Friday, October 23, 2015

Hannah Claire: Months 1 and 2

I had every intention of doing regular updates on you little girl, but you like to keep me very busy.  Time has absolutely flown by and each evening as we put you down to sleep I'm left wondering how another day has passed.  I'm absolutely in love with you and am so, so grateful that I get to be your Mom.  
heading home from the hospital

The first two weeks were a blur of feeding, changing diapers, and soaking up newborn cuddles.  There was little sleep to be had when breastfeeding every two hours but I never felt like the exhaustion was too bad.  We had lots of help in the first month.  Not having to worry about cooking, dishes, and laundry allowed me to focus completely on you, Hannah.  

I've tried my absolute hardest to take complete advantage of my maternity leave and absorb every second with you.  My goal is to not look back and wish I'd spent more time.  You're growing and changing so quickly and I know these are moments I'll never get back.  There have been many hours of snuggling on the couch or walking laps around the house as I attempt to memorize the weight of your body in my arms and the way your lips move and your eyes flutter as you sleep.  

My favorite memories of your first month are of your newborn wiggles and grunts (I had NO idea newborns were so noisy) and the way you smile as you fall in and out of sleep.  You love to stretch out big with your arms over your head and your back arched and head thrown back.  Your favorite way to sleep is snuggled up on my chest with your little froggy legs curled up under your body and your head tucked up under my chin.  If you're too low, you find a way to squirm up so your face is touching mine and it melts my heart every time.  Your little fists love to grasp our fingers and hold on tight.  Kissing the storks bite at the back of your neck is my absolute favorite thing.  Your dad and I joke that you're losing your hair because we can't stop rubbing our cheeks on your soft little head.  We think your perfect lips, soft cheeks, and great big eyes make you the cutest baby ever.  As far as life with you is concerned, you're an easy baby who sleeps easily and rarely fusses.  We feel very lucky!

Weeks 4-6 were quite the transformation as you "woke up" from your newborn-ness.  You became much more engaged with the world around you and with that came a constant need for attention.  You much prefer when someone is actively holding you and talking to you (which we are happy to do!).  We joke that you are now a high maintenance baby as you'll cry out the second someone looks away from you.  

While you were often smiling before, it was probably unintentional.  Your first "official" smile happened on 9/24 when you were 5 weeks old.  Daddy made Mommy crack up laughing (by pretending to walk down spiral stairs- you'll one day learn this is one of his favorite jokes) and you responded with a big, gummy smile that lit up your whole face and melted our hearts.  You hold your head up like a champ and everyone who meets you comments on how strong you are.  You had your share of fussy times (and even a few fussy days) which stressed us out a bit!  Luckily those adorable smiles of yours more than made up for it.  You began to sleep from bedtime (somewhere between 7 and 9) to around 1-2 in the morning which has been amazing for me!  You love to hold weight on your legs and insist on doing it even when they are so tired they are shaking.  Having your legs kicked when you're laying down makes you smile every time.  You had your first bottle from Daddy and love to hold my shirt in your hand when you are breastfeeding.  

big gummy smiles

At week 7, you started to get over the fussiness and were back to our mostly happy baby.  I've learned to keep you on somewhat of a rotation of eating, playing, and sleeping (in that order) instead of letting you fall asleep nursing.  It seems we get through the days with a lot more happy times and you only really fuss when you're tired and ready for your nap.  I wish we could figure out a schedule but the duration of your naps is still completely random and I never know if it will last 30 minutes or two hours.  

We took your first flight to Florida and you were beyond awesome during the travel.  The way there you slept almost the entirety of the airport, both flights, and the 2 hour drive.  On the way back, you decided to stay awake for most of the flights but were perfectly happy to smile and interact with us and never made a fuss.  

Once we were back home, I transitioned you out of the Rock & Play and into your bassinet at night and to napping in your crib during the day.  The transition took lots of persistence as we tried over and over again and traded in our 1-2 wakeups at night for a few more.  We've finally convinced you to take a paci and not hate being swaddled and it has helped so much with you falling asleep and staying there.  

You started to coo which has been the most fun thing ever.  I could talk to your little "ah goos" and squeals for hours.  You have the cutest little high pitched voice and we can't get enough of it.  You love to stand as much as possible and have the most perfect posture when you do it.  Your little body sways as you try so hard to hold upright and your eyes open so wide like you're so surprised by what you're doing.  

You've learned to love the mobile on your swing and you will smile and talk to it.  You reach for the hanging toys on your gym and do pretty well with tummy time for a few minutes before you're over it.  You love to hold something in your hand - mostly your blanket or your bunny Wubbanub.  You still think having your feet marched is hilarious and you've started to like your hands moved as well.  You suck on the back of your hand and are the most ticklish little girl on your feet and your belly.  

At week 8, you are always "talking."  You love to lay and talk to us or stare at books as we read.  When we hold you upright, you've started to hang on to our shoulders which feels like the most adorable little hug.  You definitely prefer being held in this position now because it lets you see more of the world.  You're still sucking on the back of your hand and getting really close to being able to keep it there.  Baths are your favorite and you're very calm when you're in the water.  How you feel about getting out and being cold is another story!  You've started to be a constant drooler and you blow lots of spit bubbles.  Morning walks in the stroller have been extended as you are finally content to go longer distances without wanting OUT.  

Two months with you have gone by so fast.  You have brought so much joy and love to our lives and we are constantly saying how incredibly fortunate we are to have you.  Life has definitely changed even more than I imagined but I much prefer it with you in it.  You've changed so much in such a short time and I know there is only more to come.  We love you little one!  

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Birth Story

Going to bed on Sunday night (August 16), I was very discouraged that the weekend had passed with no baby and that I’d be going back to work in the morning.  I’d been so sure we’d have a baby that weekend!  At 10pm, I woke up to go to pee and afterward I felt a small gush of fluid.  I thought that it was odd and wondered if something was happening but didn’t want to get my hopes up again (by week 39, you can convince yourself everything is a sign of labor!).  I was also having some menstrual like cramps but not much stronger than I’d had the last couple of nights.  Fifteen minutes later I got up again and had another small gush of fluid.  This time I was certain something was up.  I woke up Mike and told him I thought my water was leaking.  He groggily told me to try to get some sleep.  Hah.  I laid down for another fifteen minutes Googling what was happening.  When I got up, my water full on broke and I was certain.  I woke up Mike and told him we were going to have a baby and to get up and get ready.  We woke up my Mom and all got ready and packed our stuff for the hospital.  
Last pic of the bump before leaving for the hospital. 
About to meet our baby!

So excited!

We arrived at the hospital at midnight and it was so weird walking myself into Labor and Delivery, smiling and not in pain.  I’d always assumed I’d be fighting contractions and in full on labor when I showed up at the hospital.  They swabbed me to be sure and then immediately admitted us to our room.  I was hooked up to contraction and fetal monitors and the nurse checked my cervix (less than 1cm dilated and 80% effaced!) and left to discuss a plan with my OB.  She told us that they’d be starting me on Cytotec to try to soften my cervix and that it would be delivered every four hours until enough change happened to start me on Pitocin.  However, after my first dose of Cytotec at 1am, my body went into full on contraction mode.  They got intense pretty quickly and were coming about 3 min apart.  At one point I had a really strong, long contraction and the nurse came running in, flipped me over, and started massaging my belly.  Apparently it lasted over 6 minutes.  She said the contractions had come on so strong and sudden that they might have to give me a shot of Terbutaline to stop them if they didn’t regulate soon.  I was dreading that because it seemed like we’d be working backwards (and it was the same drug I’d had a few times back at 31 weeks to stop my contractions).  Luckily, my contractions evened out enough that they just let my body do its thing.  At 4am, I finally got pain medicine.  I’m allergic to the drug they normally give so I was given Dilaudid.  It didn’t do much for the pain but made me super tired and my legs and arm feel heavy.  I was not a fan!  The next two hours were pretty intense.  I might have mentioned tying my tubes so I’d never have to feel pain like that again.  Finally, contractions were at one minute apart and they checked me and said I was at 3cm and could get an epidural as soon as anesthesia was available.  Best news ever! 
Hospital room board.


Getting the epidural was only somewhat stressful as the promise of pain relief makes it way less scary.  The worst part is holding still and being scrunched over through all of your contractions.  We discovered that my anesthesiologist had done his residency at Vanderbilt and finished the same time as I did.  He went from having little personality to chatting with us forever about our shared love of Nashville.  The epidural brought some relief pretty quickly but definitely not the overwhelming awesomeness that everyone always describes.  After about 30 minutes of some relief, I was in the worst pain ever with each contraction.  We called the nurse and explained something was definitely not right.  Luckily the anesthesiologist held up his scheduled C-section he was just about to start and came to my rescue.  He assured me he would not have done so if it weren’t for our Vandy connection.  Yikes!  He tried to administer a bolus to see if it would help and nothing changed.  He said something must have happened to it internally because it was not making me numb anymore.  He quickly removed it and gave me a new one that went 1 cm deeper.  That’s when I realized the magic of an epidural.  Now I could watch my contractions spike on the monitor but felt nothing. 

After the epidural started working its magic, they checked me about once every two hours.  I was at 5cm by 10am, 7 cm at noon, and 9 cm at 2pm.  They were thrilled with the progress I was making on my own without drugs and said we would be pushing in no time.  Unfortunately, my nurse had to leave work early that day and so they had to call in someone to cover the gap from 4pm till the shift change that evening.  We’re pretty sure things were put on hold because of this.  From about 3:30 on, I could tell something was happening.  There was so much pressure down there and I was pretty sure it was time.  However, my nurse told me that she was just going to have me wait and have my new nurse check things when she got there.  Anesthesia came and gave me something for the pain and my legs went almost completely numb.  I was worried I wouldn’t be able to push with the numbness and so I was somewhat relieved when my current epidural IV ran out because I hoped that would balance out the numbness and I’d regain some feeling.  At 4:10 my new fill-in nurse finally came to check me and immediately said it was time to call the doctor and start pushing.

With just Mike, my Mom and the nurse, we started pushing at every contraction.  I had no idea how exhausting pushing would be!  It was so surreal to know that we’d soon have our baby in our arms.  We pushed for about 10 minutes with the nurse and suddenly she said to stop pushing because the baby was right there and we needed a doctor.  Luckily, my OB walked in very soon after and got things going.  Less than 5 minutes of pushing later, Hannah was born at 4:37pm.  For those who were worried about Mike’s queasiness with all things blood and guts, he did awesome.  He held my leg and watched the whole birth (and cut the cord!).  I watched his face for much of it and loved seeing his expressions.  He would excitedly tell me that she was right there and almost out.   He kept saying how crazy it was.  He and my Mom were both so supportive and encouraging and it made such a difference when I wanted to give up.  I’ll never forget when they placed my crying baby on my chest.  I just couldn’t believe we had made her and she was finally here. 

The next moments passed quickly.  They took Hannah for her measurements (7 pounds 11 ounces, 19.5 inches long) and early treatments and Mike followed her leaving me to be stitched up.  Finally, they brought her back and we did skin-to-skin and she quickly nursed for the first time.  It was so incredible.  The team cleaned up the room and disappeared leaving us to just be with Hannah the rest of the evening.   Holding our baby and seeing Mike with her was everything I could have imagined.  I couldn’t believe she was ours.  We all fell in love instantly and I’ve never been more grateful for anything in my whole life. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

A letter to my little

To my sweet little girl-
In a few days, you will enter this world.  I'm constantly imagining what it will be like to hold you in my arms for the first time and look into your eyes.  I picture your tiny body curled up in your Daddy's arms and I'm overwhelmed with emotion.  I dream of the days to come when you'll smile at us for the first time.  I imagine your first giggle and big belly laugh, your first words, and your first steps.  I truly cannot wait till the day you join our family and make us complete. 

The past 9 months have challenged me and redefined me in ways I wasn't expecting.  Worrying about you has taken over my every thought and nothing else seems to matter besides keeping you safe.  While I've been uncomfortable and scared for much of the time, I wouldn't trade any of it.  Feeling you roll and kick, hiccup and respond to our touch and our voices has been the most amazing experience.  I feel like I've learned a lot about you already (and I think we're in for a bit of a wild child) and I know, despite the struggles, I'll miss having you with me every second of the day.  At least for now I don't have to share your snuggles with anyone else. 

I'd always dreamed of having a little girl, but assumed I'd have a family of boys.  From very early on though, your Dad and I were just sure you were a girl.  Getting that ultrasound confirmation made me so excited to have a baby girl of my own.  I can't wait for mommy-daughter dates of shopping and manicures and girl-talk. I hope that one day we will be the best of friends. 

I cannot wait for you to meet your Daddy.  I think what excited me most about having a little girl was seeing him with you.  He is a truly great man.  He takes care of me and loves me so completely and I know he will be that and more to you.  I also know that I will have to be the "strict one" as he'll be wrapped around your little finger from the first moment he sees you.  He will spend his life loving you and trying to make you happy just as he has for me for the last 14 years.  I also hope with all my heart that you one day find a man as honest and caring as him.  I hope that his example inspires you to find the kind of love you deserve. 

Before you ever existed, I dreamed of you.  In some ways, I've been preparing to be your Mom since I was a high school girl in love with your Daddy and dreaming of our future together.  You were always meant to be mine, and I was always meant to be yours.  I'll spend the rest of my life wanting you to experience every wonderful thing this world has to offer and trying to protect you from every hurt.  I'm sure I'll fail many times as I learn to be your parent, but I hope you always know that I'm trying my very best for you.  You already inspire me to be a better person and I hope I make you proud to be my daughter.  I want so much for you out of life.  I want to encourage you and assure you that you can be anything you want to be.  I want to be there for you to wipe your tears in the hard times, laugh with you in the good times, and tell you how proud I am of you at every turn.  I will always, always be there for you.  I can't even begin to imagine all the fun we'll have on this journey. Thank you for making me a Mommy.  I cannot wait to meet you.  I will love you always little one.