Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Adaline Mae: A Birth Story

Our baby is here.

The baby that I undoubtedly was sure was a he is in fact a SHE.

That's right. We are proud parents of girls.

Words can't begin to describe how natural it all feels, how beautiful every moment has been.
I just love the newborn daze. Where you walk around in a sleepless, yet completely and totally blissful state that feels like a dream where you have no idea what day it is. And it doesn't even matter. Because you are so painfully happy with your snuggly little newborn.

And what they say is true - your love doesn't divide, it multiplies.
And man, are we in love.

Miss Adaline Mae made her appearance on Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 at 6:09 a.m. weighing 8.4 pounds and measuring at 20 inches long.

And this is her story.
{It's a long one. With lots of details. Because those are what are so easy to forget, and I refuse to do so.}

It all started on Wednesday, the morning of Gabe's 30th birthday. I woke up extra early, cursing the fact that I had stayed up too late on my very pregnant feet prepping for a special birthday breakfast. It was worth it though. Because it was just an ordinary day for Gabe. One where he planned to go into work an hour late and come home in decent time so we could go on a birthday movie date. **Don't let anyone fool you. Things get crazy in your 30's. Especially if you go into labor.**

Lyla had been sick for a couple of weeks, and I was really starting to get restless in the evenings waiting on baby. So suffice it to say, I hadn't gotten a good night's sleep in awhile. I was tired and woke up not feeling my best.

We celebrated with swiss and mushroom quiche, pumpkin french toast bake, and pumpkin spice coffee. Then Gabe headed to work, and I went about my day as usual. Although I really wasn't feeling myself, was having quite a few intense Braxton Hicks contractions, and felt a tremendous amount of very uncomfortable pressure. At times, it felt like the baby was about to fall out at any moment. But Lyla and I still made it out for a long walk and a trip to the park for a picnic lunch and some time on the swing.

There were points throughout the day where I had the thought of how funny it would be if I went into labor on Gabe's {and Samson's} birthday. But, I'd had that same thought for the past two weeks and was losing sleep over the anticipation of going into labor. I was nearly two weeks early with Lyla and was just sure I'd be early with this one. But with each passing day, I got more and more disappointed. There was the time I "knew" it was happening that weekend because I had stomach bug symptoms. Same thing happened with Lyla the day I went into labor. But instead, it turned out to be the actual stomach bug. Then, {warning: TMI} I lost my mucus plug on Monday and was absolutely positive labor was imminent because when I lost it with Ly, I went into labor the next morning.

But no signs of labor on Tuesday. And today, Wednesday, I was having some of the same symptoms I'd had for weeks. Besides, I was starting to think this baby was planning to stay cozied up in my belly until Thanksgiving.

I rested a bit while Lyla napped and got ready for our big date night. Decided to snap a belly pic...little did I know this would be my very last. Three days before my due date.

Clueless that today was *finally* the day

My mom came over to watch Lyla while Gabe and I went to our first movie in over a year. I only wish I had felt better. Nevertheless, I was excited for an evening out with my love. I waddled into the Gone Girl theater, and Gabe ordered a beer for himself and a water for me.

Fifteen minutes into the movie, there it was. My first contraction. Now, up until this point, I was going crazy by questioning for the past few weeks, Was that a contraction? Like a real one? Will tonight be the night? How can I not remember when I've gone through this before? Turns out Braxton Hicks contractions can play mind tricks on you. Even when you've had them consistently since 20 weeks.

But the moment a "real one" hit, I instantly remembered. There was no question in my mind.

It's funny how you can go through one of the most can't-be-put-into-words painful experiences of your life and forget what it felt like. I guess that's why many have more than one kid.

Twenty minutes later, I had another. A bit more intense than the last. I began to get excited. Then terrified. Then hit complete denial. Ohmygoodness. Is this it? Could this really be the night? I might meet my baby soon! Well shoot. I'm not ready. I don't want to go through labor. Lord can I just skip that part? Nah. There's no way I'm in labor. It's Gabe's birthday. 

But there it was again. My third contraction in 45 minutes. I began to time them by watching the conveniently lit clock in the movie theater while Gabe watched the movie completely oblivious.

Enjoying his beer and his 30th birthday.

Taken 15 minutes before I went into labor

Sure enough, my contractions were fairly consistent, averaging about every 20 minutes. One contraction stands out specifically as it ironically occured during a super intense scene. I thought I was going to fall out of my chair. After that one was over, I leaned over to Gabe and whispered that I was pretty sure I was in labor but definitely wanted to stay and finish the movie.

Once the movie was over, I was in denial. I didn't feel it was time to go to the hospital just yet as my contractions weren't - in my mind - completely consistent. So we decided to go home. And on the way home, I'll never forget the suggestion Gabe made, "Well, if you really are in labor, maybe we should go home and try to get some sleep. I mean, it could be morning before you have this baby. "

Ok. It was a good idea in theory. But "If I really was in labor", there definitely would be no sleeping because of: 1. Excitement and 2. A little thing called pain.

We got home to relieve my mom of her babysitting duties, and I filled her in by warning her I could possibly be in labor. She said she'd go home right away and change her clothes "just in case". My contractions were now 15 minutes apart. And believe it or not, I really did try to lay down and rest, but they were too strong and painful. So Gabe made a better suggestion than the previous - that we try to watch a movie. So we began watching Catching Fire. He paused every time I had a contraction and made a note in his phone. We didn't make it very far into our second movie of the night. I was consistently having contractions 8-10 minutes apart for about an hour.

Ok. Time to go to the hospital.

We left the moment my stepdad got to our house to stay with Lyla. Oh my goodness. This really is it! The moment I'd been waiting for for weeks, and it still didn't seem real.

The rest of the night, I had the same thought over and over again: This couldn't be any more different than the night I had Lyla. And as much as Lyla's labor and delivery was one of the most cathartic and beautiful experiences and proudest moments of my life, I kept thinking how happy I was that this one was different.

Like how I had 1 contraction in the car on the way to the hospital in contrast to the 7 I had with Lyla. {Simply because with Lyla, we stayed at home until the last possible minute, with the hope of having a more comfortable and successful natural childbirth}. Or how I only contracted several times in the hospital while waiting for my room {and could actually answer the admittance questions}, whereas I contracted nearly a dozen times and once on the public restroom floor with Lyla.

After checking in just before midnight, the nurse escorted me to my room. Sharing in the entire birth experience with me was Gabe, my mom, and my mother-in-law. Some may find that odd, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I had the very best team cheering me on.

Once we got to the room, contractions were still 8-10 minutes apart - painful but bearable. However the pressure and the labor shivers began immediately. {I would then have chattering shivers for the rest of the entire night}. But oh my goodness the pressure - I'm not sure I could ever forget that feeling. I used the restroom once, and vowed to not do it again because I was sure the baby was going to come straight out.

I got checked and was dilated to 5 cm and 90% effaced. However, the resident wouldn't admit me at least for another hour as they wanted to see if I was progressing. Annoyed, I leaned over to Gabe and said "If this isn't real labor, then I'm just not doing it." Which I'm pretty sure were the exact words I used when I was in labor with Lyla.

After an hour, I was positive I had progressed as I had some powerful gut-wrenching contractions. But what do you know. I sure didn't progress. I was still a 5. However, I was 100% effaced. So they went ahead and admitted me, to which I responded, "Ok, so when can I have the drugs?"

UGH. I had to wait to switch rooms, be completely admitted, and for insertion of the IV lock. As nervous as I was, I was ready for the juice. We hadn't prepared for a natural childbirth like we did with Lyla. All I cared about in this exact moment was for the misery to go away.

At this point, it still hadn't hit me that we were going to meet our baby tonight. I was just focusing on getting through the contractions and not pushing out the baby...yet. I knew the moment a contraction was beginning, starting low and dull and not wasting anytime before exploding into intense gut-gripping torture that literally took my breath away as it wrapped all the way around my torso to my back. The nurse gave me an exercise ball to counteract the pressure. This felt like a little slice of heaven the moment I sat down. That is, until the pressure intensified and I wanted nothing more than to just PUSH. {If you weren't catching on, theme of the night: lots of pressure.}

So happy to feel relief. Even for just a few moments. 

All I really remember during this period of labor was the waiting. And the fact that Gabe was the best support system ever - just like the first time around.

Once we got to my new room, I had progressed to a whopping 6cm. And then more waiting. I finally heard the nurse call anesthesia and ask for someone immediately. I started to tremble as she explained to them that my blood pressure was incredibly low (nothing new there) and that my doctor suggested I get extra IV fluids and receive the epidural while laying down as I have a history of passing out. Well, we got off to a rocky start as the nurse couldn't even get in the IV lock because my veins were "way too small". Poor Gabe, this was the only time he left my side so that he could gather composure and do his best not to pass out himself while the nurse dug at my arm desperate to find a vein while I kept screaming "OW. Stop!!!". This was just as painful as the contractions I was trying to breathe through, and I was yelling at Gabe to come back so I could squeeze his hand. But I knew the moment he turned around that he wasn't feeling well - his face was the color of pea soup.

At this point, the resident checked me and I was still 6 cm. I'd only progressed 1 cm in the span of 2 hours. Not the most encouraging. But I was so relieved once anesthesia walked in. It was a young, and quite adorable gal named Kate. This somehow made me feel some relief. I told Kate I was very nervous as I'd never done this before, and she was so patient as she guided me through the whole process.

It took a bit longer than I expected for the juice to kick in, nearly 40 minutes. I contracted 5 or 6 times, a few very long and intense contractions, while waiting. But finally, I began to feel some relief, AND I could still move my legs. I had no idea that was possible! And once I no longer felt the contractions, I teared up and was overcome with emotion. NOW, I was able to focus on the fact that it was almost time to meet my baby. And I'm pretty sure I told everyone who came into my room how amazing epidurals are and asked if I could have one everyday. I couldn't believe that I was able to relax, breathe, chat with Gabe and our moms, and even laugh.

The resident came in and checked me again. Still a 6. I nearly cried. So, they decided to break my water in hopes that I would begin progressing a bit more quickly.

Then, this is where things get a bit foggy. I remember my nurse and the resident storming in. The nurse put oxygen on me, when suddenly 6 or 7 other hospital staff members, including the anesthesiologist, came barging in. Our moms got up out of their chairs. Gabe sat there patiently rubbing my hand. I just remember everyone staring at the baby's heart rate monitor. I began to cry. I begged for someone to tell me what was going on. No one said a thing. So, I asked again. Finally, someone told me (I have no idea who) my blood pressure dropped quite a bit as did baby's heart rate. They began putting me in different positions. When finally, the baby's heart went back up to a normal rate.

Talk about a scare. All I could picture was them unhooking all my monitors and rolling me out into the OR for an emergency C-Section.

Instead, the resident checked me and I was a 7. I was actually progressing. Woo-hoo!

Because I was no longer in pain and the feeling of pressure had subsided *woo-hoo* we all decided to rest as we really had no idea how much longer it would be. Gabe turned on Law and Order SVU and our moms tried to take cat naps on the incredibly uncomfortable couches. I remember lying there thinking "I can't believe I'm actually relaxing during labor. And that this is actually somewhat enjoyable."

At 5 something, the nurse came in, checked me, and exclaimed that I was AC ("Almost Complete") just like I was with Lyla. I was dilated to 9.5 cm! I couldn't believe it, we were going to meet our baby soon...and even better, we were going to find out the sex!

When out of nowhere, down went my blood pressure again. And down went the baby's heart rate. This time, we didn't have the entire crew come in as baby's heart went up to normal much quicker. But still scary nonetheless. At this point, the intensity of the pressure was so great, I told the nurse that I wasn't sure how much longer I could wait to push. So she checked me, and things were sort of a blur, but I vividly remember her nonchalantly saying that I had reached 10 cm - fully complete!

I got so excited I couldn't see straight.

...Until she told me we had to wait on the doctor.

I'm sorry. What?

So for 30 *miserable* minutes, I willed my body not to push as badly as it wanted to. And I waited. Some moments felt like the baby was going to come out on it's own - push or not. When the nurse checked me again and said she could see the babe's head.

Ah. So that's why I felt the sensation to push.

She got back on the phone with doctor who told her to have me begin pushing. So, I pushed through one contraction and the nurse abruptly said, "Ok. We're not going to push anymore. We're just going to wait on doctor." You know, because baby was ready to come out at that moment.

But alas. My doctor finally arrived around 6 am and immediately began coaching me on what to do. She let me know every time I had a contraction, and I pushed with every bit of strength I had. I no longer had patience. I just wanted to meet my new baby. As fuzzy and blurry as those intense moments are, I remember the cheering and the "you're doing so good, keep it up". I remember hearing the mom's cry and yell out, "Aww. There's the head!" I remember reaching down and feeling the warm head of hair on my baby who was almost, but not quite here. And I remember internally reciting "I CAN do all things through Him who gives me strength" with every single push. I was so ready to get that warm dewey newborn on my chest.

After 10 minutes and 3 sets of 3 pushes, there it was. That beautiful, long-awaited and coveted cry. The moment I heard it, I began sobbing uncontrollably. My baby was here! I looked over at Gabe who was beaming. And after a few moments, he casually said, "I won".

I had completely forgotten about the sex. I was just so happy to hear my baby crying. "REALLY? It's a GIRL?"

I couldn't believe I was so wrong. Our gift was a GIRL!A beautiful, healthy, girl. And a SISTER for Lyla.

I sobbed even harder.

And they placed this new life on my chest while I continued to cry and cry. "Thank you Jesus," I said over and over. I felt so much love for this stranger - our newest family member, and I felt even more love for my husband. Together, we brought this miracle into the world.

I was on my usual after-labor happy high for the next few hours. The hours when nothing else in the world mattered except sitting in my bed, skin-to-skin with my new daughter. Dreaming of the girly fun we'll have.

Ah. Those magical hours of bonding. It's just you, your partner, and the new life you brought into the world together. Nothing comes close to comparing. Absolutely nothing.

And then we spent the next 12 hours very much awake with our new baby. There was no chance of sleeping as we wanted to spend time with our new little friend. So many cuddles, smiles, and lots of happy tears. Plus, we couldn't hardly wait to share the news and show her off.

Adaline stole our hearts the moment we heard that first little cry. And it was time to begin our new life as a family of four.

I was so happy, I couldn't see straight.

**Up next: Meeting Big Sis and Addie-Mae's first day in the world!!!**

Monday, October 20, 2014

Fall favorites as a fam of THREE

Hello. Here I am.
Yes. I'm surprised too.
Not necessarily bad surprised, just surprised.

We are still a family of three.
Just waiting on our sweet little nugget to arrive.

Oh the waiting.

Good thing I have a cute toddler to keep me entertained.

The most frustrating part is that I still have 5 days until my due date. So I really have no right to have ants in my pants just yet. And I *annoyingly* feel better than I have my entire pregnancy - like I could carry this baby for 3 more months. {Heavens mercy me, let's hope not}.

It's just that I (and many others) truly thought I'd be snuggling my newbie by now. I had Lyla at 38 weeks, my doctor has told me over and over that it's historically common for mamas who have their first early will have subsequent babies early, I've been measuring ahead, and I've had signs of imminent labor for a couple of weeks now.

Not to mention all the lovely texts and messages that are messing with my head asking if I'm still pregnant. Or if there's a baby yet. It really means so much having friends and family check on us. But, I promise we are not keeping our baby a secret, and I promise you will know once he or she has arrived. :)

It is just a bit surreal because this past weekend was a milestone in my mind. Way back in the summer when I was planning out my calendar, and when I finally decided on a last day date for my job, I specifically remember penciling in events on my calendar for this past weekend. I did so with a smirk on my face because I knew Gabe and I probably would not be participating in any festivities this weekend because we'd have a newborn.

I was just sure of it.

Well. Here we are. The weekend has come and gone. And I'm still pregnant.

Very pregnant.

But quite honestly, I really am okay with that. We've had amazing family time, I've had so much fun with Lyla, and this baby is doing his/her job by staying put and growing. Plus, baby is quite cozy in there, and we are all cozy getting our sleep on. Who am I to wish that would end?

But let's be honest. All of those things still don't take the ants out of my pants...


We really have had the most delightful fall-filled weekends as a family of three. And I am so thankful we've had the time together.

Two weekends ago, we spent our Saturday morning at Entz Apple Orchard. This is absolutely one of my most favorite fall traditions. I love supporting this family-run orchard, and Lyla has the best time picking and snacking along the way. She thinks she's the biggest of kiddos.

This year, I made the mistake of dressing like my toddler. So awkward. I swear it wasn't's just that Ly looked so darn cute, and I was 37 weeks pregnant and had really run out of options. {I've pretty much been on a 3 outfit rotation for the last 3 weeks.}

The tacky matching cheese-factor is almost painful. But we still managed to get some cute pics regardless.

Our last picture as a family of three? 

And then this past weekend, while I anxiously anticipated labor, we hung with friends for the K-State game, celebrated a good friend's 30th birthday (and even stayed out past 9:30...whaaattt???), and went to the pumpkin patch.

For the past 2 years, we've always gone to Walter's Pumpkin Patch with our "crew" - a near and dear group of friends who have kiddos the same age and who share the same love for fall traditions. We had it on the calendar for months {even though I was sure we wouldn't be joining}, but it was our plan to go with them IF I wasn't in labor or IF I didn't have a newborn.

Well, I had neither and we still didn't go with our crew. Thanks to my Mother-in-Law who scared the bejoobies out of me by reminding me that I'm 39 weeks pregnant, and that driving over 45 minutes away with our toddler in tow may not be the best idea. I wasn't exactly prepared to deliver a baby on the side of the highway.

So we opted for a more local patch and ended up meeting up with some of our good pals anyway. And Lyla was pretty stoked because she got to hang out with her best bud since birth.

And for the record, Gabe always likes to point out that these two tots are "just friends". But I'm not so sure...

Just a couple of "friends"

Going to the patch almost trumps my weekly pumpkin spice lattes every fall. Ironically, I was begging the baby to stay put through the weekend so we could in fact make our traditional stop at the patch. I didn't think baby would actually listen, but I'm so happy he/she did. Lyla loved chasing Dad through the corn maze, continuously begged for "Cal hold muh hand", fed the animals and then proceeded to suck her thumb before I could sanitize it, and felt like the biggest of kids walking away with her prized pumpkin.

Goodness I love fall. And I love that baby hung on for one more weekend so that we could enjoy fall.

But now, I'm ready for you, Baby. Go ahead and make your debut. 

Who am I kidding? At this rate, I'm sure I'll be blogging about our Halloween...with a babe still in belly.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Permanent Maternity Leave

It's finally starting to sink in.
At least a little.

At this moment in time, I am on permanent maternity leave.
I'm *gasp* a stay-at-home-mom.

I can't say this was ever in our plan. It's never even been a dream really. That is until Lyla was born just over two years ago, and I went back to teaching for a year. Priorities started shifting away, and I got sadder and sadder deep within my gut. And that sadness never subsided for me like it does for many other moms. So, I made some life changes, got an ideal new job, found more balance, and was happier than I'd ever been.

But now that we're expecting our second, and after a lot Saturday morning coffee talks, one too many morning-rush-blurs, the inability to take care of my own kid when she's sick, a super-jazzed-up excel spreadsheet of our budget, and the realization that working for me simply meant paying for daycare for two kiddos, we came to the conclusion that it would be best for me to stay home.

And I couldn't be more excited...or thankful.

I have no idea what this new gig will look like. It's quite difficult to imagine, really. And I don't exactly know how long of a gig it may be. I tend to get antsy easily. I like being productive. I like being social. I like using my brain. And, if we're completely honest, I like not having to check our bank account every 15 minutes to make sure I haven't spent too much at Baby Gap. That being said, however, I love being a mom. Every ounce of my being wants to be there for my kids, put more than half of myself into their lives, and stop going through life at such a rapid speed that I blink and suddenly have two teenagers arguing over the car. And although I do have an idea or two up my sleeve to help me with my desires to stay with-it and be a productive member of society (and hopefully bring in some extra income too), I am reminding myself that this time goes by in a flash. And I want to soak up every moment with my babies. Just enjoy. Just be. 

However, things started off a bit rough my first week on the new job. My hope was to have a good, solid week with Lyla. A few days for just the two of us before baby arrives. To make up for lost time, busy schedules, and future time that will be spent with a newborn. But my first day into my new gig, I was just sure I was going into labor as I woke in the middle of the night with stomach-flu-like symptoms. Same exact thing happened the day I went into labor with Lyla. All I could think was "I'M NOT READY. THE NURSERY ISN'T READY. MY HOSPITAL BAG ISN'T READY."

Well. Instead of me going into labor, my "stomach-flu-like symptoms" turned out to be the actual stomach bug. I was pretty miserable (and pretty 9 months pregnant) with a toddler at home who needed me. Because she, of course, came down with the bug too. Luckily, hers only lasted 24 hours. But in those 24 hours, I washed sheets a total of 6 times. And I lost a total of 4 pounds between last week's OB appointment and yesterday's. Where I found out I am indeed progressing, and it really could be anytime that baby makes his or her debut.

Could be in 2 weeks. Could be tonight. {And because I'm admittedly neurotic, I went back to look at my blogpost from a few days before Ly was born. Turns out, I am exactly at the same spot I was four days before I went into labor with her.}

Ugh. The anticipation. And I still don't think I'm quite ready. {insert nervous emoticon face}

And just as we're finally getting into the swing of things as we wait for "baby sister" (according to Lyla) to arrive. We've gone to story time at the library, she started "school" one day a week, and this mama has been hyper-productive. I've crossed things off my list that have been sitting there collecting dust for a good 6 months. And Gabe and I even went on our first date in, oh, probably 6 or 7 months, to celebrate my birthday. I had the best shrimp and scallop fettuccine alfredo and banana caramel bread pudding. And it was worth every minute spent in misery with a horrible tummy ache.

And oh my goodness the mood shift in this house. Everyone is more relaxed. And all around happier. Especially Lyla. It's amazing at how much of a buzzkill I was at the end of each day after work. Now, I have more energy and time for Ly, and she is just happier. Of course our blissful, dream-like state is about to come to a crashing halt any day once we bring home a crying newborn and jump back into a life of lack-of-sleep-induced comas. Believe me, I'm aware.

And in fact, because this baby loves squeezing the heck out of my bladder, I'm up all hours of the night. And every time I wake, I'm thankful I haven't yet gone into labor because I get one more day with Miss Beans. As excited as I am to meet our new babe, I do get a little misty thinking about how the dynamics of our family are going to change. I remember feeling the same way when it was just Gabe and I anxiously waiting for Lyla to be born.  Of course that sadness went away and was immediately replaced by the most incomprehensible joy we'd ever felt the moment Ly entered the world. And I'm sure that will happen again with new baby's arrival. But it's still bittersweet.

But while we wait, we will continue to utilize every moment of our weekends together as a family of three. And during the week, I am soaking up this girl time - just the two of us. Ly is at the cutest age, and I truly wish I could bottle up her two-year-oldness forever.

I melt over so many things... // When she pulls up my shirt and gives "kisses to baby sister" at random. // Or when she's playing for hours at a time sporadically stops what she's doing to look up and say "hi mom" as a little reminder she's still in the room and needs a moment of attention. // Talking on the phone to her and hearing her say "hi mama. I love you." or "happy birthday mama" in the sweetest little voice I've ever heard in my life. // Her warnings to "be careful" when I'm cooking over a hot stove or if I trip over something. // Her wanting to be a little adult by carrying around her purse and phone everywhere she goes or "putting on makeup" while I get ready. (No. I do not let her put on makeup. I give her my makeup brush and she goes to town). // How she tells any guest who leaves "see ya alligator". // Or when I had her test out the pouf in the corner of the baby room. She sadly walked over and said "Lyla in timeout." Bless her sweet little heart - I nearly cried. //

I would love to have a two year old for the rest of my life. It's just the best. And I'm so grateful I get this one on one time with her before babe.

So far, I sure am loving this new life. And I am unguilt-ily going to go enjoy every last sip of my homemade pumpkin spice coffee, finish up some projects in the baby room, and savor these quiet moments during nap time. Because these days are fleeting and going to abruptly come to an end very soon.

And call me crazy, but I couldn't be more excited for the chaos that is to ensue.

Bring on our family of four.