The Addition of Vaile Rae

She’s here, early. And tiny, 4 pounds, 13 ounces. It’s weird looking at her and knowing she should technically still be inside (and she’d fit).

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What a pregnancy. After having three relatively easy pregnancies (Saige sickness aside) and deliveries, who knew my fourth and final would be such a roller coaster. The first trimester was textbook, no sickness or anything out of the ordinary. Then Leilah died in May and I found myself at Urgent Care (for the first time in my life) the next morning with bleeding. Whether it was a coincidence or stress-related from Leilah and the house selling business, I’d never had any bleeding in pregnancy before. Thankfully baby was okay and they decided the bleeding was likely a cervical blood vessel that bursted. Lovely.

The house sold. We packed and moved. The stress from all of that nonsense subsided… until we were in a homeless state (by choice). The new house was originally supposed to be ready late August when we bought back in April. The offer we accepted in May came with an August 15 closing date. The buyers were in a lease and we needed as much time as we could kill before the new house was to be ready. It was mutually beneficial. And then the house was postponed until October 3… we decided instead of renting a place for such a short period of time, we’d take the opportunity to visit family in California and avoid paying rent anywhere. And then on the day of closing, we found out October 19 was the latest date. Awesome.

We left for California August 13. I visited my doctor the week before as part of my routine prenatal care. All was okay. Blood pressure was good, blood tests were normal, all was fine for me to head south. And he said given my history of easy, healthy pregnancies that I was good to be gone until 37 weeks with the plan on returning for the last round of tests before my planned induction at 40-41 weeks. (Date pending thanks to the upcoming Microsoft paternity leave change. Originally October 27 but now pushing for a November delivery.)

California started off well. Brian had taken two weeks of vacation so we enjoyed some much needed downtime, and spent time as a family. The plan after his vacation was to work from home, then fly back and forth a few times before we drove back up to the new house. Sounded simple when we planned things out before leaving Washington. Spoiler, it wasn’t.

The week Brian started working from home was the week he started on a new team. That wasn’t part of the plan when we figured out our (ridiculous) schedule. And on top of being a new team, his upcoming paternity leave limited his new boss on what projects to put him on. Not to mention it was questionable how long he’d be out for paternity leave. Microsoft’s paternity leave was changing from four to 12 weeks starting November 1, and I was officially due October 28.

Brian struggled with working from home. He felt he should be in the office, especially since he was on a new team and wasn’t familiar with his teammates, boss, or projects they were working on. He’s always been a team favorite and rock star on every project he’s on, and he was just coming off the high of leading a successful project that ultimately led to his (earlier than planned) promotion the week before. The week passed, he survived. The fun and stress began…

Brian flew home Monday, August 31. He left my mom’s at 4am to catch an early flight and then head straight into work. He survived the week and flew back Friday night, ultimately arriving at my mom’s house around midnight. It was a three-day weekend so he had Monday off, and he worked from home the rest of the week. It was Blaise’s birthday that Thursday so when we made the original schedule, we decided it was most important he be in town for Blaise’s birthday (and while still important, less important he be there for Saige’s birthday since she wouldn’t have any clue it was her birthday). Blaise was turning five and was pretty excited about that.

We celebrated Blaise Thursday night with a little family party. Friday night we spent the evening with cousins, and while we were there got word from the builder that our closing date was set. November 20. Waaaay later than we thought. We thought it’d be an October date for sure. So, plans changed. Again. We had to be back mid-October before the baby was due and we had no place to live. The original plan was to drive back up and stay in a hotel for five nights before the house was to be ready October 19, the last date we were given. I was on it the next morning (our 13th wedding anniversary), calling all over Issaquah and Redmond trying to find a short-term lease. I also found a place in Woodinville but wasn’t successful reaching them over the phone. The Redmond place was $3400/month for a two-month lease. Everywhere else was a longer lease, which we considered taking and then breaking since the longer the lease, the lower the monthly rent. And to break a lease it was 1.5 months rent. Which ultimately worked out close to the rather pricey Redmond two-month lease (they know their area and target market for sure). We knew we’d be bringing home a new baby to wherever we rented so that was also a consideration. And we wanted location, laundry in the unit, ground floor, parking, animals allowed… we have needs, even if for two months. As we discussed the Redmond option and decided we’d take it, the Woodinville place called. They were having phone issues and called me back, even though I didn’t leave a message. Score. They had a ground floor two bedroom, one bath apartment with laundry and parking, and they allowed animals. And bonus, it wasn’t terribly priced for a two-month lease (well, it wasn’t $3400/month). I said we’d take it over the phone, sight unseen. I put a check in the mail to secure the apartment for a two-month lease starting Monday, October 5. Problem solved. And happy anniversary.

We enjoyed the rest of the weekend together before Brian flew back to Seattle early morning Monday, September 14. He was to be gone for 11 days before returning again Thursday, September 24. Originally the last time he’d fly home before we’d drive back up as a family (based on the original October 3 closing date, before they changed it to October 19 the week we left Issaquah).

I was having a rough go. I’ve never had any major anxiety issues but I’m pretty sure I was on the brink of an anxiety attack. Solo-parenting, the house being late (and them not giving us a set closing date after asking multiple times), then getting the later-than-expected closing date, dealing with the logistics of now having to rent, issues post-closing with our sold place (the title company came back asking for money they forgot to account for when we officially closed), pregnancy was slowing me down, I wasn’t loving California (my mom’s house was nice but I missed Washington, BIG time), Worm died, and I didn’t have Brian around. Maybe it’s a bit co-dependentish but we’re together 98% of the time. And we go to bed at the same time every night. I like having him around, he’s a calming factor for me. It wasn’t a great time. Looking back, I can now see why my blood pressure was so freaking high.

Brian flew back home just four days later instead of being gone for 11. What a trooper. He arrived at my mom’s house around midnight Friday the 18th and was scheduled to fly back to Seattle early morning Monday, September 21. He was at my mom’s just over 48 hours. He survived the short weekend visit (and since he was going to be in town, we had Saige’s party!). Back to Seattle he went Monday and then back again to my mom’s around midnight Thursday, September 24. His last flight to California before we were to drive back to Washington. What a sense of relief. He was back for good and I instantly felt less stressed. So I thought…

Brian worked from home Friday and he was struggling again. It wasn’t even 10am and he was saying he felt he should fly back up to be in the office. Hello, stress again. I thought we were in the clear, back together as a family for good. And now he had to leave us again. I understood but wasn’t loving the idea. He made it through that Friday working from home and decided to fly back early morning Monday the 28th, what had become his standard routine. His deadline was Wednesday, September 30 so he would work in the office and come back Thursday after the deadline passed. I think we ended up spending more on flights, rental cars, and airport shuttles than we likely would have on rent. Hindsight.

That Saturday the 26th, Brian had some intricate programming work he needed to complete in preparation for his upcoming deadline. To give him some quiet and focus time, my mom and I took the kiddos out and about for some errands. We were gone about five hours and when we got home, I was sitting down and happened to look down at my feet. They were HUGE. As were my ankles. I’ve never had any swelling in any of my pregnancies (or if I did, I never noticed). My mom’s instinct was to check my blood pressure. The entire side of her family—including herself—have (or had) high blood pressure issues. She had a home monitor… I was in the 190s/110s. Apparently that’s high. Like stroke territory high. I wondered if her monitor was off a bit so we took hers and Brian’s to get a baseline. Theirs were about where they should be. And even if her monitor was off a bit, my pressure was still high. Brian and my mom both had me lie down and kick my feet up in hopes my blood pressure and swelling would go down. I took it every hour or so until 8pm and it remained high. The lowest it got was in the 170s/100s. We decided I should call my doctor’s nurse hotline. I knew what they’d say: go to the hospital. I called, talked with the nurse… she said to go to the hospital, specifically to labor and delivery. Good thing she said that. I was planning on going to an urgent care. She said if a heavily pregnant lady were to walk into an urgent care for anything, they would immediately have an ambulance transport her to a hospital. I didn’t exactly want that. So, to Lodi Memorial Hospital we went (my mom had researched local hospitals before we came just in case any medical care was needed, total mom move).

Lodi Memorial is not Swedish First Hill. It was after hours so we had to enter through the ER to get to labor and delivery. I’ve never seen so much action on a Saturday night. Who knew the ER was the place to be? We checked in—they made me sit in a wheelchair, totally unnecessary—and made our way up to labor and delivery. A room was waiting for us. They had me change into a gown and put the baby monitor on me right away. Baby was sounding fine but my blood pressure was still high, in the 170s/110s. They questioned me (drilled me maybe) and basically talked smack about my doctor allowing me to be in California so far along. It wasn’t a lovely experience.

They kept the baby monitored, took some blood, and ran some tests for preeclampsia. Aside from the high blood pressure, I had no other signs of preeclampsia. And the tests proved that. It was close to midnight so I wasn’t asking many questions but there was one test that if the result came back at a 3.0 they were going to send me to “county” to be induced. (Sounded like a jail. And in Stockton.) My results were a 2.7. They released me and told me to get back to Washington ASAP. The nurses were certainly nice people but I didn’t love their bedside manner or medical care. I wanted to consult with my doctor, the one whom I’ve been seeing for over five years and have had three babies with. I didn’t want to do anything until I talked with him.

Brian flew back to Seattle early Monday morning. I waited to talk with my doctor. He told me those blood pressures were awfully high and potentially in the “get the baby out” zone. He requested my medical records from Lodi on Monday. They sent them to him Tuesday. They were illegible. He sent another request Tuesday afternoon. My blood pressure remained high according to my mom’s home monitor. The swelling came and went. Brian decided to fly back Tuesday night. He was in Seattle about 36 hours. It was a thrilling few days.

My doctor finally had answers Wednesday around noon. He called and we chatted. He said my test results were fine, no signs of preeclampsia. The high blood pressure was concerning though. He didn’t want to send me back into a hospital to be rechecked because he knew if they were high, they would induce me (that’s the protocol for Swedish, too). His goal was to keep the baby in as long as possible since I was only 36 weeks. He prescribed blood pressure medication for me to start taking that afternoon in hopes it would reduce my pressure enough to get me back to Washington. We’d start there and he’d see me Monday in his office. California baby diverted.

Wednesday was a relief. I wasn’t going to have a California baby. Brian’s deadline passed. We had a plan: start blood pressure medicine, drive back to Washington Sunday and stay in a hotel, move in to the temporary apartment Monday, see my doctor Monday afternoon. Ultimate plan was to keep the baby in as long as possible. And the biggest bonus of the week… Microsoft upped the new 12 week paternity leave start date to October 1. Brian would get 12 weeks off, paid. Score!

Back to Washington on Sunday, 16 hours later. The kiddos did great, the animals were cool, and my pregnant, stressed-self survived. Brian was a super star as usual, driving all but the one hour I pitched in. We made it to the hotel around 9pm and quickly went to bed. The next morning we drove to the temporary apartment and moved in with the few items we had. Mostly clothes and toys (the kiddos didn’t care). We hit IKEA before going to my doctor Monday afternoon. At my doctor, he did the routine prenatal check. Listened to the baby’s heartbeat, she was great. Checked my blood pressure, still high but lowered with the medication. Two readings, 140s/90s and 160s/100s. Ran some blood tests, results came back normal. My doctor decided to send me to a high-risk pregnancy doctor to get a second opinion and ultrasound to have the baby checked out. He called them while I was in his office to schedule my appointment. They could see me Wednesday morning.

The kiddos and I spent Tuesday preparing the apartment in case the baby came early while Brian went back to work. I bought a couch and a mattress that we can use in the new house, and we hit IKEA and Target for supplies. Brian went to storage that night and dug out some card tables and chairs. We were as ready as we could be for living in an apartment for less than two days, with most of our stuff in storage.

We didn’t know what to expect from the appointment Wednesday morning. There was the chance they would check me and say all was okay, and to keep the baby in as long as possible. And there was a chance they’d recommend an induction the same day. Luckily, we had our (amazing) sitter, Lisa, scheduled already and I had given her a fair warning there was a slim chance it would be baby day. She was free if that were the case. Brian went to work after settling the kiddos in for the day before Lisa arrived and I readied for the appointment. She came, we chatted, I left for the appointment with the plan to meet Brian for lunch afterwards before returning home.

At the appointment they took me back to a room and as part of the routine, started with taking my blood pressure. I knew it would be high. And there it was on the reader, 197/115. The nurse and I were having a nice chat—she had four kiddos, grown—and the minute the numbers popped on the reader her eyes got wide. I wasn’t surprised. She took it again. Still super high. She left, the doctor came in. The ultrasound technician checked on the baby as the doctor chatted with me. She wanted me to head down to labor and delivery and be admitted. I didn’t want to have my baby at Swedish Issaquah. And I wanted MY doctor. She called him, he called me… the consensus was the baby was to come out ASAP. Induction day for me. It was just a matter of where. High-risk doctor had a freaked out look, my doctor said legally they had to advise me to check in immediately and get started on a magnesium drip to help reduce my blood pressure but he’d get a room ready for me at Swedish First Hill. I took that as his okay to head to Seattle for the induction. I imagine my blood pressure had been that high for weeks so I figured another hour or so wouldn’t hurt. I called, texted, and emailed Brian (he’s terrible to get a hold of) and texted Lisa that baby was a go. She had the kiddos covered (she’s seriously amazing).

Brian arrived at Swedish Issaquah. I had briefed him over the phone while he was on his way and we both decided that we wanted to be in Seattle with my doctor. High-risk doctor immediately came in and advised me again to get admitted there but said she knew what our decision was and to get moving. Not without a mini-lecture about the possibility of me having a stroke and dying on the way to Seattle. We left the hospital for Swedish First Hill. It was weird, we’ve always had set induction days but never like this. Never an emergency one.

It was like old times. We valet parked and made our way to the fifth floor. I didn’t even have to double-check the floor! It’s like going to a hotel… we checked in and they showed us to our room. We knew the routine by now: get me in the gown, get started on the GBS medication, eat, start the Pitocin, an hour later get the epidural, and then baby a few hours later. The only differences this time is that we didn’t know for sure if I needed the GBS medication since I hadn’t been tested yet and they added in the magnesium drip for my high blood pressure. They warned me that the magnesium can cause flu-like symptoms. And even worse, that it makes you thirsty but there is a liquid restriction while getting the drip. Good times. Luckily, the flu-like symptoms escaped me but they added in another medication on top of the magnesium to help reduce my blood pressure that didn’t sit well with me. It gave me a massive, horrific headache.

GBS medication, check. Blood pressure reduced, check. Time to get the baby out. Brian left shortly after we arrived to take the car seats to Lisa so she could take the kiddos with her back to her house to get clothes and supplies for the night. He made it back to me around 5pm, right when they started the Pitocin. I was 37 weeks that day and only 1cm dilated. But I know my body and baby delivering abilities. And when it comes to big things, my luck is generally good…

When I first found out I was pregnant, I immediately calculated my due date. It was close enough to October 27 so I knew that was the day I’d be induced. I’m weird with dates. Blaise’s birthday is the 9th and Laine’s is the 19th. Saige’s birthday is the 17th so I wanted the 27th for number four. And my sister is the 6th and I’m the 16th. See, weird. It just so happened that the day they sent me to be induced was the 7th, which was even better. So we had a midnight deadline!

Pitocin started at 5pm. I was 1cm. I felt one mini-contraction—as in a cramp less painful than any period cramp I’ve ever had—so I ordered an epidural. That’s been my standard routine since Blaise. The first discomfort I feel, drug me up. I’ve never felt a hardcore contraction and I had no desire to start now. (I’ve had more pain stubbing my toe than having a baby.) Epidural, check. And epidural boosts hourly, check.

The massive headache from the blood pressure reducing medicines was intolerable. They gave me who knows what, Vicodin maybe? Whatever it was knocked me out and I slept. I was in-and-out of it, aware enough of how I felt but unaware what all was going on with the random medical people who kept coming around. There were interns, residents, nurses, anesthesiologists, maybe even random people off the street for all I know. It was hopping in my room. At 9pm I was just 4cm. I had a deadline, I wanted to hit the 7th, dammit. I went back to sleep.

All of a sudden I felt intense pressure that woke me. It was 10:30pm. I was 10cm and ready to go. Given my history of quick deliveries, my doctor set things up long before I was 10cm. We didn’t want another sneaky Saige. With Saige, nobody was ready because I wasn’t anywhere near 10cm when I was last checked. All of a sudden, I started throwing up and Saige was delivered. Apparently the muscles used to throw up are the same ones used to push. And her debut totally fits her personality… she doesn’t want to be a bother. Just when you have a moment, she needs something.

It was 10:40pm, Vaile would arrive before the deadline. I pushed and she was here at 10:43pm. Nothing is more annoying than knowing you have to push and what to do, and having someone standing over you yelling, “PUSH!” Damn resident, I don’t remember anything else at the time of pushing aside from her yelling and me telling her, “I can’t have you yelling at me right now.” She quieted down but still kept saying push. There was a nurse when I had Blaise who did the same thing. And that’s all I remember from his pushing. It was weird with Vaile, I normally get the epidural boost before delivery so I’m completely numb—as in I can’t even move my legs—my preferred pushing state. Because Vaile’s heart rate would drop with each epidural boost, they wouldn’t let me have any more. I didn’t feel pain but I could feel what was happening… her head coming out and all. Brian was given the task of holding my left leg and for the first time, watched everything. She was small but mighty, letting out a healthy cry indicating she was there. I expected maybe 6 pounds since she was early and the other three were all 8-something pounds. Nope. She was teeny tiny, 4 pounds, 13 ounces. I’m a clean the baby off first kind of mom, so they wiped her down and checked her out before I was able to get my hands on her.

While Vaile was attended to, my doctor and the resident delivered my placenta. In my drugged state, I heard them discussing calcification. Brian said it looked weird. It was dark red and small, not at all healthy like my other three. Apparently my blood pressure had been so high for so long that it was causing distress on my placenta and halting it’s healthy growth. Which in turn halted Vaile’s growth and explains why she was so tiny at 37 weeks. All the stress of everything caused an unhealthy pregnancy for the last 1.5 months. Lovely. All was fine in early August when I last saw my doctor. It was a good thing we got her out when we did. As my placenta was basically dying off, there was a chance Vaile would have been affected… in a bad way.

It took me a little longer to recover after delivery than usual, so I stayed in the birthing suite about two hours. Normally, I’m up and walking out of there within 20 minutes. Thanks to the massive headache that wouldn’t quit—and the drugs to help—I was down longer. I eventually felt okay enough to be transferred to a postpartum room around 1am. Granted, they rolled me on a bed so I could lie down but I made it there. Vaile was a trooper. Brian fed her while I was recovering and she was good for the night. She didn’t wake up until 6am so I felt like I was able to get enough sleep to help kick the headache. We all went back to sleep after she ate, and woke up around 8am to start our day. Brian had to head home and relieve Lisa from kiddo duty. Thanks to my high blood pressure, I knew that my typical in-and-out within 24 hours wasn’t going to fly this time. My doctor said I needed to stay until at least Friday morning so they could monitor my blood pressure and get it under control before I left for home. Admittedly, I was actually excited about staying. Quiet time, alone with the new baby, and I got to stay in bed the whole time. And food would just come to me (not terrible for hospital food either). Sad that I viewed it as a vacation but I’ll take what I can get!

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Thursday was spent mostly sleeping (by both of us). I still had a lingering headache and I was tired from the chaos of the day before. Vaile was super accommodating, eating every four hours. And when she wasn’t eating, she was sleeping. Super easy baby, much like Saige was. My friend, Karann, visited that afternoon. It was nice to see a familiar face between nurses. Vaile completed the hearing test (and passed) while she was there. It was the same hearing test lady who did Saige the year before. Ironically when a friend was visiting then, too.

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Brian and the kiddos came to visit me Thursday evening. They were super excited. We hadn’t told them if it was a girl or boy so they found out when they met her. I don’t think they really cared because, BABY! Blaise is a nurturer, and makes an excellent co-parent when needed. Laine likes babies enough to hug and kiss but isn’t into them so much. Horses are more her thing (and I can relate, I’m not a baby person myself, aside from mine). Saige just wanted to point at the baby which turned into pokes. Luckily, Vaile is easy going and it didn’t faze her. They stayed maybe 30 minutes before leaving. Brian, the awesome dad that he is, said he kept getting, “Your hands are full” and “Dad of the year” comments. He was slightly annoyed… he says they’re my kids, taking care of them is just what you do. And after hearing what they did Thursday, he had those kiddos worn out. After taking over from Lisa, they went on a long afternoon adventure, came to visit me, and then went to Red Robin before calling it a day. They were all asleep by 10pm, as was I. It was slightly weird not having Brian in the hospital with me but it was what we needed to do to ensure everyone was taken care of.

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Friday morning rolled around after a smooth Thursday night. Vaile ate right at 10pm before I went to sleep, was up once at 3am, and back out until morning. My doctor checked on me at 7am before heading to clinic. My pressures had lowered a bit, enough to where he was comfortable discharging me with continued medication (with an upped dosage). There is always a laundry list of things to do before being released, and this time we had the added bonus of a car seat check. Because Vaile was so tiny, she had to be placed in her car seat and monitored for 90 minutes to ensure she could get enough oxygen. We had a hiccup. Three, actually.

Hiccup number one, no car seat. Well, we had a car seat in storage. When we moved everything, our house was supposed to be ready October 3. And baby was to be induced October 27. So the car seat was in storage. In the back. Brian planned on getting up early Friday morning and taking the kiddos to storage to dig out the car seat. They were up and ready to go…

Hiccup number two, something was wrong with Mayah. She was listless in her crate, unable to move. Great. Animal death number three was all I could think of. He stayed home to see if Mayah recovered a little and was going to take her to the vet if not. She eventually moved, ate, and went outside to empty out. She was still slow and off a little but Brian felt comfortable enough to leave her. It wasn’t until 10:30am that they made it to storage to dig out the car seat. Success. They made it to the hospital around 12:30pm with the car seat, ready for Vaile to start her 90 minute check. It was 1:45pm when they started; littlest miss wanted to eat and take care of business before starting.

Hiccup number three, how to get me home. Again with storage! We took the actual van seat out behind the driver’s seat back when Saige was born. It made it easy to get the big kiddos in-and-out from the back, and allowed for extra space for whatever we needed (Costco trips, scooters, changing space between dance and swimming). That seat was in storage. Somewhere. The movers packed those units so tight that it’s hard to see anything. Without that seat, we all couldn’t fit in the van. Thankfully our good friend, Katherine, was able to leave work early and come pick Vaile and me up. It was close to 4pm by the time we left the hospital, just in time for Friday afternoon traffic on the 405. Vaile and I eventually made it home around 5pm to officially start our time as a family of six.

It’s been relatively smooth, with the hardest part being in a temporary living situation. Well, that and we didn’t have anything for Vaile. Everything we bought was intended for a larger baby. They have all come out wearing 3 months clothing and size 1 diapers, which is all we had bought. In keeping with tradition, I went to Target Friday night after getting home to buy some preemie supplies. We also needed blankets, burp cloths, bottles, Similac shooters… a few supplies to replace what we have in storage.

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We took the weekend off just in case my blood pressure was out of whack. All of us—except Brian (he did get a flu shot)—had doctor appointments scheduled for Monday. Ones we set up long before we knew Vaile would be with us already, so we just added her into the appointment mix. Blaise and Saige had their annual well-child appointments; Laine had a wart that needed to be frozen; I had my next prenatal appointment (which turned into a postnatal appointment); and Vaile needed to be checked up on. It was a family affair! I love that we all have the same doctor, it makes life easy. And he’s an amazing doctor, which is why we’ll drive to West Seattle to see him (in two cars!). Blaise and Saige were golden. I was surprised that one metric for a five-year-old was being able to count to just 10. Saige surpassed all the expectations for a one-year-old, even showing off her dancing skills. She wasn’t the biggest fan of the four vaccinations she received but she survived. Blaise didn’t need any this year, aside from the flu shot (which was a nasal spray). Laine got her wart frozen. (What’s with warts?! I’ve never had one in my life and both kiddos have had them now.) My blood pressure was down a little thanks to the upped medication, but he wanted to add in another pill to help reduce it more. He’s hopeful my blood pressure will regulate on its own after six weeks, which commonly happens after delivery. I’m hopeful too. Drugs aside for giving birth, I’m not a huge drug fan. And Vaile was great. Her color was perfect and she had gained 1.5 ounces since birth. Which is a big deal for her tiny size.

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Brian took the three to lunch and then home; I took Vaile to Carter’s to buy more preemie outfits (Target had a very limited selection). She was chilling in her car seat asleep so I drove to Carnation to see the house. I hadn’t seen it since early August and was anxious to see the progress. It’s almost there! Vaile needed to eat so we stopped in the models and took a tour (I hadn’t seen them yet). Our agent was there and walked me down to tour our house under construction. They were installing the quartz kitchen counters and fireplace tile. LOVE how it’s turning out. I’m so anxious. We tease that Vaile thinks Brian is unemployed and we’re living in tight quarters in an apartment with card tables, mattresses on the floor, and plastic silverware… little does she know she’ll actually have a bedroom soon (even though she’ll room with us for a while).

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We packed that Monday tight. Doctor in the morning, Mayah had a vet appointment at 5pm, and Carrie was coming at 7pm to do our hair. Vaile just went with the flow, eating and sleeping through the day. Tuesday the kiddos started back at school, which is a good thing to get them back on a routine. The youngest girls, Brian, and I went to breakfast and picked up Mayah’s new special food the vet recommended the night before. She’s doing much better. It was a little scary for a few days but we’re in a good spot, for now. We know what will eventually happen, she is almost 15 after all. Brian went to storage Tuesday afternoon and dug out the van seat. We can all fit in one car now. SO nice.

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Wednesday we hit the pumpkin patch as our first official outing as a family of six (Monday’s doctor visit aside, and this time all in one car). Thursday we dropped the kiddos off at school and took the youngest girls to JC Penney’s for pictures. We picked the big kiddos up and hit Costco before returning home. We were out of fruit and almost all food, $310 later we were restocked (Costco must have subliminal messages or something because it’s impossible to leave there without dropping a few hundred… then again, we’re feeding six so maybe that’s our new normal?!). Another Target run was in order that afternoon for a few random items we couldn’t grab at Costco. I was going to take only Blaise while the girls rested but we made it a family affair. Brian says I wear him out. Yet he chooses to tag along. I took Friday off and stayed home with Saige and Vaile. Brian took the big kiddos on a scooting/picnic adventure along the Sammamish River Trail since we live just off of it here in the apartment (what a location, not bad for picking sight unseen).

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Today, Saturday, Brian took Blaise to a LEGO engineering class and I took Laine to see HONK! at Studio East Theater. Vaile has wiggled her way into our family nicely. And it’s a bonus she’s so easy. She just goes with the flow, sleeping mostly and eating every four or so hours. She’s a great night baby, too. She eats around 11pm before we head to bed, wakes about 3am, and again around 7am. Brian’s taking on the 3am feeding. He actually enjoys the middle-of-the-night feedings, the quiet bonding time and all. A few nights she’ll wake twice but I’ll take on the second feeding and just get up for the day. It’s nice to have quiet early morning time before the gang wakes up. And she doesn’t cry. She only wiggles a little when she needs to grab our attention. (Exactly how Saige was. Brian thought something was wrong with her because she didn’t cry until 4.5 months.) The only downside to nights now is that Saige is waking in the night. This is new. Maybe because we’re all sleeping in the same room… I’m moving the three big kiddos to the second bedroom tomorrow. Hopefully that will help.

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As for me, my blood pressure has lowered to the 140s/80s. I feel great. My body doesn’t even feel like I had a baby. The difference between 8+ pounds and 4.13 pounds I suppose. And in vain, as the ultrasound lady pointed out, I didn’t get a single stretch mark after four kiddos. And as much as I despised my long torso growing up, it’s been beneficial for breeding. My skin didn’t stretch that much so my stomach looks relatively normal, aside from the lingering bloating. I feel like things are going back to normal pretty quickly, aside from the extra pounds I’ve yet to shed since having Laine. I’m inspired though since this is it, no more babies (so we say). Brian said I looked healthier since delivery and the most rested he’s seen me, and even tossed in a glowing reference. And then Blaise asked me, “What are those lines under your eyes?” Haha, he meant dark circles. They’re subsiding but I think the kiddos need to be a bit older to rid of them completely. And speaking of vanity, four kiddos and no attached ears. It’s one of my things as we say. I like a good lobe. Attached ears are fine (Brian’s are), I just prefer lobes.

So now we live as six for five more weeks before the new house is ready. Hopefully my blood pressure stays lower with the winding down of everything. I feel like we are checking things off the list. Bought house, check. Sold house, check. Packed and moved, check. California, check. Baby, check. Just another (final) move to go. And then the holiday season starts, my favorite time of the year. Brian is off until January 4 and we intend on enjoying every moment. And we’re aware that things will still be chaotic as we move into the new house, living out of boxes and starting in on furnishing the place (we’re tripling square footage). Then there is the backyard that will need to be designed and cement poured, and, and, and… it’ll never end as a homeowner. I’m realistic.

Brian has a snip appointment late next week. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I’m 90% sure I’m good with four. It seems like the perfect number. Two kids per parent, easy peasy. (It’s amazing how our perspective of what is easy has changed with each added kiddo. Even taking three somewhere isn’t so hard.) We all fit nicely in the van. We have a bedroom for each kiddo in the new house (although they’ll all likely sleep in one room by choice). I don’t know that I want to be pregnant again after this go around. And the labor wasn’t pleasant with the high blood pressure. It feels so final, closing the door on our kiddo having days. I think I’ll ask Brian to wait six months until we’re settled in the new house and routine, and are used to being a family of six before he gets snipped. Then again, who knows?

On naming her Vaile. Much like with Saige, we changed things last minute. Vaile was going to be Pierce. Pierce was the name we selected right before Brian agreed to having a fourth. He likes to have a name selected before I get pregnant. It’s one of his things. Silly me, I never realized they all had names with an A sound. I mean, I must have known at some level but someone pointed it out to me mid-pregnancy. That turned me off from Pierce because it was a different sound, even though I still loved the idea of Pierce.

We never meant to have a naming theme going even though we do. Blaise was Blaise from the time Brian was 16. Laine would have been Lane or some other one-syllable name if she were a boy. (I do have a preference for one-syllable names.) Saige was going to be Blake but we were going to spell it Blaike to have the random I in there to match the other two. I was never a fan of wanting to spell it that way but it felt wrong not to. I searched one-syllable names a few weeks before I was due and found Saige. Sold. And we LOVE her name. I turned to Google again this pregnancy. I found the name Haile (Hale) and it fit! But then I realized that each name was a higher letter in the alphabet. (I’m not just weird with dates. Clearly I’m weird with letters, too.) So I found Vaile. Sold. Brian wasn’t sure at first but he never is. He’s a ponderer. He pondered and was cool with the name come October 7. I did tell him if I died during childbirth to go ahead and name her Bliss. His girl name he picked out when he was a teenager. Because teenage boys pick out their future kiddos’ names. So there we go. We’re (I’m) a weird naming theme person. I’ll own that.

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