Sunday, October 19, 2014

Month by Month: 1

So, even though I’m super behind with this blog, I’ve decided that I will continue my tradition of doing Month Milestone posts for my kids’ first year of life. Don’t want the Little Miss to feel left out of all the fun! Plus, I need these pictures for when I make my blog book for 2014.

So here she is at one month, and just as cute as can be! (It's hard for me to believe she is now 8 months old. But then, it's also hard for me to believe that Alex is already 8 years old!)

She is wearing a little sweater with matching booties and a bonnet that was mine when I was a baby. My mom faithfully saved several little outfits that were mine all those years ago so I could dress my own daughter in them one day. After three boys, I think both of us were just about to give up hope that I would have a little girl of my own! And then Elizabeth gave us a happy surprise.

Elizabeth is really a very easy baby, and this was true even when she was a newborn. She started sleeping 4-5 hours stretches at night almost immediately, which meant that I was only having to get up once per night for a feeding. I didn't even feel like I HAD a newborn, except that she was so sweet and cuddly and little!

Elizabeth got her first shots when she was just a few days old, and then when she was a week old, we went back into the clinic where she was born for check-ups for both her and me. It was at this visit that the pediatrician who examined her told us that he wanted us to take her in for an "eco" on her hips when she was one month old, to check for possible hip dysplacia. He told us it would help if we used cloth diapers to help her hips spread apart over the next 3 weeks. Chalk another one up to the benefits of cloth diapering! These diapers have lasted me through 4 babies, and I think they will still have plenty of wear left in them when Elizabeth is done using them.

The first month was taken up with getting started on some of Elizabeth's paperwork -- because she was born in Ecuador, she has Ecuadorian citizenship, which not only has a certain "cool factor" (of our 3 foreign-born children, she is the only one who has dual citizenship), but will allow us to eventually apply for residency visas for our whole family (more complicated to obtain, but over the long haul, much cheaper than missionary visas which are now good only for one year!). However, dual citizenship also means twice the work in the beginning -- 2 birth certificates, 2 passports, plus a bunch of other random documents. So we worked on it over the course of several weeks because each document required at least one trip into Quito, and sometimes, Elizabeth had to be present.

You'll get to watch my baby girl grow up over the course of the next several posts!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Nyanya and Babu’s Visit

At the end of February, my parents came to Ecuador for a two-week visit. They came to meet their newest granddaughter (and of course to spend time with their other grandkids – Julie and I and our husbands were an added bonus!). And incidentally, I find it very special that my parents have managed to make a trip like this right after the births of 3 out of my 4 kids (they didn’t need to make a trip when Stephen was born because that happened while we were living with them). Considering the fact that all 3 of those kids were born on a different continent, that is no small feat!

Nyanya and Babu spent the first few days with us out at the camp. Then, we all went to the zoo together with the Marcums and they went home with the Marcums to Quito to spend some time with them. At the end of their time in Ecuador, we spent a weekend all together enjoying the hot springs at Papallacta, and then they spent the last few days with our family before flying back. It was lovely to have them here, to show them where we live and what we do now. They even got to be at the camp when we had a U.S. group here, so they got to experience what hosting and feeding a group of people looks like. They also got to see the beginnings of our “enclosed porch” house project. (We plan to use this area as a homeschool room when it is complete.) Of course, the kids soaked up all the love and attention that was showered on them by their grandparents. We are blessed to live in a country that people can travel to relatively easily, and that Nyanya and Babu are in good health and can make such a trip without any problems.

Here are a few (okay, a lot of) pictures of their time with us.
We celebrated Alex's 8th birthday.
Alex is the proud owner of the game Risk. Be warned -- if you come visit, he'll ask you to play!
Babu and Ben
Nyanya and Babu brought lots of fun treats. Ben was especially excited about the "Yucky" Charms!
Nyanya and Elizabeth
Nyanya got to join in one of our homeschooling days.
And she gave Alex his first piano lesson!
Babu was always ready for a game of Mousetrap...
...or Star Wars Chess
We went to the park one day.
See-saw fun
3 generations!
A day at the zoo with the cousins
Enoch and Ben -- 2 peas in a pod.
Oldest and youngest cousins
Papallacta hot springs
Enjoying the hot tub at our house in Papallacta
Game night -- Risk for Babu, the dads, and the older kids...
...Jr. Monopoly for Nyanya and the younger ones
Elizabeth never lacked for eager cousins to hold her.
Nyanya and Babu and their 8 -- count 'em, 8! -- grandkids!
Sunday morning at the Tabacundo Church of Christ
Nyanya playing trains
Family picture at Lake Cuycocha
Lake Cuycocha Visitors' Center
Cascadas de Peguche
Stephen got some birthday presents, too -- a couple of new games for his MobiGo

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Thursday, October 09, 2014

Welcoming Elizabeth

Elizabeth Junia Campbell was born on February 8, 2014 at La Clinica Primavera in Cumbay√°, just outside Quito.

I had gone in for a prenatal appointment on Friday, just the day before. I was about one week away from my due date, and the doctor said, “You’ll deliver any day.” We had been debating the wisdom of a planned induction seeing that we now lived about an hour and a half drive from the clinic, and my last two labors were fairly short. Knowing this, he gave me a little white pill in a bottle and told me to take it at about 6:00 on the morning I wanted to come in and have the baby. I had decided that if I hadn’t gone into labor on my own by Wednesday, I would go ahead and take the pill. And then I woke up to regular contractions early on Saturday morning.

We quickly got ourselves ready to drive to the clinic. There was a bit of scrambling around as we had a U.S. group at the camp that morning for breakfast (returning from a week in the jungle) and the person who had agreed to watch the boys for us wasn’t answering her phone. In the end, one of Jhon and Laura’s girls came up to the house to stay with the boys, and Josh, who was already planning to come out to the camp that day to help take the group into Quito and the airport, just took the boys home with him to stay at their house for a night.

We made it to the clinic in plenty of time – no emergency delivery on the side of the road in the backseat of our car! Actually, my labor with Elizabeth ended up taking a little more than 7 hours, longer than either Benjamin or Stephen. It was definitely my nicest birth experience of the 4. The clinic is so lovely and peaceful. And there were all kinds of natural comfort measures for laboring women – from massages to warm cloths laid across your back (great for back labor!) to huge labor tubs.

Elizabeth was actually born in water, which was a unique experience that I’m grateful for. It was interesting – I had always heard that being in water was such a great pain relief. However, in my case, it just helped me relax more… I still definitely felt the pain of the contractions! And I felt like I had to work harder to push in the water, maybe because I was more relaxed? I think the first words out of my mouth after she was born were, “I forgot how much that hurts!”

And then of course, it was all forgotten in the miracle of the tiny new life I was holding in my arms – my daughter. After three boys, I almost didn’t dare hope for a daughter this time, but now here she was, and perfect in every way. She took to nursing like a champ, and she had a long period of quiet alertness a few hours after her birth.

She was born about 12:40 p.m., and later that afternoon, Josh and Julie brought the boys by the clinic, along with their kids, to meet their new sister / cousin. It was such a joyous, happy time! Later that evening, I had a little surgery to have my tubes tied – no more babies for us unless they come into our family through adoption! It was a quick procedure. I was a little worried about the spinal tap, but it ended up being pretty painless, and then I went pleasantly numb from the waist down and thought, “Ah, I get it now, why women want these when they’re in labor!” The irony that I was getting my first “epidural” after 4 natural childbirths was not lost on me!

We spent one night at the clinic, and the next day after lunch, we went home! Elizabeth settled into life in our family very smoothly. She has slept well almost from the beginning and generally been just a very content and “easy” baby. She is a joy and a delight to our family, our perfect “happy ending,” as I call her. Her brothers are enamored with her and at first, they practically smothered her with their love and affection. Of course, she has her daddy wrapped around her little finger. For my part, I am finding having a daughter, and especially dressing a daughter, to be so much fun!

Here are a few pictures of the birth (don’t worry, nothing too gross or revealing) and the first few days:

She's here!
Elizabeth weighed 3200 grams and was 50 cm. long
Daddy loves his little girl
I have a daughter!

So awake and aware, just a few hours post-birth
First photo as a family of 6!

Ben meets his sister. "What, I'm not the baby anymore?"
With Dr. Diego, our wonderful doctor
First bath. She barely cried
All nice and clean and sleeping peacefully
At home in her cradle

The Camp Bellevue staff came to visit and brought a lovely bouquet and a fruit basket.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Top Ten: Pregnancy in Pictures

When I was pregnant with Alex, Rusty faithfully took pictures of my expanding belly every four weeks. With Stephen and Benjamin, we managed official belly-shots a grand total of 3 times per pregnancy. And we didn’t take any pictures of my belly when I was pregnant with Elizabeth, unless you count a selfie that I took one morning. I guess by the fourth time around, I was just SO OVER being pregnant! Not to mention that we were just so stinkin’ busy that we didn’t have time to even think about taking belly-shots.

However, we probably have more nice pictures of me pregnant with Elizabeth than we have of me pregnant with any of the boys. How is this possible, you ask, since we didn’t take any ourselves? It was all thanks to my doctor, who took pictures of me at every prenatal check-up. When I first found out I was pregnant, my sister referred me to the clinic she had used with her fourth baby, La Clinica Primavera. It was such a lovely, peaceful place, and we were both so impressed with it, especially after our last experience having Benjamin in a huge, public hospital in Portugal, that we decided to continue with our plans to have the baby there, even after we moved out to Tabacundo, an hour and a half away. The doctor, Dr. Alarc√≥n, is a big proponent of natural childbirth and even offers waterbirths at his clinic, very unusual in Ecuador. The clinic walls are covered with beautiful portraits of pregnant women and moms with their newborn babies, all of which he took. I think his first love is maternity and birth photography and he became an OB in order to give himself an automatic clientele!

At Elizabeth’s 8-day check-up, I was given a CD with all the pictures he had taken of me during the pregnancy. (The CD also included pictures and a video of the birth, but not to worry, I will not be sharing any of that here!) Here are the 10 best shots from my pre-natal appointments:

12 weeks
15 weeks
21 weeks
25 weeks
30 weeks
33 weeks
35 weeks
37 weeks
38 weeks
39 weeks (Elizabeth was born the day after this photo was taken.)