it and I don’t think you will either.  If we have another child (if being the key word) we will definitely have it in the birthing center again.  No doubt about it.

Crazy week

22 08 2008

It’s been a week since my last post.  And, what a wild week it has been!  This week has been an absolutely crazy week in our household.  We have added not one, but two people to our little home!

First, our 17 year old neice decided last Sunday to come live with us for the school year.  We had invited her a few days prior, and after mulling it over for a few days, she made the decision to move in.  So, we have been in scramble mode trying to buy grocieries for her, getting her a liveable room, and getting her enrolled in our local high school.  That alone would have made for a crazy week…but it’s just a small part.



Secondly, our precious little daughter was born on Tuesday!  My wife started having irregular contractions over night.  Then, by about 10am, they started getting more regular and more intense.  We went in to the birthing center at noon to get checked.  She was dilated to 2.5 cm so the midwife suggested we go get something to eat and come back in an hour or so.  We went back in about 2pm…and by 4pm, our daughter was born!  I am sure I will have plenty more to say about her in the coming days, but for now, I will just leave it at that.  Isn’t she cute?


On top of those huge impact changes on our lives this week, we are also dealing with an insurance claim to our car (see previous post) and trying to get our son ready to start pre-school for the first time next week (last night was meet the teacher night:))

It has been one of the craziest weeks of my life.  And, that’s about all I have time to write now.