Tuesday, September 3, 2013

6 Months of Claira Jane

Half a year ago (to the hour), our darling daughter made her way into the world in 4 hours from water breaking to delivery. Since then, we have been involved in the most life-changing experience to grace the human race; parenthood. What a delightful ride it has been!

She has changed so much. She has changed us. We are much more aware of how little we know about raising children, much more aware of how much our own parents have sacrificed for us, and much more in need of sleep than ever before.

She sits up. 
She laughs. 
She has an incredible smile that we reminisce about when she is sleeping. 
We love to watch her sleep. 
We love to go get her when she wakes up.
Her favorite thing is for her dad to hold her, dancing, while her mom dances beside them both, everyone singing together. 
She has us smiling until it hurts.
We are forever blessed and forever grateful.

Claira Jane, you are music and light and goodness in a 16 pound body. Thanks for coming to us, for making it here and filling our lives with simple, abiding joy. We love you more each day of your dear life:
One month
Two months

Three months

Four months

Five months

Six months

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Water Baby

This week has been a hot one - midday temperatures in the high nineties outside and in the mid eighties in the house. The heat makes Claira (and her dad, let's be honest) kind of cranky, so when our friends invited us to a pool party at their apartment, we jumped at the opportunity. Claira Jane's first swim:
First time in the water. We tried to introduce her to the pool slowly, but she did not like having just her feet in (the water was a bit chilly for our taste - and hers, apparently)
But once we got her in the water, she was happy (or at least she had stopped crying). Notice how she's looking away from her dad's blinding pastiness.

Claira and Miles, her first boyfriend (getting a little handsy for my taste). He pays her a lot of attention, mostly in the way of smiles in her direction, but she treats him with snooty indifference. She's cute and she knows it. We'll have to work on that.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

When the Relatives Came

Claira was given a name and blessing in church on May 5th (Cinco de Mayo in honor of her 1/8th Hispanic heritage). She was blessed by her dad, and standing in the circle of Priesthood brethren were my dad, Tyler's dad, my Grandpa Billington, my brother Paul, Tyler's brother Sage, our good friend Matt Bezzant, and our Bishop.

My beautiful sister Lacey Jean came to meet her niece Claira Jane the Wednesday before. Lacey was a baby charmer, even able to get Claira to take a pacifier (I can't get her to take it, no sir). Lacey convinced me that I didn't need to make banners and floral hair pieces for all the girls coming to the blessing, so we were just able to focus on cleaning the house and making 4 desserts (thank you, mom, for desserts 5 and 6). Tyler was sure we'd have too many sweets, but when he was hankering for some chocolate, everything was gone.

Claira at birth, 6 lbs 14 oz and 19 inches
A baby blessing is a joyful event. I'm grateful that Claira finally got the message by the time she was acutally blessed at church. Previous to the date, I decided that she needed to go to her 2 month doctor's appointment. I was super excited to go to the appointment, only thinking about the fact that I'd get to ask the good doc a bunch of questions and find out how much our little darling has grown (11 lbs, 14 oz, and 23 inches long, about 65 percentile):
Claira at her current weight, in the blessing dress that I myself was blessed in,

Of course I forgot the little detail that she would be getting her first round of IMMUNIZATIONS. The poor child had not ever experienced true pain, apparently. She started wailing just in time for the Andersons to arrive. She wailed and wailed. But fortunately, Grandma Anderson had the magic touch to calm her down.
Grandma Anderson also had the magic touch of knowing which rolls would go best with the delicious bbq pork hauled all the way from Springville Meats in the 5th wheel. The Anderson crew really pulled through, with BreAnn holding Claira for the rest of church and Sage, Collin, and Marissa keeping her entertained with funny faces and baby talk. I think they got more smiles out of her that day than all my days combined.

The family resemblance is clear.
We were definitely spoiled to have all our family (minus Seth on his mission and Happiness in DC), including the Billingtons.

4 generations of Billington women. Claira looks thrilled.

My heart soared with gratitude for a family that will love Claira her whole life through. She will know that her family knows that she is a miracle.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Adventures of a New Mom

 I love our daughter, Claira Jane. Baby Claira. Little love bug. Our little dinosaur (you should hear her when she's hungry--seriously what I imagine a little baby stegosaurus would sound like). My sisters laugh when they hear her making her cute sounds when they call. They always ask if Claira is with me. This is an obvious yes, and they know it, but they ask it anyway. I love that I have a 24/7 pal .

You wouldn't believe that it will be six weeks on Sunday since Claira joined our family in the flesh. That's six weeks of learning how to change blow-outs with grace, the difference between a sleepy whimper and a call for food in the wee morning hours, how to swaddle, what is really essential for the diaper bag, and the importance of a routine. I'm gearing up for cloth diapering and letting her cry for more than 5 seconds, but those two things have yet to be accomplished.
 I'm starting to be more daring (actually leaving the house to make visits to friends like Chel and get this out-of-the-blue photo shoot). This child is gaining weight on the double, and unfortunately my arm muscles are having a hard time keeping up. When we were taking Tyler to school yesterday, I attempted to grab the handle of the car seat. The next moments were in slow motion, as I watched our precious bundle of joy do a 180 in the air, with the bottom of the car seat staring at me and not a peep from the child underneath. Heart pounding, I turned the seat over to see a quietly staring Claira. When she saw my look of terror, a few tears were shed on her part. But she is alive and well. Oh, the adventures we will have, Claira Jane and I.
 I love when she's tired and stretches her arms with fists outstretched, arching her back, and then falls into my arms like a limp sack of potatoes. The first few weeks of her life, my arms literally ached from holding her so much. What a joyous ache, much better than the ache of empty arms.
 I don't mind getting up to feed her in the night. I've had several helpers (thank you Tyler, Mom and Kristin!) who have tried their best to keep me sane by keeping me asleep at times, but it's hard to do that; I don't want to miss a thing about this little, beautiful life. This time will never be given back to me. It's a treasure that I knew I wanted but didn't know how incredibly rich I would feel in receiving.
I watched this talk at General Conference about mothers and daughters and rejoiced in my life. remembering the darker days when such I talk would have left me feeling empty. I rejoice in this true gift from God, this daughter of ours. What a lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky mom I am.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Welcome Claira Jane

"Very few women go into labor within 24 hours after the cerclage is removed," the perinatologist told us. "Many have to be induced after their due dates have passed." The cerclage had just been removed, and we were trying to get in utero Claira to move her hands so we could see her face on the 3-D ultrasound screen. That didn't deter Sundy. She was bound and determined that this girl was coming at least 2 weeks before her due date.

Having a child is something Sundy and I have been hoping for since we married nearly 5 years ago. That anticipation peaked once the cerclage was removed on Monday February 25; Sundy was 37 weeks - full term - and we had heard that some women who have the surgery go into labor soon after it is completed. Add that to Sun's certitude that the baby was coming early, and we were sure to be parents at any moment. Six more days passed, though, and things changed. Sunday morning, before fast and testimony meeting, Sundy told me that she had finally resigned herself to the fact that she was probably going to be pregnant until April. Rather than anticipating the birth at any moment, we set our minds to getting through our current challenges - me, my final scheduled for March 8, and Sundy on planning activities with kids at the Ponderosa Panther Club.

That afternoon, Sundy cooked dinner while I was out doing visits with the missionaries. I got home around 5:30. As I walked in, Sundy said, "I lost some fluid 15 minutes ago. It wasn't a gush like the last time my water broke, though." Not wanting to get hopes up (and not wanting to arrive only to be sent home), she didn't want to go to the hospital yet, but she did start to time her contractions.

We ate dinner. Sundy kept contracting. I started getting really excited, running around the house in between bites to round up the last-minute things we would need in the hospital (Sundy had packed everything else weeks ago). I felt bad to be so excited about the pain Sundy was in, but I was convinced that we would be seeing our little girl soon.

Sundy wasn't quite so sure. After coming to terms with the fact that she was still 2 weeks from her due date and probably not going into labor any time soon, she wasn't ready to shift her mindset again. And it wasn't time to go to the hospital yet; the 5-1-1 rule had been drilled into our heads: don't come to the hospital until contractions are five minutes apart, lasting at least one minute, for a total of at least one hour. Sundy's contractions were approaching five minutes apart, but they had only been going on for 30 minutes.

The advice nurse finally answered Sundy's call, she told us that based on the contractions we were still early, but given Sundy's water having broken and her medical history we should head to the hospital. I needed no more convincing; we hopped in the car and drove the 30-minute route to the hospital I had mapped and tried out earlier:

I drove as fast as I could to get to the hospital, and, except for the increasingly frequent and severe contractions, we arrived there without incident (I had almost hoped that we would get pulled over so I could use the clich├ęd "wife in labor" excuse).

Triage went quickly, and because of Sundy's history, the nurse declined to check her cervix for dilation. It had, after all, only been a bit over an hour since contractions started. They took us up to the floor and got Sundy settled in labor and delivery.

The first major issue came with starting the IV - it took five tries and two different nurses to get it going. Because they couldn't start an epidural until blood had been analyzed by the lab, this delayed the process a bit. Finally the line was placed, and, about three hours after her water broke, Sundy was going to be getting the epidural she was really wanting.

But Baby Claira didn't cooperate. Sundy started to feel the urge to push, and that finally initiated the first check of her cervix. The nurse reported Sun was dilated to a seven, and with that, the labor and delivery team rushed in. No epidural today.

But as quickly as the labor activity had started, it fizzled. After several pushes, Claira was no longer coming (maybe not quite so sure anymore?), and the team left to see to an emergency that had just arrived.

Sundy didn't give up. She was a real trooper, and 20 minutes later, I could see the top of Claira's head. The team rushed back in, and a few short minutes later, at 9:19 pm on Sunday, March 3, (only 4 hours after the water broke!) little Claira Jane slipped out. All 6 pounds 14 ounces of her.

It was one of the most incredible things I have ever seen. One moment, I saw a little cranium, covered in dark hair sticking out. The next, after a push, there was her little face, and then all of the sudden shoulders, arms, torso, and legs too, a slippery mass of crying baby and a long, long umbilical cord. Immediately they placed her up on Sundy's chest, and the cries soon stopped. Claira and her mother meeting in person for the first time.

Mother and daughter are doing so well. Our duet is now a trio, and we are getting started on making music together. Claira is already a singer (with a little bird's voice) and I'm sure those fingers of hers are itching to get on the piano. You're sure to be hearing more about her soon.
First bath, just minutes after being born.
Kisses from Mom and Dad in the hospital.
The view from our hospital window
All dressed up and ready to leave
At home
Story time with Mom and Grandma Peterson
"Five days old and not sure what I think about it so far . . ."

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cerclage Removal

The day is here--the day the stitches come out and labor could happen any time. In an hour and I half I will be able to bear a baby girl. The question is. . . when will she come?

The stories on the internet are endless in detail and what might be. Some women go straight into labor, but not many. Some women go into labor within 72 hours. Some women have so much scar tissue from the stitches that they end up having to be induced or have a c-section.

What will our lot be? I'm clueless, at least for the moment. I'm hoping to glean some bets from my perinatologist this afternoon, or at least a 3-D ultra sound :).

Tyler will be in attendance this afternoon. He has been planning how we will get downtown to the hospital in time from his dermatology lab for over a month know. My mom has her plane ticket booked and will keep moving the plans around until Claira arrives. I hear concern in the voices of those I love when I talk about this procedure, and Tyler asks me if I am nervous.

What I am is excited! I doubt I will go into labor this afternoon, but the fact is, labor is a very real, like 100% possibility with the stitches out. How incredibly mind-boggling. I posted a comparison picture on facebook of my 37 week belly verses 30 week belly. As one commentor expressed, "that baby did some serious growing!" Agreed. Neither my nurse midwife nor my OB think she'll be hanging on until her due date, March 15th. I'm curious if the peri will have any thoughts.

The nursery is so close to being finished I can hardly wait to post pictures, but I will, because it is darling. We've worked hard. We are so excited. We are so blessed and happy and grateful.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Claira Jane

We're heading into the home stretch, folks. As the title suggests, Tyler and I have settled on a name for Baby Girl Anderson. This will be her name, provided we don't receive some other inspiration at the hospital. We've been calling her Claira for months now--it would have to be some mighty strong inspiration for this to change.

Claira: I have always loved this name. I learned early that it means "light." Why not Clara, you might ask? Well, two reasons. I have always preferred this spelling, and... we are naming her after Tyler's Grandpa Anderson, Clair, who passed away in December 2011. I know this will be a trying spelling, and that our daughter will go through life with people spelling her name incorrectly, but people spell my name wrong all the time and I am the stronger for it ;).

Jane: Jane in honor of so many reasons. First, my love of the book (and the musical and movies) Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte.  Second, it is a family name on my mom's side of the family. I found it on our pedigree chart and was happy that I could use the name and call it a family one. Then I did a little research on Jane Jewkes Crowther, who was born in England, lost two children, moved to the States and married again, lived in Utah and then settled in Colorado. She was apparently very kind, patient, and loved to sing. Thirdly, I had a wonderful mentor in my late teens named Jane, who to this day influences my life for the good. Jane is the female version of the name John, which means "God is gracious," and indeed He is.

We went on a tour of the hospital where Claira is to be delivered. It felt very natural to be walking around the Labor and Delivery unit, the mother and baby unit. We've been to Labor and Delivery before. What doesn't feel real is that in several weeks, we will be walking out of the hospital with a live baby, clipping her into a new carseat, and driving her to the nursery we've been preparing for the last 2 months. I often just go sit in the rocking chair and think about life with Claira. What a dizzying, dreamy idea.

Tyler talks to Claira often and lets her know that she should come on the afternoon of March 8th so he can have a whole week of Spring Break with her. I hope she's listening :)