On rough times and gratitude

You know those weeks where things are just rough? That's this week. Actually, it's been a rough season. Maybe rough isn't the right word- it's been a busy season, and now it's a crazy week. I've got a sick kid (respiratory virus, producing 103* fever, thanks for asking) and a kid teething (8 teeth in 2 weeks, and half are molars), a moving date looming in T-2 weeks, Christmas gifts to make (because I'm crazy- straight up nuts) and I'm getting sick, too. Oh, and the meds they gave my kid make her hyperactive and make it hard for her to sleep- just what a sick parent needs :)

So yeah, I guess rough is the right word. I'm doing fine, relatively speaking. I'm not totally freaking out (yet) so that's about the best you can hope for sometimes. I am reminding myself that one day Caroline will have a mouth full of teeth, Charly will be her mellow, not sick self, I'll be able to breathe again, and we'll be in our own space by Christmas time. We may be surrounded by boxes, but the Christmas tree will be our Christmas tree, the fireplace will be our fireplace, and the girls will come down our very own stairs Christmas morning.

Plus, there's this:

Yeah, I'm blessed with a pretty awesome little family, and a fabulous photographer for a friend. (Thanks Brinn!) I've got lots to be grateful for, even when I've got lots of reasons not to be, too. But that's life, isn't it? Things will always go wrong, things will always be hard, things will be rough. But things will be good, too. And I'm grateful.

Out with the old, in with the new.

It is bitter sweet to bid adieu to 2011. What a year it has been. For us, it has been a year of changes. Growing. Stretching. Laughing. Crying. Learning. Charly was born just two weeks into the new year, so as I reflect on the past year I inevitably reflect on her growth, how she has changed, and how she has changed us. This year has taken me to a place of vulnerability that I never imagined possible. Becoming a mother was a humbling experience. It made me evaluate myself and gather my strength. I had to rise to the challenge- there was no other choice- and it made me stronger and more confident.

This is the only picture with both Charly and I from the hospital. Sad! 

At times it felt like we were just hanging on- and sometimes it still does. Change happens faster than I can process it, and I have to adapt and hang on for the ride. Before I can master being a mom to a baby, my baby is becoming a toddler. It is a beautiful thing, though. Being stagnant isn't healthy. We need to learn and grow and change to become better.

I typically don't get too hung up on resolutions, but with growth and change in mind, I'll set some anyway. I like to keep things vague, even though I know that goals should typically be specific and measurable so that I'll know when they are achieved. I don't think of my resolutions as goals. I set specific goals throughout the year, but for me, resolutions are to goals what climate is to weather. Resolutions are broad, encompassing, long lasting. They set the general tone. Goals are specific and more concrete in my mind, like the temperature or snowfall. Resolutions are more of a reminder of what I want to become rather than what I want to do. With that in mind, here are my resolutions for 2012:

Document. If 2011 has taught me anything, it is that life passes by quickly and memories fade. I want to capture more of them. I'll probably set more specific goals later on about blogging and photographing, but documenting is the goal.

Simplify. This one is about my space and my time. Simplifying allows us to enjoy what we really have. Perhaps I'll organize or purge, perhaps I'll minimize distractions or change my routines. Whatever it is, it should enrich our lives.

Be Intentional.  I've been brainstorming a post about intentional parenting for a long time. It may or may not happen. But I've thought about it a lot, and I'd like to be more intentional with how I spend my time and more intentional in my relationships with others. I'd like to do things with Charly each day that contribute to who she is.

So there they are. All spelled out for all to see. Occasionally I'll post updates on what I am doing to work toward these resolutions. In the mean time, I'd love to hear what you all are planning to help you learn, grow and improve in 2012. Happy New Year!

Matt's Version of the Birth: Part 3

Ok, I am finally getting around to writing my part 3 of the birth story. I hesitated to even write this because Holli did such an awesome job on her part and I didn’t think I could add anything. Granted she was going through a lot more than I was at the time. However, I concluded that I can at least give my perspective and maybe leave some of the details out.


As I ran around like a mad man trying to get everything packed up and ready to leave the hospital, I couldn’t help but imagine what life was going to be like at home. (Cue dream sequence) I pictured us stepping off the limo and getting home. Cuddling up on the couch holding our little girl and just staring at her while my parents wait on us hand and foot. Mario Batali comes by and cooks us an amazing meal while Ken Griffey Jr. comes over to see the baby and watch game 7 of the World Series where the Mariners beat the Yankees so bad they are no longer considered a major league team, but are forced to play in the little league girls fast pitch league. Then we all laugh and I go to sleep on a bed of money. Life seemed so promising.

The only thing that came true from my little day dream is that we went home in a limo. Most likely the only limo to ever come to Buena Vista, Virginia. My parents followed shortly after not to wait on us, but that’s kind of what they did. My Dad built Charly a cradle, but still had to put some finishing touches on it. No one anticipated the baby coming early. So we had to go to Roanoke on Monday to get some foam and wood. We also needed to get a few other supplies. I went along because my Dad has a hard time with direction and gets lost easily. So I went with, not thinking it was going to be all day and thinking Holli and the baby would sleep most of the day anyways. Boy was I wrong! The Roanoke trip took all day and I came home to a baby that wouldn’t breastfeed and both baby and wife hadn’t got any sleep. I came home to chaos. Little did I know chaos was about to get more chaotic.

As the day went on the baby was getting fussier, Holli was getting more frustrated and everyone was getting more tired. I didn’t know what to do to help. I didn’t know how to breastfeed and my only experience was a brief video we watched in one of our birthing class. What was worrying me was the fact that she hadn’t pooped or peed since we left the hospital. Some time Monday night I went in our bedroom to see how Holli and the baby were doing. The baby was screaming at the breast and Holli was sobbing. There are certain times in a husband’s life where he doesn’t know what to do. 90% of the time it is when your wife is crying. I had not had a lot of experience dealing with a crying wife because Holli has what we call a heart of stone. No matter how sad the movie is she just wouldn’t cry. I started to believe she didn’t have any tear ducts. But here I was confronted with one of those pivotal husband moments. I don’t remember what I said, but I started crying too. We had reached a breaking point and we both needed to let it out. I then made up, right there on the spot, the Coats motto (Although Holli will deny it), “We’re the Coats. We don’t get to it we get through it!” We kind of laughed a little, the kind of laugh you do so you won’t go crazy and because your body is out of tears and needs to refill before you start crying again.

We then called the hospital to ask about the lack of pee and poop. They said the baby is most likely dehydrated and we should use formula to feed the baby until Holli’s milk came in. We had been avoiding formula or bottles because we didn’t want to make it harder to breast feed then it already was. The nurse recommended we use a dropper to avoid nipple confusion if we were worried about that. At that moment it was like there was a weight lifted off my shoulders. Luckily we had some sample formula and we gave it a try. Soon after Charly peed! I had never been so happy for pee.

That next morning we went to the pediatrician. They were very worried and thought the baby might still be dehydrated. So they sent us to Stonewall Jackson Hospital to get some blood drawn. Somehow they found a little vein and got some blood. Holli didn’t hold up so well on this part. The pediatrician called shortly thereafter and said we needed to go to the ER. We had two choices of hospitals which were each 45 minutes away. Why not go to Stonewall again you ask? It’s only 15 minutes away. They just aren’t that equipped to “heal” anyone, so I will take my chances elsewhere.

At the hospital we waited for some time until they could see us. At this point I was running on fumes and my nerves were shot. They took us in the back and hooked her up to an IV. The poor little thing looked so pathetic. You can see a picture of her on Holli’s version. Amazingly she slept through the whole thing. I think she was as tired as we were. We then waited in the ER room for hours as they periodically came by to check her. Shortly before we left she let out a massive Poo and we all rejoiced! I have seen people win the lottery less excited then we were to see her explosive poo! They let us take her home and we had gotten past the worst of it.

The next obstacle was to get her to breast feed. Holli tried so hard, but both she and the baby were getting so frustrated.  Again, breastfeeding is not my forte so I was clueless and helpless. Holli decided to call a Lactation consultant. She couldn’t reach the consultant, but got a peer breastfeeding counselor instead. She was one of 'those' people. Don’t get me wrong we really wanted to breastfeed our baby and hope to be able to breastfeed our other 12 kids in the future….maybe not 12. I understand the benefits, monetarily, emotionally, and physically. I get it; it’s the best thing for your kid. What I don’t get is why some people are so rude about it. This woman was starting to guilt Holli for giving the baby some formula. Holli explained the situation and she still was rude. I’m sorry, I should have just let our baby die rather than give it evil formula. I wanted to reach through the phone and hit her with and oversized mallet, Saturday morning cartoon style. Good thing the Lactation Consultant was super nice and didn’t give us any grief. She gave us all sorts of gizmos to try, but none of them worked. Holli took all sorts of Hippie herbal supplements and still nothing. I told her I supported whatever decision she made. We eventually decided to go with formula and life has been so much easier since.
Now our baby is awesome. She sleeps like a champ. She eats like a champ. She is happy and healthy and I couldn’t ask for anything more.