Saturday, December 22, 2012

May Your Days Be Merry and Bright

Thanks to my very tech savvy husband, I found a way to post pictures again!  Yay!  How is it already almost two days until Christmas?!  December really has flown by.  Here's what we've been up to...

Ellie Bear (my favorite nickname for her that I call her 90% of the time) is continuing to reach all kinds of milestones!  She just started pulling up on her own and loves to stand all the time.  She's constantly smiling, laughing, putting everything into her mouth, crawling and scooting.  Oh, and she never stops moving!  She's definitely keeping Mommy on her toes.  She is one hyper little girl!  Even when she's "winding" down at night, she never stops kicking her legs or bouncing up and down.  Israel and I aren't sure where this little girl gets all her energy from.  She's going to be a determined little first born, that's for sure!  

Although I reached my pre-pregnancy weight a while ago, I had been wanting to trim down a little more (or less?).  I started working really hard after we got back from Indiana by limiting sweets and working out almost every day.  I wasn't sure if it was possible to lose any more weight since I'm breastfeeding, and the body tends to hold onto fat in order to make sure your baby is getting enough!  But it turns out that diet and exercise do actually produce results!  I've been doing Jillian's 30 Day Shred all month and I just found out at my yearly exam that I now weigh what I did on our wedding day!  I'm so excited that I finally fit into my absolute favorite pair of jeans that haven't fit since our honeymoon!  

Israel is done with his first semester at Washburn and is now off for a month!  He did really well this semester and we're both so glad he gets a little break.  It was a pretty crazy time, with being a full time student, working full time and also making time as a husband and father!  We celebrated the end of finals by camping out in our living room and sleeping by our Christmas tree and watching movies.  

Ellie has been sick for over two weeks now with the worst cold ever.  I thought she'd be over it in a week at the most, but she is still dealing with this nasty thing.  Nap time has been awful and night wakings are even more frequent.  In the last couple of days she seems to be getting better (finally!) but I'm just hoping she'll be done with it by Christmas.  Israel also caught her cold and has been sick on and off for the last week or two.  It really is a miracle I haven't gotten sick yet, with Ellie sneezing and rubbing her little nose on me all day!

We had our first snow this week and it was magical.  Ellie and I watched from the window and I loved watching her face light up the first time she saw it.  We turned on the lights on the Christmas tree and listened to Christmas music and had a cozy day inside.

Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Two months later is a good place to start!

EDIT:  I've tried adding photos to this post, but it says I'm currently out of space!  I'll try to delete some old ones and create a picture post later on this week.  :)

Recently at dinner, my uncle John reminded me that my last blog post was September 19!  Oh my.  So, I figured I would write a little update this morning while the little one is taking her morning nap.

We visited Indiana a couple weeks ago, where we spent time with Renae and Justin.  This was our first road trip with Ellie and she did surprisingly well!  I'm very proud of her.  We left on Thursday after Israel got home from work and rode with my parents in their car.  Ellie slept on and off that night and we got in pretty late around 1 on Friday morning.

The last time we were there was exactly a year ago, when Israel and I were making our move up to Kansas and stopped in for a couple nights to see Renae and Justin.  It's hard to believe we've already been in Topeka for a whole year!  We had a lovely visit with them and it was so wonderful getting to spend some time with them in their beautiful home.

Israel and I have been keeping pretty busy these days, with Israel back in school at Washburn and me taking care of Ellie and also doing several photo shoots.  And Ellie has been busy just growing up!  She will be seven months old in a few days.  She has been drooling a ton and been a little extra cranky lately, and we noticed a couple weeks that she had a tiny white spot on her lower gums!  Since then, her two front teeth are slowly working their way to the top, which has resulted in lots of pain for the little girl.  :(

In other developments, we've got an almost crawler on our hands!  I thought for sure we'd have another month or two before that happened, but Ellie has been working on moving a lot lately.  She'll put her head down on the floor and push herself up on her arms, while sticking her little booty in the air and moving her legs very slowly.  She can turn herself around and reaches for things very easily.  We're going to have to start babyproofing the house because I don't think it will be too much longer before she starts crawling!

We've also started Ellie on solid food very slowly after she turned six months.  I wanted to exclusively breastfeed her the first six months and then start her on solids.  She is a great little eater!  I'll feed her a veggie in the late morning and then a fruit in the late afternoon.  So far she loves carrots and pears!

While her naps are falling into a pretty predictable pattern during the day, her sleep is still all over the place at night.  She usually goes to bed between 7 and 7:30, but wakes up at least two or three times before she's up for the day the next morning.  Two or three times really doesn't sound like a lot, but Israel and I usually go to bed during her shortest stretches of sleep.  That means we'll only get in on her three or four hour stretches of sleep at a time.

This morning was one of those times when I immediately started grinding the coffee beans after we woke up.  Occasionally, Ellie will have a couple great nights where she'll have a five hour stretch, waking up around 11, followed by another five or six hour stretch.  That means we get five hours straight of sleep!  It feels heavenly.  But then the next night Ellie will go back to waking up every three or four hours.  I've learned to just go with it, and not to expect any kind of pattern.

The idea of sleep training is very tempting again.  It's sooooo hard not to feel envious of other parents' whose baby has been sleeping through the night since six or eight weeks.  I can't even imagine getting that much sleep at a time anymore.  I always wonder if we're doing something wrong or try to figure out what we did on the nights that Ellie sleeps better.  But even if she had a great night, the next day I will try to repeat what we did, only to have her wake up three hours after she went to bed.

We pretty much do everything that all the sleep books say will merit sleeping through the night... putting her to bed early, not rocking her to sleep but having her fall asleep on her own (which she now does great at!), waiting at least ten minutes before going in once she does wake up, etc.  But her sleep is still very inconsistent.  A lot of sleep experts say to try giving a pacifier when she wakes up in the middle of the night wanting to nurse.  I'm sure that would be great, but Ellie has never taken to the pacifier.  She just tries to bite it and spits it out in confusion.  Oh well.  I guess she'll sleep through the night when she's ready?

Friday, September 14, 2012

Huff n' Puff at the Lake

Fall is definitely in the air lately, and I love it!  I even turned on the heat this morning for a little bit!  Last weekend, we took Ellie to Huff n' Puff at Lake Shawnee.  We went on Friday night, hoping to see the hot air balloons up in the air at sunset time.  Unfortunately, the wind was too strong for all of them to go up, although we did get to see one go up for a "test run."  We stayed out way past Ellie's bedtime so she was pretty much a little zombie the whole night but we had a lot of fun.

Several seconds after that last picture was taken, the whole thing flew down on its side.  It was like a scene out of a movie with a bunch of people underneath the balloon, and everyone screamed and scattered before it touched down!  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


A couple of weeks ago, breastfeeding was my biggest concern.  I had been having so many problems with a good latch and still using a nipple shield from the hospital.  I really wanted to give up because I was in so much pain still, two months in.  Thankfully, I went and saw a lactation consultant finally through Ellie's pediatrician, and within five minutes, all of my nursing problems were solved.  I don't even need to use a shield anymore to get Ellie latched on and there's no more pain at all.  I'm so thankful that that issue is resolved, and I'm thankful nursing works as well as it does now.  Now the only real issue is sleep...

I was really excited earlier this week when Ellie went down for a nap and then two different bedtimes fully awake and got herself to sleep.  I don't know if that was just a fluke but now she absolutely refuses to do the same thing again, and the only way she will take a nap is if I hold her or if she falls asleep in her swing. We're still working on getting her to bed at an earlier time, and establishing a good bedtime routine.  I really think she is sleep deprived and overtired and maybe that's why she hasn't been sleeping well either for her naps or at night.

Also gone are the six or seven hour stretches of sleep at night.  For the last two nights Ellie has woken up after only three or four hours.  I feel like we're way back to the days of the first few weeks coming home from the hospital.  Every time I tried putting her down for a nap yesterday, she just screamed at me.  After not getting anything done around the house, I finally just strapped her on me in the mei tai wrap and wore her around the house as I made dinner and cleaned.

The other day I came in our room to see Ellie licking the side of her little bed.  I thought it was a little strange, but since then it has become her biggest obsession.  And now for the last two days for all of her naps and going to sleep at night, I've found her with her head to the side and crying because she can't get to the same spot she loves to lick.  It really is the strangest thing, and it's keeping her from sleeping.  It's not just the bed she loves licking, it's everything now, and her hands are always in her mouth.  I guess this is the age babies' salivary glands really get going.   I'm hoping this is just a weird stage and we can establish some good sleep habits soon... it would be great if Ellie could fall asleep on her own in her own bed.  From day one, she has always cried when we put her down away from our arms.

It's interesting just seeing how much of Ellie's personality already.  She is very spirited, a little stubborn but incredibly sweet and curious with those she knows well.  I definitely think she will be a very strong-willed woman when she grows up!  :)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Celebrating the Fourth and my 25th Birthday

So, it's been a while, again.  I feel like things are getting easier than my last post even.  Here is what's been going on for the last month:

Renae and Justin came down for a visit in early June so Justin could meet his little niece for the first time.  It was wonderful having them here for a few days and one night they even babysat Ellie while Israel and I went out on a date.

We are working on getting Ellie on more of a sleep routine.  We've been trying to get her to bed at an earlier time and sleeping in our room without us always there.  That is the biggest challenge right now.  Since we got into kind of a bad habit of her falling asleep in my arms after feeding her, she will not just go down for sleep unless she's in a deep sleep first.  I've been working on this with her naps, just putting her in her bed drowsy but still awake, turning on her white noise machine and leaving the room.  After fussing a few minutes, she will fall asleep usually for twenty or thirty minutes.  I'm hoping eventually she will sleep for longer stretches of time by herself.  The other night, after a recommendation from my pediatrician, I put Ellie down in her bed around 8, tired but still awake.  Before that, I gave her a bath, changed her and read her a book before I noticed the first few yawns.

I put her to bed and she did fuss for about five minutes but fell asleep.  She was asleep for almost an hour before she woke up crying.  I waited ten minutes before going in, patted her and talked to her a little bit before leaving the room again.  She kept crying and I continued to go in every ten minutes without picking her up.  My pediatrician told me to try this and after three nights, Ellie should be sleeping through the night by herself.  Ellie never stopped crying and after about forty minutes, I finally went in and picked her up.  It made me so sad to see her screaming for her life and she was sweaty from crying so much.  :(  I'm not sure how I feel about the cry it out method, especially after that night.  Before then, Ellie would usually sleep from 11:30 to 5:30 and then again from 6:30 to 9:30.  But after the other night, she wouldn't sleep until 2 a.m.  I don't think she knows how to self soothe and get herself back to sleep, since I basically trained her to fall asleep in my arms.  So, I'm really not sure what to do to get her to fall asleep on her own.  I want to check out a few books on this topic... but for you experienced moms, any tips for this first time mom??

Father's Day was extra special this year for Israel being a first time dad.  I made a special breakfast and we stayed in that night, ordered a pizza and watched the Heat game.  Israel is such a good dad to Ellie.  I love seeing him with her and the special relationship they have.  He's so tender and protective of her already.  I can only imagine what he'll be like when she's a teenager....

Israel's mom, Bertha, stayed with us for several days and also got to meet Ellie for the first time.  I'm glad she finally got to meet her Cuban grandma!  Bertha, my mom, Ellie and I made a trip to the Capitol one morning for a special ceremony for Israel's job.  It was fun to see my love in action!

We had fun taking Ellie out to different places and Bertha even got to celebrate the Fourth with us.  We went to Lawrence earlier in the afternoon to eat lunch and walk around, but unfortunately not very many places were open downtown.  Later that night, we went over to my parents' house and enjoyed an all American meal of barbeque chicken and steak, corn, green beans and salad.  All week fireworks were being set off in our neighborhood and I don't think Bertha's ever experienced a Fourth of July like this one.  We bought out own fireworks for that night and had our own show in my parents' driveway.

I turned 25 yesterday and had a wonderful birthday!  I used a gift certificate I had gotten from a friend at His and Her Salon and got my hair cut and styled.  It was nice to feel pampered for a little bit when I'm so busy taking care of another person I usually don't have much time these days for my hair.  Ellie and I went out to lunch with my mom and Bekah at Red Lobster, and later on, Israel took me out to Paisano's for dinner.

I decided I was going to wait until my birthday to get some kind of alcoholic drink at dinner.  So I planned ahead and had a couple bottles of pumped breast milk ready for Ellie later, and okay, I'm not an alcoholic, but I was excited to drink a little something because it's been ten months!  I was getting ready for our date at home and decided to just take my camera bag and leave the purse at home.  It was when Israel and I were seated at our table when I realized I had left my wallet behind.  I tried ordering something but the waitress asked for my ID and I told her I had forgotten it.  She told me that she couldn't serve me without seeing proof of my age, and I felt like I was 19 or something trying to order a drink.  I did get in a few sips of Israel's Blue Moon and it was quite tasty.  :)  It was a lovely birthday!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

It really does get easier...

Hello, darlings!  It's been quite a while since I updated the old blog.  I spend my days with this tiny person, who keeps her mama very busy:

I actually started this post a week ago, if that tells you how busy I am... We're at six weeks now since Ellie was born, and things have just started to feel a bit easier.  Ellie likes to be held almost 24/7 so it's a challenge sometimes to get things done around here.  Thankfully, she is slowly becoming a bit more independent and has just now started enjoying being in her swing by herself for thirty minutes at a time or so.  I think she is going through a growth spurt right now, because she has been so sleepy the last couple of days.  Last night she slept for five hours straight!  When I was pregnant, I really questioned whether you could actually function on only a couple hours of sleep a night, but now having gone through it, it definitely is possible.  I feel amazing if I can get four or five hours of sleep a night.

Bedtime is the most stressful part of the day for me.  If all goes according to plan, I nurse her one last time at 11 or 11:30 for almost an hour and when she's done, I let her fall asleep on me.  I'll have her there until she's in her deep sleep, usually about thirty or forty minutes.  And then it's time to swaddle her up!  I can tell if she's really in her deep sleep when she lets me move her arms in a swaddle without even fighting me.  I rock her a bit and then I cover her little ears as we slowly make our way across the creaky floor to the bedroom where I place her in the Rock-n-Play next to my side of the bed.  I turn on her little white noise machine and set it to Ocean or Rain and she's usually out for four or five hours.  But all of those things have to be in place before we can set her down or else she will wake up ten minutes later.  It really is a science we have learned!

I had my six week postpartum appointment yesterday with my OB and got the go ahead to start exercising!  I've lost most of the baby weight now but I really want to get back in shape.  I've missed exercising and I'm really excited to start working out and riding my bike again!

Ellie has started smiling a little bit more each day and it just melts my heart.  Earlier this week, I had spent the whole night trying to get her to sleep and after a nursing session, I just looked at her and she gave me the biggest smile.  It made me forget about how sleep deprived I was and just filled my heart with love for my little girl.  She really is precious.

She's still eating about every two hours for almost an hour at a time, which can be exhausting and makes me feel sort of like a milk maid.  I don't do much during the day since nursing Ellie is pretty much all I have time for.  The hour that she's not eating I spend burping and changing her, and trying to get her to take a nap.  I have started watching tons of TV because with hour-long nursing sessions, there's really not a lot to do.  Some recent shows I've loved are Downton Abbey and Sherlock.  I also rewatched the entire series of Parenthood because I love it so.

I've tried pumping a couple different times because I'm sure it would make getting out of the house a bit easier, but due to some complications, I have to take a break from it.  On Saturday, I wanted to get out for a little bit so I went grocery shopping.  Israel texted me twenty minutes later to tell me that Ellie was screaming bloody murder and was clearly hungry.  So, I'm at a loss for how to go out into the world for much longer than an hour or two.  I'm hoping soon that Ellie will start eating every three hours or so.  I know that this is just a stage right now and things will get easier in a couple months so I try to keep that mindset and realize that this won't last forever.  I want to just savor this sweet time with Ellie and cuddle with her as much as I can until she's too big to sit on my lap anymore.  Being a mom really is a full-time job, but it's the best job.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Three Weeks

Since we came home from the hospital with a six pound little baby named Ellie, the last three weeks have sort of blurred together.  Sleepless nights, nursing sessions every two hours, crying fits, cuddles, sleepy baby smiles, and an endless amount of dirty dishes and laundry.  Who knew such a tiny person could dirty so many things?  ;)

It has been wonderful, and it has been incredibly difficult.  For the first ten days of Ellie's life, the main problem was getting her to sleep by herself.  She loves being held and snuggled and doesn't like to be put down very much.  Since we didn't want to spend more money on buying a bassinet, which by the way is not too cheap, we decided to have her sleep in the Pack-n-Play in our room.  Although there were occasional nights of her sleeping a few hours at a time in there, for the most part she just would not fall asleep longer than thirty minutes in it.  Sometimes I resorted to sleeping with her on the couch just so Israel and I could get some sleep.  If she was snuggled, she would sleep for four or five hours straight.

Finally, a friend on facebook told me about the Rock-n-Play which she had used as a bassinet for her son.   It sounded like a good idea, since it's at a bit of an incline and it just very cozy and snuggly.  I'm not sure if Ellie has a bit of acid reflux but she definitely hates being flat on her back for long periods of time.  I told Israel about it after another sleepless night, and we purchased it at Target a few nights ago.  Best $54 we've ever spent.  The first night we put her in it, she didn't have any fits and slept for a solid four hours straight.  Total lifesaver!

She loves it!  

That (so far) has been the solution to the first problem.  The most recent issue we've been having is endless amounts of crying in the evening.  This started when Ellie was about ten days old, and almost consistently, she will cry every night between 5 until about 10 or 11.  Non-stop crying between feedings.  We've tried literally everything to try and calm her down, but she just wails and wails.  It sounds like a rage cry where she's red in the face and makes sounds that should probably break glass.  This is both sad and frustrating as parents, because I feel so helpless in trying to figure out what's bothering her.  After the worst night on Monday, I finally called our pediatrician the next day and spoke to a nurse who thought it sounded like she has colic.  

I figured this was a good possibility, but was so discouraged when I heard this.  Especially since colic is such a mysterious condition that no doctor really seems to know what causes it or how to cure it.  You pretty much just have to ride it out, and most people say it usually lasts until they're about three or four months old.  I just came home and cried.  The last few weeks have been so emotional, especially with my crazy postpartum hormones, sometimes I just join Ellie in her crying.  I felt like a bad mom and sad because I just want to enjoy my new baby, but I feel like I'm going insane when Ellie's in the middle of a crying spell. It helps so much to have such a supportive husband.  I don't know how I would keep my sanity without Israel's help.  We take turns trying to soothe her or just letting the other one sleep while holding a hysterical Ellie.  

I have cut dairy out of my diet for the last two days, and Ellie has been way less fussy and in a better mood.  It's too soon to tell if this might be the cause of her distress, so I think I'll continue keeping away from dairy (although I so miss cheese and milk... and ice cream!) for a little while.  I'm also planning on visiting the lactation consultant at the hospital and seeing if they have any suggestions.  

I really can't believe it was just three weeks ago I was in labor and about to meet our little daughter for the first time.  I don't miss the huge pregnant belly or really being pregnant.  I'm still getting used to rolling over in bed to my other side without propping myself up first.  I've forgotten how to roll!  Although it's the most difficult thing I've ever done, giving birth to Ellie is the most important thing I've ever done in my life.  It's such a sacred honor to bring a new life into the world.  So precious.  It's hard being a new mom, but I love my little girl so much.  I love her little sighs and grunts and sleepy baby smiles.  I love seeing her change every day and watching her grow.  Although it's the hardest job in the world, I really, really love being a mom.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My First Mother's Day

It was a very special first Mother's Day on Sunday.  Our little girl let us sleep in until about 11:30, after being up numerous times throughout the night feeding and changing her.  My love gave me some beautiful flowers and a very sweet card, and we went on our first family picnic at the park.  Later we went over to my parents' house to say hello and wish my own mom a happy Mother's Day.  It was a special day, and I'm so lucky to be Ellie's mom.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Ellie's Birth Story

It all started with a Habanero sandwich.  I had been having Braxton-Hicks contractions consistently every night for about two weeks. Each evening I would excitedly time the contractions to see how far apart they were but they usually went away entirely within a few hours.  It was incredibly frustrating because I just wanted to meet our daughter already.  My due date came and went and suddenly I was three days overdue and I thought I might have to get induced if our little girl didn’t come that weekend.  

It was April 29, Sunday night, when Israel and I were watching X-Files and had just ordered sandwiches from Dominos.  I decided on the very spicy Habanero with lots of jalapenos, hoping that the spicy food old wives’ tale would smoke her out.  My mouth was on fire and within an hour, I started having contractions.  I began timing them but they weren’t all that close together and by the time I went to bed, they had dissipated.  I thought once again, that this was just a false alarm and that our little girl might never come.  I had more than once joked with Israel in the last week that I would probably be pregnant forever.  It was hard to imagine life not being pregnant anymore. 

On April 30, the next morning, I woke up around 6 feeling contractions regularly.  This got my attention because I had never gotten contractions at this time of the day; they were almost always in the evenings.  After about a half hour of feeling them consistently in my lower abdomen and having them circle around to my lower back, I began timing them.  They were five minutes apart and kept coming.  Israel woke up and noticed that I was awake and kept touching my cell phone to check the time.  I casually said, “I might be going into labor.  I’m timing the contractions but I’m not sure if this is the real thing or not.”  I told him I would let him know if they were still pretty consistent and told him to go back to sleep, although he just stayed awake since he was pretty sure it sounded like the real deal finally.

After another half hour, the contractions were still coming at five minutes apart.  They weren’t all that painful yet, just felt more like intense menstrual cramps.  All of the books and our hospital childbirth class told us to call the hospital when my contractions were five minutes apart, each lasting one minute over the course of an hour.  After I had been timing them for two hours, I called the hospital and let them know that I was coming in.  Israel and I finished packing our bags and I tried to eat some peanut butter toast but couldn’t even finish it because I was too nervous and excited.  We left for the hospital and I was led to a room where I thought I would be staying and laboring in. 

Right before leaving for the hospital the first time

At my last doctor’s appointment the week before, I was dilated to 1 centimeter and 50% effaced.  Another nurse checked me when I got to the hospital and I was 3 centimeters dilated and about 70% effaced!  I was so excited to hear that all of those Braxton Hicks I had been feeling for weeks hadn’t been for nothing and that my body was actually preparing for labor.  I changed into a gown and the nurse hooked me up to a monitor, keeping track of the baby’s heart rate and seeing how regular my contractions were.  Over the course of two hours, I kept feeling the contractions and soon they were about three minutes apart.  When the nurse came back to check me, I was still 3 centimeters and about 80% effaced.  She told me that it sounded like I may be in early labor, but they were going to send me back home.  They told me to come back when my contractions were two minutes apart or were so strong I wouldn’t be able to walk or talk through them.  I was so disappointed.  I hadn’t read much about early labor and didn’t even know they could send you home when I felt like I was definitely in labor.  I had known women who came in dilated only 1 centimeter and they got to stay.  I didn’t want to be sent home; I wanted to be kept since I was obviously having regular contractions.

The nurse gave me a couple of Tylenol Codeine and sent me home with instructions to rest and come back if the contractions got stronger.  I felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously, that I really was in labor.  After doing a little Google research at home, I read that this happens to a lot of women in early labor.  But most people say if this does happen to you, keep active and keep walking.  I did nap for about an hour and the contractions had worn off a little bit when I woke up.  I did not want to wait another two days until going into “real” labor, so I was feeling quite determined when I woke up to have this baby that day. 

Israel and I went for two different walks that afternoon, the second one for about an hour.  On our walk, the contractions intensified to the point where I was feeling one right after another.  All the pain was in my back.  That evening, they had become more inconsistent but they were definitely becoming more painful.  I had told my sister Renae earlier that morning before leaving for the hospital that I might be in labor.  She left her home in Indiana and was in Topeka by that evening. 

Israel and I went to bed that night, not sure what was going to happen, but I felt confident that I would be back at the hospital the next day.  Surely enough, when we went to bed I couldn’t sleep at all.  The contractions were back and they were stronger than before.  They were coming at five minutes apart and didn’t stop through the whole night.  I didn’t get any sleep and for the first part of the night, I just lay in bed, curled up on my side and clutching my pillows when I felt the contraction intensify.  It got to the point where I felt like I couldn’t breathe and just had to cry through each one.  It felt like my back and front were being compressed and squeezed so tightly and that I was being lit on fire.  That’s the best way I know how to describe what my contractions felt like.  Israel rubbed my back for a while, where I was feeling the most pain, but I couldn’t stand being in bed anymore.  Feeling restless and quite helpless, I just paced the living room floor in the dark until a contraction would come and then I just had to stand still and try and breathe through it.  It was better if I didn’t move. 

I felt crazy with no sleep, not eating much and I was in so much pain but I wasn’t sure if I should call the hospital again because I definitely did not want to be sent home again.  I had a doctor’s appointment set up for that afternoon, but I wasn’t sure if I could wait that long.  Renae came over after Israel left for work on Tuesday morning, May 1, and intended to stay with me that afternoon until my appointment.  I decided after about an hour to go ahead and call the hospital and see what they thought I should do.  I called Labor and Delivery in tears and in mid-contraction, and hearing the strain in my voice, they told me to go ahead and come in.  I was relieved to hear this and decided that I wasn’t going to come home unless I went into labor or they induced me because I just couldn’t do this much longer. 

Around 9:30, Renae and I drove very carefully to the hospital and my mom met us there, for it hurt just to get in and out of the car, and we had just gotten to the walkway from the parking garage to the hospital, when I had to stop walking.  I reached for my lower back and a nurse who passed us in the hallway saw the way I was standing and asked if I’d like a wheelchair.  I hadn’t even thought of this but knew it would have taken me a while just to walk to Labor and Delivery, so she went and got one.  I was wheeled into a labor room and the same nurse, Cindy, from the day before came in and said she knew I would be back soon.  She checked me and I was between a 4 and 5 and fully effaced!  She still wasn’t sure if they were going to keep me so they wanted to monitor me for an hour and see if I would progress. 

When Cindy came back and checked me again, I was definitely a 5 (already halfway there!) and they decided to keep me!  I was so relieved!  My mom and Renae stayed with me in my room as I continued to labor and felt the contractions growing even stronger.  It helped to just take it one contraction at a time and try and focus on breathing through each one.  I wanted to wait and call Israel until I knew for sure that I would be staying, so I had Renae let him know and my mom picked him from work and drove him back to the hospital.  Israel was there by 11:45 and it was so wonderful having my husband there with me, holding my hand and leading me through some breathing exercises.  I felt a lot better once he got there.  At 12 p.m., I was dilated to a 6 and I put in my request for an epidural.  I had been on the fence about getting one, but by this point, I was tired from pretty much being up all night two nights in a row and from the contractions that I just wanted a little rest.  Within about a half hour, the anesthesiologist came down and gave me the epidural.  I was so worried that I might move while they were inserting the needle in my back, but it wasn’t as painful as I thought it would be. 

My contractions were so strong, they were literally off the charts

I began feeling the effects of the epidural—my legs felt heavy and I couldn’t really move them from being so numb, and I felt a little relief from the contractions.  My mom and Renae left after Israel got there to grab some lunch for him and run a couple errands.  Around 1 p.m., the doctor on call, Dr. Blake, came in to check me and then break my water since it still hadn’t broken on its own.  I was already dilated to a 7 and when she broke my water (which involved inserting a croquet hook-looking object up there), I really didn’t feel the gush that everyone describes and that you see in movies.  Dr. Blake thought the majority of my bag of waters might be behind the baby’s head and that more might come out later. 

They went ahead and started me on Pitocin at 1:45 and from there things progressed pretty quickly (for a while…).  Cindy came back in and told me to try and rest for a while before the pushing stage.  Israel laid down on the couch and we both tried to sleep although I know I didn’t really get much sleep.  It did feel nice to just close my eyes and try and not think about what was to come very soon.  My nurse told me that I would feel pressure during the pushing stage and I wasn’t sure how much pain I would be in. 

At 2:54, Cindy returned with some ice chips, checked me again, and I was dilated to a 10!  It was already time to start pushing.  I couldn’t believe how quickly I had progressed once Tuesday morning came, and I was ready to meet our little girl at last.  Israel and I just stared at each other in disbelief and excitement as the moment that we had been waiting for nine months had finally come.  I started pushing at 3:15, with just Israel and my nurse in the room helping me through each one.  By this point, the epidural was starting to wear off no matter how many times I pushed the magical button that would release another dose.  As I started to feel pressure and the urge to push, I would push three times during each contraction about every minute.  After about an hour, Israel said, “I can see part of her head!  And she has a lot of dark hair!”  We both had predicted that she would have Israel’s black hair and that there would be a lot of it. 

I had heard many stories of women only pushing for thirty minutes or less and their baby was out.  I knew that for a lot of first time mothers, the pushing stage usually lasted anywhere from twenty minutes to two hours.  I was beginning to grow discouraged after pushing for an hour and there was little to no progress.  I kept asking the nurse and Israel if they could see more of her head, and they could only see a tiny bit of it.  After two hours and little progress, the epidural had worn off completely and I was in a whole lot of pain.  It really was like I was having a natural labor because I could feel every single contraction and they were strong (especially with the Pitocin).  Still at this point, I could only feel the pain in my back and the word I used to describe it was debilitating.  I felt the pressure increase until it felt like I was being tightly compressed on my lower back, like something very, very large was crushing it. 

At the two hour point, my nurse was starting to get concerned, because the baby’s heart rate was dropping.  She put an oxygen mask on me and I tried to breathe as deeply as I could for my baby’s sake.  This is the point where I began to get really worried and scared.  Dr. Blake came in to check on me and suggested Israel and I try a really old school pushing technique called Tug of War.  I was borderline exhausted but willing to try anything before the word Caesarean came up.  She knotted two ends of a bed sheet, and I pulled one end and Israel pulled on the other end at the end of my bed, all during each contraction.  The theory was that we would create tension and it would give me more resistance each time I pushed.  I pulled as tightly as I could during each contraction and was completely out of breath after each one. 

This went on for about 45 minutes and still with hardly any progress on the baby’s head crowning.  We stopped the Tug of War method and I continued to push like I had before, but I kept saying to Cindy and Israel, “I’m done.  I don’t think I can do this anymore.”  I was writhing in pain from the contractions and was in the most pain of my life.  After three hours of pushing, Dr. Blake returned at 6:15 and asked if I wanted to try the vacuum to get the baby out, which would involve another thirty minutes of pushing.  But she also said it didn’t look too promising since I was swollen quite a bit down there and she didn’t think she would be able to get the baby out vaginally.  I was completely worn out and in the worst pain and I told her just to do the C-section.  I wanted to be done and I couldn’t handle any more pain.  At that point, I didn’t care what they did to me as long as I could just meet my daughter already. 

My nurse Cindy, who had stayed with me all day, was ending her shift so she had to leave without delivering the baby.  Another nurse, Tammy, took her place as they got things ready for the C-section.  This period of time is a bit of a blur as I waited with only Israel in the labor room and my doctor and nurse were getting the surgery room prepped.  All I remember is continually moaning in pain, shaking and squirming around, and Israel trying to help me breathe, but I just kept feeling the strong contractions and I lost it at that point.  I felt delirious as I couldn’t even focus on the breathing techniques.  I kept asking Israel when the anesthesiologist would get there so they could just give me the drugs and why it was taking so long! 

Finally, at 7 p.m., my nurse came back in and told me they were going to begin the surgery.  Israel got suited up in the “bunny suit” they gave him and he was covered from head to toe in white except for his blue cap.  As they wheeled me down the hallway in my bed, I continued to thrash about in pain from the contractions and I couldn’t stop moaning.  The nurse told me to keep pushing since the baby was still wedged in the birth canal and that would help relieve some of the pressure.  We arrived at the surgery room and Israel blew me a kiss as the doors were closing.  He would be able to come back in once they were done giving me a spinal tap and preparing everything else for the surgery. 

One of my family members took this picture of Israel as he waited in the hallway for me

They transferred me from my bed to the operating table and suddenly I felt like I was really in a hospital for real.  My hands wouldn’t stop shaking, so the nurse held them as they inserted the spinal tap in my back.  I had known that a C-section was a possibility but I really thought I would never need one, so I kind of skipped over reading about them in all the pregnancy books and blogs.  Suddenly, I felt so unprepared for what was about to happen, and I felt scared of someone cutting open my skin to get my baby out.  The spinal soon took effect and I could feel absolutely nothing from the top of my abdomen all the way to my toes.  I couldn’t move a muscle and I was glad for that, especially since I was about to have major surgery. 

Israel was able to come back in the room, and he stood beside me behind the large sheet they had up blocking my view of the rest of my body (which I was also glad for).  They started the surgery, and although I couldn’t feel much pain, I felt a lot of tugging and pulling in my abdomen.  I felt all of my organs up under my chest and I was having trouble breathing.  Israel told me later he peeked when they began to pull the baby out and saw some of my organs.  He can say now that he has literally seen my guts (crazy!!).  That’s love.  Dr. Blake was struggling to pull the baby out because of how wedged she was down there.  And it turns out that she was in the posterior position, although head down, which means her face was turned up.  That explained the difficult pushing phase and why she wasn’t making any progress on coming out.  If I had continued to push, she wouldn’t have been able to come out that way, or if she did she would have major bruises and maybe a couple injuries. 

I felt so anxious not being able to see what was going on but so excited to finally meet our daughter after a very long and traumatic labor.  At 7:22, I heard my baby’s first cry and tears began streaming down my face.  It was over, and our little girl was finally here.  They placed her on another small table too far up for me to see her yet and began cleaning her.  Israel exclaimed so I could hear, “Oh honey, she’s so pretty!”  They announced her weight at 6 pounds and 2 ounces and she was 18 ¼ inches long.  Our little girl was indeed quite little.  Ten minutes had gone by and I still hadn’t caught a glimpse of her face, only tiny feet wiggling around on the table.  The surgeons continued to stitch me up and I was still having trouble breathing as they put my organs back in place. 

Finally, the nurses handed her to Israel and brought her over to my side to see her.  Fresh tears welled up in my eyes all over again and my heart was overflowing with joy at seeing her, after dreaming of her face for so long.  When I first saw her face, I couldn’t believe how perfect she was.  I had felt a love for her while she was still in the womb and I had nine months for that love to grow.  But when Israel placed her beside me, my love for her became so much more real and I was completely smitten.  I couldn’t stop thanking the Lord for this precious gift.  This was our daughter, here at last!  And she was more beautiful than we ever could have imagined. 

The first time I saw my daughter

So exhausted, but so full of love and happiness

Israel loving on little Miss Ellie

I’ve got a lot of stretch marks, a jiggly stomach, and a six inch Caesarean scar across my lower abdomen that I’ll probably have for the rest of my life, but it’s completely worth it all.  The only important thing is having our little girl with us now, not the way she got here.  On this day, May 1, 2012, Ellie Marie came into our lives and we are more than thrilled to be her parents.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Melt my Heart

Love these two.  Watching the love Israel has for our daughter truly just melts me.  Last night, after we gave Ellie a sponge bath (which she does not like one bit), she was feeling quite traumatized.  After a very long crying fit, Israel took her in his arms in the rocking chair and started making up a story right there on the spot just for her.  Although she has no idea what he's saying, I think she was really comforted by hearing his voice.  She calmed herself down and was soon asleep, but Israel continued to tell his story.  I can't wait for when she is a little older, and I can just see these two making up stories together before bedtime.  I didn't think it was possible to love my husband any more than I already do, but seeing him with our daughter just takes that love to a whole other level.  I'm so thankful for such an amazing man, both as a husband and as the father of our child.  So lucky, so blessed.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sushi and Sunshine

Yesterday... I had sushi for the first time in many, many moons.  This is one of the top no-no foods during pregnancy because of the raw fish, so it was a wonderful treat to have it again today!  Bekah and my mom have come over for a few hours the last couple of days and it has been so nice.  We've eaten lunch on our deck on both days and it's wonderful to get some fresh air when I'm home so much these days.

My mom has been amazing at helping out with Ellie.  It's really hard not getting sleep at night and then being up most of the day too, taking care of Ellie and literally not having many spare minutes to myself.  These days I really feel like the theme is:  There's no time!  The house is a mess and most of the time I'm trying to keep Ellie from crying and just trying to keep her a happy baby.  It's been so great having my mom come over and watch Ellie while I try to get a few things done or just shower or take a nap.  I'm very thankful to live five minutes away from her, because honestly I don't know what I would do without some kind of help during the day.  My mom is pretty amazing. I hope to be such a mom to my little girl.