Remember When?

{Jack, Mommy & Logan}
Tonight during dinner I started crying. Logan asked Josh why he was going to Alaska. Josh told him, "To teach because I love to see kids learn." And Logan was so sweet in wanting to understand it. I just sat there, watching them talk, and sobbed.
I am going to miss Josh so much.
And so are they.

{November 2008}

Then later, after we put the boys to bed, I was looking through old photo albums online and came across these pictures. These were taken my first week back at work.  I would wake up, take the boys to my mom's house, go to work, work until 3:30 and then fly to my mom's to pick them up.  Then we would come home, just the three of us (Josh had evening classes at WSU) and I would devour my time with them.  We would do tummy time, I would sing & sign with them, and get in all the snuggles I could before we had to start all over again the next day.  It was a very, very sad time in my life.  I hated being a working mommy. I hated leaving my heart at home to go to work. I hated being separated from my beautiful boys and I hated how depressed it made me.

I think God allowed me to happen upon these pictures for a reason.  Not only did Josh take a job in Alaska so he could teach, he took the job in Alaska so I could stay at home.  That is what we both wanted all along. 


I also happened upon these photos of myself feeding the boys at my mom's house...

I thought feeding Wyatt felt easy, now I see why.  Whether breastfeeding Logan & Jack those first two weeks or bottle feeding them later, it was so much freaking work.  Now I just scoop Wyatt up & nurse him; scoop him up & change him; scoop him up & bathe him.  There's no rush, no other brother crying, waiting his turn.  Plus, he sleeps. Oh, how he sleeps. Last night he slept 11:30pm to 5:00am.  I was so happy (& engorged!) when I woke up.  It's no wonder I am healing so quickly.  I never slept like that after we brought the twins home from the hospital!


Last night I sat nursing Wyatt, praying for the twins in the other room, and just couldn't believe that I have three little boys.  I am a mom. Josh & I have the family I always dreamed we would. As much as him leaving in five weeks is killing me, I'm also finding myself so grateful for everything we have.  Each other, mostly.  And our children.  And our story.  It's a beautiful one.

Boy meets girl.
Girl falls in love.
Boy proposes.
Girl says yes.
Boy & girl are wed.
College, her. College, him.
Pregnant! Twins!!
Girl {finally} gets to stay home.
Pregnant! Little brother!
Boys' career dream comes true with an Alaska adventure.

I can't wait to see what life holds next for us.

"Instructions for living a life:
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it." 
-Mary Oliver 


Big Brothers

Thursday (June 16th) the boys got to come meet their little brother.  As soon as they walked in the door I bent down and started to scoop Jack up in my arms.  "Shelly!" my mom yelled from across the room.  I realized in that moment that perhaps picking up my 35 pound son less than 24 hours after abdominal surgery was not my brightest idea.  But I had missed him so much, I couldn't help myself!

{Jack & Wyatt}
As the boys walked into the room, they both asked where Wyatt was.  
Then they each wanted to hold him.
Jack held him and touched his eyes & hands.
He really wanted Wyatt to open his eyes.

{Logan & Wyatt}
Logan held him & gave him the bubbas he & Jack had picked out.
He wanted Wyatt to hold the bubbas.

{Logan, Wyatt & Nanny}
They enjoyed looking him over
and were so sweet.

{Mommy, Jack & Wyatt}
I was so overjoyed to see my beautiful boys meet their little brother.
I loved watching them embrace him
and accept him into their hearts so openly.



Each of the boys came to visit Wyatt, Josh & I in the hospital one more time.
Josh's sister Laura brought Logan in to see us.

He was so happy to see the baby, hold him, and love him.

He took the duck bubba he had picked for Wyatt, found the tags and ever so gently rubbed the tags on Wyatt's face.  It was the most precious thing I have ever seen.



My dad brought Jack in to see us.
He wanted to climb in the bed to hold Wyatt.

This is how he smiled for me when I pulled the camera out.
Such a silly boy.

He really checked Wyatt out.
Took off his hats & socks, held his hands, and tried opening his eyes again.
It was so cute to watch him explore his little brother.


When we got home from the hospital on Saturday afternoon, the boys were going down for naps.  They weren't asleep yet, so I went into their room to try & lay them down.  As soon as I came in, they lost it.  I have never in my life heard either of them cry the way they did that afternoon.  Logan wanted to get up, so he started tantruming like mad when I told him he had to go to sleep.  And Jack started crying just because.  So I sat on the floor in their room, Jack curled up between my legs, sobbing, in the fetal position; and Logan sat on my thigh, alternating between screaming at me and crying hysterically.  I just rocked them, murmuring that mommy & daddy were home for good, and that I loved them.  
They cried for a good half hour before I could finally get them into their beds & off to dreamland.  They napped for three solid hours and woke up excited to see & hold Wyatt.
That was the extent of their post-baby meltdown.  It was intense, but short lived, so I feel pretty lucky.

And ever since they have been nothing but amazing with Wyatt.
Such good, sweet big brothers!



 We had very few visitors while I was in the hospital.  With my slow recovery we tried to take advantage of the ability to nap & rest as needed.  Here are a few pics of those who did come by to meet little Wyatt.

Josh's sister Julie

Our nephew Ethan

My nephew Isaiah

My Grandma Pansy

My Grandpa Jerry

Josh's Dad Carl
We didn't get pictures of everyone who came by, which bums me out, but I'm sure we'll have many more pictures in the days & weeks to come.


A Birth Story

 (Final snapshot: 40 weeks + 3 days)
Labor with Wyatt began Monday June 13th in the morning.  I had pretty regular contractions (about every seven minutes) for a few hours, then they tapered off.  By Tuesday (the 14th) they came back in full swing and as the day progressed, I was having at least four or five an hour.  By Tuesday afternoon (around 4pm) I was hunched over deep breathing through the contractions as they came.  I wanted to labor at home as long as possible because of the freedom to walk around, crouch, or get into any kind of position that was comfortable.  So we had the boys over at my mom's for a few hours, came home and made them dinner and put them to bed and throughout all of if, the contractions were growing both stronger and closer together.

At 11pm I decided the contractions were strong enough and close enough together (every four minutes) for us to head to the hospital.  My sister brought her son over and they spent the night with our boys.  We headed to triage to see where I was at.  The nurse checked me and I was 90% effaced and 3.5 cm dilated.  She seemed hesitant to admit me based on my numbers, but because of my due date having passed three days earlier, she called the doctor for a consult.

While waiting for a doctor to come see me, I had a really strong contraction and my water broke.  I was immediately admitted and given Suite 137.

 My mom met us at the hospital and had been waiting in the waiting room while I was in triage (you are only allowed one visitor with you in triage.) So once I had my birthing room, she was able to join Josh and I.

I was given two IV sites (one for saline & one in case of emergency) and had both a baby monitor and a contraction monitor put on my belly.  They gave me a mobile box that made it possible for me to labor out of bed and still allow them to track my contractions and Wyatt's heartbeat.  I would stand and rock or sway as each contraction passed.  I also spent some time in the tub, which was wonderful.

When I walked into the room from triage, I had already been laboring (albeit sporadically) for a day and a half.  After that many contractions, you start to forget what you're working for.  When I passed by the baby bed with a little shirt all ready for Wyatt's arrival, I remembered that in the end I was going to have a new little boy to hold in my arms.  It was a welcome reminder.

After laboring in the tub for a while,  I laid in the bed.  Josh slept a little on the couch in the room and my mom worked through my contractions with me.  She would push really hard on my back as each contraction swept over me, reminding me not to move away from the pain, but to imagine Wyatt working his way down.  She was amazing throughout the entire experience.

Wednesday morning I decided to try the birthing ball because while I was progressing in terms of dilation, Wyatt was not moving down into the birth canal. We thought some good old fashioned gravity might help. Mom put my hair into french braids for me and I put on my homemade hospital gown. 

As the hours passed I kept dilating, but my cervix was not going away and Wyatt was still at -2 station. (The baby is at +2 station when you are ready to push.)  Around 11am my second bag of waters broke.  It was the strangest sensation and was a HUGE gush of water like in the movies.  I'm still not sure I understand how my water broke twice, but the nurses seemed to think it was normal.

After my water broke the contractions hurt worse than anything.  I was starting to lose my edge. I was struggling to relax between contractions and I was exhausted from not sleeping a wink Tuesday night.  The nurse suggested I take a pain medication via my IV. She said it would only last about an hour, but she thought a nap would do me good. I accepted the IV pain relief and tried to rest.

By noon that medicine wore off, my contractions looked like plateaus on the screen and were so strong I was crying.  Josh was really advocating that I get an epidural.  We were worried that when the time came to finally push the baby out I wouldn't have enough energy left to get him out.

 So I got an epidural. And, oh, the relief!  I was so happy to have a break from the pain.  I was able to lay in bed, breathe quite easily through the contractions, and catch my breath.  A few hours later my nurse told me that although my contractions were quite strong, they weren't close enough for how far into my labor I was.  She decided to push some Pitocin in my IV.  I had originally not wanted an epidural or pitocin, but I also knew that I was rapidly approaching the 24 hour mark in terms of my water being broken, so I accepted the drugs and we got my contractions two minutes apart.

Still, Wyatt was at -2 station.  Despite the close, hard contractions, he was not cooperating.  It wasn't happening.  At 7pm the on call doctor came in to discuss a c-section.  I couldn't believe after nearly 20 hours of laboring, it was going to end in a cesarean anyway.  But the doctor was adamant- we had tried everything possible to get this baby out vaginally, it just wasn't in the cards for me. 

I felt really frustrated about the situation, but I knew that I had done everything possible to try for a VBAC. I cried a little once the decision was made.  Then it was just a waiting game.  There were two women laboring ahead of me, and the second doctor was doing an emergency c-section at Legacy.  While we waited for the doctors to be available they turned off the Pitocin and the epidural.  My contractions continued and were growing quite painful when the doctor finally showed up around 9pm ready to do the surgery.  So they suited Josh up and wheeled me off to the OR.

In the OR I lost it. I was crying and had to ask my sweet nurse to tell me it would all be okay.  She came over, held my hand, and assured me that they would be right there for me, that it would all be worth it when my baby was here.  I was shaking like crazy, feeling really nauseous, having horrible anxiety and was so dang tired.

The anesthesiologist gave me some medication to deal with the shaking, nausea and anxiety.  It helped so much.

 As soon as they brought Josh in, surgery began.
And at 9:39pm Wyatt Nathanial Cunningham was brought into this world.
He weighed 8 pounds, 14 ounces (the same as me when I was born)
and was 20.5 inches long.
He has a bunch of stork bites all along the back of his head, ear to ear, near his neck.  My mom said he has so many stork bites because he was so heavy for the stork to carry!
He has brown hair, blue eyes, a dimple in his right cheek and is perfect.

 After he was born, weighed, & checked over, Josh held him.  I was too out of it to even really look at him.  My eyelids were just so heavy.  I do remember hearing them count their tools back to each other and I remember thinking, "They are counting things to make sure they didn't leave any pieces inside of me. Weird!"

Then we were wheeled to a recovery room.  Once we were in there I just wanted ice chips.  I was so parched.  Josh said I just requested ice chips over and over and over.

My mom was able to come into the recovery room for a few minutes to see Wyatt. She was so happy that everything worked out okay.

After an hour in recovery I was wheeled back into my birthing suite and I was awake enough to hold Wyatt and really lay eyes on him.  I was shocked by his brown hair, and how much of it he has.  I was amazed at how perfect he was- beautiful eyes, nose & mouth.

 My mom got to hold Wyatt for a bit after that.  I know that she was grateful that Wyatt arrived safely, but we were both disappointed that she couldn't be in there for the birth as we had envisioned.

Shortly after arriving in our room Wyatt got his first bath.  He didn't care for it much, but was happy once it was over.

My recovery from surgery felt very slow.  I was really tired and overwhelmed by all the medication I had been on; my legs, ankles & feet were incredibly swollen and painful; and I had really bad pain in my shoulder from air left inside me post-surgery.  I opted to forgo any narcotic pain medication. I had been so pumped full of drugs, I really just wanted to clear my head. So I have only been on ibuprofen & tylenol for the pain management.

The exhaustion lasted through the night but by Thursday morning I was finally starting to feel better.  Regaining the feeling in my legs helped a lot.  Luckily despite my exhaustion I was able to breastfeed Wyatt right away and he took to it like a pro. 

He was born with really long fingernails, so he wore this shirt with his hands stuck in mittens to keep him from scratching himself.  Josh loves babies in mitts.  They look so adorable!

 He is just beautiful.

 And when he opens his eyes, my heart just melts.

 Just look at that face!

He is so fuzzy over his whole body. I love nursing him, skin to skin, and rubbing his sweet furry back.  He just melts into me, all warm & cozy, and I can't imagine my life without him.

We ended up spending Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday & Friday nights in the hospital.  We had very few visitors and tried to enjoy our time, just the three of us, knowing that as soon as we got home the chaos would begin & never end!!!

I worked hard on getting Wyatt comfortable nursing.  He lost nine ounces before we left the hospital, so I am curious what he weighs now.  Although if I had to guess, I would say he is fine because he is eating & pooping all.the.time!

I had some amazing nurses during my time in the hospital.  They can really make your experience.  And mine did.

 I found that night times were the most difficult for me.  I was tired, Josh was tired, and my emotions were all over the place.  I would cry at the drop of a hat. 

I would think of how much I missed Logan & Jack and start crying. I would think of how much I loved Wyatt and start crying.  I would think of Josh leaving in seven weeks for Alaska and start crying.  
...there was a lot of crying.

 But there was also a lot of smiles...
Smiles when I held Wyatt.
Smiles when Wyatt would have a good feeding.
Smiles when I saw Josh holding Wyatt.
Smiles when I saw our boys meet Wyatt for the first time.
Smiles when I started feeling like myself again.

And smiles when it was time to head home.

Wyatt was such a good boy, totally content to be buckled into his car seat.

Josh loaded the car, then scooped Wyatt up and off we went.

I walked out to the car, feeling so grateful for everything.
For the nurses & doctors,
for my family & support,
for my husband,
& for my sons.

We are so happy to be home sweet home...


Sneak Peek

Yesterday one of my dear friends, Kori, who is an identical twin herself (random fact I like to throw out there when I introduce her to people) did a newborn photo shoot of Wyatt.  She put up one of the photos on her blog to tease me. 
Now I am just dying (!!!) to see the rest! Check it out!

Kori also did my maternity shoot. Remember this one?

She's amazing.


One Week Old

Wyatt is one week old today. I cannot believe how fast time is flying by. Somehow it's even faster than it was with the twins.  I find myself calling them that lately, "the twins." 
"Josh is with the twins" or "When we had the twins..." because when I say "the boys" it includes Wyatt.  I never used to call them "the twins", so it's a funny change.

Logan & Jack are adjusting to being big brothers beautifully.  They adore Wyatt. As soon as I wake up and come out of my bedroom they are asking, "Where's Wyatt? Can I hold Wyatt? Is Wyatt hungry?"  Same thing when they get home from being gone.  They have to find out where he is, put on "hanitizer" (translation: hand sanitizer) and hold him, even if only briefly.

Their adjustment to mommy & daddy being home and back in charge has been less smooth.  There has been numerous timeouts, even more warnings and a lot of firstandmiddlename yelling. You parents know what I'm talking about!

 They are testing every rule, challenging each demand, questioning every request.  It has been super trying for us. But if I had to choose a difficult adjustment, I am glad the trouble is with discipline, not with love & acceptance for their new little brother.

I miss them.  I miss waking up with them in the morning, snuggling on the couch, making them breakfast... Giving them baths, rubbing on the Johnson & Johnson's baby lotion, putting on their cozy jammies, holding them in my lap as I read them a story...

Granted, I still get to be around for all that stuff, but I don't get to do it myself. 
When they cry I want to scoop them up. When they tantrum, I want to grab their little hands and send them off into their room.  When they ask to play, I want to jump right in and do it.
But I don't want to injure myself. I have to take it easy just a few days more.  And while waiting is painful, I have an amazing partner who is filling in while I'm out.

Josh has been everything to all of us the last few days.  He has been cook, maid, caretaker, father, mother & my own personal shoulder to cry on.

Taking care of the boys 24/7 has been especially taxing.  Their lack of listening, busy nature & constant talking/question asking is exhausting. Especially if you are going on very little sleep & going it alone.

I had him hold Wyatt this morning so I could do my hair and when I came out of the bathroom, this is what I found.  Poor, tired daddy.  I am so grateful for him.

And this little man, the newest boy in my life, is truly my sunshine.  He is such an easygoing, sweet natured baby.  He eats like a champ- we're breastfeeding and it's going swimmingly! And at night he sleeps for two four hour stretches.  It's so awesome.  

He makes the sweetest cooing noises while he nurses and only cries when we change his diaper.  I am loving having a singleton this time. I only have to change one diaper, not two. Feed one baby, not two. And I can just hold Wyatt forever without having to split my time or worry about the other baby being neglected.  Another bonus? The teeny-tiny diaper bag I can carry since there is only one!!!

While adjusting to parenting Wyatt has been very easy, and loving him came naturally, my emotions have been all over the map since his birth.  I remember being the same way after Logan & Jack were born, which provides some comfort.  But this time, there is so much more on my plate.

 I alternate between feeling so incredibly blessed- I have three beautiful, healthy sons whom I was able to carry to term and bring home from the hospital with me- to feeling so incredibly sad- Josh is going to leave in six and a half weeks for Marshall, Alaska and I am going to have the awesome job of raising our three boys myself and oh, how I will miss him, ache for him, everyday...
I am an emotional roller coaster.  Some days I cry seven times, other days it's just once or twice.

I am trying to feel the feelings as they come, let them wash over me, and then be done with them.  As my mom says, it's important not to let tomorrow's troubles steal today's joy.  I am working on that.
I also found for myself a verse that I am clinging to in moments of desperation.  
"For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans for hope and a good future." -Jeremiah 29:11

When I think of doing this whole parenting gig without Josh, when I think of missing him, seeing our boys miss him, I can really get to feeling low.  When I think of the boys and I moving to Marshall, Alaska in December to join him, I can get to feeling pretty panicked.  I worry about the weather, being stuck in our house for months at a time, being away from family & our support system, and being enough for our boys.
That verse helps me remember that God's got it under control. He knows what he's doing.

After all, he got Wyatt here safely, and that was no small feat.

I was so sick in the beginning, then our house had that mold/standing water issue, then we all got the stomach flu, I was hospitalized for a headache, had a CT scan, had more colds & random illnesses than I have ever had in a six month period, and then finally I was healthy, but I was so dang pregnant that sleep was a long lost friend and I was just ready to be done.  
And there he came, pink, healthy & beautiful, into my life.
If God can manage that, I reckon He can manage anything.
Even Marshall, Alaska.

Moving on... We gave Wyatt his first bath at home this week.  And he loved it. Just melted into the water like a little froggy. I was so proud.

I also need to give a shout out to all who have helped us in the last week. 
Starting with my mom.  She was amazing (amazing!!!) during my labor, took care of my boys for two days during my hospital stay, did some shopping for us and house keeping as well.  Thank you.
My sister, Roxanne, for watching the boys for two nights, buying some new outfits for our big boy Wyatt, providing a delicious dinner Tuesday night, and for taking the boys periodically so Josh can get a break.  You have been so thoughtful and we appreciate it.
To Josh's sister Julie for having the boys as often as we've needed, sleeping over with them a night while we were in the hospital, making us dinner and just being there for both of us whenever we need her. We love you.
 And to Peggy, Juli & Lisa for the dinners you provided as well. 

We've been laying pretty low, Wyatt & I.  No visitors, just lots of couch snuggling, nursing, napping and resting. I am trying very hard to heal up right the first time and not overdo it.  Hard as it is, I know it will be worth it when I am healed enough to play with Logan & Jack and have a hand in the housework again.  
And honestly, I am enjoying getting to know Wyatt. I love holding him, cooing, in my arms as he sleeps.  I love touching his sweet soft cheeks, holding his tiny fingers in my hands and patting his back as he falls asleep on my chest.  He's such a little buddy. And I feel so lucky to be his mommy!

{Wyatt's entire birth story will be coming soon. Meanwhile, I will continue blogging where we're at currently!}