Sunday, July 26, 2009

Elias Evers!

It's much, much too late to start a new blog post, but I am trying so hard to get caught up so I can keep everyone updated on the new and exciting happenings in our lives- things like a new kiddie pool, Owen pooping on the kitchen floor, Elias holding his head up, sleeping all day and only 2 hr. stretches at night (what's up with that??!!), and the car ride this weekend when I told Owen, "son, don't lick the bottom of your shoe!" Only the beginning of "things I never thought I'd say- life with 2 boys 15 months apart!!" :) Fun stuff!

So for those of you who would like to know how we finally named our 2nd son, here goes...

We didn't have a boy name chosen before we went into labor- this was the same for Owen as well. However, we thought we had time to discuss our short list during labor, as we did last time. Wrong! The fastest birth ever (in under 4 hours) did not allow for any discussion of names- we almost didn't make it to the hospital (see previous post for gory details!). Our doula and friend, Amanda, will insist at our next birth that we sleep at the hospital the night before to avoid having her deliver a baby! :) Of course, us fertile Shope's are really, really hoping to wait and welcome baby #3 on the East coast. :) Anyway...

Elias was born and we had no name, so we called him baby Shope for the first day of his life. He also earned the nickname "little bug" rather quickly because of his "glow worm- like" appearance when he was swaddled with his baby hat on (see below).

Little bug

Our family was clamoring for a name and we were hoping to be able to tell Owen the name of his baby brother before we brought him home from the hospital. The day after Elias was born (Wed. May 27th) Owen spent the day with friends and Brian joined Elias and I at the hospital. Brian and I went over and over the names we had on our list- we felt (feel) strongly about the importance and gravity of naming a child- speaking into their life this name that will be a part of him/her for the rest of his/her life- hence the lack of a decision (I think we felt strongly about making sure we went through this process allowing enough time to give it the time it's due, and never had that kind of time while chasing Owen and working full-time/going to school). So on the day after Elias was born we finally decided that he would forevermore be "Elias Evers Shope". It was really a special time- just the three of us- talking and discussing various options and combinations. It seems funny to think about it now- he is totally Elias Evers!

Elias (Eh-lie-us) is a family name on Brian's side and a form of Elijah meaning "the Lord is my God" and Evers is the last name of Medgar and Myrlie Evers, heroes of Brian and I. Medgar Evers was a civil rights attorney and activist who was assassinated on June 12, 1963 for his commitment to equal rights for blacks in Mississippi and across the nation

Brian and I took our college students at WVU to Mississippi in May of 2006 for a trip working with John Perkins and his family at the Jonh M. Perkins Center for Reconciliation and Development in Jackson, MS. It was a formative week in our lives, and one of the highlights was a tour of Jackson, MS including Medgar and Myrlie Evers home. Brian and I were both moved to tears to be in this space, and continued to learn about the Evers and their commitment to justice and peace throughout their lives. After reading a biography of Myrlie Evers I remember telling Brian "Evers" would be a name I would like for one of our children, hoping that he/she would seek to care for the poor and oppressed in much the same way that Medgar and Myrlie did (no pressure, Elias!).

And so, Elias Evers was the name we chose for our beautiful son. After we decided on this name for our child, Brian held Elias and told him his name for the first time, blessing and praying over him. It was a special time for all of us and a moment I won't ever forget; to see this man that I love casting vision for our son as he heard his name for the first time. This is why we don't tell people the names we're thinking of beforehand - this is an African tradition that we like to uphold- the child hears his/her name first - from the father. So, if you asked us what names we were thinking of, you received a vague answer for this reason. :)

It fits him, we love it, and can't wait to see how his personality continues to unfold!

Introducing Elias Evers Shope...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Baby Shope is born!

My first day of maternity, Tuesday May 26th, I woke up feeling a bit crampy, but nothing major. I couldn't go back to sleep, so I woke up Brian and told him I was having some contractions, but nothing major and I was going to take a bath and see if they subsided (this was at 6:45am). I couldn't get comfortable in the bath and got out and Brian and I talked about how we would spend what we thought was pre-labor, which can last for hours/days. At about that point Owen was up and Brian started to get him breakfast and make me some toast w/peanut butter. He really wanted to be sure I ate enough- with Owen I didn't eat very much and was so very tired by the end. So Brian, the dutiful husband, was feeding Owen breakfast, getting him dressed, and insisting that I eat. I was really trying, but feeling a bit nauseous at that point and the contractions were really intense. I could really feel the baby moving down and I was nervous that if it was this painful at what I thought was 3/4 cm, what would it be like at 10???!!

Owen was so early and this baby much bigger, so I was a bit nervous. Brian called our doula, Amanda, and Audrey and Nick to come and get Owen. It was about 9am at this point. Nick came to get Owen, who I was actually trying to avoid b/c I was sounding out the contractions (think whale-like sounds as you breathe out! :) and didn't want to scare him. I was telling him, "it's ok, O, Mommy's just being silly!" but he wasn't so sure. He kept coming into the bathroom where I was rocking over the vanity to see what I was doing in there. :) Nick came to pick him up and I was so relieved that he would be taken care of and not upset by seeing me in pain. I had worked so hard to make sure everyone who took care of him would know the drill and his likes/dislikes so there were instructions, but his bag wasn't packed. Brian was quickly getting the diaper bag together and I am yelling out from the bathroom, "don't forget the sheet for the pack n' play" between contractions. :)

In the meantime I had called my parents and Janine to tell them I was in labor and to pray, pray, pray! I think I scared my poor Dad; I had to put the phone down during a contraction and after I got back on he said you guys better get to the hospital quick! :)

Once Owen left Brian was gathering up my stuff and helping me breathe and move. I was actually a bit frustrated with myself because I wasn't moving as much as I did with Owen and I thought that would help, but I just couldn't move out of the position that I was in (which was leaning over the ottoman with my head down and my belly in the air or on all fours rocking back and forth). Our doula Amanda came in and I couldn't even look up. I moaned a greeting and she immediately started timing my contractions (did I mention Brian had also called our dr. at this point). Only a few minutes after she arrived she was telling Brian, "we need to go NOW! they're 2 min apart!" I was not wanting to move, let alone get in the car, and I was pleading with her, "I have to be at at least 5-6 cm, right? since they're this intense? right Amanda???!!!" They finally got me in the car and Brian drove like a maniac to the hospital, which is about 10 min. away. I was aware of what was going on, but very much turned into myself, concentrating, and pulling in. It was different that I was with Owen, and I don't really know how to explain it. I was hearing them talking, but kind of far away at the same time.

At this point my water still hadn't broken, and we arrived at the hospital and were met by a Fuller student who's a chaplain there. She wheeled us to labor & delivery and Brian and Amanda began answering questions of the staff. When they brought me into the delivery room the nurse who helped us with Owen, Nicole, was there. I said, "I can't believe you're here!!! I told our friends I wanted you to be here for this brth!" and she laughed and actually switched patients so she could be with us. She said, "weren't you guys just here! wow!" yeah, pretty much! :)She remembered Owen and asked how he was doing with his lip- it was so cool, so much a God-thing and I had an overwhelming sense at that point that I was ok, things were being taken care of, and although I was overwhelmed with the speed at which this was happening to my body (it seemed to just take over and have a mind of its own) I was going to be able to do this. It was 10:30am at this point.

There wasn't time for any monitoring or anything (my water still hadn't broken). We had everything prepared and packed this time- cold soda cans to roll on my back, a playlist on itunes, the birth ball, lights for ambience, my lavender lotion, and there wasn't time for any of it!! I didn't even get to wear the long tank I wore for Owen's birth- I didn't have time to change out of my pajama pants and t-shirt (that morning I had originally planned to paint my toenails and put in my contacts, but as the contractions mounted with every passing second those plans flew out the window!!!). Ha!

Nicole checked me, said I was probably at 8cm, but she felt a bulge (which she originally thought was the umbilical cord) which scared us a bit, but then another nurse, Susan, checked me and found it was the water bag and I was at 10 cm. Hallelujah!! They moved very, very quickly at that point getting the mirror in position, the baby warmer, and all the other gear. Our dr. still wasn't here at this point, but I didn't care! I was fine with the nurses catching the baby. :) He arrived a few moments later and broke my water, Brian got behind me to help support me while pushing and after 3-4 pushes, at 10:58am, we had our little boy! I think we were both in shock, it happened so fast. I saw that he was a boy before the doctor, as he was holding him up, and laughed that everyone that he was a girl.

We admired our new addition and explained that he didn't yet have a name ( we only had definite girl names chosen, but the list hadn't been narrowed for the boy names). Then we began the calls to our families to share our new little miracle and sat back and marveled in all that you can accomplish in 4 and 1/2 hours!! (no that's not a typo!) :)

Look at our beautiful boy...all 7lbs. 14.6 oz. and 19 in. of him...

God is so good! We are thrilled with our new little bug and excited to continue our adventure in parenthood with 2 boys...speaking of 2 boys...

Owen met his new little brother that very night and was quite excited, and then he saw the straw in my water pitcher and started walking around our hospital room pushing the tray table. Fun stuff! If only he knew how much his life had just changed!! :)

Much more to say, but I didn't get a nap today and the 3.5 hr. stretches of sleep (if we're lucky) don't leave much brain function to be had at 11pm! :) Stay tuned for more on how we named our new baby boy and the 1st 7 weeks with two littles.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Toddles, Waddles & Pop

Well...yes, it's true. Our newest son is 7 weeks old and one day when he asks me why it took me 7 weeks to post about his birth on our blog I will have to explain that he won't understand until he's the Daddy of two littles himself!! :) Hmmm...some excuse! "Poor Elias" you may be thinking. I bet that kid won't even have any pictures in his baby book. Not a chance, though, our computer is full of pics of Owen, and now Elias and the two boys. I can't guarantee when any of them will get off of the computer and make it into the baby book, but here's hoping it's before his 1st birthday! :) In all seriousness, we are thrilled with our newest son and delight in his 7 week old coos and new abilities- he is holding his head up like a champ and eating nonstop! Sleep remains elusive, unless it's the middle of the day. His witching hours are between 9pm and 12am and he and Mommy are enjoying some quality time most nights at 12:30am when he wants to coo and look around - very peaceful, but AWAKE! :) Well, he was spending this time screaming until we broke down and got a binky, so I suppose I can't complain.

Look at that sweetie!

But before I impress you with more accomplishments and the full birth story, let me catch you up on the last months of pregnancy for the Shope family...

In April we all went on a roadtrip to San Jose for the California WIC Association conference for my job. It was held the last week of April and we were at 35 weeks- the same time when Owen made his debut, so we were a bit nervous about having our new baby in San Jose, but all went well and I had just a few contractions while we were there. Owen enjoyed his first stay in a fancy hotel and he and Brian hung out while I was in various sessions and then we also had some time to play together in the evenings. It was a fun adventure just the 3 of us before the 4th arrived.

Following our trip to San Jose we had a fabulous visit with Owen's godmother, Janine, and her now fiance, David. Janine is one of my very best friends in all the world and is living her passion working with an incredible non-profit, Nuru, working in Kenya living among communities while teaching them how to keep themselves and their families healthy using her stellar public health skills, and even more importantly, her passionate spirit and contagious energy. I love this girl!

She and David were awesome- coming not to sight see in LA, but to really care well for us as we prepared for our newest one. I was on empty at this point- Brian had just had the flu and I was exhausted. They came and loved us well doing dishes, playing with Owen, and sharing in the excitement and anticipation of another Shope. It was a great visit and really significant that they both came to be with us when she only had a short time back in the states before leaving once again for Africa. Thanks you guys- we love you!

Owen especially enjoyed time with his Auntie and soon to be Uncle David...

The beginning of May (May 8th to be exact) marked 5 years of marriage for Brian and I and we celebrated this milestone with Owen and the belly at the beach (an appropriate place to be, as we were married on the beach on the NC coast) followed by an amazing dinner just the two of us in Old Town Pasadena- it was a special day and we all enjoyed it immensely.

This was the first time Owen had been to the beach since he could walk (he was there several times as a baby). He loved the sand and the waves, pointing and grunting in excitement. We laughed that he is definitely our son, as we both love the beach.

As you can see the belly was pretty big at that point and I was slow and uncomfortable (hence the "waddles" in the title of this post!). I had never experienced the last month of pregnancy and I spent most of it trying to catch my breath and stay cool in the soCal heat.

At this point we were anticipating a baby any day since Owen was so early and trying to mark things off of our "list". I always have a list of things I want to accomplish before they're born and it's always much too long! We spent the last few weeks of May savoring the last bit of time as a family of three, trying to get organized, and finishing up school work for Brian and the last days of work for me before maternity leave.

I made it to my last day of work, May 21st and we were so thankful. I was really having trouble getting around with any speed at that point and was excited to get things in order (aka: continue nesting). The health dept was closed on Friday and Monday was Memorial Day, so we spent a long weekend playing with Owen, enjoying the farmers' market, cleaning, running errands, and had our good friends Nick, Audrey, and their baby Jonah over for an impromptu cook out Monday night.

At this point I was having contractions every day, but they always stopped when I rested and I was losing some of my mucus plug each day. Every day we woke up and said, "will today be THE day??!!" but I was hoping for a bit more time to cross things off the list, or not. :)

Monday night we grilled hot dogs and had picnic fare with the Read-Brown's and enjoyed the boys playing together. My Mom called and when she heard we were having hot dogs she called me back with glee and left a message to be careful, the baby must be coming soon (a significant event in my own birth story is the fact that my Mom stayed home the day I was born from school (she's a teacher) and cleaned while my grandma brought her hot dogs and onion rings, and then I popped out! three weeks early). We laughed about this with our friends and talked about the new one's debut- Nick and Audrey were at the top of the "care for Owen list" for folks who would come in the middle of the night to be with O once we went into labor- good friends are priceless!

I told Nick and Audrey I wanted to call the hospital and ask when Nicole, the labor and delivery nurse who helped us deliver Owen, would be working before I would have the baby. She was phenomenal; totally understanding and supporting our desire for a natural birth and I was so grateful for her presence with O. Brian and I talked scheduling for a bit after our friends left- we were planning on spending the days before our due date (Thursday May 28th) preparing and Brian was also hoping to get a bit of reading done for school before the little little made his/her debut. I also talked to my Grandma that evening, and she told me how she hadn't started the blanket yet, but she was pretty confident that the pink material she planned to use wouldn't go to waste (everyone! I mean, everyone!, except me and my college roommate, Eve, thought I was having a girl :).

We went to bed tired, but excited for the upcoming week, and I only got up once during the night (looking back it was my last full night, well, sort of full night of sleep for the next ???? how many months, Elias???).

I woke up Tuesday, May 26th, and.....