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You know, I think it’s really hard for Christian authors to write a book about their life and not come across smug or conceited or boastful.  I don’t know why I read so many of books by Christians and I think “Braggart!”, but I do.

If some of the same comments made in a non-Christian context, I wouldn’t blink an eye.  But if you’re writing “Jesus is so great and has brought me through so much” and then turn around and write “I’ve made some really great decisions in my life in order to follow Jesus”, I get all judgmental.  Just because you played the Jesus card.  Bad Jayme.

All that to say, I recently read a book by Sally Clarkson called Own Your Life.  I saw it recommended on someone else’s blog (can’t remember who) and checked it out from the library.  It was pretty good.  Not earth shattering, but there were some real gems in there that I found helpful.  One, in particular, is that she wrote some life goals for herself and one of them struck me: “To see God’s fingerprints each day of my life, as I knew my children probably longed to have a happy mother.”

Uh oh.  I had a really bad week last week.  Maybe it was the house selling.  Maybe it was the house buying.  Maybe it was being 4 weeks post-partum.  Maybe it was lack of sleep (see the 4 weeks post-partum fact).  Maybe it was the multiple daily “accidents” from a 3-year-old who has been potty training for 7 months. Whatever it was, I was not happy.  I was not a good wife.  I was a horrible, wretched mother.  (Don’t tell me I wasn’t: I was.  Yes, my children stayed alive and fed, but other than that, it wasn’t good.)

Yes, my children want a happy mother.  But more than that, I want to be a happy mother.  Maybe seeing God’s fingerprints in my life will help with that.  Seeing that my house sold in 4 hours.  4 hours!  Seeing that we found a great house to buy that was actually less expensive than the house we’re selling.  Seeing that I have a healthy newborn who is actually a great sleeper and eater. Seeing that I was able to get the new carpet installed right on time.  Seeing that I was able to find a neighborhood kid who could mow the lawn when I was unable to.

I’ve seen videos on this. I’ve read articles on this.  I’ve seen facebook rants on this.

What’s “this”? It’s the concept that America should be kinder to “working moms” and give them more maternity leave.  Paid maternity leave.  That other countries get up to a year off and gosh darn it, America is greater than those countries, so why shouldn’t our women have a year off too? And probably more!

Answer: Because we’re capitalists.  And when someone who is in the workforce, producing things (whether that’s widgets or services or documents) and they stop producing things, they stop earning money for the company that has employed them.

Women who are self-employed understand this.  Say that they own a house cleaning company.  If they take off of work for a year, they know that they won’t get paid.  Houses aren’t being cleaned (by them anyway).  Say that they are a piano teacher.  If they stopped teaching lessons for a year, they know that they won’t get paid.  It’s the cost of taking a year off work.

Why should women who aren’t self-employed get a long paid maternity leave?  Take me for example.  I’m on week 5 of a 6-week maternity leave.  I am being paid – at 66 2/3%.  Why?  Because someone has said “Jayme is disabled because she had a baby”, so I’m really collecting Short Term Disability. But after that?  My job is protected for another 6 weeks, but I won’t be paid.

Who should pay me if America did have a “year off for working moms”?  My company?  Why?  I’m not doing anything for them.  The government?  Why?  I’m not doing anything for them either.  And if it were the government who was paying me, then it’s really me who is paying me.  (Since I pay taxes).  And since you pay taxes, it’d be you paying me for having a baby.  And since I’ve been popping out babies quite a bit lately, should you really pay me to take a year off every 18 months?  I’d be: having a baby, get a year off, work 6 months, have a baby, get a year off, work 6 months, have a baby, get a year off.

Women can’t have it all. We can’t say “Pay me the same as a man!” and say “Give me preferential treatment when hiring someone” and say “Pay me to be off work for a year each time I have a baby!” and say “Let me have flexible scheduling that you don’t give to men” and say “Make me a partner in your law firm at the same time as a man who worked more hours than I did” and say “I want to be absolutely indispensable to this company” and say “Be okay with me taking lots of time off” all at the same time.

I’m incredibly grateful for the paid leave that I do have.  I know that I’m not really disabled right now.  (Heck, I just did a lot of physical work getting a house ready to sell!).  I know that the people who really suffer when I’m on maternity leave are my co-workers (someone has to do the work!).

To be clear:

  • Women absolutely should be paid the same as men, when they’re doing the same work – at the same rate.
  • When I started with my company 5 1/2 years ago, I know that they could have chosen to hire a man who wouldn’t have asked for 6 weeks off every 18 months.  Is it fair?  I dunno.  It’s reality.
  • Luckily, I got skills and my company loves me, despite taking lots of time off.
  • I have made choices in my career (namely to work only part-time) that I know will put me at a disadvantage over someone who hasn’t made those same choices (be they man or woman).  I know I won’t get promoted as quickly.  I know that I won’t have as many opportunities for bigger projects or cool travel assignments.  I get it – my choices matter.
  • No one owes me a paid maternity leave.  It’s a benefit, not a right.  And certainly not a benefit that should be provided by Joe Public.

We bought a house!  We’re moving. Yet again.

Background:

We live on a circle – not in the middle of the circle, but on the straight part right before it turns into a circle.  Our house is a tri-level.

About a year ago, I mentioned to Jeff that if 1 of the 2 ranch-style houses in the circle ever became available, I’d be really tempted to consider them.  I hadn’t ever been inside of either them.  I’ve just always wanted a ranch or a 2-story as I really dislike the tri-level floor plan.  But I love, love, love our location for lots of reasons.  Jeff laughed as he considers this house “our house for the next 20 years or so” house.  Til the kids are grown and mostly gone and we’re ready for a smaller house.

A couple of weeks ago, I was on a walk with the oldest 2 boys and met a neighbor.  Seems he was back up from Florida to get the house ready to sell.  We hadn’t ever met him as his daughter was living there with her son and her boyfriend while Mom & Dad were ‘trying out’ Florida to see if they wanted to retire there.  Answer: Yes, they do want to retire there and No, daughter can’t afford to buy the house.  Hence, time to fix ‘er up and sell her.

Not thinking that Jeff would ever really go for moving, I still mentioned it to him in case he knew someone who was looking.  If it couldn’t benefit us, at least it could benefit someone else that we know, right?  We still had never been inside.

Needless to say, my husband really loves me and he suggested that we knock on their door and see if we could get a tour.  So, Jeff did.  The owner was surprised, but gave Jeff a tour.  Jeff came back and said that I should go see it.  So I did.

Great house!  Jeff told him that we were interested and the man gave us an “as is” price.  Meaning: that he was going to stop all work on it, not list it with a realtor and they’d just be done with it all.  It was a great price (at least $15K less than we were expecting) and we said “DONE!”

The house:

It is a 3-bedroom ranch, but the basement is completely unfinished, giving us a blank slate for the future.  It does need work, but nothing major like no holes in the floor or mold or leaky pipes.  It will look much updated once we remove all the wallpaper, give it some fresh paint and new carpet.  The biggest “needs to happen” change is in the master bathroom.  It isn’t unlivable, but it really shows its age and the wallpaper is already off on part of the walls.

We do plan to do some major changes, but that’s mostly because we want to.  We would not have to in order to live there.

  1. Master Bathroom – We’ll make it pretty much all new.  Nothing fancy, but a new shower surround, new laminate floor, new toilet, remove the ‘already-half-gone’ wallpaper, paint the walls, paint or stain the existing vanity and fix the mirror.  There’s another bathroom that we can use in the meantime.
  2. New Paint & Carpet – It’s soooo much easier to paint and install new carpet when there isn’t any furniture to navigate around.  There’s wallpaper borders to remove in the kids’ bedrooms and then we’ll paint the walls and put down new carpet (existing carpet is pink…okay, maroon.)
  3. Make a mancave – In reality, it’ll be a bedroom, but it’ll really function as Jeff’s mancave.  But we’ll carve off a section of the basement, convert the existing windows to conforming windows and frame out a bedroom.  Nothing fancy, but it will be a place for Jeff to retreat to while making the rest of the unfinished basement a good place for kids to ride their Big Wheels in the winter!  In several years, there’s another great spot for another bedroom (if we want it) or we’ll finish it off by installing a bathroom and a great room.
  4. Combine the dining room & kitchen – The house has a kitchen large enough to fit a table, but it also has a dining room.  Current plans are to remove the wall between the kitchen & dining room to make one big huge kitchen area.  The concern is that we might not be able to move the plumbing to where we want the sink to be.

I hope to/want to/plan to/would love to post pictures of this progress as I wish I would have with the house we’re currently in.  It’s fun to remember the before when you’re living the after!

One of the advantages to having a 3-year-old, an 18 month old and a 2 week old at the same time is that they’re all due for a visit to the pediatrician at the same time.  I’ve done 2 at the same time, so I thought it was worth a shot to do 3 at the same time.  I could’ve gotten a sitter for 1 or 2 of them and made 2 different appointments. I could’ve brought Jeff, my mother or my sister with me for support (all of them offered), but I thought the doctor’s office would make a good first-trip-out-with-3-all-by-myself adventure.

And it was!  Finn likes to see “Dr. A” and he isn’t scared of the doctor.  Stephen had no idea where we were going and was just happy to ride in the van.  There were minimal tears (Stephen did need a shot and Sammy cried when I undressed him).  But it was a great experience!

Just for my records, here are some stats:

Finn:

  • 37 1/2 inches tall (53 percentile)
  • 32 pounds (57 percentile)
  • I do suspect some degree of color blindness as he rarely gets his colors right, but has been aware of colors for about a year.  Any color-based games (like Candyland) are just lost on him.  We’ll give it some time and do testing when he’s Kindergarten age.  It doesn’t really matter until he’s learning to drive.

Stephen:

  • 34 1/4 inches tall (92 percentile)
  • 23 pounds (14 percentile)
  • His weight percentile astounds me as this is my kid that eats and eats and eats.  He’ll sit at the table long after we’re done and just keep eating.  It’s Finn that I think of as a small eater, but his percentages were higher.  And it’s Stephen that seems heavy to me.  (But I think that’s because I’m comparing him to a 7 pound newborn!) We’re not overly concerned by it or anything – Stephen eats good solid food, he just might tend to the slimmer side of life.
  • He is not as verbal as he “should” be.  In fact, he really only says 2 words clearly: Dada and Baby.  Yes, no “Mama” yet.  But he’s on track on all other metrics and he seems to understand instructions quite well, so another thing to just watch and maybe test his hearing at 1 year.  He does “talk” all the time – it’s just not understandable.

Samuel:

  • 21.5 inches long (75 percentile)
  • 7 pounds, 10 ounces (13 percentile)
  • No concerns here!  He’s back up to (past) his birth weight.  He’s eating well (just moved him up to 4 ounces/feeding).  He’s sleeping well.  He’s just a content and growing little guy.

I haven’t blogged much and normally, I’m okay with that.  But, man, I got thoughts that I want to get onto paper!  (Even if it’s an electronic form of paper).  This is a really cool and unique time in our family’s life and I know I’ll forget things if I don’t record them somewhat.  I like being able to physically soak in memories and store them in my little head, but I also know that 5, 10 or even 20 years down the line, they are likely to escape.  Recording them, even briefly, can help them come back to life.

I’ve heard it said that the transition from 2 to 3 kids is the toughest.  You know, you’re no longer on man-to-man defense.  So to speak.  That has not been the case for us.  So far anyway.

Maybe it has more to do with the ages of your kiddos when you add the 3rd.  Most people don’t have 18 months between each kid, making their oldest older than ours (just turned 3) when they add the 3rd.  In some ways, that would help (older children are more likely to help).  In other ways, that wouldn’t help (they still need attention and might more easily resent a new sibling.)

Maybe it has more to do with the personalities of the children when you add the 3rd.  We’re not quite 3 weeks into this yet, but so far, Sammy is the “easiest” baby that I’ve had.  No jaundice. He eats well and sleeps well.  (Especially in the middle of the night — he’s a fast eater and fast return-to-sleeper!)  He’s content to be held.  He’s content to lay on his mat.

Maybe it has more to do with the “life” stuff going on when you add the 3rd.  With our 1st, we were fairly newly married (not quite 2 years) and still adjusting to that, in little ways.  With our 2nd, we had just moved into a house 2 weeks before he was born and was definitely adjusting to that and getting settled in.  With this one, we haven’t just moved.  We’ve been married for almost 5 years now.  We’ve generally figured out our roles in life.

I’m not sure there’s a definitive list of reasons why this has been so easy (so far).  But…

I thought I’d have to play more defense.  For us, I thought Stephen (18 months) would be indifferent to the new baby like Finn mostly was when Stephen was born.  Not the case.  Stephen is enamored with him!  If he hears the baby cry in the monitor, he perks up, says “Baby!” and starts heading for his room.  He runs to “hold” Sammy after we get him up, before I feed him.  Finn (3 years) is interested, but not too much or for too long.  He’s got other things to do.  The other day, Stephen got a hold of one of Sammy’s sleepers from the laundry and carried it around for 30 minutes just saying “Baby, Baby”.  We’ve set up a “safe place” for Sammy on the main stairs and (mostly) the boys respect that and don’t bother him.

Stephen meeting Sammy for the first time in the hospital.  (With my sister Tiffany)

Stephen meeting Sammy for the first time in the hospital. (With my sister Tiffany)

Finn & Sammy meeting in the hospital.

Finn & Sammy meeting in the hospital.

I’m comfortable with this role.  When the role of Mom is new to you, you question everything!  At least, I did.  And when your first is born at under 6 pounds, fights jaundice, you’re trying really unsuccessfully to breastfeed and you’re adjusting to lack of sleep, everything looks worse than it is.  And its easy to dwell on that and think that things will never change.  But now?  I know it that any hard times are just really short phases.

We’re home-centered already.  It might be weird to say that because I do work outside of the home part-time, but in general, we aren’t out and about kind of people.  Partly because that’s our personalities.  Partly because we’re used to structuring our lives around nap times anyway.  The last few months, our babysitter (my sister) has been coming to our house to watch the boys anyway, so we aren’t even used to packing them up to take them to a sitter’s house.  We just stay home.  Adding another baby usually means that people stay home more.  For us, we’re already used to that.  No major lifestyle changes there.

Our oldest 2 “play” really well together.  When I had Stephen, Finn was an only child and used to mom’s attention 100% of the time.  He didn’t really play independently and always wanted to be near (or on top of) me.  Now?  Finn and Stephen actually “play” together!  Play together = being in the same room, playing with similar objects.  If I go to get Sammy up from a nap, Finn doesn’t rush to join me and he certainly doesn’t want to sit on my lap at the same time.  He’s content to know where I’m at because he doesn’t feel alone – Stephen is there with him.  They’re both content to be playing in the toy room as I sit on the toy room couch feeding Sammy.  I didn’t think they’d be playmates this young in life.

I have more thoughts I’m sure, but I wanted to get these out of my head!

As shown in the previous post, our 3rd child, Samuel Aaron was born this week – on Tuesday!  Here’s the promised birth story.

(Note: It’s a very girl-friendly post, so if you don’t like reading things like ‘dilated’ and ‘cervix’, this would be a good post to skip.  No hard feelings!)

Monday, April 6th

The story really starts here.  Or, maybe really the night before – Sunday night.  At bedtime (10:15), I started feeling contractions and wondered “Is this it?”  I really wanted it to be it.  I tried to sleep, but couldn’t.  At 11:45, I got out of bed and tried to sleep downstairs on the couch as it’s much firmer and really quite pleasant to sleep on.  At 1:15 am, the contractions were every 5 minutes, but not very hard and not for very long.  I finally fell asleep around 2:30 am.

I wanted to see the doctor that morning, but we kept playing phone tag, so eventually, I just went to Labor & Delivery.  I was dilated to a 2 and maybe 60% effaced and they had problems picking up the contractions on the monitor.  They had me walk around for an hour, then checked me again.  No difference.  Went on home.  Disappointed.

Tuesday, April 7th

11:00 am – No contractions or anything that morning, but I did have a regularly scheduled OB appointment.  Dr. B checked me – I was still at a 2, but maybe 75% effaced.  Some difference, but certainly not much.  She said “It could be any time, you never know, but I don’t think I’ll see you again today.  And, oh by the way, I’m out of town this weekend, so if you do go into labor, it’ll be with the on call doctor.”  Bummer.  Went on back to work.  Disappointed.

2:00 pm – I had a big presentation at 2:00 that day.  If I had been gone, someone else was prepared to give it, but they were really hoping that I’d be there for it, so that they didn’t have to.  I was.  I gave the presentation from 2:00 to around 3:00.  I left work around 3:30 to go pick up my niece & nephew from elementary school and head home.

3:45 pm – In the carpool line, I started feeling STRONG pains.  At first I just thought: “Man, what’s that baby doing?  Those are some big movements!”  Since I had seen the doctor that morning, I didn’t think it was the start of anything real.  I was wrong.

4:30 pm – I got home, started dinner.  Dinner prep was painful!

4:45 pm – Jeff gets home and informs me that his doctor thinks he has Strep Strain C, which would explain why the antibiotics he had been on for the last week didn’t seem to make much of a difference.  They started him on a different antibiotic, but suggested that if I did go into labor before he had been on them for 24 hours, that he wears a mask.  Okay, great – so tonight would not be a good night to have this baby.

5:00 pm – I loosely timed the contractions and sure enough, they were like 3-4 minutes apart, really painful and about 45 seconds in length.  I tried taking a quick shower to see if the heat would help (or if maybe my water would break like last time).  No help.  Decided to call the doctor.  She told me to come on in – it was the only way to know if it was real or not.  Called my sister and arranged to drop off the boys.

5:50 pm – We left for the hospital.  Given the false alarms from the day before, I wasn’t fully confident that I was in labor.  So I suggested we stop by our church to drop off some books for Jeff’s Bible Study since he was going to miss it that night.  The church isn’t even on our way to the hospital!  It isn’t super far off the path, but it did cost us about 20 minutes for that detour.  (I was actually even tempted to tell Jeff to go to Bible Study; he could meet me at church afterwards, but I thought better of that suggestion).  Had Jeff known that I was really in labor, he never would’ve agreed to even dropping off the books, but when your wife is in ‘maybe labor’, doubting it herself AND she suggests that you meet your obligation, you kind of go along with it.

6:30 pm – Got to the hospital.  Checked in.  Nurse asked her questions, started an IV line.  Asked me my pain level (a ‘7’).  Hooked up monitors, saw that yes, these were definitely contractions.  Asked me my opinion on epidurals (love ’em) and questions about my last 2 labors.

6:50 pm – So she decided to check me.  After checking, she looked right at me, paused and said “Well, you’re at a 9.  And your bag of waters is just hanging really low right there.  You’re not going anywhere.  If I would’ve known that, I would’ve checked you sooner.”  A few calls to other nurses to help prep the room (3 more nurses filed in!), to Dr. B to tell her to get in, and to anesthesiology.

7:07 pm – Anesthesiologist arrives.  Asks his questions.  Tells me his next steps.  I’m thinking “Yes, yes, I got it.  This is a serious deal.  Just get the medicine in already.  Please and thank you.”

7:13 pm – Epidural in and on the FIRST TRY!  Both other times, it’s always taken them 3 attempts.  YES!  Relief within a few minutes.

7:34 pm – Dr. B arrives, checks me, agrees with the nurse and breaks my water.  Gush!

7:45 pm – I stopped dilating and even went backwards a little bit.  I guess my bag of waters was so low that it was helping to keep the cervix opened.  With it broken, everything closed a bit.  Not much, but it wasn’t going to be a matter of minutes like we thought.

8:30 pm – My contractions had gotten further apart (thanks to the pain meds) and baby hadn’t descended fully.  After waiting a bit to see what happens, she checked me again.  He was face up instead of face down like she prefers, so she had me push while she tried to turn him.  I don’t think I had much control, but it took about 3 sets of 3 pushes and she was able to turn him.

9:04 – One more set of pushes, he dropped down and came on out.  It is a boy!  Samuel Aaron is born!

birth

Our 3 Boys!

I’ll post the birth story later, but here’s a picture of our 3 sons!

Samuel Aaron was born last night at 9:04 p.m.!

3Boys

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