Saturday, September 28, 2013

milk and friends

Ugh.  Making milk is complicated.  Despite the "naturalness" of breastfeeding, it doesn't always come so naturally. 

We started strong.  In the hospital, little Shepherd was latching and eating like a champ.  Then the problems started.....extreme overproduction, which led to constant engorgement, which led to clogged ducts, which led to mastitis, with some cracking thrown in along the way.  To add insult to injury, after a week of painful feeds, Shepherd gained zero ounces.  Awesome.  It's getting better.  The antibiotics have definitely helped, and we are figuring out ways to cope, but it's still not exactly great.  Once we get going, though, and I look down at my sweet son, I love it.  That's why we're still trying.  I love feeding Shepherd.

In the midst of the breastfeeding conundrum, I've been lucky to have different kinds of support.  Friends who research potential solutions and spend as much time trying to figure it all out as I do.  Friends who tell me to send Andrew to the store for a bottle of formula.  Friends who encourage me to keep pushing.  Friends who tell me it's okay to stop pushing.  Isn't that what we need in life?  Friends that remind us that we are okay.  That we are enough, that we are trying hard enough.  As my friends support me in their own unique ways, I am reminded of one of my great wishes for my children.  I pray that, as they grow, they find a community of friends to love and encourage them.  That they have friends they can call when life is just too much.  Even more, I pray that they are those friends to others.  That they always choose kindness and compassion and encouragement. 

And at this exact moment, I pray that Shepherd and I get the nursing thing under control.

Monday, September 23, 2013

one week

Shepherd is one week old today.  We've had this precious little soul in our family for one whole week.

Life as a family of five is a little crazy.  Barnes & Frances have been particularly rambunctious.  I think their status upgrade to big brother/sister has gone to their heads a bit, as they've been making jokes, purposely rolling head first off beds, asking for popsicles before God is awake, and generally being sassier and funnier than ever.  Despite the nuttiness, we are loving this new version of our family.

Shepherd is just perfect.  He has the most adorable face.  He loves to be cuddled.  He really enjoys mealtime.  He tolerates his brother and sister's loud noises, as well as his crazy dogs' barking.  He looks so, so much like his brother did as a baby.  He smells amazing.  Of course, he has his quirks.  He despises diaper changes.  He would prefer to never have his clothes changed.  He wants to be held most of the time, which isn't always great at night.  Nonetheless, he is still perfect.  And he is perfectly ours.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

shepherd louis shafer

We are thrilled to announce that Shepherd Louis Shafer was born on Monday, September 16th at 8:04 am.  He weighed 7 pounds 11 ounces, was 19.25 inches long, and came into the world with an off the chart head at 14.5 in.  He made sure we knew that his lungs were working for his first 30 minutes or so of life, but since then has been the sweetest, best baby.  We are so in love.

I will never be able to describe how magical his birthday was for me.  From the moment we checked into the hospital, everything was bliss.  The team in the delivery room made sure all of my wishes were known and respected, including taking photos of him actually being born, getting to touch him while he was still gooey, and never having my arms strapped down so I could stroke his beautiful face.  Andrew never had to leave his side, sticking with him through the OR, recovery, and first bath.  I was able to nurse within his first hour of life.  It was beautiful and amazing and everything a birthday should be.  I feel so humbled to have had this experience with him. 

Three healthy children.  We could not be more blessed.

Friday, September 13, 2013

old and new

I feel like I'm seven and it's Christmas Eve.  Only this is so much better.  Knowing that I will meet our new son in less than 72 hours is the most amazing feeling...I'm anxious, excited, in awe, and generally just wired.  And I can't stop monogramming. 

Really, though, this is the most unique feeling.  I know that on Monday morning I will wake up, shower, head to the hospital, then soon be holding my son.  So many great things in life are sprung on us.  The births of our children usually come at least a bit by surprise, timing wise.  But the ability to anticipate this, the gift this little boy has given us of waiting until his scheduled arrival time, is so sweet.  I pray I am always able to remember the way these few days felt, the joyful anticipation pending his birth.

With new beginnings, though, things must inevitably change.  Today, while bubbling over with excitement, I've also felt some sadness in my mommy heart.  This was my last regular day with just Barnes and Frances.  This is the last day I could give the twins my full, undivided (yet always divided) attention.  For two years, I have been nothing but a mom to my two babies.  In those sometimes long days yet incredibly fast years, they have taught me oh so much.  They have shown me that it's okay to be good enough, that it's okay for our perfectly made plans to fall through, that it's okay to not always be punctual to story hour.  Because of them, I know that it's normal to thrive one hour and be barely surviving the next.  These two took the woman who said she would never be a stay-at-home mom and made her never want to be anything else.  They have transformed my very heart. 

We had the perfect send-off to our time as a threesome this afternoon.  The 95 degree weather broke, so we spent a lovely 65 degree afternoon playing at the park, eating ice cream, and walking our little dogs--all of our favorite things.  Now we have the weekend to soak up some family time before the big event on Monday morning.  Barnes & Frances, I have loved spending my days with you the last two years, and I can't wait to spend many more together.  And baby boy, I am so thrilled to be adding you to the mix.

Monday, September 9, 2013

moving "home"

As many of you know by now, the Shafer family will be moving to Nashville in just under 4 weeks!  That's right, we're having a baby next Monday, then planning to move when that baby is about 2.5 weeks old.  So we currently have impending labor, two toddlers, and a house on the stress around here!

Really, though, we are so excited and thankful for this move.  While Andrew's job at Purdue has been amazing, Indiana has just never seemed to fit.  You don't realize how valuable community is until you move to a place where you have none.  We have tried here, but it's just different.  The people are different, the customs are different, the hospitality is different.  It's not necessarily bad, but it's not for us.  And while the job has been great, we believe that some things are much more important.  So we are grabbing this new opportunity and moving back within Tennessee's borders.

Although neither of us have lived in Nashville, it truly feels like we are moving "home."  We are so looking forward to being near our family and friends, and can't wait until the people we love can be part of our lives on a more normal basis.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

full term

Full a little.  We are now several days past the 37 week mark, the point where a baby is officially considered full term.  It's impossible to put into words how thankful I am for each of those 37 weeks.  Knowing that our son has had the time he needs in the womb to grow and mature and get strong is the most incredible blessing.  We are, of course, not assured that he will not face challenges, but being a preemie will not be one of them.  Praise be to God!

I am so completely in love with this new little man.  He is still quite the mover, and I am trying to memorize the way his kicks feel, the way my stomach jumps when he hiccups.  Though my back is aching and my feet are swelling, I am trying to relish these last days of pregnancy.  It's such an amazing thing, really...such a unique get to hold your child inside while he or she grows.  I am so thankful that we were allowed to travel this road again, with this specific boy at this specific time.  This little boy has already amazed us, surviving his first few weeks of existence against incredible odds.  We cannot wait to meet him and see how else he will amaze us throughout his life.

We love you, sweet boy, and are so looking forward to meeting you soon!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

our sweet boy's room

It's finished!  Our precious baby boy's room is all ready for his arrival.  There is something so sweet about preparing a nursery.  It gives you a tangible outlet for all your excitement, anticipation, and love.  I love the way his room turned out, and I can't wait to hold him and rock him there soon.

the big picture (with space left on pegboard for large monogram)

the details

blankets and bear for weekly pics; dogs handpainted by big brother and big sister, displayed on bookshelf lovingly backed board by board by dad; airplane mobile; last name letter and small frame with fortunes from fortune cookies we used to tell our families about this baby; crib and bedding