Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Longest Week Ever

In one week (or less?) my husband, who has been gone for 6 months, will be home from Afghanistan for two whole weeks. I am ecstatic. The kids have not been told, and I plan on keeping it a surprise until the second they see his smiling face.  I only hope I can capture their excitement on camera when they see him in the middle of the airport.  Little Madison was only two weeks old when she saw him last. I am so anxious to see how she will respond to him. When he left, she had not even begun her casting on her legs, and her little feet were still turned completely inward. He will be amazed at the progress she has made with the casts and now the brace. When he left, Tally was 4 and had not begun Pre-K. Hunter was 2 and had not begun preschool. Now Tally is 5 and is over halfway through Pre-K and Hunter is 3 and happily goes to preschool twice a week.  Everything is different in our house, and he will resemble a stranger in his own home. I cannot wait. Inevitably, as with every soldier who deploys for such a long period of time (and we’re only halfway through!), he will most likely have already changed some. Just little quirks that you notice over time have developed or disappeared. Habits change. New habits begin. Attitudes and opinions change. And suddenly becoming a “single” mother of three has most definitely changed me. My responsibilities have grown. Some of my own habits have changed. I have become much more laid back in some areas and perhaps more uptight in others. My changes will become much more evident to him the longer he is here. I can only hope that whatever changes have taken place in our individual lives will not cause problems between us but will rather bring us closer together. Being apart for so long brings back the butterflies that were present when our relationship began (over 12 years ago!). It takes time to become familiar with one another again. Will he still drink Rock Star energy drinks excessively? Should I even bother to buy some? Will I be allowed to brush my teeth in the bathroom while he takes a shower at the same time? Will I feel comfortable changing into my pajamas with him in the same room, or should I go somewhere else to do it? I should probably clean up the garage and the back yard before he arrives since those are his “manly” spots, and I have most definitely abused them since I gained control. So many thoughts go through my head in anticipation of his arrival. As exciting as it is that he is finally coming home (despite it only being for 2 weeks) , I know that this will be the l-o-n-g-e-s-t and s-l-o-w-e-s-t week EVER. And I cannot wait.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Belly

While carrying Baby #3 for 9 months and growing quite exceptionally large, my belly took a serious beating. As my midwife put it at my 6 week post-partum checkup, my "guts fell out." In other words, I have a hernia. My abdominal muscles stretched and pulled apart so much that they pretty much no longer exist. There is a gaping hole in my abdominal wall, and I guess she was correct when she said my "guts fell out." That description does not create a pretty mental picture, but if I told you which organ is actually protruding through my abdominal wall, you would most likely cringe and have an even worse mental picture, so I will spare you the details. Regardless, the hole is BIG, and it has to be fixed. I have been walking around like this for 6 months now after being told to simply "lose more baby weight and we'll talk about it." So I did. I ran with a vengeance for several months until cold weather struck the Tennessee/Kentucky state line, and I am back down to my original pre-baby weight (or possibly below it). My eating habits as a "single" mother of 3 probably had something to do with it too, but I'll blame the running. So earlier this week I re-visited the surgeon with whom I talked to before, and he confirmed that my belly needed to be fixed, especially now that I suffer from random spurts of nausea, mild pain, and overall discomfort. I am not supposed to have any more children following the surgery, however, because pregnancy will undo everything they fix. So while they're in there, they will also perform a tubal ligation, or in layman's terms, they will tie my tubes. I am fine with that. I've always only wanted three kids, and I have reached my goal and am perfectly content with my three beautiful children. The surgeon first said we could do it in February. I would love to, but my beloved deployed husband is coming home for 2 weeks in February, and I refuse to ruin his vacation by forcing him to take care of me while I recover from abdominal surgery. Therefore, I will have the surgery in March. Recovery will not be easy, especially with 3 high-energy kids, but I can do this. Several members of my family have suggested me going home for the surgery, but I cannot imagine being gone for so long or staying in someone else's house for well over a month while I attend pre-op appointments, have the surgery, and then have post-op appointments and recover. Plus, and maybe this is the real subconscious reason, but there's just something comforting about being in my own home (OUR own home) while my husband is deployed. I don't know why, but I just want to be here where I can easily be found if needed. But all that aside, it is hard to believe that March is really not that far away. I will be relieved to have my stomach fixed and have my guts pushed back in. Now if we could only do something about the loose skin...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Stuck in the Mud

Have you ever done anything that made you feel completely stupid? Take a minute and think about that. Please. It would make me feel better if you did. At least then I would know I am not alone in the world of people who do dumb things. Let me first defend myself, though, by stating that I am a horrible nighttime driver. Horrible. Blind as a bat. Anyway, tonight I had a meeting at 6:30. I had to drop the kids off at their childcare location at 6. We ventured out, and as we neared the childcare center, I realized I had missed my turn. The words from the email flashed in my head. If you get to the light, you've gone too far. As I approached that light, I became irritated. I had not seen the turn at all. So I went through the light with hopes of finding a turn-around spot soon after. Nope. So I made one. I quickly turned left and tried to do a wide U-turn in an area where hay had been placed over the ground. Little did I know that hay was covering pure mud. Thick, mushy, dirty M-U-D mud. I threw the van in reverse and did not move an inch. Put it in drive and did not move an inch. I continued this pattern until I had my front right tire completely covered in mud all the way up to the rim. I was not going anywhere. The voices coming from the back of the van tried to be helpful but eventually earned a negative response. Mom, why aren't we going? Mom, this is not the daycare. Mom, are we lost? Hey, Mom, where are we? Mom, can we go now? Can I get out? And then the baby starts crying. Oh yes. It's feeding time. I thought I was going to be able to make it to the meeting before feeding time struck.  Not gonna happen. Not today. Finally, I realized I could not fight this battle alone, so I got out of the van in my favorite black mary janes which immediately slid and sank into the mud. I flagged down the next passing vehicle. It was a very nice, older man in a pickup truck. He attempted to push the van out while I floored it in reverse. It did not budge. A soldier wearing running shoes, pajama pants, and a hoodie pulled over and helped. The van did not budge. They tried sliding rocks and eventually a rubber floor mat under my front tires, but nothing worked. A third man stopped and joined the party. Then a fourth. He spoke of chains and the possibility of pulling me out with his truck. But alas, after 40 minutes, the van flew out of the mud trap with full speed, and fishtailed onto the road. All I wanted to do was run and hug each and every one of them, but I knew I would just fall in the mud. I thanked them all graciously, and we parted ways. Forget the meeting. I went straight home thinking about nothing but the fact that all four of those men probably needed new shoes after that.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Birth Story II

Sunday will be January 23, my "baby" boy's 3rd birthday. On his sister's 5th birthday, I wrote a birth story blog, so I owe it to him to write his story. Just like before, we were living in Germany. I was teaching kindergarten. By the time I was 38 weeks pregnant, I had been preparing for maternity leave for weeks. Although you do not get paid for maternity leave, teaching is not a profession that you can just take leave and not prepare ahead of time. I  had been very busy making lesson plans, making copies of worksheets and other activities, and preparing all sorts of materials for my substitute. Luckily, I was great friends with my substitute, and she was an actual teacher, so I wasn't too worried. But we were halfway through the school year, and I had been working so hard with all 25 of my kindergarteners, so they all held a special place in my heart, and I knew them well. I was actually sad to know that I would be leaving them for 8 weeks. On Tuesday, January 22, 2008 I drove the 20 minutes to my doctor's office in Birkenfeld, Germany for my 38 week checkup. While administering the ultrasound, the doctor noticed that the baby had not grown since my last appointment a week ago. He looked at me with his gray handlebar mustache and said with his thick German accent, "You want to have the baby?"  "Now?!" I said. "Tomorrow," he responded. "You come in at 7, we induce you, and later that night you have the baby." I was thrilled. I was 2 weeks away from my due date, but I felt HUGE and uncomfortable, and I was very ready. As soon as I stepped outside, I called Johnathan and told him the news. Then I called my friend and maternity leave substitute, Kelly, and informed her that I was going on leave early. I spent that whole night packing my bag, packing the baby's bag, snuggling with Tally and trying to explain what has happening (not very easy with a 2 year old), and calling my family in the States. I barely slept that night. The anticipation was killing me. Bright and early the next morning, January 23, 2008, we dropped Tally off at daycare at 6:30 and made our way to the hospital. Kelly had already agreed to pick Tally up from daycare that afternoon, so we did not have to worry about when to pick her up. We arrived at the hospital by 7, and I was induced at 8:30. The doctor assured me that I would not feel anything for 4-6 hours, and then the baby still might not come until late that night or the next morning. He was wrong. The labor was fast and furious. It was intense, and I felt every bit of it. At 11:30am I began to push. I pushed a total of 3 times. Right before push #2 began, I heard a phone ring. I watched as my husband pulled his cell phone out of his pocket and say, "Martin here." That was how he always answered his phone. Is he seriously taking a call right now? Is he really talking on the phone as I deliver our baby? Seriously? It was Rich. Leon Richardson. Johnathan's right hand man. His first sergeant. His timing was impeccable. The call was quick. Right before it ended, Rich got a good earful of push #2. I'm sure it sounded like he was right in the room with us. I did not hold back. Just as push #2 ended, push #3 began, and Robert "Hunter" Martin was born at 11:47am. He was 7lbs 7 oz and perfect from head to toe.
Hunter, Day 1

When Tally met Hunter

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


It's hard to believe, but February is only a couple weeks away. When I think of February, I think of a frightful day 2 years ago in Baumholder, Germany. It was 2009, and I was a first grade teacher. It wasn't even lunch time yet, and I got a phone call on the school phone just outside my classroom. "Mrs. Martin?" said the woman's voice on the other end. "Yes?" I responded, realizing immediately that it was the receptionist from Tally and Hunter's daycare.  Oh great! I thought as various scenarios ran through my head. Hunter got bit again. Or he has a fever (which always meant an ear infection). But instead, I heard her say, "Tally's been hurt on the playground. Two of her teeth have been knocked far back and are barely hanging on. There is a lot of blood. She needs to be picked up and seek medical attention." What?! I thought. How can that happen? "Ok. I'll  be right there," I said with tears welling up in my eyes. I stepped back in the classroom not even knowing what to do. I couldn't just leave. I had 25 first graders counting on me, all staring at me wondering why I was pacing around the room and crying. I just wanted to run out the door to my baby girl who I could hear screaming in the background of the phone call. I did not have an aide, so I buzzed the secretary on the intercom and told him I needed a substitute NOW. Ten minutes later, my substitute arrived. I apologized for my lack of lesson plans, gave her what I had, and ran out the door. I pulled up to the daycare, literally ran inside, and saw Tally, still screaming inconsolably in the arms of a caregiver. I looked at her bruised, puffy, bleeding mouth and saw the two blue teeth pushed way too far back. Two other teeth next to them were now crooked. She reached for me, I grabbed her, and quickly listened to the story of how it happened. She had been playing Monster on the playground with some boys (she always played with boys!). She was the monster, and the boys were chasing her. As she ran, the biggest boy caught her and pushed her. She instantly fell forward with the momentum of her speed and the power of his push, and her face hit the side of a concrete car that was on the playground. Fast forward 25 minutes, and I was speeding to the dentist's office with her (still) screaming in the back seat of my van. She had paper towels and gauze gently stuffed in her mouth, but I could not stop the bleeding. The people who worked at the dentist's office were amazing. They took her back right away, took x-rays of her mouth, and then took her away to examine the damage. They said she would probably calm down and do better if I was not in the room. I paced and paced around that waiting room for what seemed like an eternity but turned out to be 10 minutes. Finally, the dentist came out to see me. I had tears in my eyes, and he assured me that she was ok. He told me that she had indeed calmed down and was no longer screaming. Then he told me what I had already known. The two front teeth had to come out. He said they were very loose and had no chance of surviving. He was able to slide them up into place, but as soon as he let go, they went right back to where they had been. The other two teeth affected were questionable. They were crooked, but he thought they could make it. I agreed to let him remove the two badly damaged teeth, and they came right out without any effort. I took his word for it that the two crooked ones would be ok. Tally and I left there that day with two teeth in a cup and a pack of ice on her mouth that continued to bleed. I took her home, let her rest after such a traumatic morning, fed her pudding, jello, and pudding, and I kept her home the next day as well. Her mouth hurt, and I hated to see her in pain, but she sucked it up and was a real trooper. From that day on, her smile was very different from what it had been. The two crooked teeth bothered her for months. She was constantly playing with one in particular with her fingers and her tongue, and once, I caught her tying a string around it, saying she wanted it out. It rested on her bottom lip when she closed her mouth, and she couldn't stand it. That July, the two crooked teeth were removed. My 3 year old baby girl was missing 4 of her top teeth, and they will stay missing until her permanent teeth come in at age 6(?). I think her "new" smile gives her more personality. But I hope that we never relive a day like that again!