, pub-8087192757053655, DIRECT, f08c47fec0942fa0 Director Jewels: 2012

Monday, December 31, 2012

Lincoln's Reading Corner December 2012

Reading has been a bigger success this month than it was in October and November - yay!  We're still reading some old favorites frequently, but a lot of new books have been added to the Lincoln-approved list! 

Side note - we tried really hard to do this 25 Days of Christmas book advent idea.  It was kind of an epic fail.  First off, I procrastinated forgot about wrapping our books until December 12.  No problem, I figured it would just be the 12 Days of Christmas! probably would have worked.  Except Lincoln only likes to read books that he loves.  Try anything else with this kid, he will shake his head and shout "NO" (which often sounds like "doe") and throw the book aside.  I think we had two or three books in the whole Christmas collection that he gave the time of day.  There was also the slight problem that several nights we had already put Lincoln to bed and realized....we never gave him a book today.  Oops.  However, we did learn that the child really enjoys ripping open presents.  After opening one book (and tossing it aside), he would just run back and point at the stack, wishing to open another.  We'll give the book advent another try next year - I'm hoping it goes better then!

And now - here are Lincoln's Top Books in December 2012!

1. I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown!  This is a fabric book that I sewed for Lincoln last Christmas.  Last year, he wouldn't even look at it - this year we at least got to read half of it to him.  I consider that progress.  I don't know that the fabric version is available for purchase anywhere; I think I bought the fabric at Jo-Ann.

2. Biscuit's Pet & Play ChristmasThis was probably his favorite of the Christmas advent books - and probably just because it features a puppy.  Puppies are a big hit around here.  No that does not mean we are getting a dog.  It's a fun little interactive board book.

3. A Christmas CarolThis is a title in my new favorite board book series from BabyLit.  This version of A Christmas Carol is a Colors Primer and features a different character or story element paired with a color on each page.  Example:  Silver Chains.  If you're a fan of classic literature, please check out this whole series.  They are awesome.

4. Peek-a-Boo, I Love YouThis lift-a-flap book is in serious danger of getting ripped to pieces, since he loves it right now.  The last page features a mirror so baby can see himself in the book, but I can't get Lincoln to look at it. Ha!

5. Goodnight MoonI love, love, love that this is one of Lincoln's favorite books right now!  We have started reading it every night before bed and I love the cuddles.  He figured out that he likes this book because it has pictures with clocks.  Seriously.  Of all the ridiculous things.

6. Little Blue TruckI think I may have featured this book before, but we found the board book version at Target and gave it to him for Christmas.  We read it at least two or three times a day.

7. Mickey Mouse Clubhouse: Goofy BabyThis month's reading list would definitely not be complete if it did not feature the current obsession of Mickey Mouse.  I requested every Mickey Mouse Clubhouse board book our library owns.  And they are all popular around here.

8. Where are the Missing Leaves?  Another Mickey Mouse book - this one is a lift-the-flap and was already torn in a few places when we checked it out from the library.  It's living on top of our piano until it is returned to prevent further damage.

9. Is that Mickey?  Definitely one of the most-read books this month!  It's all about how Mickey's friends are planning him a celebration, but they can't find him!  I'll probably buy this one for our collection if he continues to enjoy the library copy.

10. Mickey's Book of TrucksThis book is available on Amazon, but I found it in the $1 bin at Target a few months ago!  We gave Lincoln this one for Christmas, along with a small plush Mickey, and they have been a big hit.  This book just has pictures of trucks with the name of each one on each page.  Nothing fancy, but since it is a combination of two of his very favorite things on this earth, it is extremely popular!

11. God Loves You Very MuchThis giant VeggieTales board book has been picked up several times this week.  I am kind of surprised he likes it, it has a lot of words compared to some of his other favorites, but he has let Andrew read it all the way through several times.

12. The Berenstain Bears: Treat Others KindlyI think it is great that the recent Berenstain Bear stories feature valuable lessons for kids, with Bible verses to back them up.  This 3-in-1 Book Collection contains stories that teach about forgiveness, gossiping, and respecting your elders.  I'll be honest, Lincoln won't sit through this entire book yet - but we are working on it!  And something fun that I love about this book?  In the third story, Papa Bear is wearing Honey Bear in a carrier.  Babywearing exists in children's literature - woohoo!

Whew!  I wonder where our books and imaginations will take us in 2013.  Do you and your kids have any reading goals in your resolution list?  If you're looking for more reading ideas, you can check out all our recent favorites here!

Thanks to Zondervan for providing my Berenstain Bears sample book.  I received no compensation and all views expressed are my own.  For more info, you can read my Disclosure Policy.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Coming Soon: The Return of the Blogger

Hey there.

So it's been a little while since I've blogged.  I do apologize.  I was on a roll, but my motivation got smacked in the face by Christmas and the reality of living through a major holiday with two children under the age of two.  Can we talk about meltdowns, days of nursing for what seemed like 18+ hours, and so many new toys in our house that it is literally impossible to move.

I'm currently elbow deep in toys and laundry.  Once I conquer the chaos and crawl out of this mess...I will be back.  I promise!

How was your Christmas?? :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Two Kids and a $500 Camera

I bought my DSLR camera about three years ago.  When I made the purchase, I assumed I would never use another "cheap" camera again.  Why bother when you can take glorious photos with your amazing new camera, right?  And I did pretty well, up until Adelaide's birth.

So what's the problem now?  Well - I seem to be spending literally all of my time nursing.  Addie gained 13 ounces in the last week.  I'm not complaining, but it is proof that the child loves to eat.  This means I'm more or less stuck in one place.  I usually forget to put the camera within arm's reach and once I am situated, I'm not going to move.  And if I do happen to remember...Lincoln will undoubtedly grab it and take off running.  Not a good thing when one of his favorite activities right now is hurling things across the kitchen floor to hear the loud crashing sounds they make.

So, more and more, I get to the end of the day and realize...  I took basically no photos today.  That may seem like a crazy thought, but for me it's super odd to not take at least a handful of photos.  Then today, I was trying to clear space on my phone's memory card and I found that I have been taking photos - just not with the super nice and expensive camera!

Here are a few favorites that I found -

sleeping beauty.

Little boy with WILD hair!

Yep, the shirt says it all.

This Rock 'n Play is the best investment I made.

She really does like her flower bows...

Lots of true love from big brother.

Showing off a hairbow and those pretty eyes!

Prepping for Christmas card photos!

This is where we spend most of our time.

My snuggly sleepy boy.

So it turns out - you don't necessarily have to use your best piece of equipment all the time.  As long as you are capturing memories one way or another, it's a success.  I'm really thankful for my cheap cell phone camera...  I wouldn't have any of these sweet photos without it! photo organization....that's another story altogether.  Someday I will catch up.  Maybe.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmastime is Here! {yikes}

Christmas Eve 2011

Somehow, when you have a baby in mid-November, you manage to forget that a big event like Christmas is on the horizon.  I mean - you know it's there.  But it still seems far enough away that you don't have to actually think about it.

Um, I'm sending myself a wake-up call.  Christmas is only 18 days away.  Ahhh!!

Christmas 2011

It's so much fun to imagine Christmas with a little family.  All of the excitement and anticipation, the laughter and whispers and surprises - it all seems magical!  The thing is, when your family is just starting out, it takes a little bit to get to that point.  Last year, Lincoln was old enough to be mildly entertained by the hubbub, but he really had no idea.  This year - I think he will really enjoying opening gifts and all of the attention.  Maybe by next Christmas, when he will be almost three, he will be able to understand the true meaning of things.  I can hope, anyway.

Even though he is still not comprehending everything, and tiny Addie will just be along for the ride this year, I'm determined to start a few family Christmas traditions that we can carry out for years to come!  This is a small list of some of my ideas...we'll see how motivated I am in the next two weeks to see them through.

Gift-Wrapped Christmas Book Advent.  I found this lovely idea last year via this Pinterest pin, and I was so excited that I actually went out after Christmas and bought quite a few clearanced board books to use in this project.  It's looking like we might be doing 12 days of Christmas, instead of 25....since the books are all in a pile that is cascading from the couch in our basement right now.  Not a single one is wrapped yet...!

Minivan Express.  Another Pinterest find, featured on Confessions of a Homeschooler, this involves hiding special golden tickets in your kid's beds one night and taking your little ones on a pajama-clad journey to see Christmas lights.  Hot cocoa is a must.  This idea is awesome.  Unfortunately I don't think Lincoln is really old enough to understand it yet.

Crafting a Family Ornament.  There are so many cute ideas for do-it-yourself ornaments.  I dream of making dozens of them with the kids each year.  Perfect for our tree and gifts for probably everyone we know, right?

Christmas Morning. I want it to be a tradition to read the Christmas story before we dive into opening gifts.  I also want to find the perfect Christmas breakfast recipe!

Christmas Eve Pajamas.  This is the one tradition we started last year - letting Lincoln open one gift - special new pajamas - on Christmas Eve.  You can see how well it went.  Poor kid was worn out from multiple holiday parties.  Hoping this year is more successful!

I'm linking up with Kelly's Korner today, as well as Growing Up Geeky for next week's Toddle Along Tuesday! What is your family's favorite holiday tradition?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Oh, Life's an Hourglass

When you reach for the stars, don't forget who you are...
And please don't turn around and grow up way too fast.

There's this little tiny boy who changed my whole life...

Having a second baby has made for an adjustment for me and my little boy. 

Lincoln is not yet two years old.  He is the most energetic, imaginative child on earth.  But I really don't think he fully comprehends all the changes in his life lately.

Last photo of just Lincoln and Mommy,
the night before Adelaide was born.

Mommy seems to be holding the baby sister a lot.  While he likes the baby, I can't help but wonder if he wonders why she had to come along and change everything.

He doesn't say a lot of words besides car, truck, and choo-choo, so it's difficult for me to know what he is thinking all the time.  Does he resent her for taking Mommy's attention away from him?  Does he resent me for bringing this little person into his world? 

He is in desperate need of a haircut.
We're not crazy about the baby mullet look.

He is still my baby.  He made me a mommy.  I am trying so hard to remember that he is still so little and that I need to make sure my expectations of him are not unrealistic.  Which I have to admit is sometimes hard to do, especially when it is 3am and he is awake again, after we have fought a two-hour bedtime battle and when I have just managed to put Adelaide down so I might be able to sleep.

When did you get to be SO big?

He is growing and changing so much right now, and I don't want to miss it.

Hoping that I find a balance very, very soon.

I love you, sweet boy. 
(can you believe how many scrapes this kid has on his face?  It's been one
run-in with a dresser/table/collarbone after another around here lately...)

If you feel the same way - or even if you have the whole mom-child-balance thing totally under control, I give you fair warning - this song will probably make you cry.


Little boy, when you speak
I can't help but kiss your cheeks
I love the way you grab my hands
And tell me all about your plans
Rocket high, comets fly
You and I could take a ride
And fly away to Neverland
And give our best to Peter Pan

When you reach for the stars
Don't forget who you are
And please don't turn around and grow up way too fast
See the sand in my grasp
From the first to the last
Every grain becomes a memory of the past
Oh, life's an hourglass
Life's an hourglass

Story's read, prayer is said
Close your eyes sleepyhead
While angels linger in your dreams
And hold you in their feathered wings
Just like you, I was small
Not that long ago at all
I wish you all the happiness
That God gives freely if you ask

When you reach for the stars
Don't forget who you are
And please don't turn around and grow up way too fast
See the sand in my grasp
From the first to the last
Every grain becomes a memory of the past
Oh, life's an hourglass
Life's an hourglass

Mindy Gledhill
© 2010 Blue Morph Music (BMI)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Newborn Photo Sneak Peek

Seriously can't believe how beautiful she is!  Now I just have to find time to edit these photos....

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Why I Chose to Deliver at a Birth Center

If you had told me five years ago that I would elect to deliver a baby naturally, with no interventions or pain medication, in a setting other than a hospital, I would have laughed.  A lot.  As far as I knew, babies were born in hospitals.  And sometimes weird interesting people had babies at home.

When Lincoln was born, I used the OB recommended by my primary care doctor.  I faithfully went to all of my appointments, asked very few questions, and when it came time for birth, just went along for the ride.  This is perhaps not the best approach to something as big as birth, but I didn't know any better at the time.  I assumed that my team of providers at Lincoln's birth had my best interest at heart and didn't question their judgment, ever.

And here is what I got as a result:

1. My delivery doctor was a complete stranger, I met him when he came in to check my dilation.  That's always fun. 

2. I was strapped to a contraction monitor and forced to work through painful contractions while lying on my back.  I didn't know any better - but I would have been much more relaxed had I been allowed to move around.

3. I went into labor naturally and arrived at the hospital at 6pm on Saturday evening of a holiday weekend.  My labor was progressing very quickly and the baby was holding up just fine, yet my doctor recommended that we proceed with a vacuum delivery after about an hour of ineffective pushing.  Maybe I am wrong, but the timing of everything kind of made it seem like he had other places to be that weekend.

4.  To facilitate the vacuum delivery, I received an episiotomy.  I learned later that this makes a mom far more likely to tear in future deliveries, as the scar tissue must grow back from a direct incision rather than a natural tear.  Yay me.

5.  When Lincoln was born, it was probably half an hour before I was able to hold him.  I didn't know at the time that this could make it harder to bond with and breastfeed my baby.

6.  I got no rest in the hospital.  None.  Every time I thought I could fall asleep, someone would come in to check vitals on me or the baby.  If the baby happened to be sleeping, he would be awake then.  The one time that I actually managed to sleep, they had taken Lincoln for a routine hearing screening.  I woke up in the middle of the night, three hours later, to discover that my baby had never been returned to my room.  When I called the nurse, they told me this test took several hours.  I watched the test when Adelaide had it - it took five minutes.  So where was my baby for three hours the one time I slept?

7.  When I was having terrible problems breastfeeding when Lincoln was four days old, I called the hospital lactation consultant to try to find out if Lincoln had been given formula or a pacifier - he had a great latch at first and then seemed to forget.  She was incredibly rude and refused to look at his chart for me.  I said that I was concerned he was not eating and her response was "Well you have been home for two days.  If he is not nursing, WHAT are you feeding him?  He has to eat."  My response was silent crying.  Her response to that?  A huge huff and "Come to our breastfeeding support group next Monday.  I can look at you then."  This phone conversation happened on Thursday.  Sure, I'll just starve my baby for the next four days until your meeting.  No problem! 

Lincoln's Hospital Birth, February 2011.

In spite of all this, when I found out that Adelaide was on the way, I didn't plan a whole lot of changes.  Our insurance had changed and I hoped to deliver at a hospital that was closer to home, so I asked around and found a doctor who delivered there.  This hospital had a great track record for being breastfeeding-friendly, so I thought that was a good sign.  I assumed that since my labor with Lincoln was fast and I barely had time for an epidural, that I would likely be looking at giving birth unmedicated.  But I figured we would just address it when the time came.

I don't think there was any one specific thing that led me to feel I was not in the right place for my delivery.  My OB was nice, the staff was friendly.  I frequently had to wait an extremely long time for my appointments, but I assumed that was just part of the business - since everyone in the world seemed to be pregnant at the same time as me.

I guess at some point, I started thinking about the actual birth.  And the recovery.  I was really not excited about staying in the hospital for 2-3 days.  Lincoln was still nursing and had never spent the night away from us.  I was worried that having Mommy gone for several days was going to wreak havoc on his little system.  Adding a new baby was bad enough, but why introduce her after Mommy has been gone for days?  We also had another insurance change around this time, so I was looking at providers anyway.  When I was bemoaning the hospital stay to a friend, her response was "well have you looked at a birth center?"

I hadn't.  But that was all I needed to get started.  I did some googling.  I talked to some other friends.  I told Andrew that it was a possibility we were going to switch and we went to a tour of the birth center facility when I was about 30 weeks pregnant. 

And I loved it.

Everyone was friendly and smiling and helpful.  The birthing suites were beautiful.  I had the option of a water birth (something I had really never considered).  I would have appointments with all of the midwives who might be present at my delivery.  I would be allowed to labor in whatever position I wanted, with no attached contraction monitor.  I would be able to hold my baby immediately after she was born.  I would definitely not have a vacuum delivery except in a case of extreme emergency.  I would have tons of breastfeeding support. 

And best of all?  I would get to go HOME within 4-8 hours of birth.  No days of recovery time with constant poking and prodding at the hospital.  My baby would never leave my side and Lincoln would have Mommy home hopefully the same day.

It was perfect.  I was still a little worried about having no pain medication - but because of all the other wonderful aspects of the birth center, I almost didn't mind.  I switched providers at 30 weeks.  Since I transferred so late in the pregnancy, it was difficult to schedule everything appropriately so that I could meet all of the midwives on staff.  In fact, I met one of them three days before Adelaide's birth.

When Addie's birth day came, I could not have been more relieved at my choice.  We arrived at the birth center just two hours before her birth, but nothing was ever frantic.  The atmosphere was relaxed, yet exciting.  Even through all of my difficult recovery complications, the overall experience was above and beyond my expectations.  I didn't end up going home until 14 hours after Adelaide was born - but that was still much better than 2-3 days.

Adelaide's BIRTH Day Cake at the Birth Center, November 2012.

A birth center is such a great option for someone who is not comfortable with a hospital birth - and also not comfortable with a homebirth.  I know that I personally, after dealing with recovery problems after Adelaide's birth, will probably not ever consider a homebirth.  I had a pretty scary situation this time around, so I would prefer to always be somewhere with the necessary supplies to take care of any problems that may arise.  Of course, her delivery was so fast I am a little worried about having an unplanned unassisted homebirth (or car birth) with future child(ren).

If you've made it to the end of this, you get the most awesome reader award.  What's your experience?  Hospital?  Birth center?  Homebirth?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Oh Boy... Mom Confessions

Hm.  I'm not sure how I feel about writing this post.  Do I really want to share my mom confessions with the whole big blogosphere?  I have to assume that someday when my kids are grown and gone, I will enjoy looking back at even things like this - so I will persevere and be maybe a little more honest than I want to be. ;)

I've spent most of my life dreaming about being a mommy.  In my perfect imaginary world, I was going to have thirteen beautiful children (yeah, not kidding), homeschool them all, bake cookies daily, sew adorable clothes for everyone for every occasion, and of course, do Pinterest-worthy crafts literally all the time.  That was the plan.

But here's the thing.  Being a mom is hard

I'm not having thirteen children.  While I do still want to have a large family, I realize that I could never give proper attention to that many babies.  More of a selfish reason though - I cannot be pregnant that many times.  We don't have a definite plan for how large our family will end up, but it's probably going to be directly related to my future pregnancies and their difficulties.  If they're anything like the first two...I'm not sure how many times I will want to go through everything again.

Pinterest, I have a memo for you.  Crafting takes work.  You have to pick a craft.  Gather the supplies.  If you happen to not have everything on hand (which, let's face it - you don't) - you have to drag everyone out to the craft store, where it's a miracle if your toddler doesn't break 17402 pieces of expensive glassware.  Plus, while your kids are under the age of two, pretty much all craft supplies are just treated like colorful snacks anyway.  Anybody else feel it's usually not worth the effort?

I have fabric to make the following projects: a superhero cape for Lincoln, a Christmas dress for Addie, a dolly for Addie, bright-colored blocks to match the nursery, yellow and blue fabric for curtains in the nursery, all of our Christmas stockings...I could go on, but you can probably see my point.  Instead of making the projects that I have meticulously planned, I run to the store on a whim to buy purple tulle to make a tutu for my impromptu homemade newborn photo shoot (will share how that went soon).

And I can't even tell you the last time I baked cookies.

Here are the things I'm not especially proud of at the moment:

- Meals are not very structured when I am home by myself with the kids.  Lincoln eats lunch as he runs around the living room, since I am usually nursing the baby.

- My house is a wreck most of the time and I don't care.  Or worse - sometimes I do care, but I still don't do anything about it.

- I think the last time I dusted was for Lincoln's first birthday party.  In February.

- I have no intention of going to the grocery store with the kids anytime in the near future.  Even though we are out of food.

- We watch a lot of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Finley the Fire Engine on youtube.  A lot, a lot, a lot.

I suppose every mom deals with the same sorts of things, right?  If you're one of those perfect Pinterest moms...please don't tell me.  I don't think I want to know that you exist. 

I'm linking up with Growing Up Geeky for Toddle Along Tuesday!  Care to share your own confessions this week?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Adelaide: 2 Weeks Old

How did this happen, little princess?  Today you are two weeks old!

This was the first week that Daddy went back to work, leaving Mommy alone with you and big brother.  We did okay. 

You are still sleepy most of the day and you love to cuddle.  You will sleep in the swing or the rock 'n play when I need my hands, but most of the time you are curled up on me, dreaming away.  It's the best feeling ever.

Lincoln has started paying a lot more attention to you this week.  Several times a day, he will come up and chatter endlessly at you, pat your head, play with your fingers and toes and poke your eyes (it's not intentional).  He has also tried to pick you up from the swing several times and has "helped" Mommy carry you across the living room.  I think he can tell that you guys are going to be great friends.

This week, we adventured to both grandparents' houses and saw all of your great-grandparents as well.  Otherwise, we haven't had a lot of visitors and Mommy is okay with that.  It's tough to find a routine with people coming and going. 

We went out to eat for the first time as a family of four on Friday night.  You slept in your carseat on top of the table at McAlister's the entire meal.  It was so successful, we decided to go to Target.  That was not as successful.  We may wait awhile before trying that again.

From about 7pm to midnight, all you want to do is eat - constantly.  It might drive me crazy, but once you have finally settled for the night, you are sleeping a consistent 4-6 hour stretch.  This is about as good as Lincoln currently sleeps, so I am thrilled.  Please let this be one habit that you keep!

People are starting to say that you look like Mommy.  Is that the case?  I can't really tell yet, but maybe.

 We could not possibly be more thrilled with our sweet, sweet baby girl. Time is already rushing by too quickly!  I'm so glad we get to spend this life loving you.  You make the world a much more beautiful, happy place.


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Simple Moments v.3

Sleeping all curled up in Mommy's arm.  Is there really anything more simple and beautiful than this?  I am loving all of the sweet little snuggles from this precious girl.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Adelaide's Birth Story

Since Lincoln was born at 38 weeks and 3 days, by the time the end of week 37 rolled around in my second pregnancy, I was getting pretty anxious.  Of course, the general population of the world (store clerks, random strangers, friends on Facebook) seemed determined to tell me that their "first baby came two weeks early - but then the second one was almost two weeks late!"  Thanks for that.  Super encouraging.

I started feeling some cramping off and on during my 37th week and thought it could be a hopeful sign.  Several times in the week, the weather was nice and as soon as Andrew got home from work, we went outside on a mission to "walk the baby out."  No luck.  When Saturday, November 17 rolled around, it was a gorgeous day and I said "this is it - let's get to work."

We probably walked six miles over the course of the day.  We walked to the thrift store.  Stopped at the hardware store.  Considered going to Walgreens or the movie rental store (I nixed this last idea as I hoped to be in labor, not at home watching a movie).  While we walked, I would have some pretty encouraging contractions, anywhere from every 3-4 minutes to every 10 minutes.  Each time we stopped, though, the contractions mostly stopped too (though the cramping did continue). 

We finally gave up walking after it was dark and getting cold outside.  I bounced on my exercise ball in the living room for a long time and Lincoln tried to climb on my back to have a ride.  It was pretty cute.  By around 7pm, the contractions were still happening every 5-6 minutes even though I wasn't walking.  I started timing them. 

Last pregnancy photo, Saturday night!

By 8:15pm, I decided it was time to call my midwife.  I wasn't convinced that labor was imminent, but after Lincoln's fast delivery, I felt it might be a good idea to find out if I was progressing or if it was nothing.  I had also tested positive this pregnancy for Group Beta Strep and had been told I would need to have an antibiotic treatment at least four hours before delivery for baby's protection.  Since Lincoln was born less than five hours after my water broke (after an epidural that significantly slowed labor down) - and I was having a natural birth this time around, I was worried that there would not be enough time for the treatment unless I went in early.  I actually tried to clear the GBS+ infection up naturally for several weeks before birth to avoid needing the antibiotic - it was not entirely successful, which is why I went ahead with the treatment.  That's another story altogether, though.

My midwife told me that I could come in to the birth center to be checked.  The center is about a 25-minute drive and we arrived around 9pm.  I was dilated to 2.  I was disappointed it wasn't more, but still concerned that labor could move quickly.  The midwife said she didn't think it would be right away and that I should go home and rest.  So we reluctantly left.  Andrew was feeling overwhelmed with exhaustion, so it was probably good we weren't in active labor at that point!

When we got home, we went right to bed.  Andrew was out immediately.  I tossed and turned all night, waking up at least once an hour with cramping or contractions or because Lincoln had made a noise.  Since we were unfortunately in the throes of an ongoing toddler bed battle, Lincoln woke up and crawled into bed with us around 6am.  He nursed back to sleep and I was awake, so I checked my email on my phone - and I started emailing myself the times of my contractions.  I dozed off and on until about 8:20 - the contractions were anywhere from 3-6 minutes apart and felt definitely stronger than they had the night before.  I decided it was time to get up.  Andrew and Lincoln went to play while I took a quick shower.  I was in the shower for ten minutes and had six really strong contractions in that time.  I yelled for Andrew to call my mom to come stay with Lincoln, because we were going back to the birth center.

We were on the way by about 9:20am.  I called my midwife to let her know I was coming back.  She said she wasn't at the birth center and that maybe I should labor awhile at home before making the trip.  I said I really thought I should be checked.  She waited on the line, hoping to hear me breathe through a contraction - naturally I didn't have any during our conversation.  Finally she agreed to come back and check me again, but warned that she probably wouldn't keep me.  We planned to meet at 10am.

Since we were already on the way, we arrived a little early.  I was second-guessing myself at this point, since I had only had a few contractions in the car and they were not as strong.  Andrew suggested that we walk the trail near the birth center until the midwife arrived.  As soon as we started walking, the contractions started again and were about every five minutes apart and fairly strong.

When my midwife arrived, I was dilated to 3-4.  She said she wouldn't send me home, since there had been a change in my dilation, but as I was not yet in active labor, she wanted us to go have breakfast or go walk for an hour and come back to see if I had progressed more.  I asked about my GBS+ and she said we could go ahead and start a central IV line, put in the antibiotic, and give me a saline lock so that I would still be able to walk around.  It took about 35 minutes to get this accomplished.  While waiting, I had been pacing the exam room and the contractions were strong enough that I had to stop to breathe through some of them.  They still weren't what I would define as really painful, more just very strong cramps - but manageable.  Once the IV lock was in, my midwife checked me again.  I was at 6!  In 40 minutes, I had dilated 2-3 centimeters.  She told us not to go to breakfast and that maybe we should go ahead and put our things in a birthing suite before we went walking.  It was almost 11am at this point.

We made one trip to our car and each brought in an armload of stuff.  I was getting excited, we were going to have a baby today!  We took our bags to the birth room and I had to use the restroom.  Before I came out, I had the first contraction that I considered to be really serious - it was painful, it lasted longer than the others had, and I had to really focus to breathe through it.  I remember describing it as "not fun."  When I left the bathroom, my midwife was standing outside the door.  She said "Don't go outside.  I think you should just stay and labor in here." 

I had brought clothes to labor in, so I changed into those and started bouncing on the birthing ball.  I had taken the water birth course offered by my birth center - and while I wasn't planning for a water birth, I had entertained the idea of laboring in water.  The idea crossed my mind at this point, but I thought "there's plenty of time left for that." I was wrong.

While Andrew worked on organizing our things and letting a few family members know that we were in labor, I breathed through about three more contractions at the same level as that first nasty one, and asked Andrew to please rub my shoulders while I bounced on the ball.  With him there, I worked through three or four more contractions that seemed about the same intensity to me.  At this point, my midwife came in and said "are you feeling a lot of pressure?  It kind of sounds to me like you need to push." 

I was floored.  I remembered being in a state of panic when I was in transition in my labor with Lincoln.  These contractions were painful, yes, but there had only been a handful of them and there was no way it could be that easy, right?  I laughed and told her I didn't know if I needed to push, as I had only ever pushed with an epidural.  She asked to check me again during the next contraction and said that I was dilated to 8, but that my cervix was moving out of the way with the contractions - and that I could start pushing. 

I remember looking at Andrew, just shocked at how fast everything was moving!  I asked him to get out the camera so that we could get some photos once the baby arrived!  It took me a couple of contractions to really figure out how to effectively push (something I probably never achieved with Lincoln, thus the vacuum delivery).  My water broke around this time.  Once I knew what to do, I pushed through about three more contractions until she entered the world! 

I was definitely better prepared for this labor than I had been the first time around - but I won't lie and say that made the final moments much easier.  In hindsight, it all went by so quickly, but those last few pushes took everything I had.  Almost two weeks later...I really can't remember the actual pain of delivery.  I just feel a sense of amazement that I was able to do it!

Just after she was born!

Adelaide Rose was born at 11:52am on November 18, 2012Yes - less than two hours after we arrived at the birth center.  I am pretty glad that I listened to my mommy instinct; I don't think Andrew would have been pleased if he had to deliver our daughter on the side of a major highway. 

I got to hold her immediately, and did not put her down for well over two hours.  I had a minor tear that needed attention, as well as some excessive bleeding that my midwife and nurse hurried to get under control.  Being able to have Addie lying on my chest throughout all of this made it much, much easier!  Once I was able to move a little bit, we were able to try breastfeeding and she latched on immediately like a little champion.  After having 8 weeks of traumatic breastfeeding when Lincoln was a newborn, this made me happy enough to want to cry.

Eventually they took all of her vitals and we found that she weighed 8 pounds, 7 ounces and was 20 inches long - just one ounce bigger than Lincoln!  She was born at 38 weeks and 2 days - one day earlier than Lincoln.  I can now brag that I grow pretty consistent babies.

The rest of our day did not go entirely as planned.  With a birth center birth, the expectation was that we would go home 4-8 hours after her birth.  At first, that seemed possible - but it took awhile to remedy my bleeding and I was having a lot of after-birth shaking and shivering.  The shaking is usually normal, but mine went on for several hours and I was really upset that I couldn't regain control.  It was also discovered that I had some very irregular swelling that was causing a lot of pain and pressure.  I was unable to roll or sit up easily, and I wasn't even allowed to try standing up yet.  A second midwife was called in to consult, and after her evaluation, a partner OB from a nearby hospital was called as well.  I was really grateful that the OB agreed to come directly to the birth center, rather than making me transfer to the hospital.  It was a huge relief!

I was moved to an exam room when the OB arrived, and while I was on some meds for relaxation, I learned that we were dealing with a blood clot situation.  Apparently a blood vessel had been damaged during delivery, allowing an extreme amount of blood to be released into the surrounding tissue.  I don't care to go into further detail, but the clots had to be removed and I received a fair number of stitches as a result.

Edited to add - after doing research a few weeks after she was born, I learned that my clot situation was actually what is known as a vaginal hematoma.  Six weeks post-birth, I still have some remaining swelling that is taking literally forever awhile to go away.  It is no longer bothersome, at least!

As awful as this was - as soon as the procedure was over, I immediately felt much better - more like I had expected to feel immediately after the birth!  It was about 7pm by the time I got back to my room - over 7 hours had passed since Addie's arrival.  We were finally able to contact family members and friends to let them know what was going on.  We had hoped to have Lincoln and our parents come up to visit a few hours after she arrived and had also had a photographer scheduled to be there for part of the day.  Neither of these things had happened, of course, with all of the craziness going on. 

My parents brought Lincoln up to meet Adelaide around 9pm.  Andrew's mom was on call at work, so they were unable to come at all that night.  Lincoln was really tired by the time they arrived - and he really didn't have any interest in Addie at all.  He did, however, try to pull out my IV several times.  I was reminded that it was a great choice to be at the birth center so we did not have to contend with him traipsing around a hospital room and its many cords, carts, and other things!

After my parents and Lincoln had gone home, we were at the birth center for a few more hours.  Between trying to get a little bit of rest, a shift change, eating Addie's birth day cake (baked for me in the birth center kitchen) and filing paperwork, we ended up leaving around 2am.  It was not really ideal, but we were ready to go home and try to sleep.

Overall, even though my birth experience did not go entirely according to plan, I was so glad that I had chosen a birth center for Adelaide's delivery.  The labor and birth process were so much more relaxed and even through all of the difficult recovery issues, my midwives and nurses were incredibly supportive and loving.  Addie was never out of my sight.  It was a wonderful experience in spite of the unexpected problems.

It also turned out to be a blessing in disguise that I had the central IV line for the GBS+ treatment.  While the antibiotics were not in my system long enough to be effective, I was given pitocin via IV almost immediately after the birth to help with the bleeding.  I also ended up needing medication while the clot situation was remedied, and I was given a strong antibiotic once everything was done, just as a precaution.  The GBS+ thankfully did not cause any problems for Addie - it was definitely helpful that my water did not break until I was pushing, so she had very little time for exposure.

Almost two weeks after the birth, I am still in recovery mode.  It's been hard for me because I felt great within about two days of Lincoln's birth.  I find it really hard when simple things like taking a shower or walking downstairs cause me to feel weak.  I know it will get better, so I am just trying to enjoy all the baby snuggles and take it easy!  The couch is my permanent station, well-stocked with diapers, wipes, Boppy, and water.

We are all in love with our sweet Adelaide Rose!  Her dramatic entrance to the world will definitely be a story to share for many years to come.   

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Lincoln's Birth Story

I started working on writing Adelaide's birth story this week, and realized that it wasn't right to share hers without first sharing Lincoln's.  So much of his story is what led me to make different decisions for my second birth, it seems only fair to provide the back story!  So here we go!

It was February 19, 2011 and I was 38 weeks 3 days pregnant.  I woke up that morning at 6:30am with contractions that were semi-regular, but only about 7-10 minutes apart.  I really didn't think anything about it, even though some of them were fairly painful.  Up to this point in the pregnancy, I had not had a single contraction (not even Braxton Hicks), so I assumed that this was nothing - just my body starting to prep for the labor process.  Plus I was only 38 weeks and I had been assured by everyone in the world that there was no way he would arrive before I was at least 41 weeks (yay for encouragement, right?)

I couldn't seem to get settled once the contractions woke me up that morning, so I got up and started trying to be productive.  It was a Saturday and Andrew was home, but I just let him sleep, figuring there was no reason to get him excited yet.  I gathered up the camera batteries and my ipod and spent a little time clearing my memory cards, just in case it turned into something.  All of these were things on my list to do before his birth anyway, I thought I should just go ahead and get organized even if it wasn't an immediate need.

I also started packing our hospital bags.  (note to self. pack them sooner.  always.)  Lincoln's was easy to fill with way more things than he would actually need.  Mine, of course, was just sitting on the living room chair and I would throw things in as I thought of them. (not a good packing method)

Around 1pm, I took a shower.  I had a couple of contractions while in the shower that forced me to stop and breathe through them.  That was when I, maybe this could be it!  But when I got out of the shower - the contractions slowed to one maybe every twenty minutes.  I was bummed.  I assumed it had to be just a false alarm and started working on the nursery organization project (Lincoln's dresser had finally arrived the night before), resigning myself to be pregnant for a few more weeks.

At about 3pm, the contractions picked up a little bit again, but it wasn't anything different or more intense.  Since I had just had two hours of basically nothing, I didn't think anything of it.  Andrew was helping in the nursery by this point, and we started to make a list of things to return to Target, and what items we still needed to purchase to complete our baby registry.  I wanted to go out and do something, after waiting around all day to no avail. 

I was lying on the nursery floor organizing Lincoln's tiny shoes at about 4:40pm when I had a contraction that felt weird - a little bit stronger than most and with a strange popping sound/feeling.  I still didn't think anything of it!  But when I stood up - whoa.  That was my water breaking! 

Suddenly we were in a crazy flurry of activity, as we looked at each other and said "um...we're having a baby today!"  I started rushing to get the rest of my things packed - which is a lot more difficult to do when you are gushing fluid.  At that point, I was pretty much just throwing random things into my bag.

I called my OB - he was out of town, so I talked to his partner.  I was told I likely had 12-16 hours of labor ahead, if my water had indeed broken.  Believe me, it had.  He said I could go ahead and come to the hospital, so we layered the passenger seat with towels and headed off.  The hospital was about 25 minutes away and my contractions became a lot stronger during the drive.  They were about every four minutes apart and I was having trouble sitting still.  It was about this time that Andrew accidentally took the wrong exit and added another ten minutes to our trip.  Whoops!

We arrived at the hospital at 5:50pm and got signed in, then I was transported by wheelchair up to the L&D unit.  When I arrived at my room, the nurse looked at my literally soaking wet jeans and said "I think we can skip the test to see if your water has broken."  She checked and we were all surprised to find that I was already dilated to 4-5!

We had let our parents know that we were on the way to the hospital, and about this time Andrew's mom and dad arrived.  We hadn't expected to have any promising news by this point, but since it appeared things were moving fast, we called my parents and told them they might want to head that way as well. 

My nurse came back in after about 30 minutes and looked at the contractions on the monitor.  She mentioned that they looked a little stronger and asked if I had noticed a difference.  I hadn't really seen a big increase but said maybe.  She checked me again and I was at 7.  She immediately sent someone to page the doctor because obviously I was not going to be in labor for 12-16 hours!  The contractions began intensifying and I started freaking out because I had not yet had an epidural.  My entire "birth plan" was: Go to Hospital.  Have Epidural.  Have Baby.  So I started asking when they could get that underway.  We waited what seemed like forever as they had to run some labs and had managed to lose the epidural consent form I signed during our hospital tour.  By the time the anesthesiologist got to my room, I was dilated to 9, in a lot of pain, and very much becoming out of control.  I had not even given thought to giving birth without meds, and I was not handling transition well as a result.

Finally they put the epidural in - it was so difficult to be still through the back-to-back contractions!  It didn't seem to take at first and I was pretty upset.  Finally though, I began to feel some relief and started breathing normally again as the pain subsided.  My nurse told me at that point that if I hadn't had the epi, Lincoln probably would have arrived within twenty minutes.  It probably wouldn't have done any good, but I wish she would have told me that before!

In the moment, I was totally fine with the fact that the epidural slowed my contractions from constant to every 4-5 minutes.  I was so relieved that the pain was gone!  Since I had been basically fully dilated when they finally got my epi in, I was able to start pushing as soon as the drugs had kicked in.  It was slow-going, however, since the labor had slowed so much with the medicine.  I pushed for about an hour before the OB came in and told me that he felt we should do a vacuum delivery and that he was going to perform an episiotomy. 

I had not done much research on any of these things, so I just assumed that these were things that were necessary, said "okay" and the flurry of activity began as everyone was prepping for baby's arrival.  I was shocked at how many nurses and assistants came into the room just before delivery!  With the aid of the vacuum, Lincoln was born after just three more contractions.  I didn't have any pain with the contractions, but the pressure was still pretty incredible even with the medication.

Lincoln James entered the world at 9:27pm on February 19, 2011.  He weighed 8 pounds, 6 ounces and was 20 inches long.  He was born with very chubby cheeks and the saddest little wailing cry I had ever heard!  His hands and feet were so big - lots of people commented on this in the first few days of his life.  Andrew was snapping photos constantly as the teams of nurses started cleaning up Lincoln and taking care of me. 

Proud Daddy!

Meeting Mommy for the first time!

I couldn't believe how beautiful he was - and that he was mine!  Such an amazing feeling.

Once both of us were all taken care of, Andrew brought in all of the proud grandparents to meet the little man!  Everyone was smitten at first sight.

First family photo!

After the grandparents had each had a chance to hold him for a few minutes, we were left alone and I was able to try nursing for the first time.  A lactation consultant was there to watch me - I don't honestly remember much about this experience but I seem to remember that Lincoln did pretty well for his first time nursing.

Lincoln had been born late Saturday evening, so we were in the hospital until Monday afternoon (President's Day).  It was tough to get any rest between the new little boy who wasn't sure about being out here in the world and all of the checking of vitals throughout the day and night.  We were pretty exhausted by the time we were finally cleared to go home.

It wouldn't be until several weeks/months later that I would think back on my hospital birth experience and wonder about some of the choices that I had made, or that had been made for me.  At the time of his birth, however, I was fine with the whole process and just so thrilled that my little boy had arrived safe and sound! 

Cool dude.

It was bright and sunny outside when we left the hospital.  We were so very excited to take Lincoln home with us and start a brand new adventure as a family of three! 
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