Monday, February 27, 2017

He Said/She Said

It's been one week since our world was turned upside down and topsy-turvy in quite possibly the best way there is. To tell the world about our new addition, this special blog will be called "He Said/She Said," and give readers a look into this new adventures from both of our perspectives.

He Said
As I sit down to write this on Saturday night, Feb. 25, the thought never crossed my mind that I would already be a father of two for a full week. Grace was a week late and for some reason, I was sure that Charlotte would follow her older sister's lead.
We'll blame that for Mary and I's total lack of preparedness. I'm not sure how true it actually is, but that's what we are going to blame it on.

Grace was excited to see her little sister on the sonogram before we got to meet her in person!
But here we are, Mary holding one beautiful girl, while the other one sleeps in her room across the hall. The crib I was going to rebuild last Friday still lays in pieces in what will be Charlotte's room someday, hopefully before she turns 18 and goes off to college, hopefully to become a doctor or astronaut or some sort of hybrid of the two.

Our nurse wrote on our chart that our goal for the day was to have a baby!
You see, my grand plan was to build the crib that Friday after we got home from our appointment with Dr. Eden, Mary's OB for this birth. We already had a busy morning of PT with Grace, followed by lunch at the Cracker Barrel, where I ate my weight in country fried steak and oggled the cute little dresses they had in the store. Girls clothes are cute and I have a weakness for anything that would make either of my girls even cuter. This will probably come back to haunt me over the next two decades.

Meet Charlotte Grace Herschelman
After no problems with Mary's non-stress test, which is actually very stressful, we made our way to the sonogram room. The week before we had watched as the pictures on the screen showed little strands of hair sprouting up from the gray blob on the screen that was Charlotte's noggin. Grace didn't have much hair until well after she was a year old, so the thought of this was pretty cool and a new experience for our family. This week was different though. The person who did the sonogram took longer, measuring several different areas and trying to find different angles. I didn't panic outwardly, but inside, I was a ball of nerves, wondering if anything was going wrong.

Check out those inky feet!
The short answer was there wasn't… yet. Dr. Eden told us that Mary was significant lower on amniotic fluid than the previous week and said that he was going to send the results to another doctor to see what he thought. As he left us to make the call, he opined that we would be having the baby either that day or the next. I remember looking at Mary and us both having the same reaction. I won't say what I actually said, because this is a family blog, but needless to say I was shocked.

After a few moments of panic, I changed course and tried to encourage Mary that everything was going to be ok. We had to go admit her to St. John's Hospital, but first we thought we would go across the street to where my mom worked and let her know that her newest granddaughter had the patience of a gnat. This induced panic spell number two as my mom replied "Yeah, I kind of figured that would happen." That was followed by me grumbling at my mother for five minutes about why she didn't tell us this, but eventually I got over it and we continued our journey.

Getting some of those first few snuggles!
The plan was to get Mary checked into St. John's, then I would drop off Grace at my parents' house, where my sister Mikaela and her son Quincy were waiting for her. With Mary's parents in Florida, Mikaela was gracious enough to drive up from Arnold, MO to watch Grace until my mom and dad could get off work. I would then drive over to Hillsboro and get some things that we might need at the hospital (extra clothes, contact solution, whiskey, etc.).

At about 6:30, I got a call from Mary saying that the procedure they originally planned for 8 p.m. was moved up to 7 p.m., meaning that I had a half hour to get to Springfield before doctors sawed my wife in half and yanked a human being out of her. For all you know, I didn't panic. And if you believe that, I've got some beach from property in Pitman Township to sell you.

So with the urgency of a man with his pants on fire, I threw all of our things together, drove to my parents house, dropped off Grace's bag, took a piece of pizza that my sister had offered and hit the road once again. By this time 7 p.m. had come and gone, but Mary said that the doctor had been called away to another delivery. Still I felt like I was in Cannonball Run or Smokey and the Bandit, or some other Academy Award winning tome. I kept my speeding to a minimum despite the urgency and made it all the way to Springfield before things got weird again.

Grace was really excited to meet Charlotte.
As I drove in on 6th Street, everything was fine until I got almost to downtown, where police had the road closed off due to an accident. After nearly sideswiping a vehicle in the next lane, I managed to turn to try to detour around the blockage. I don't know Springfield that well, so this was the last thing I wanted and ultimately I found myself going the wrong way on a one-way street. Always a great way to spice up an evening. 

After turning myself around, I finally got my bearings and made it to the hospital with just minutes to spare. And by minutes, I mean roughly five hours. The C-Section that was going to start at 7 p.m. and caused me to nearly get in a head on collision actually began about 1 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18. This was the first time I had been in the delivery room, after opting out of Grace's birth due to fear that I would pass out and put two of us in the hospital. This time I felt more prepared and was excited to meet the little girl that had disregarded our carefully laid plans and procrastination.

Reading a new book to Miss Charlotte.
As the doctors went to work, I tried to help Mary as much as I could, keeping my nerves to a minimum despite the feeling that this was the most important person in the world to me lying on the operating table. Soon we heard someone say, "Look at all that hair!" followed by the sweetest cry I've ever heard. I got a quick peek at all 7 pounds, 20 inches of Charlotte Grace Herschelman before they went to hose her off and get all of her vital info. Once she was clean, I got to spend a few moments alone with her (with the nurses there of course), something I also didn't do with Grace. I watched as they measured her, weighed her and inked up her feet, thinking the whole time how perfect she was.

Our first family photo!
Once she was all done with her other duties, I was able to hold her by Mary and show her the miracle that was Charlotte Grace. It was love at first sight for the both of us and it hasn't stopped since. We've had some battles with car seats and sleep deprivation, but it already feels like she has been a part of our family forever. My employers/in-laws allowed me to take my two weeks of vacation off to be with Charlotte, Mary and Grace, something they offered the last time, but I didn't take advantage of. This time, not being able to pick up Grace, I knew Mary needed me to be there and I have jumped head first into my responsibilities with Grace Lou.

The first of many sisterly headlocks.
This is probably the first year that I haven't made it to a regional basketball game since I started at the Journal-News, but I had so much help from my fellow employees that the paper didn't miss a beat. I'll never be able to thank them enough for their generosity. There are still things I'm learning everyday about fatherhood and family life, but I know one thing for sure. These two weeks that I have been able to spend with my girls are special ones and it has truly showed me that above all else, family and God come first in my life.

Snuggling with my girls.
She Said
Last Friday (Feb. 17) started out just like most other Fridays do for our family.  We got Grace ready for physical therapy in Springfield, and sort of figured our biggest decision for the day would be where to eat lunch. Just for the record, we picked Cracker Barrel, and it was delicious.

After lunch, we headed over to the Springfield Clinic for what we thought would be a routine weekly check-up for the baby. Due to my "advanced maternal age," it included a non-stress test on the heart monitor and a sonogram.  I could tell something was up as the sonogram took about twice as long as the week before. And when it was time to meet with Dr. Eden, he told us it showed low amniotic fluid, and that we would be getting a baby either that day or the next.

Hanging out with Uncle Shane.
When he left the room to make some phone calls, I think the panic set in for both of us.  Each of us had meeting stories to write for the paper. Kyle had already talked about putting the crib together that night, and just in general, we weren't ready at all for Charlotte Grace to make her appearance two weeks early.

Cousin time with Katelyn, Kayley and Kensey.
But whether we were ready or not, we were going to become parents again.  Kyle and Grace got me all checked into the hospital and then headed back for home to pick up all those things that we never bothered to get ready for the hospital.  Kyle's sister met him at his parents' house to keep Grace, and Kyle ran back to our house to get what he needed.

Hanging out with Grandpa and Grandma Galer.
I chilled out in the hospital, and killed time texting updates to family members. The nurses at the hospital took great care of me, and told me they thought our c-section would be between 8 and midnight.  Then, they came back to say 7:30, and then again to say they thought it would be at 7. When I got ahold of Kyle around 6:45, he was still at our house gathering some clothes for me and Grace, and still an hour from the hospital.  I told him not to worry or hurry and that Charlotte and I would be in good hands.  Just to be safe in getting back up to Springfield and we would be waiting for him.

Well, as it turned out, our doctor had been particularly busy that day with deliveries, and Kyle ended up making it in plenty of time for the delivery, which was shortly after 1 a.m.  Because I had a c-section with Grace, they recommended that this time around as well.  And we were just so happy to have a happy, healthy baby that it didn't matter to us.

Hanging out with daddy at home.
The first thing the doctor told us was that she had a full head of hair, which was completely different from Grace, who was bald for nearly the first year of her life! After the nurses got her cleaned up, Kyle got to go over and check her out, counting all her fingers and toes.  Then they brought her to him to hold, so I could see her too, while they finished up with my c-section.

First bedtime story together.
Although, we had to wait several hours for the surgery to begin, once everything started, it sort of became a blur, and it wasn't long before we heard the doctor said, "look at all that hair!"  Since then, it has seemed like Charlotte has just always been part of our family.

Family and friends have blessed us over and over again!
We enjoyed visits at the hospital from family and coworkers, and have been blessed by our church family with meals throughout the week. Slowly but surely, Kyle and I are adjusting to life with a newborn again. One of these times, one of us is going to remember that we have to bring diapers with us when we go somewhere or that sleeping all night is definitely overrated.  

For the most part, we hang out in our newly refinished basement with the girls laying on a blanket next to each other.  Grace seems to enjoy watching Charlotte wiggle and squiggle, and watches over her as she sleeps, seeming to enjoy her role as the protective big sister.  I know it will be an adjustment as we find a balance between taking care of both girls, especially when Kyle goes back to work.  But we have been so blessed to have the help of our families, who we know will be there every step of the way.

First Thursday lunch at The Ariston!
We know there are some big challenges ahead on this Grace-Filled Journey, but we have spent the last week, trying to live in each and every day, enjoying all the time we have with both our beautiful daughters, who are already such a blessing in our lives.

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