Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Baby's First Week

See post on our other blog: click here.

What to Pack for Labor and Delivery.

To many people, this is probably not a big deal at all, especially 2nd+ time moms.  However, in reading forums, blogs, books, and wondering myself, I realized there are, in fact, many people who are dying to know what to bring/not bring to the hospital when they have their baby.

There is a lot of personal preference involved in this, but I'll explain what I did pack, what our hospital had for me, what I didn't pack and what I wish I had packed.  So, this is what we did, but you know yourself, just be realistic.  You really only need yourself, your womb, and your delivery team.

Here is what our hospital room looked like (postpartum, not delivery).  There is not much space to put things, especially once you fill the room with a couple visitors.


For myself:
I packed my/Trevor's stuff in a regular duffel bag-my old track bag to be specific.  Nothing fancy, no crazy amount of pockets or anything, just a bag.
Toiletries: (I kept all these in my big cosmetic bag so I just had to grab one thing from the bathroom when it was time): specifically mini shampoo/conditioner/body wash (I already had these on hand, wasn't going to go buy them but found them in the closet), toothbrush/toothpaste, makeup (people say you won't wear it, and maybe not, but I liked "getting ready" and feeling as least gross as possible), face wash, deodorant, lanolin (yeah, the stuff for nipples-this was all that worked on my awful chapped lips at the end of pregnancy, so this was my chap stick, ended up using it a lot as nursing was difficult at first), lotion (good smelling stuff for relaxation+epidurals can make your skin quite itchy-did not end up using it), pony tail holders (can't stand having my hair all over the place, especially after getting sweaty), hair product (I didn't want to mess around with a blow dryer/straightener, so just some gel or something similar was good to have).
Clothing: cheapie underwear (you hear about lots of blood postpartum-I didn't have as much as I was expecting, don't ruin your expensive undies-I didn't wear the ones I brought, I wore their big mesh underwear the whole time), set of pajamas (bottoms were nice and loose, top with the button down top for breast feeding ease-I also had an old pair I could handle getting bloody), 2 nursing tank tops (I chose not to get fitted for a nursing bra until my milk came in, so these were perfect for in between and covering up postpartum belly while getting the hang of nursing), cheap old flip flops (for the shower and walking around-didn't end up wearing these), sweat pants and t shirt (my fancy going home outfit), old slipper socks (again with the blood, I was about to throw these away but kept them specifically for the hospital-didn't end up wearing these either), regular socks.
Entertainment/extras: iStuff and chargers (we're Apple geeks, so we brought iPhones, iPods, iPads and Trevor's laptop so he could work on school/Army stuff as needed), a Scentsy warmer and relaxing scent (I'm a big scent person-hospital gave me the go-ahead to bring it in since it doesn't have a flame) I ended up using none of this for labor-it went too fast!  The iPad was very handy for afterwards, same with the Scentsy warmer (hospital staff loved it, too).  Otherwise it was just a lot of trying to rest, trying to breastfeed, hanging out with some visitors-we barely even watched TV in the room.  I was glad to have some granola bars/snacks on hand for Trevor and myself (not during labor, but afterwards).  I was able to order off the hospital menu, but if I wanted a quick snack I had some already.  It was good to have some cash on hand so Trevor could go to the vending machine/coffee shop (obviously you could use a card at a cafeteria/coffee shop, but I'm a bit anal about balancing the checkbook and this way I didn't have to keep track!), camera (we took most photos on our phones since they take great pictures, but it's nice to have some "real" photos, too).

For baby:
I packed this stuff in a separate, smaller bag (ThirtyOne's Casual Cargo Purse, to be exact-it was a baby shower gift) knowing we could leave it in the car (same with the car seat) until baby arrived and wouldn't have to lug in a bunch of stuff.
Coming home outfit: I was not too picky about this one.  I packed a cute sleeper and a couple of the hats we were given.  I know the hospital has them, but we've gotten some pretty darn cute ones.  She wore the hats just because we had them, but went hat-less most of the time.  We put her in a cute outfit for part of a day, but honestly it was really unnecessary since she was swaddled up all the time anyway.  I guess if you're into making them all cutesy, bringing one of your own blankets for swaddling would probably make more sense.
Car seat: This seems obvious, but don't forget!  We drove an hour for appointments/delivery and on the day of one of our last check ups I packed the hospital bag to bring along just in case we didn't go home.  Then I forgot the hospital bag and we drove the wrong car (the one without the car seat).  Baby didn't come, but planning is only helpful if it involves some follow through. Also, we had our car seat cover already in place since she was a winter baby.

For my partner:
He actually prefers comfy clothes, so this was pretty easy.  The hospital was an hour away from our house, so going home to shower/change clothes wasn't an option.  
Clothes: One pair of sweatpants (should have brought another) and two each of: boxers, socks, white t-shirt. Should have brought an extra sweatshirt so he didn't have to wear the same ones.
Toiletries: deodorant, body wash (again, had a travel size for him on hand), toothbrush.  We made a baby together, figured we could share shampoo and toothpaste. Our hospital is an hour away from home, we have no other kids and Rowdy was staying with my dad, so Trevor stayed at the hospital with me and used the shower in our room.
Entertainment: We shared the stuff I listed above, didn't use much of it. 

Did not bring: Boppy/nursing pillow (the lactation nurses helped me get started nursing and we just used regular pillows from the hospital), diapers (the hospital provided them and even though we knew we'd be cloth diapering, we figured we'd just start that when we got home), wipes (same as the diapers), blankets (we have many adorable blankets we were very excited to use, but it can wait-we didn't want to pack up the whole nursery), breast pump (I did need this and used the hospital's, plus they sent me home with all the parts I had used there), nursing pads (you typically don't need them until after you go home because your milk hasn't come in yet, but I needed them so my sore nipples wouldn't stick to my clothes-the hospital provided these), our own pillows (I was fine with the hospital pillows, but they're nothing fancy.  Trevor's pull out chair bed thing sucked enough, he would have loved a normal pillow), my own robe (sounded a bit tempting, but I'm not picky and that would have taken up its own bag), pads (hospital provided during my stay), our own towels (wish I had these-those hospital towels were TINY, Tuck's medicated pads (these were great, but the hospital provided them), finger nail clippers (coincidentally my finger nails were in rough shape at the time and it drove me nuts not to have a clippers to cut them, especially once we had to finger feed with a syringe).

Click for:
Myra's Birth Story
Myra's First Week
24 hours with Our One-Month-Old 


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Baby Myra's First Week.

Very long post, people!  (I haven't proof read this post or Myra's birth story post, so hopefully it all makes sense.  Eventually I'll come back and proof them, but for now I just want to hit Publish!)  I keep meaning to write a post with all the fun info about how our first days as parents are going, so here it is. I'm typing this on my iPad and may just publish it from here then add photos later. It's easier to get the photos added correctly from a computer.  (I finished typing on the computer, so throughout the post you'll see updates since I originally started writing all of this.  I'll still add photos later! Don't worry, no photos under the "breastfeeding" section.)  This is a LONG post-I tried to write out every little thing I could remember.  I know some day when I look back, these days will all be a blur.

If you're stumbling across this post long after the fact, you can read Myra's entire birth story here.

I'm not really sure how to go about sharing the details of everything, so I think I'll just break it down into categories.

My body:
I really feel great considering what my body has been through! The first two days in the hospital was when I had the most bleeding, but it was honestly way less than I expected, I've had heavy periods worse than that. I'm still bleeding a little, but very little. I had a second degree vaginal tear during delivery (so I have stitches) but that hurt less than expected. My stitches sporadically get very itchy, part of healing I know, but not fun! It was sore getting in and out of bed at first, but that has gotten much easier. I still have to sit down gently, but it's very manageable. I was a big fan of the ice packs they gave me for the first day or two! They gave me some Tucks witch hazel pads, too, but I don't really notice a big difference with or without them so I haven't been using them. For pain I have just been taking Motrin. At the hospital I staggered the Motrin with Tylenol, but haven't kept that up since coming home. My back hurts some-I think because I wound up standing so funny when I was pregnant I have to re learn how to stand like a normal person. I didn't end up with any hemorrhoids-hooray! I have heard a lot of stories about the first postpartum bowel movement and was pretty nervous for that. I asked my doctor how long it can take and she said up to a week after delivery. Well, I got the urge to go the night we came home from the hospital and I was terrified! I thought no way...I still have a lot going on down there and panicked about my stitches ripping open or something wild like that. I'm happy to report all went just fine and I seem to be back to normal in that department, too, phew!! I'm generally colder than usual, could be all the extra water I've been drinking, hormones, lots of things. I sweat pretty hard core when sleeping. A friend warned me about this, it's not even that I'm hot, just a hormone thing. I'm actually walking on the treadmill with Rowdy while writing this, just walking a little slower than usual.  I promised myself I would post a photo of my postpartum non-baby belly no matter what it looked like and I must say, I'm thoroughly impressed.  I'll get a photo tomorrow and post it, but I really have no complaints.  The general rule is it goes back to about a 6 month pregnant belly right away then shrinks down from there.  That's probably pretty accurate for me, but I think it's even smaller than that by now.  I'm definitely still in maternity pants, haven't even tried my regular jeans yet, but I'm feeling very good about the belly situation thus far.

Myra's health:
Overall, Myra is a healthy girl. Babies lose some weight after birth then gain it back fairly quickly-her weight loss was within normal range at the hospital.  She was 7 pounds 11 ounces when she was born, 7 pounds 8 ounces on day two, 7 pounds 4 ounces on day 3, 7 pounds 5 ounces on day 4, 7 pounds 9 ounces on day 7 and 7 pounds 10 ounces today, so just about back to birth weight. She passes her first hearing screen in one ear, but not the other, so they re checked her later and she passed both ears. At first her bilirubin level (jaundice) was "high-intermediate" so they had to do blood work. That came back as "low-intermediate" so we just had to keep an eye on her, nothing concerning. We had some issues with breast feeding (see below) and that's what helps flush out the jaundice, so we've really had to focus on that. The nurses said babies with her amount of jaundice often peak at about day four and that's how it seemed with her, but when we went to our lactation follow up appointment yesterday it had gone up a little, so they had to do blood work.  The blood work came back the same as the forehead scan, so we had to go back today for another follow up check.  It went up a little bit again, so more blood work (the same result again) so we have another follow up check on Thursday.  So far, we don't need to treat her for it, just keep an eye on it (treatment would be the little baby tanning bed things with the blue lights). The pediatrician pointed out that her feet curve inward just a bit. He said it's common for babies because of how bunched up they get in the womb. We just have to bend/push them outward every so often and he said it shouldn't be an issue at all. Otherwise, her pediatrician checks were great.

Myra sleeps a lot! The first two nights we took advantage of the hospital nursery and let her sleep there. They would bring her to our room when she needed to eat. The whole labor/delivery process is exhausting and overwhelming and sleeping in a hospital is bad enough as is, we were grateful to get some kind of a little bit decent sleep. So many people said they wished they had used the nursery-we didn't feel guilty about it. We have to wake her up to eat and struggle to keep her awake while nursing (more below), but I guess I'm not complaining. It makes it pretty exciting when she does open her eyes. As for us, it seems like it's getting better, but we're still not getting a ton of sleep. She has to eat so frequently that by the time we're all done with one feeding it's two hours til the next one-or less! So, we try to sneak in some sleep (or at least rest), but it's a far cry from anything normal. (Since I started writing this on Sunday night, this situation has greatly improved!) We both keep reminding ourselves we'll miss these days at some point even if we're exhausted so we just enjoy all the snuggles we can! Trevor and I have very good unspoken teamwork which is a huge help. He'll change a diaper and I'll get an outfit ready...I'll let him sleep while I get laundry done...he'll let me take a nap and the kitchen will be clean when I wake up, you get the point. Basically, we sleep when we can, or at least relax, but it's nothing substantial at all.  Note: we're still not getting a ton of sleep, especially me with nursing at night, but this has definitely improved in the last few days (see breastfeeding section below).

Babies are supposed to poop and pee certain amounts each day in the first week to show they're getting enough food. She's right on track with those goals, exceeds them usually. We are using cloth diapers and loving it! Trevor is totally on board and honestly better at some of the folds than I am! It only makes sense to use cloth wipes with the cloth diapers, and that's going great, too. I will post a very detailed cloth diaper post eventually, once we have more time to try some of the bigger sizes we have. We got a lot of "good luck with that," "we'll see how long that lasts" type comments when we told people about the cloth diapers and I, quite frankly, started getting annoyed with it. It's really not a big deal, it's not gross (not any more so than changing a disposable diaper, still messing with poop, plus many cloth diaper users have never had even one poop blow out), and it's our kid so what's it to everyone else what we put on her butt? I know we haven't been doing it long, but I've already been doing the laundry and I think it's going to continue to go well. Like I said, more on that in another post.

This part is going to talk about breasts, nipples, and all things breast feeding, consider yourself warned. For moms who plan to breast feed, the nurses encourage nursing within the first two hours, preferably one. So, pretty shortly after giving birth we gave it a shot. The nurses are wonderful with helping since I really had no idea what I was doing. We tried a couple different holds, but it kept feeling like Myra was pinching my nipples-OUCH! That's a sign of a bad latch so we'd change something with positioning and try again, but ultimately decided to take a break and try again later.  We struggled with getting a good latch and keeping Myra awake (seriously struggled, we'd change her diaper then keep her naked, Trevor and a nurse would poke/tickle her, we'd be loud and yell at her, make weird noises, etc. and she just would not stay awake to eat).  After 24 hours without a solid feeding, they had me supplement her meals with my own colostrum (that's what you have before your milk actually comes in).  So, we'd try to feed then I would pump and we would finger feed that to her (let her suck on a finger and put a tube next to our finger and feed the pumped colostrum that way).  I kept working with the postpartum nurses and the lactation nurses on nursing, but we had to keep up the supplementing to make sure she was getting enough to eat while we figured out nursing.  By "figure out nursing" I mean many stressful and painful hours of trying to get her to eat that resulted in sore, cracked, a little bloody, raw nipples.  So, I couldn't really tell if we were actually making progress on the latch because after all that it was going to hurt no matter what.  Pumping felt better, but it still hurt and the goal was to breastfeed so we kept at it.  I was using lanolin cream and hydragel cooling breast pads to deal with the damage, but it still hurt.  The nurses came for every feeding to coach us through it and give tips/help try different things which was great.  I was nervous for how it would go once we left the hospital and I had to just keep at it, but we had already scheduled a follow up lactation appointment for the next day so we (Trevor was still very involved in the exhausting nursing process) just had to get through one night at home.  At that appointment, we made good progress working on different positions and how to get her latched properly, but we still had to supplement through the weekend then come back on Monday for another follow up.  When we came back on Monday, we had a pretty good weekend, Trevor still had to get up to help keep her awake, but we were seeing improvement for sure.  She was latching better, still took some decent effort, but better.  Babies that small are supposed to eat every 2-3 hours and we could not get her to wake up so it ended up being more like every 4 hours.  I was still nursing then pumping and while I was pumping, Trevor would finger feed the milk from previous pumpings. I have been keeping track of feedings and how much she was getting via finger feeding (thank you, Similac iPhone app) and showed the lactation nurse at our appointment yesterday.  At the appointments they weigh Myra with a very accurate scale before and after she eats and can actually tell how many ounces/grams she's getting in a feeding.  The nurse did the math on her feedings plus the supplement and concluded that, since my milk had come in over the weekend, she was getting way more food than she needed and just plain wasn't hungry when the 3 hour mark came around.  So, thankfully, she had us stop the supplementing (as long as she was nursing long enough) as of yesterday and come back today for another check in.  Also at yesterday's appointment, we focused a lot on positioning-where to hold her and put my hands to get her going, how to sit and get relaxed without letting her lose her latch, etc. and it went VERY well.  After our appointment yesterday, I was able to nurse by myself (no help from Trevor!), be comfortable while nursing, actually have a free hand to grab my glass of water or scratch my nose, and twice I even got up and walked around while nursing (briefly, but still, that was huge!).  I still have to pump after nursing so I don't have overflow leading to clogged milk ducts or something, but I'm weaning myself off those.  The first step of that was to cut out on of the middle of the night post-nursing pumpings, hooray! That plus not needing to supplement/finger feed after nursing is a huge time saver.  I wasn't sure if they would have me nurse at today's appointment or just weigh her, but I was prepared to nurse in public somewhere and wasn't terrified to do it! (The timing of the appointment + drive time to/from meant I wouldn't be able to wait until getting back home to nurse again, but they did have me do it during my appointment to keep working on things.)  They also got me a compounded prescription (pharmacists personally made concoction, basically) for an ointment that, by the sounds of it, is magical.  I just picked it up today and started using it this afternoon so we'll see how it goes to help these sore nips heal.  We're doing so much better with nursing, but it's hard for them to really heal when Myra keeps using them to eat.  I asked how long we have to feed every 2-3 hours and the nurse said once baby is back to her birth weight we can typically do one 4 hour stretch a day as long as we still try to get at least 8 feedings in throughout the day, most moms start with making that 4 hour stretch a middle of the night one-sounds awesome to me, we're almost there!  Here's my two cents on nursing: I have heard a million times that it can be difficult at first, painful, frustrating, stressful, exhausting, etc. and to be patient, don't give up, take advantage of the lactation consultants and hospital staff, etc. but I never really knew what that meant.  Sure, nursing can be "difficult" at first because you've never done it, but what does that really mean? Well, I figured it out.  And HOLY COW-I really figured out what "take advantage of the lactation nurses" means.  I used to think "well yeah, but what can they really do about it??" and now I totally know.  They have been so patient, helpful and encouraging this whole time I'm not totally sure if I love them more or the anesthesiologist ;)  So, my magical words of wisdom are exactly what I always heard but never understood: be patient, don't give up, use whatever resources you have and have faith that you can do it!  It's seriously exciting the progress we make each day.  Trevor is so proud of both of us every time he comes to check on us-he can tell how much progress we've made and can see how much more relaxed I am and how much better Myra is feeding.

My hormones and mood:
Honestly I'm exhausted with writing this haha.  I have really felt pretty darn good this whole time.  Tired, but good, and even the tired is getting a little better.  Today I heard a handful of songs on the radio throughout all of our driving to Mankato/home and I'd say a good 1/3-1/2 of them made me cry, and not just a little cry, sobbing hot mess cry.  They were happy tears, but tears nonetheless.  For example, the song that made me think of little Baby Gibbs during my whole pregnancy, Ho Hey by the Lumineers, came on the radio and I just melted thinking about Myra and how she is finally here!  I heard Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and started crying again thinking about how we will help Myra grow up to be accepting of anyone and everyone regardless of differences.  I heard two Kenny Chesney songs in a row (my college buddies played lots of Kenny Chesney while hanging out and at parties) and I thought about how much seriously awesome fun we had in college and how things have changed since then, but I wouldn't trade this for anything.  Knee Deep by the Zac Brown Band came on which reminded me of one of the times I picked Trevor up at Fort McCoy to bring him home for a few days before he left for Kuwait for good.  And I can't remember the name of the Black Eyed Peas song that played, but it reminded me of mine and Trevor's trip to Palm Springs right before he left for Kuwait because it was on the radio CONSTANTLY and I got weepy thinking about everything we've been through since then and how grateful I am for where we are right now.  Anyway, you definitely get the point.  Lots of hormone stuff going on today, but luckily it's all happy tears, no baby blues or anything like that.

Conclusion?  We both LOVE being parents.  We love parenting with each other and we love Myra to pieces.  Even at frustrating times (nursing struggles, Trevor getting pooped on 3 times during one diaper change last night, etc.) we just look at her sweet little face and melt.  I can't wait to teach her things and watch her grow, but want to keep her tiny at the same time.  Unreal how much all of this can really change your perspective on so many things-and yes, I hated hearing that before I was a parent, too, but it's true.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Myra's Birth Story

Yes, this is very long and yes, I may be an over-achiever for writing it already. But remember, a bug part of this blog is for our own memories and I didn't want to forget any of this!

On Monday, January 21 I was 39 weeks, 3 days pregnant. Trevor and I headed to Mankato for our 39 week checkup. I was 3-4cm dilated and baby was not palpable (fully engaged) which Dr. Carlson considered to be good progress. She asked if I wanted her to strip my membranes and I said sure, figuring it couldn't hurt but honestly not having much faith. Dr. Carlson told me it typically get labor going within 48 hours for 50% of women.

We headed home, ate lunch and I walked a mile on the treadmill with Rowdy. I laid down for a bit while Trevor worked on the basement then I helped a little by painting some of the trim. We had spaghetti for supper. Throughout painting and eating I was having some contractions. I didn't know if they were Braxton Hicks contractions or real ones. Everyone said over and over "you'll know" which was incredibly annoying because I kept thinking "really? and if I don't??" Many women said the real thing felt like really bad menstrual cramps, but I realized that's relative. I don't get menstrual cramps, so my Braxton Hicks felt like "bad menstrual cramps" to me. Anyway, I took a bath Monday night thinking that might stop them if it were BH contractions and, if not, a little relaxation wouldn't hurt! Unfortunately, they stopped during the bath. I went to bed around 9:30.

I woke up to go to the bathroom a couple times...around 11 something and 1 something. I thought maybe I felt a little funny at 1, but went back to sleep. I woke up again at 2:30 feeling crampy which, of course, got me a little anxious. I realized it was happening in waves and more uncomfortable than the BH I had been having so I decided to try to time them while playing games of Bejeweled in between. I couldn't exactly figure out a clear end to each contraction, but I could tell they were averaging 6-8 minutes apart. About 3:15-3:30 I felt a pinch with one of them then the tiniest trickle, so I got up to go to the bathroom. I wanted to make sure my bladder was always empty so I could be more confident if it was water breaking or pee! I laid back down and kept timing a bit. I was pretty sure that was a slight water break/leak and Trevor doesn't wake up easily so I thought I should get him up to give him some time before I figured we would be leaving. Our instructions were to head out when contractions were coming every 5 minutes for an hour. I woke Trevor up and said, "you should probably get up now," and he said, "why? is it 6:30?" I replied with something like, "no, but I'm having contractions." Trevor perked up a little, still sleepy, but committed to waking up. I showed him my contraction timer and he tried to make sense of it, but I quickly needed it back to time another. After that, I got up to go to the bathroom and when I did I leaked a little more that dripped down my leg and I was about as sure as one could be that wasn't pee. By then, the contractions were getting more intense but still manageable for sure.

I called labor and delivery and they told me to head over. That was the right answer because I was going to go anyway :) Trevor was still a bit fuzzy so he just asked what I needed him to do. I said to start the car and put our hospital bags loaded, so he did. We both kind of walked around the house frantically for a minute, Rowdy was a little confused. Shortly after 4am (Tuesday, January 22 now) we headed for Mankato to the hospital. When we left, the contractions weren't quite 5 minutes apart yet, but with the water break we were still in good shape to go. By the time we were outside Owatonna, they were 3-4 minutes apart, totally skipped the 5 minutes apart for an hour part! I would tell Trevor when I was having a contraction so he would be quiet, but I didn't want to specifically tell him how many minutes apart they were because I didn't want him to worry about it, just drive! Honestly, I was getting nervous for how fast the contractions switched to 3-4 minutes apart. Occasionally I even had a couple that were 2.5 minutes apart and they were definitely getting more intense. I was really nervous I would miss the epidural window (decided for sure at that point I wanted one!) and a tad nervous she would just decide she was coming before we got to the hospital.

We made it to the hospital a little after 5am-Trevor dropped me off and parked the car. The woman at the desk had me sign something in the middle of a contraction (to her credit, they were coming so frequently there was hardly a time I wasn't having a contraction). I'm still not positive what it was, something about releasing records to insurance I think. They had me sit down while someone from labor and delivery came to get me. Slowest-wheelchair-ride-ever. I immediately told her, "for the record, I want the epidural, not sure who I'm supposed to tell!" Once in my room, they quickly got me hooked up to the monitors and said something like, "wow, those are close together-you're not getting much of a break!" The nurse said she had to swab me to test if the fluid I felt was amniotic fluid or not then checked my cervix. I was a stretchy 5cm dilated at that point. If it was amniotic fluid, they could get me started on fluids to prepare for the epidural. If it wasn't, they'd have to monitor my contractions for an hour to see if it was epidural time or not. Thankfully, it didn't take long to confirm the swab was amniotic fluid so she got me going on my IV fluids to prep for the epidural. The contractions were starting to get pretty intense and still very close together, but I had to get through at least half a bag or fluids before the anesthesiologist could come. Luckily, the nurse called the doctor on call to get the orders for the epidural so we could be ready for it ASAP. I was really having to breathe through the contractions and grab the rails of the bed to get by. I was so excited to see the anesthesiologist! He went through all the risks of the procedure and how it worked and all I heard was "blah blah blah I'm wasting time." I was like "yep, yep, sure, fine, let's do this!" I had to get through a contraction that had started then he prepped my back. Another one started so he had to wait again. After that one, he quickly got it in and said I should feel some relief soon and much more as it kicked in. I think I got through 3 more contractions then they started to feel better but I quickly realized there was a patch on my lower left abdomen that still felt completely normal (aka painful). I told the nurses and after a couple more contractions they called the anesthesiologist back. He gave me a boost which helped a lot and pretty quickly! Trevor could tell the difference in my demeanor. I could feel very mild pressure in my lower right abdomen during the peak of a contraction, so I wold excitedly ask the nurses "am I having a contraction??" since they could see them on the monitor. Whenever I would ask they would confirm that I was right at the peak of one which was awesome because I could just barely feel it. They let me hang out and enjoy the epidural for a bit and told me Dr. Carlson would be in to check on me when she came in for the day. I didn't sleep, but I was certainly able to relax and rest a little-woo hoo!

When Dr. Carlson came in to check me she said I was 9.8cm dilated (you can push at 10, so very close!). They said I would likely feel the urge to push and the nurses would help me through it when I got that feeling. Dr. Carlson told me it's very common for first time moms to push for 2 hours and the nurses would call her when we were getting close to actual delivery time. When Dr. Carlson checked me, Trevor got to take a peek and could see baby's head about the size of a silver dollar. I never felt the urge to push, but after a while the nurses said they wanted to start with some practice pushes. They explained they would have me do 3 pushes per contraction, deep breath in, breathe out, deep breath in, hold it while pushing for 10 seconds, breathe out, quick deep breath in, hold it while pushing for 10 seconds, breathe out, quick deep breath in, hold it while pushing for 10 seconds, breathe out, then relax. They said if I needed a break we could skip a contraction. Once they could see a contraction building on the monitor, they got me ready, grabbing my knees, then it was go time. We did one contraction worth of pushing (3 pushes) and one of the nurses said to the other they thought they should call Dr. Carlson to come sooner than later, so she did just that. The next contraction came quickly and they had me do the 3 pushes again. After that second set of pushes, they told me they were going to have me take a break and skip the next contraction and I got the feeling baby was coming sooner than later. After that second set of pushes (6 total pushes) they had Trevor peek again and she was definitely crowning and ready to come! After the skipped contraction, Dr. Carlson was on her way and they got me ready for pushing again. One of the nurses was getting everything prepped for the doctor and the other was helping me. She called for the other nurse and I could really tell by the look on her face it was go time. The next contraction built up and it was push time-I pushed once and baby came out completely! 10:08am.  I looked down and all I could think was, "holy crap, there's a baby on my bed!" About 20 seconds later, Dr. Carlson walked in and heard baby crying already. The look on her face was priceless-she definitely didn't expect things to go that quickly for me! She sat right down and they handed baby too me, all bloody and yucky still, but perfect as could be. (Oh, at some point late in the game they put the oxygen mask on me just to be on the safe side, and I don't have a clue when they took it off, no biggie.) The nurses wiped her up while she was on my chest, no name yet-we wanted a good look at her, and Dr. Carlson stitched me up (I had a 2nd degree tear, not bad). Out came the placenta while I was busy making googly eyes at baby. I did feel a big relief when baby came out and again when the placenta came out, like when you finally get out a really big poop! They let me hold her for a while, Trevor and I got a good look at her and decided on Myra (Trevor randomly threw that name out there a while back and we were pretty sure that's the name we'd pick but wanted to meet her first). Her middle name is Taylor, which was my grandma's maiden name. They let me hold her for a while then we gave breast feeding a shot which wasn't too productive but we tried. Then it was Trevor's turn. They said they'd let him hold her for a while then they would do her measurements/birth stats. He said he could hold forever so they should probably just get the stats done now :) She was 7 pounds, 11.4 ounces - 21.5" long at birth.

If I think of more details that are relevant to her actual birth story, I will come back and add them, but I think that's all the important details ;) Oh, and our kid rocks.

Monday, January 21, 2013

39 weeks, 3 days

Today's weekly check up went well. I'm at 158 pounds which means I lost 3 in the last week and I'm up 29 pounds overall. The nurse said that's fairly common and still within the right weight gain range (25-35 pounds for women who start out at a healthy weight). You burn more calories just carrying baby this late in the game, plus it gets harder to eat as much since you run out of room! Also, I've been especially active the last week or two since it helps with recovery after labor and certainly doesn't hinder getting baby into the right position!

Baby's heart rate was 140 today, heard some hiccups and kicks while listening to the heart rate, too. I'm 3-4cm dilated and today the doctor was not able to move baby's head up which is a good thing-she's getting ready! The doctor did a membrane sweep which she said will work 50% of the time to put women into labor within 2 days. I'm certainly not holding my breath, but definitely crossing my fingers! Since the appointment I've felt a little crampy but I hear that's normal whether the sweep works or not.

That's about all I've got for updates! She had us schedule another appointment for next week but hopefully we won't need it!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Digital Scrapbook Software Giveaway!

I was recently approached by My Memories to do a product review and giveaway on the blog.  My first thought was nope.  I'm not a scrapbooker and have no idea what I'm doing when it comes to making those adorable pages of photos and cute sayings.  I took a look at their website and read about their digital scrapbooking software and decided I'd at least try it.  I will admit, there are probably people who could do a lot more with it than I (enter the give away and see for yourself!), but it was honestly so easy to use I'm going ahead with sharing and doing the give away!  Seriously.

I made a 2012 in review scrap book and below you'll see a few of my favorite pages.  They have many different themes, so I just picked one I liked, personalized the pages (very easy) and voila! Then, you can store these on your computer to view and share digitally, print them to create an actual scrapbook, turn them into a DVD-all kinds of ways to scrapbook!  There are even options to make an interactive project with music, video and more.  The whole thing is really pretty cool and I'm just getting started using it.

You can even make calendars

Note: the shaded border on the pages simply shows what may be cut off if I were to print the pages and create a real book.

The give away will run for 10 days in hopes that this baby arrives before the contest ends!  I'll contact the winner by email and post on the blog.  If you don't win, you can still get $10 off the software using the code on the right side of the blog page.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 18, 2013

39 weeks

We're getting so close! Baby could be here any day...but it could also be another three weeks yet, who knows!  I'm hoping for closer to the any day option.

Still feeling great!  Bending is getting a little trickier-I definitely have to sit down to put my socks on.  I'm still sleeping fairly well.  In fact, I've ditched the goofy pillows between my legs set-up.  One night this week I actually slept through the night-no potty breaks!  Then two nights ago I got up three times, but I'd say it was worth it to get a real, full night's sleep (especially this late in a pregnancy).  I've had two days in the last week where I've felt crampy like my period was coming (many say that's how contractions feel at first) but then nothing happened.  Yesterday I tried to time it, but there was not a very clear start and stop to the feeling and, obviously, it turned into nothing.  Baby is still moving as usual, no bleeding or loss of mucous plug.  My energy level is pretty good-I go to bed early, but that's fairly normal.  I still like naps, but who doesn't?  I've committed to taking my iron pills twice a day (doctor said for sure once a day, twice a day if I can), so maybe that helps, plus lots of water/fluids.  I have to eat smaller, more frequent meals because I run out of room.  I ate a ton at our last Christmas get together on Sunday and told my six-year-old nephew I was "so full."  He said, "Well yeah! There's a baby in there!"

We're still both very excited!  I think it's starting to sink in for Trevor more than for me.  I still feel like we're never going to have a baby and probably haven't fully grasped the idea that we could be parents by the end of today.  I've gotten to the point where I try to treat every day at work as my last, no loose ends.  It's really weird not knowing when this will all go down.  Trevor can't wait, but he also has a lot on his plate right now (finishing the basement, trying to get ahead with school work, Army stuff, etc.) and is trying to focus on all of that while he can.  Like many of you (I assume), I google things in times of boredom.  I found a few studies and it seems there's actually not a lot of truth to women delivering earlier if it's their second/third+ pregnancy and the average for first time moms is 39 weeks, 4 days.  Of course, that really means nothing for me specifically.  

Someone told me in a meeting this week, "Due next week? You look healthy!" and it was the best comment on my appearance I've heard in a long time.  I get sick of hearing how tiny I am because, really, I'm just the right size.  What can also get annoying (remember this when talking to pregnant women) is hearing over and over when I'm going to have this baby based on my size, appearance, dilation, etc.  The truth is, no one knows, not even me or my doctor.  Again, dilation/effacement/dropping/Braxton Hicks contractions or anything else does not mean labor will be here today, tomorrow or in two weeks.  I'm generally a bit of a planner and I've come to terms with the fact that I'm just not going to know until it's actually happening-I just wish other people understood that, too.  And I digress.

Car seat is installed, hospital bag is packed and ready to go, Rowdy's care is set, just need baby to be ready!

We'll be sure to update people on any news! I've got an email draft ready to go, just need to add details and a photo once she's here.  And, of course, we'll post on the blog and, eventually, include her birth story.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Big Family Christmas.

We had our last Christmas get together this weekend.  Trevor has a big extended family so the Christmas parties with his grandparents/aunts and uncles/cousins are too big for someone's house.

Trevor had drill this weekend, so I got some stuff done around the house then got our appetizer ready to bring to the party.  I also threw together my first loaf of homemade bread in my new (used) bread maker.

I headed to the Christmas party-I didn't get many pictures because it was just easier to sit in one spot for the most part.  It was great to see everyone, there was lots of good food, and Trevor made it towards the end after drill was over.
My nephews opening their presents with mom.
The kids found ways to stay busy while the adults cleaned up.
This photo was taken earlier last week sometime, but I wanted to share anyway.  Rowdy sure loves his Daddy-he'll squeeze anywhere just so he can sit by him.

Monday, January 14, 2013

38 weeks, 3 days

Had another ultrasound and doctor's appointment today. All looks good!

Baby girl is head down, face to my back (just how we want her!) so hopefully no back labor for me. The tech commented twice how low her head is (woo hoo!). She also mentioned she's pretty cramped up in there and her feet are right up in my ribs (I honestly rarely feel it, another woo hoo!). She gave us some prints from the ultrasound but I'm not even going to post them-they look like nothing because she's getting to big to fit anything in a screen shot. Her amniotic fluid level was 11.7 and we were shooting for over 10. Also, she got an 8/8 on the other checks they did. Edit: During the ultrasound the tech showed me where my gall bladder and liver are.  I'm not an expert at organ placement in general, especially not when things get moved around during pregnancy, but it was quite strange to see.  I just kept thinking "my liver is way up there?!" 

We then headed to the clinic for our appointment which included another non-stress test. When we got there they said, "you didn't get a call? Dr. Carlson isn't in this afternoon because she was on call this weekend." Um... They did some checking and apparently under the circumstances (we drive an hour and needed this follow up info on time or there was mention of inducing) we got to keep our appointment, just with another doctor. So, my blood pressure is still good and I'm up to 163.5 pounds, still within the target range for weight gain (up about 34 pounds). The non-stress test went great. The goal is to see that her heart rate can increase and decrease which shows she's getting enough oxygen. This was a follow up to last week's all because of a tiny bit below "ideal" amniotic fluid level (that is now back on track). Then they told us our fill in doctor got called to a delivery so we had to wait some more. When she got there she said the ultrasound and non-stress test looked great. She checked me and said I'm dilated to "wiggly 3cm" and called my cervix "favorable." We can't remember the word she used, but said something about baby's head position and we took it to mean she's a little more settled in for labor than she was last week. She also made sure to point out that because we live 45-60 minutes from the hospital, I'm already 3cm dilated and my cervix is "favorable" we shouldn't wait too long to come in once labor starts, especially if I want an epidural. I asked about visitors at the hospital because of all this flu craziness and she said only our immediate family can come which is fine. It would be nice to be able to have the option for more, but they have the rule for a good reason so no big deal.

For the record, we have had WAY more ultrasounds than the average pregnancy. I don't want people reading this to get the wrong idea. At our clinic, one typically gets an ultrasound at her first visit (8-12 weeks) to check initial growth/due date and an anatomy scan (18-20 weeks). We had both of those plus another because she was moving too much in the anatomy scan, another to check on some cysts that appeared on her brain (common and went away as expected), another to check on growth (I was measuring a week behind-Dr. figured it was because baby dropped but wanted to be sure, measured right on but amniotic fluid was a tiny bit below ideal), and one more today to check on the amniotic fluid (all looked good!). So, don't expect that many! Some clinics don't even do that initial ultrasound at 8-12 weeks.

That's all! I finally finished packing my hospital bag and the car seat is good to go! I'll be doing a post about packing a bag for the hospital after baby is here to share what I was glad to have/didn't need/wish I had.

Hopefully a baby intro post soon! :)

Friday, January 11, 2013

38 weeks

Ah! We're getting so close!  The biggest questions I've been getting are How are you feeling? and Are you nervous? So let's start there.

Thankfully, I'm still feeling great!  I'm starting to waddle every now and then and having a little more trouble getting comfortable on the couch/in bed/at my desk at work, but still nothing major.  I expected much worse at 38 weeks pregnant.  My usual winter dry nose that often leads to bloody noses seems to be worse (the books say that's to be expected).  I have still been getting some, well, diaper rash which is uncomfortable.  I used some of our cloth diaper safe cream (Earth Mama Angel Baby Bottom Balm and CJ's BUTTer) and it worked very well, almost immediately.  The A&D just wasn't cutting it.  I gave up on trying to shave my legs in the shower and took my first bath in about 2 years last night.  Clearly I'm not much of a bath person, but it actually felt great.  I tend to get too hot in the tub, but maybe it was better since half my torso was sticking out of the water this time.  I haven't actually felt as tired in the last week as usual, although I never pass up an opportunity to take a nap.  Since childbirth is getting closer, I've started taking two iron pills a day instead of one, which could be helping my fatigue.  So far, so good with staying regular while on iron-I have been making sure to drink lots of water and get plenty of fiber.

Honestly, I'm not nervous at all.  I imagine once labor gets going I'll have all kinds of emotions, especially if anything "abnormal" happens during labor/delivery.  For now, I'm just very excited to meet this little girl and I feel as ready as possible.  I don't want to speak for Trevor too much, but from our conversations I don't sense that he is nervous at all either, just ready and very excited.  We both keep thinking about all the things we want for her (things in life, not material things) and everything we want to teach her.  We joke about starting sign language/no-smoking speeches/self-respect lessons on day one.  Never too young, isn't that what they say?  :)

Since I already wrote about our doctor's appointment this week, I think that's all I've got for now.  Oh, I have had Braxton Hicks contractions ("warm up" contractions) for a couple weeks now, but they seem to be getting more frequent.  Although I'm having those and dilated to 3cm, I'm not convinced that means anything about the timing of labor.  I could name so many people who were stuck at 3cm (or more) for a few weeks.  I don't feel like I'd go over due at this point, but that is probably more optimism than anything.  One she arrives, I'll do my best to post a photo or two ASAP and I plan to do an in-depth birth story post when I'm able, too.

Question of the week: Do you automatically use a humidifier in your baby's/kids' rooms during the cold, dry months? Or do you wait for them to show signs of needing one? I need one myself all winter, just curious if we should use Baby's right off the bat or not.  PS-you can now comment via your Facebook account.  If the box isn't showing up, just click the "No Comments" or "# Comments" at the bottom of the post and it should appear.

Thanks for all the well wishes, everyone! The clock is ticking...

Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Nursery

Each week I keep meaning to post photos of the baby's room, but then I don't.  So, here they are.  The room is fairly small, so there are probably way more angles than necessary, but this room used to be one giant storage closet so I'm proud of how neat it looks now.

First, here's a photo of Trevor setting up the crib.  This has been put together for quite some time, but I just rediscovered the pictures.
Rowdy helped, too.
OK, here's what you see as you walk in the door.
And again right as you walk in the door, but a little to the right.
That is enough to get the point, but here are a few more just for fun.

We often get asked what the nursery "theme" is and I guess it's ocean/dolphins, but we certainly didn't go overboard.  The walls were already tan, the decorations are all things we already had, and her bedding is just blue/green/tan sheets.  So if all of that makes a theme, then that's what it is!  I know those of you who are parents may be looking at the pack and play bassinet in the baby's room and thinking we're crazy for not having it in our room.  We've already heard the speeches, so two things on that.  One, the place it would go in our bedroom is literally three steps around the corner, so we're hoping we can just have her sleep in her own room from the beginning.  Two, we are very flexible and, trust me, if that doesn't work well we will move it in a heartbeat.  There, now you don't have to give us a lesson or roll your eyes...or both!

The only thing that's missing is Baby's Scentsy warmer.  I'm using it in my office until we put this room to use!

So, now that that's done, we just need a baby to put in there and we'll be all set!

I am a Mentor Social Media Day.

Since January is National Mentoring Month and today is I am a Mentor Social Media Day, I would like to share with all of you the overwhelmingly positive experience I've had with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Minnesota.  My time spent as both a Little and a Big has made me so confident in the work they do.

I was matched with my Big, Brandi, when I was in 7th grade.  At that time, I was fairly shy and reserved, and BBBS found a wonderful, caring Big who was just right for me.  Our match was a school-site match, so Brandi and I would meet during my school lunch time.  We continued meeting throughout high school and got to know each other very well.  I always knew Brandi really cared about me.  Having an extra, positive adult in my life who cared about me was a great feeling, especially because I knew she had no obligation to care or spend time with me, she just chose to do so.

After finishing college, I wound up settling back in my hometown.  Once I knew we'd be here for a while, I went to BBBS to start the process of finding my own Little.  I wanted to give someone else the same positive experiences I had.  I've been a Big for over two years and, once again, BBBS couldn't have found me a more perfect Little, Alea.  We've been able to do a lot of fun things together over the last couple years.

BBBS really knows what they're doing.  Their staff members put in a lot of work to appropriately match Bigs and Littles, yes, but their work doesn't end there.  It seems they are always working behind the scenes, planning fun events for matches and keeping in touch with Bigs, Littles and their families to make sure everyone is getting the experience for which they hoped.  The activities BBBS plans are fun and meaningful, things like summer picnics, an exercise class for matches and an annual holiday party.  Additionally, Bigs get weekly updates with upcoming events and activity ideas.

I know the value of this program as a former Little myself.  I see it in my Little now.  But the value doesn't end there.  Little did I know my experience as a Big would be as powerful as it has been.  I've always known Big Brothers Big Sisters was an excellent program for children in our community, but now I know it's vital program to our community as a whole.
I put off becoming a big because I didn't think I had enough time to really give it my all.  I'll be honest, I'm pretty busy and so is Alea, but I'm still so glad for the time we are able to spend together.  Now that she's well into her junior high years and Trevor and I will have a new baby any day now, life will only get busier for both of us; however, I know we'll still do the best we can to do fun things together!  I would encourage you to get in touch with your local mentoring agency and look into becoming a mentor.  There are many options (school site like I had as a Little or community based like what I have with Alea, for example)We're all busy-we have families, jobs, hobbies, etc. but trust me, you won't regret it!
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