Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Night Before

September 9th, 2016, I woke up with an unsettled, paranoid feeling. I’d been going in to my OB’s office  daily for the previous 3 days to get steroid injections, readying our sweet babe’s lungs for an early 36 week c-section delivery a week later. They had checked my fluid 2 days earlier and noted that it was still within a safe range, but was definitely less than it had been the previous week. Low fluid is what lead to Charlotte’s early (and emergent!) arrival, so I was definitely on high alert to even the smallest changes. Baby boy was moving…meeting all requirements for kick counts…but it was just “different.” 

All morning long I poked and prodded at my belly, trying to encourage him to stay active. Sometimes he cooperated. Sometimes he was quiet. Nothing abnormal by normal baby standards…but hello…paranoid. I even laid on my side in the middle of my office, eating a candy bar and watching Netflix trying to get him going….because again…paranoid. 

I left work early that day. Came home, rested, ate dinner with Matt and the boys, all the while debating on whether or not I should go in to get checked out. Baby was moving, so it seemed silly. Anyone who knows me can attest to the fact that I’m terribly indecisive. This was no exception. I called the hospital for advice, and the RN on the other end told me exactly what I needed to hear. “Better to come in now, even if its nothing, than to stay up all night worrying about it.” AMEN, sister. I just needed someone to tell me what to do!

I remember the details of that night so vividly. I tucked in H and Maxo, saying prayers, giving kisses, telling them both that I would see them in the morning. After that I snuck into our bedroom and gently woke up Matt, who had gone to bed early because he had to work an overnight shift. I whispered to him “I’m going to the hospital. Its no big deal, I just need some reassurance. I’ll be home before you have to leave for work.” I don't think he probably heard a word I said in his half-asleep state. My mom met me at the hospital (maybe her mama’s instincts were kicking in much like my own) and sat with me while they hooked me up to monitors and did a quick ultrasound. The nurses told me everything looked good. and that I could likely go home as soon as the doctor gave me a once over. And because I'm a crazy person - I then became irritated because I made a trip to the hospital for nothing. 

Little did any of us know that my uterus and I had quite the reputation in my perinatologist’s office. Two strangers walked into my observation room (the partners of my OB and high-risk OB), and after some quick introductions uttered the words “You’re going to have a baby tonight.” Uhhhhhhh…….what!? Panic set in. You guys. I’m a planner.This was not my plan. Matt was home sleeping. He had to work. The man who had delivered all of our kiddos (and was supposed to deliver this one as well) was home in bed too. These people standing in front of me were total strangers. I had a hundred different “but…but…buts…” but the instructions left for them by my trusted MD were clear. “If Kristen Ritchie shows up for ANY reason, that baby is coming out.” 

After startling Matt awake with the words "Whelp, we're having a baby. When can you get here?" my mom headed out to stay with the kids and he made his way to be with me. Less than an hour later, just after midnight, this happened. 

I thank God every day for planting that seed of worry in my heart. For showing me again and again that He's got my back. For reminding me to let go of my crazy and to trust in His plan. 

I thank him every single day for this little boy that we call Brooks.

Happy birthday eve, Brooksy Babe. You are loved more than you will ever know.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Celebrating FIVE

Summer birthdays are the BEST (and the easiest)! 

Swimming pools, water slides and water balloons for the kiddos.
Lawn chairs and cold drinks for the adults.

Throw in a little cake and ice cream and you can't go wrong!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

{Harrison Paul} 5 Years

Earlier this summer we celebrated a big birthday milestone in our home as Mr. H.P. Ritchie turned FIVE! Holy cow...5 years old already!? It hardly seems possible. I still remember the first time I felt his weight in my arms. His sweet baby smell. His dark hair and crazy cowlick. His insane resemblance to his big sister. It was such a surreal moment after everything that we had been thru, and for the first time in forever...everything felt right. Five years later and he continues to fill our hearts with love in ways we never imagined possible. This boy. Oh my. I'm so glad he's ours.

Harrison Paul, here's a snapshot of you as a hot-shot 5 year old. 

It has been so fun to watch your sense of humor develop over this past year. While you were once extremely sensitive to playful teasing, you now recognize that when I tell you we’re having bugs and broccoli for dessert, you should just play along and tell me how delicious it will be. You are quite the little ham and know exactly which of your antics will produce smiles and giggles from those around you. Most often this includes sporting undies on your head and/or over your pants, farts, butts, or silly dance moves.  Boys.

For as long as I can remember we’ve been having conversations with you about “waking up your brave.” You’ve always been a little timid when it comes to trying new things, but this year we watched in amazement as you broke out of your shell and started to embrace the opportunities around you.  T-ball, a bike with no training wheels, swimming in the lake/river, swimming in the pool sans floaties….these are all things that would have had you all worked up just a year ago….but you managed to conquer them all and had so much fun in the process.

You like to reminisce on things as though you actually remember them…while in reality you’re re-telling stories that you’ve heard from us. “Hey mama, remember when I was really little and I used to call bulldozers, boss-i-boppers? That was hilarious.” “Hey dad, remember when I used to spin around in a circle and pretend to fall on the floor to make you laugh?” Oh sweet boy, I remember AAAAALLLLLL the things. A mama holds tight to memory of her babies, knowing full well that you grow up so quickly.

You’ve gotten really good at “responsibilities.” You get yourself dressed and your teeth brushed each morning before coming out of your room, can get yourself in and out of your carseat independently, help put away your laundry, fold towels/wash cloths (which ultimately end up being refolded by your OCD mama) and put away the silverware when I unload the dishwasher. Having said that - the simple act of cleaning up toys takes you anywhere from 5-7 hours to complete. 

There's no denying that you have a feisty side (good Lord are you feisty), but its perfectly balanced with an insane amount of sweet. You love to snuggle on the couch under a shared blanket, give the most breath-taking hugs (literally…BREATH-TAKING), and have a huge soft spot for your brothers, especially the littlest one. Just the other day you came up to me while I was making dinner and said "You know what we haven't done in awhile, mama? Hugged." and proceeded to wrap your arms around my legs. Made. My. Day.

You and Maxo...oh my...the friendship between you two yahoos is like nothing I could have imagined. The giggles. The shrieks. The crazy antics and belly laughs. You're equal parts brothers and best friends, and your little brother looks at you with such admiration. He's so lucky to have you. Aaaaaaaand I have to move on to the next topic now...mama's got sappy emotional tears going on. 

{Odds and Ends} You still call girls, grills...and I hope with all of my heart that you never stop. You have a new obsession with chewing gum, preferably "grape gum" or bubble gum. Your dad is competitive. Your mom is competitive. And guess what? You're just a tiny bit competitive too. Throw a little stubborn on top of it and we definitely have our hands full. You're smart as a whip, reading short words, and sounding out things like "Optimus Prime" so that you can write them on your own. You also have a lot of plant knowledge (which makes me laugh). I guess thats what happens when you're raised on Ritchie farm. 

Oh H.P. You're growing up a little too quickly for this mama's liking. Maybe we could slow things down a little bit from here on out?? I love you. I love you. I love you. And I can't wait to see what 5 has in store for us!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Our First Break

Summer got off to an interesting start for Mr. Maxo after he blindly followed his big brother off the edge of our backyard playset. He tried his best to be a tough guy -- walking all the way up to the house, eating lunch, and asking to watch cartoons before giving us obvious signs that this was something bigger than our normal bumps and bruises. 

A couple of hours, an x-ray, and a boot later...
Day #2 A day at home with mommy. It didn't take long for him to realize that he could still hobble around fairly well in his new "Iron Man boot." He started with a slow trip around our kitchen island and in no time I was hearing things like "Look at me, mommy! I can go all the way up the stairs!"
Day #3 Mom has a heart attack. Apparently he's not going to let anything slow him down.
Day #5 A trip to a pediatric orthopedist and a verdict. Two small fractures. One decent break. Four weeks in a boot.
For 4 weeks Max was an absolute trooper. He ran, he jumped, he climbed...he even got a boot-time-out so that he could do swimming lessons. The whole experience came with waaaaay less tears than I expected...and was way less stinky than had he needed a cast! 

Fast forward 4 weeks after the big jump...

 No more boot (too bad Mom forgot to bring his other flip-flop!)
Strict orders for no trampolines or bounce houses for an additional 4 weeks
**Celebratory donuts at 4PM**

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Brooks Edmund {10 months}

We've officially entered double digit territory, and this mama's heart is secretly breaking. With each babe, time seems to move faster and faster...and with you, sweet Brooks, I feel like I can hardly blink without the threat of missing something important. You started out this life as such a tiny little thing, 5 weeks early and not even able to finish a 1 ounce bottle on your own. Now here you are, 10 months later, getting into everything and doing your best to hang with your big brothers. It's only a matter of time before our house clears of everything "baby" and we become a home filled with big boys. Sob.

Here's a quick rundown of our Brooksie Babe at 10 months old...

A few months back I would have said that you were a little on the lazy side - no desire to move or to even sit upright on your own. But these days you are a mover and a shaker. You love exploring this crazy house of ours - climbing into the shower, trying to go head first down the stairs, planking on the bottom step. Your bothers have actually started playing behind closed doors just to stop you from getting their things. And don't even get me started on diaper changes. It's like a full blown cardio workout.
You had 2 bottom teeth pop thru this past month and have been putting them to good use in the exciting world of table food. You're a HUGE fan. Fruits, veggies, noodles, meat...there may have even been a little bit of big brother's ice cream cake thrown into the mix this month. Such a little piggy!
You spent much of this past month trying to fight off a very stubborn ear infection. Four antibiotics later and we're finally seeing a return of your happy-go-lucky personality. We've missed you, Happy Brooks! 

You are the first of ALL of the Ritchie kiddos to utter the word "Mama" before saying "Dada." This automatically makes you my favorite.
We've had a super busy summer thus far and you're getting to experience all sorts of new things! We did driveway fireworks (not a fan), ate fresh picked blackberries, and have gone swimming a time or two. You love love LOVE the water and this month made your first trips to the swimming pool, lake AND the river. 
Odds and Ends: You love to clap and sometimes even do it when mid-cry. It's almost like you're trying to cheer yourself up! You are a pro at showing us how big you are. You recently graduated to a big boy carseat and are still very entertained by watching your brothers in the back seat. You pull my hair ALL OF THE TIME. You experienced your first round of severe weather, getting woken from a sound sleep to hide in the basement for awhile. You didn't seem to mind....and there was definitely clapping involved. HAHA! Oh that red hair of yours. It's a sure indication that you are going to be a feisty one.

Brooks Edmund {10 months}

Happy Double Digits, little man. Every day is a little bit brighter thanks to you.