Back to Work

On Monday my maternity leave will officially end. I was so lucky to get a substitute I fully trusted and didn’t have to worry about my students at all. For the most part, I am ready to get back to a schedule and see my students and the staff. But I know by about noon that day I will be missing Drake and Jackson like crazy. I keep telling myself that I only have six weeks and then we get the entire summer to play. Those six weeks are going to be very sleep deprived for Josh and me. Drake has been doing pretty well and has only been getting up once in the night. However, when Josh doesn’t get home until 1, Drake gets up at 3 or 4, and I leave for work a little after 6, it makes for a short night. Those days the kids don’t go to daycare, Josh will have to learn to live on about 6 hours of sleep at most. And anyone who knows Josh, knows he is not a morning person! He makes me laugh because when Drake wakes up at 6:30 in the morning, he still considers that the middle of the night:)!

Drake has been the perfect addition to our family. Thank God he has Josh’s personality this far. He is so relaxed and easy-going. He has both of us completely wrapped with all of his smiling and snuggling that he does. And all of that hair and those long eyelashes that are starting to come in will get him whatever he wants from his mama! That first month home was pretty brutal though adjusting to a toddler and newborn. There were a few nights I informed Josh that we were done with two kids. However, by about week 6 I took back that statement:)! Josh helped me survive and I am so thankful he is such a hands-on dad!

And Jackson. My energized Jackson who never stops moving. He went through a week or two of not liking his brother and throwing fits any time I would hold him, feed him, look at him…but now he absolutely LOVES Drake. The last thing we do before bed is kiss the baby and one of the first things in the morning we do is kiss the baby. He rubs his back and belly, does tummy time, and will attempt to give him a bottle.  And then he torments him by sitting on him, squeezing him, accidentally falling on him, and throws balls at him. The joys of brotherhood! 🙂

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Sleep deprivation has its rewards

Our first photo as a family of four, the day after Drake was born.

I awoke around 7 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 16 with a kink in my neck and a wife in labor.

“The baby could be here in 20 minutes,” Sara cautioned.

Good thing we were already at the hospital.

After heading downtown to Mercy after 9 p.m. the night before for what Sara originally thought were not real contractions, our doctor after a couple of hours finally decided to give her pitocin to induce labor rather than send us home. We had scheduled Sara to be induced Feb. 17 anyway, so all parties agreed that it was go time.

After a successful epidural a few hours later — she had two that never worked fully when in labor with Jackson — Sara was able to relax a bit as her contractions grew closer together and I got a few hours of sleep on the sofa.

“The baby could be here in 20 minutes,” Sara, a bit anxious now, reminded me.

Confused since she had yet to begin pushing — it took nearly three hours of pushing before Jackson arrived — I splashed some water on my face and changed into my finest Iowa Hawkeyes T-shirt. But I soon realized Sara and the nurses might be right.

Shortly after opening the curtains to let dawn’s sunshine into the delivery room, Sara wanted to push.

Turns out our nurse’s guess of “20 to 30 minutes” wasn’t far off. I figured Sara’s warning was just another of her tricks to get me up and moving as I am not a morning person.

Drake Leo Smothers at two days old.

Sara pushed and pushed and … 25 minutes later … the nurses told her not to push so hard because the baby boy or girl was getting close and we were still waiting for our doctor to arrive.

The “you’ve got to be s***ting me” look on Sara’s face was priceless.

Moments after doc juried in and got situated along with the other nurses, Drake Leo Smothers decided at 8:10 a.m. that it was finally time to join us after just a few more pushes!

Though we’d been through the process before with Jackson, an entire range of emotions came flooding back with the birth of another perfeclty healthy baby boy.

My heart raced and the tears welled up in my eyes as I used one hand to take photos with our camera and the other to take photos with my phone. Didn’t want to miss a single moment, you guys.

Drake weighed in at eight pounds, five ouces and measured 19.5 inches long — slightly heavier and slightly shorter than Jackson — and had tons of dark brown hair. Tons of it.

Much of the rest of the day was a blur. Sara finally ate a meal after going nearly 15 hours without anything in her system, and she took a much-needed nap after going nearly two days with no sleep.

Our families and plenty of great friends came to visit during our two-day hospital stay, but the visitor we were most looking forward to seeing was Jackson.

His immediate acceptance of Drake and the dozens of kisses he felt were necessary were heartwarming. More than two weeks later, he’s still giving “baby” plenty of kisses every day in addition to hugs. I’m not sure Jackson understands yet why Drake can’t reciprocate a high-five, though. 😉

And after having 15 of the last 17 days off, I’m headed back to work today. Definitely not looking forward to it, though we knew the day would come. Coming home after midnight won’t be conducive to getting much sleep, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my daytime hours and new role at the Gannett Des Moines Design Studio happen on schedule.

Sara, on the other hand, is looking forward to staying at home for nine weeks before heading back to Brody Middle School to finish the school year. She’s secretly counting down the days until her summer break, too.

What about our sleep habits, you ask? They have changed drastically, though we knew they would. If we can go at least three hours at a time without having to feed or cuddle Drake it’s a successful night. “Baby steps,” is what I keep telling Sara, “baby steps.” Good thing Jackson sleeps 10-12 hours straight.

I think we survived on adrenaline when Jackson was a newborn. Now we’re (Sara mostly is) just downright tired some days.

But we wouldn’t change it for the world. The tiny grins, the post-feeding burps and hiccups, the rumblings in his diaper, his tiny fingers clinging to one of mine and that newborn smell are all worth it. Sleep deprivation definitely has its rewards.

Enjoy. More to come later. // JS

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Place your bets while you still can

At 38 weeks, Sara complains that there is no more room in there for the baby to move around.

Another day or so and I’m closing the pool for those of you betting on the arrival of Smothers Baby No. 2. Sara’s due date is Feb. 19, and many of our friends and family members bet on dates next week. What’s your guess? And while you’re deciding on the date, what’s your guess on the baby’s gender? The individual closest to both categories wins a prize. Seriously.

We had our 38-week checkup Wednesday and everything is going well with the pregnancy. Sara will argue, claiming that an individual who is “well” likely does not have the discomfort in her back and is probably able to sleep for more than two straight hours at a time.

When I finally climb into bed after work around 1 a.m. — I’m praying my boss follows through with a daytime position for me in Gannett’s Des Moines Design Studio in April — we chat for a bit, I laugh as the baby’s hands and feet protrude from Sara’s belly, I give my standard back rub and just like that I’m usually out. Sara tells me every morning about how many times she had to get up to pee and how long it took to fall back asleep all while I’m drooling happily on my side of the bed.

I told her that soon those sleepless nights of discomfort will be replaced by sleepless nights of breastfeeding and awaking to every peep the newborn makes while sleeping in our room for the first couple months. I feel bad because there isn’t much I can do early on when the baby is hungry. I’ll have my time, though. I’m not worried about that.

We still have no idea how Jackson is going to react when he finds out the baby we’re cuddling and passing around is permanent and not just a phase. In the meantime, Jackson and I have successfully recorded nine trick shot videos, which you can find on my Facebook page. If you’re not on Facebook, join the 21st century, please.

With so little time left before our second miracle arrives, I get nervous every time my cell phone rings. Sooner or later the voice on the other end might be Sara confirming her biggest fear: that her water broke at school in front of her students. For some reason she thinks a scene like that would scar some sixth-graders for life. Hilarious.

I’m so curious just to see what the baby looks like compared to Jackson, and to find out in the months ahead how their personalities and attitudes and nuances relate to one another.

But most of all, we’re just praying for a safe delivery and a healthy baby. I urge you to keep Sara in your thoughts and prayers for the next couple of weeks.

Our girl name is decided. Our boy name, not so much. Here’s hoping we have that settled by the time we’re headed downtown to Mercy. That’s it for this week. I’ll post an update again next week … if Sara makes it that long. // JS

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Counting down the days

At 34 weeks in this photo, Jackson calls Sara's belly either "baby" or "ball."

Sara and baby No. 2 looked perfectly healthy during their 36-week checkup this week.

Sara did get some rather unsettling news, however. Doc told her that with just more than a month left until her Feb. 19 due date, and the way the baby was positioned, she might have to pee more frequently 😉

I wasn’t with her at this particular checkup, but I’m guessing she gave doc one of those “how in the hell is it possible to pee more often than I already do?” looks.

So goes our life headed into the final stretch.

I was watching television  in bed last night as Sara slept. She woke up at 10 p.m., 11 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. to make a trip to the master bathroom. “I don’t get how I even have anything in me,” she moaned. I’m not sure either, but it’s hard not to chuckle. I just make sure she doesn’t see me doing it.

Jackson knows there’s a baby in Sara’s belly, though he sometimes points at it and says, “ball.” It’ll be interesting to see how he manages not being the center of attention with a tiny little one around permanently.

Since we won’t be going outside to play anytime soon, Jackson and I have been busy making some videos of him making trick basketball shots around the living room and dining room into his Fisher Price hoop. I’m thinking of making a highlight reel after we get 15 or 20 different ones.

In other news, we have or list of girls’ names dwindled down to two or three, though I think there’s one we both agree on. No, we’re not going to share those names. However, we don’t have much time left to agree on a boys’ name. Have any suggestions? Take a look at this list and let us know if there’s one you love.

I’ll keep you posted in the coming weeks about how Sara is doing or if she’s broken the record for restroom breaks at her school. // JS

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Happy New Year

We ended the new year on a productive note, and then today has been a lazy day for Jackson and I. Josh had to work both last night and today, so Jackson and I are enjoying my last day of break before heading back to school. I am already dreading leaving him in the morning.

We had a great Christmas and got spoiled tremendously by both sides of our family. I am pretty sure Jackson’s highlight of vacation was shooting baskets. The kid is obsessed with playing basketball and to say we play for over an hour and a half every day is not an exaggeration at all.

I got a wild hair when Josh went back to work on Thursday and decided to put up Jackson’s toddler bed. I wasn’t really planning on doing this until after the baby, but for some reason, it sounded like a good idea that afternoon. Amazingly, Jackson has adjusted very well. He still will talk to himself for about 20 minutes before putting himself to sleep. I think it is God’s way of helping me out since it took him 6 months to really start sleeping all night.

We were lucky yesterday to have Josh’s parents come down and help us get organized for the baby. The baby’s room now at least has a crib in it and we began organizing our basement so we are able to walk! And it was extra nice having Erica and Drew here to play with Jackson so I was able to help without the little helper.

We bought some outfits, blankets, and baby books for the baby finally. I don’t think we will do much else until we find out if it is a little guy or gal that will be joining our family. I do know that he or she will have Josh and I wrapped within the first two minutes of their life. We are both starting to get really excited to meet the little one. Hope everyone has a great New Year’s and a healthy and safe 2012.

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Hello, third trimester

Hopefully everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Jackson and I did get to go back to my parents’ home in Harlan for a few days while Josh was stuck at work. We were talking about Thanksgiving and realized that we have yet to spend that holiday together because of his ridiculous schedule at work. But hey, he’s working hard on finding a new job, or at least better hours at the paper. I can only hope that next year he gets to taste some of the food at the Sonderman Thanksgiving (not as leftovers) and we can actually get to Cedar Rapids to see his family.

My sisters came to Des Moines for our annual Black Friday shopping spree. It started earlier than usual thanks to our nearby Walmart opening so early, and it also ended earlier than usual thanks to Stacie getting the flu. Even though Mom wasn’t able to make the trip this year, she sent her list, and she was the one that ended up scoring like a bandit. And there was also a first: I actually got more stuff and spent more money than both of my sisters at Children’s Place. That has never, ever happened in the past.


As for my expanding belly, we are now in the third trimester. I guess that means that Josh and I really need to start preparing for the arrival of this little one. We have our list of girl names narrowed down, but if the baby ends up being a boy, I’m worried there’s a good chance it won’t have a name for the first day or so. I have names on my list and Josh seems to veto every one I come up with. I also have had to remind him several different times that we are not naming our future children after the alter-egos of any superheroes (i.e., Clark) 🙂


Jackson is at such a fun age. He is obsessed with shooting anything and everything into his basketball hoop and also has started to really like playing with trucks and cars. He has a “baby” at the house now that goes to bed with him. The first few days he was so gentle with it and giving it hugs and kisses. And then yesterday I caught him shooting the baby into the basketball hoop. Oh, how we will all have many adjustments in our near future 🙂



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Checking in at 26 weeks

At 26 weeks, Sara's lower back pain has become, well, a pain.

As Sara tossed and turned the other night, sandwiching a pillow between her legs, she asked, “Did my back hurt this bad with Jackson at 26 weeks?”

I’m sure the answer was no, yet I do remember that it flared up toward the end of her first pregnancy. And at 26 weeks Sara’s lower back pain has been, well, a pain. With three months to go, I know she’ll be a trooper like the first time around.

I’ve been giving nightly back rubs for the past month or so, as I’m sure many of you other guys have had to do during your wife’s pregnancies. I figure it’s the least I can do considering she’s the one who’ll be extrememly uncomfortable for up to another 14  weeks.

Thank God for Sara’s best friend, who just happens to own her own chiropractic office, Chiropractic In Motion, in West Des Moines. Sara has been making regular visits to her office and home every time she thinks she “needs a good crack.” One of my younger sisters is currently studying at Palmer Chiropratic in Davenport, so it appears we’ll get free adjustments for life 😉

On a much more positive note, Sara’s mother is finally home from the hospital, where she spent more than a month rehabbing a fractured pelvis. She and Jackson have been making weekend trips to Harlan while I’m typically stuck at work. Hopefully that (my weekend shifts) changes soon.

And with just 14 weeks remaining (or three months, whichever sounds less daunting), Sara and I are very thankful that she’s had a healthy and safe pregnancy so far. Her trips to the gym have become shorter and shorter, which frustrates her I know, but I’m simply amazed at how active she still is at this juncture.

Anyway, just wanted to give our thousands (OK, dozens maybe) of our readers a quick update. More to come. Take care. // JS

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