Saturday, May 23, 2009


We had all the cousins together last weekend for the first time - Ford 19 months, Claire 3 years, Gus 10 days, Mac 2 1/2 years and Graham 9 months. Claire is the little princess of the group and will certainly have her hands full with all of these little boys running around! What fun they are sure to have together in the years to come.
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Sunday, May 17, 2009

This is Claire on the first day of preschool in September . . .

This is her on the last day this week! It is amazing how fast they grow before your eyes. Sometimes you have step back so you can see it!
Whew - this is going way to fast. Didn't I just bring her home from the hospital??

This is what I saw when I looked in the baby mirror on the way to school on Friday. Brothers and Sister holding hands the whole way. I didn't know if I should cry or take a picture. I decided to take a picture :) Don't worry - I was in carpool line not driving (I've already been asked twice already).
My cup runeth over . . . this is what I see in my very full back seat. Thank you, God, for these children. I love them so much and I am so proud of them that I feel like my heart might burst through my chest sometimes.
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Thursday, May 14, 2009

How I almost had a baby in a Mexican restaurant . . .

OK, so maybe "almost" is a bit of an overstatement but I thought it sounded like a good title for a blog post and there is some truth to it. Here is how little Gus came into the world: It was Cinco de Mayo and I had been having random contractions all day but didn't put too much thought into them. When I went into labor with Claire my water broke first and I was induced with Ford by having my water broken so I naturally assumed that this labor would start with my water breaking first too. Rhett got home and I suggested we go out for Mexican mainly because I really didn't want to clean up the kitchen. So off we went to Sol Azteca to join in the celebration - ole! When we got there they told us it would be a 15 minute wait which seemed kind of unlikely considering the police in the parking lot directing traffic but we found a spot and listened to the live band and watched Ford dance. Maybe it was the loud music that got things moving but as I stood there outside the restaurant I started having much more uncomfortable contractions. Once again I blew them off and looked forward to some chips and salsa. Almost an hour into our wait we finally got a table.
This is when I made a pretty important decision. I decided to go off the combo list. I've never gone off the combo list at a Mexican restaurant. I've interestingly found that #18 is usually a burrito and a taco with rice and beans no matter what resturant it is and that is my standard. But this night I decided to get some fancy shrimp dish in an area of the menu I've never even read before (it was actually really good!). Anyway, as we are sitting there waiting a little longer than usual due to the crowds and my entree choice Rhett asked me "what's going on over there?" and I told him I was having some contractions. I assured him they were nothing but he looked slightly concerned (remember I was already 4cm dilated and my last labor lasted less than 2 hours). I told him I'd let him know when I had another one . . . and three minutes later I did. He got much more concerned at that point and started eating really fast (anyone who knows Rhett can understand the seriousness of that statement). I was still in denial and told him that even though they hurt they weren't that regular. He kindly laid out he situation for me: 4 cm dilated, 3rd child, contractions every 3-5 minutes = labor. Then came one of my favorite quotes of the evening "Megan, this will not go down in a Mexican restaurant!". He started telling the kids we were having a baby that night and I thought he was getting a little ahead of himself. Turns out he was right.
We got home and I called a friend and told here I was bringing the kids over. I had time to take a shower and get everyone ready and then I realized that I really was having the baby that night! I was starting to really hurt and Claire asked me what was wrong. I told her Little Baby was making my tummy hurt. She said "It's OK Mommy. You're just going to go to the hospital and push it out then you will feel better". Turns out she was right too. We arrived at the "MEU" (Maternal Evaluation Unit) where they check you out and decide whether or not you are in labor before sending you home or to L&D. I looked like a classic movie scene as I pulled up to the entrance having contractions and hurting . . . a lot. This is when I entered the Twilight Zone. I thought I was a woman about to give birth and everyone else there seemed to think I was there to get my teeth cleaned or some other non-emergent situation. I was calmly told to sign in and have a seat. WHAT?? I'm having a baby! I stood there and swayed and cried my way through several contractions while Rhett was told to park the car. Then a lady came out and called my name and led me back. She asked me in a cheerful voice to "hop up on the scale" and I thought I might be on Candid Camera. The same cheerful (oblivious) girl told me to sit down on the bed and I told her that there was no way I was sitting down anywhere. Then the questions started. I understand they have admission paperwork to fill out - I've been there - but when they asked me what kind of birth control I was planning on using after the baby was born that is where I drew the line and refused to answer any more questions. They found out in short order that I was 6 cm and that, yes, I was indeed in labor so they sent me upstairs to L&D.
So this is where things get a little fuzzy. I have had this desire for years to have natural childbirth for many different reasons. I almost did it with Ford (I feel pretty confident in calling it natural but since I technically had the epidural in my back with one dose of lidocaine I came up short). So, thinking this may be my last chance I was going for it. Can I pause here to tell everyone how you might think you can imagine how bad it must hurt but I assure you - you can't. It's off the charts. Just thinking about it makes me tear up. So I refused the epidural and just kept on trying to manage each contraction I was 8 cm at this point and having a tough time. Rhett was being so encouraging, thinking of every possible thing he could say to push me to the finish line. Now for my favorite quote of mine for the evening - Rhett said "You can do this" and I replied "Oh, I know I can do it. I just don't want to. I'm over it". Not long after that the anesthesiologist arrived with his wonderful cart of drugs and started getting set up.

This is where I took over. Let me explain . . . I am a nurse, in labor, with my third child and no pain medication on board. I know exactly what is going on with everyone in the room so I proclaimed myself in charge and started ordering everyone around. I asked the anesthesia guy - Paul - if he was set up yet and told him we were going to go for it after my next contraction. He was very kind and patient with Little Miss Bossy and did an excellent job. Sweet little Gus got his directions confused and thought he was supposed to come out face up (wrong!). So during my OBs effort to turn him while I was pushing I was very thankful I had the epidural because it was extremely painful WITH the epidural. So I am fine with the fact that I folded like a deck of cards because it got rough at the end trying to get him to turn (which he did finally). His forehead was a little bruised when he first arrived from his attempted upsidedown entrance into this world but other than that he was perfect.

Rhett announced that he was indeed a boy (we had a strong feeling he was a boy but didn't know for sure until we saw his plumbing!) and I had that amazing moment of looking at my sweet baby for the first time and falling in love with him. He is the smallest of our three kids at 7lbs 8oz. He's really the first one that has actually looked like a newborn. We are working hard to chunk him up and he's doing great. He read the breastfeeding manual before he was born and is a superstar. He was born at 10:42 and was nursing for the first time at about 10:44!

We are thankful for Gus and so thrilled to welcome him into our family. He is just a reminder of how precious life is and how perfectly we are knit together by our Creator.
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Thursday, May 07, 2009

Gus Harden Shirley

This is Gus Harden Shirley! We are so excited to announce that our beautiful son was born on May 5, 2009. He weighed 7lbs 8oz and was 20 inches long. More details of the dramatic birth story will follow soon. For now here are some pictures of our first day with our sweet Baby Gus.
Mommy with all her babies!
Claire holding Gus for the first time - SO excited!

Mommy, Daddy and Gus in the delivery room. Welcome to the world little man!!

Last week

Less than a week ago my precious friend Stephanie spent a morning with me and Ford taking some pictures. I had mentioned the possibility to her a while ago but as time got closer for the baby's arrival and I felt more pressed for time I was tempted to just let it go. Then I had a conversation with my other precious friend, Shanan, and we talked about how child #2 seemed to get the squeeze at times and miss out on some of the things that #1 and #3 tend to have prioritized. One of those is pictures. Although I did make sure I had fantastic photos of Ford for his whole first year I was tempted to drop the ball on 18 months due to this busy season. After Shanan and I talked I decided that I had to make it happen for Ford and I am so glad. He is such a precious little thing at this age and I am so thankful for having wonderful pictures of him to remember this age. Anyway, I've only seen a sneak peak of those pictures of him but I'll share them when I get them because what I've seen is adorable!

The main reason for this post is that I asked Stephanie to take a few shots of my enormously pregnant belly. I felt really weird asking and even more so actually taking the pictures but I can not tell you how thankful I am to have these pictures. I'm not a pretty pregnant person. I am relatively short and even more short waisted which makes for a rather large tummy but I guess even more than that I just don't feel pretty when I'm pregnant like some women do so I'm just tempted to not document it. It is now several days later and I'm not pregnant anymore. I am already looking at these pictures with warm nostalgic feelings and I'm so thankful to have them as a way to remember a very special time in my life.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Our little ballerina

One of the hardest things about moving overseas for me is thinking about my kids missing traditional American "rite of passage" events, milestones and activites. I'm pretty sure that once we are there and living a different life those things will not seem as important and there will be other aspects of our new life will replace those things in a very big way but for now I get a little sad thinking about missing out on some of these fun things. One of those things being the precious moments of dance and athletics for little kids. I've always dreamed of the little ballerina, gymnast and t-ball player that I might have. So I have a very special appreciation for these special little activities that most parents take for granted. I'm thankful that I'm able to share some of these moments with Claire. Here's our ballerina at her first performance- yay!

Obviously she looked beautiful but she was also very confident and did an amazing job dancing up there in front of so many people. We were so very proud of her!
Here she is with Daddy right after the performance - can you see how excited she was? You can imagine how entertaining a ballet recital with about 35 3 year old little girls was!
And the #1 fan of the evening is little brother, Ford. He just clapped and clapped and was so excited for her. He just adores her and is so supportive of his big sister. I love seeing them encourage and love each other in that way. What special friends they have in each other. I guess Claire may be cheering for him on the football (aka soccer) or rugby field instead of the t-ball field as I once thought. (notice the for sale sign - sad :(
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