Well, where to start. Once again there has been an incredibly long period of time between musings, and I expect this will probably continue to be the case due to the arrival of our precious Rosie last November. So get yourself a cuppa or glass of wine - you might need it!
After we discovered the baby was breech, we attempted to turn her, but to no avail. We were then given the unusual option of trying for a vaginal birth. This was one of the hardest choices we have ever had to make. I did not want another caesarean, but I also did not want to place any undue risk on the baby. After much poking and prodding, loads of scans, including a CAT scan of my pelvis and the baby, discussions with doctors and not a little amount of soul searching, we opted to try and avoid a caesarean. Thankyou to all those friends who let me know about similar choices that they have had to make. I think the turning point was when the doctor actually put her neck on the line (unusual in this highly litigious society) and recommended I go for it as I was a "good candidate" i.e. my pelvis was big enough to drive a truck through let alone an estimated 8lb baby.
I turned up at 6 am on November 8 for the baby to be induced. I went through several hours of labour before the epidural went in and waters were broken. Also had a visit from the Comcast man to check the TV cable was working. I don't know who was more uncomfortable - him or me! When I was ready to deliver I was wheeled into the operating theatre and practically every on duty medical professional was paged to watch. We knew we were in business when the count stood at thirteen people in the OR (not a particularly spacious room I should point out - we should have sold tickets) and the Obstetrician in charge (an Army Colonel) had removed his camouflage shirt and was in just the tee-shirt - ready for action as Nick pointed out. As I have never been treated in a military hospital before, it was a bit odd having someone in military uniform delivering my baby!
Twenty minutes later and several pushes and chats Rosemary Catherine was born at 3.23 p.m., upside down and weighing in at a healthy 9lb 7oz. She had loads of hair and was longer and skinnier than her sisters, but as she was a week and a half early that is not surprising. In summary, this labour was the best of the three despite the unconventional arrival. I have now had three totally different labours, but we were delighted with the care Rosie and I received at Fort Belvoir. Rosie and I were inundated with visits from medical staff who wanted to see and hear about the vaginal breech delivery, not always a good thing when you are recovering from childbirth and lack of sleep and basically not your perky best!
Since then, Rosie has proved to be a delightful addition to our little family. She looks similar to Beth although that is largely because breech babies tend to have much rounder heads when they are born. She had loads of black hair at birth although this is gradually changing, as did Beth's. It is currently light brown with a lot of reddish tint. Her eyes are still changing colour - currently blue, but leaning towards brown I think.
As with Jess, Rosie hasn't been a high weight gainer. This may be to do with her mother doing too much! I had to make several trips to the hospital for weigh-ins and lectures on not doing too much. However, she has been a very good sleeper from the outset with feeds long in duration but quite spread out - usually 3 hours apart.
At birth a click was noticed in one of Rosie's hips so we were referred to Walter Reid Hospital at Bethesda (the other side of Washington from us). As we had experienced hip displaysia with Beth (common with breech girls) we started using double nappies just in case. After an horrendous 8 hour day at Walter Reid (the whole family had to go, Rosie was only two weeks old and Nick and I were exhausted - tears were shed) poor little Rosie was all trussed up in a Pavlik harness.
Again, more scans of little Rosie were required and we were not quite as enamoured with the care she was receiving for her hips as for her birth. However, we knew that we could get second opinions in Australia and persevered in the interim.
Beth and Jess by this stage were over the moon about their new sister. Beth had recovered from the disappointment of not having a baby brother. She had been telling all and sundry that I was having a boy and he would be called James. Apparently she cried when she heard she had another sister. Jess just loved sticking her face in Rosie's - as close as possible - and still does. Beth is very gentle with Rosie and wants to hold her all the time. Jess is a bit more physical with Rosie but gets bored with holding her more than a couple of seconds.
Nick took two weeks paternity leave throughout this period (hoorah the USMC) and it was terrific. He got to spend lots of time with Beth and Jess without my interference(?) and I think they quite enjoyed it. I in the meantime seemed to be in cuckoo land with lack of sleep and slow recovery from the birth. However, I look back now and it seemed to be a very short period in time.
Before we knew it, December was here and it was time to fly to Australia. We tackled the trans Atlantic flight first and spent a few days with Nick's family. I did stress out somewhat over the flights, as I was concerned over entertainment and sleep for our little darlings. As it was, we got to Dulles airport only to discover that our flight was delayed four hours. However, the upside was that they took one look at the children, the luggage and then the parents and hurried us to first class check in (not seating unfortunately). The girls were brilliant for the whole wait, although Jess did manage a temperature and the always ready at hand Calpol came out (you may recall our last trans-atlantic flight included a high temperature and febrile convulsion for Jess). Also, all the plans I had for the little surprises to be given to them at hourly intervals went out the window and they had every treat before we even boarded the first plane! Virgin were great again and the flight went quite well. 7 flying hours down only 24 to go.
We had a lovely but extremely brief time staying at Pamela's and catching up with Nick's family. Fortunately Christian and Brian had everyone over for a lovely lunch which meant we saw most of the family. Jess was still out of sorts what with a bit of being sick as well as temperature. She is definitely not a good traveller.
Next thing we knew, we were en route to Singapore and then Perth. Lets just say the flights were as good as could be asked. The girls coped very well and therefore so did Nick and I. However, it was a welcome relief to get off at the other end and see all my family at the airport.
Nick was in Perth for only about 2 weeks, but it was a pretty eventful two weeks. In addition to catching up with family, we had a special Dedication for Rosie at Mum and Dad's Church. This was not quite a christening, but was e very special event as it was shared with the congregation and many special family members and friends. We also got to meet Zac John Sanderson - my newest nephew born two weeks after Rosie
The next day we went down south to Bussleton to spend time with my immediate family and celebrate Christmas practically on the beach - a first for Nick. It was a lovely holiday with loads of sunshine and laughter. It was especially nice to see my girls with my nephews Eddie and Olly and my gorgeous niece Jocelyn again and watch the relationships with my children and my family develop and strengthen.
Back in Perth, we managed to catch up more family and friends, including Kath Wilson on her all too brief visit from Sydney. Then, on the eve of Jess' second birthday, Nick was back to America. Jess' birthday was a bit of a non-event I have to say although we did get to McDonalds and have an ice-cream cake!
The rest of my stay was pretty well focussed on getting through each day with the three girls. I did manage to catch up with some family and friends, although not as much as I would have liked as looking after my three girls certainly leaves less time for me! Georgie Nutton managed a flying visit from Darwin which was terrific, but again all too brief. I also managed a couple of trips to Sally and Ashley's farm which is always a nice change. I was very lucky to have my sisters and parents around all the time as needed.
Beth and Jess thrived on all the attention. They loved having sleep overs at Aunty Anjie's and still talk about "Jossy" and "Ed-head" as if they have just seen them. Beth had a great time with her first trip to the cinema with Anjie and then shopping for a dress. She also went shopping with her Godfather Christopher and bought a "fairy costume" which is now a request for every day wear - not quite the dungarees I envisioned my daughters wearing!
Both loved the special trips with Grandma and Granddad to the zoo and to Underwater World and I was thrilled to discover the Beach House in Osborne Park (an indoor play area with good coffee).
Were there any lowlights? Only that Nick had to leave us so soon and that having almost three months amongst my wonderful family made it even harder to leave, although I was ready to get back to my husband and my house.
So many wonderful memories for my girls and me.
The return trip was not as bad as I had anticipated. After the initial stress of trying to pack everything we had ever wanted into as few cases as possible, the actual flights seemed to tie in nicely with the girls sleep patterns. Rosie was that much more predictable and I suppose the girls were a bit blasé about the whole thing. Perth to Singapore was long, and the girls were awake most of the time, but apart from trying to fit all 4 of us into a loo at once several times it went quite well. We had meet and assist in Singapore which was useless and actually enhanced stress levels. I wouldn't recommend it unless you have never travelled and are over 70! I don't think the staff warmed to me by the end of the transit time (difficult gweilo I imagine). However, I did need their help when Jess had fallen asleep in the stroller and Rosie was in the sling. I physically could not board the plane after handing in the stroller!
The flight went well except for the boar sitting next to me who fell asleep and spilt his beer all over my lap. Added to all the other charming spillages, I really did not appreciate the brewery aroma! Upon arrival at Heathrow, we had quite a lengthy transit, but collected Nick's sister Kate who did the last leg with us. I am not sure who was more relieved to see her - the girls or me. We were definitely in short supply in the tolerance stakes by this time. With Kate's help, the final trip was relatively uneventful. However, when we finally wheeled our two overflowing luggage trolleys through the doors and sent the girls off screaming Daddy Daddy into Nick's arms, I was somewhat relieved and not a little overwhelmed. I couldn't really believe what I had just done, how well behaved the girls had been, how I was functioning on so little sleep and how good it was to see Nick again. If you ever wish to attempt to fly solo with 3 little children, I recommend let them eat and drink anything they want to, take loads of wipes and nappies and several changes of clothing. Also, partake in the occasional alcoholic beverage!
That was all two months ago now. Kate stayed for a couple of weeks - not a very exciting holiday for her but a great help to us as we gradually got used to coping with our three little darlings on our own. Rosie being just that much older and Beth back at pre-school five days a week has certainly helped.
The girls are all doing well. Beth is growing up all too quickly. She insists upon wearing a dress every day, regardless of weather or activity. The latest request is for a pet - a dog or a bunny. She seems to accept that this is a non-starter whilst in the USA. She is looking forward to turning 4 in June as she is going to be a big girl then.
Jess is still entertaining us. She has a very expressive face, which is always in action. She has completely potty trained herself, including over night. I wish I knew how as I could apply it to Beth (not dry over night still) and then to Rosie in due course. She talks incessantly (can't think who she takes after as I complete the third page of this musing) and in very long, sometimes incomprehensible sentences.
Rosie at six months is now rolling over and trying to get up on her hands and knees. She smiles with her whole face and gives lots of cuddles. She is on 3 meals a day, still sleeping through the night and is completely adorable.
Nick is working hard. Since getting red tape sorted, his responsibilities seem to have picked up and so has the workload. At least it is all a bit more interesting for him, although he doesn't particularly like the extra hours of work. He managed to get a few days skiing in with David Shaffer while we were away and apparently neither of them broke anything! He has just left for a week in Seattle for a conference - my first time alone with the girls for some time!
I am gradually getting back into things. I am exercising more and socialising more. Some very dear friends who were also neighbours moved back to Australia at Christmas and I miss them loads, but there are new people to meet and befriend. There is a big exodus coming up as the Staff College changes over and all of a sudden we are going to be the old hands, even though it feels like we only arrived yesterday.
We have a few trips planned: Hawaii in August to see some friends from Hong Kong; Florida including Disney when my sister Sally and her family come over in October; New York for me at some time and maybe Michigan to see Lora again. We are still hoping to see Nick's mother and sister Brigid at some point in the Autumn and maybe you too…..