Archive for the ‘Pregnancy’ Category

  • Life as a Parent

    Date: 2014.12.16 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Norah, Pregnancy, Sarah | Response: 1

    I’ve started to blog so many times over the past month, but then the chronic exhaustion sets in and I don’t think anyone wants to hear about the ridiculous morning sickness I went through or how tired I am all the time ( I don’t even want to think about it, after all). But, as one good friend told me over lunch today, blogging is one of the best ways to keep up with people. And she’s right! I miss writing and reading and sharing.

    I’ve always known that as a parent I’m constantly teetering on the edge of crazy, but sometimes I have to laugh at how much our kids have stomped their way so firmly into every aspect of our lives.

    Case in Point #1: Tonight was a particularly hard night. Both girls were exhausted. By 6:30 they had both dissolved into screaming baskets of tears and Mark and I kept giving each other those looks over their heads – you know the ones that say, “Oh my gosh I’m going INSANE GET ME OUT OF HERE.” We put them to bed at 7:15, then just looked at each other and shook our heads as the silence finally washed over us. And here I sit, not 10 minutes later pulling out prints of photos of them I’m giving as gifts and sharing them with Mark with a happy smile on my face. So yes, I may feel insane with their screams tonight, but I can still appreciate how adorable they can be less than 5 minutes after wanting to run out of the house screaming.

    Case in Point #2: My girls love Minnie Mouse and I  really wanted to get them Christmas Minnie’s for Christmas. Turns out that’s not something that’s easy to find. Disney likes to make things exclusive and even online I was having trouble finding what I wanted. A good friend and coworker was headed to Disney World, so I asked her to look for me. She found two of the most perfect Christmas Minnie’s, and when she handed them to me after she returned, I wanted to parade through the office and show everyone, even though I knew they would not get why I was so happy and excited. So I took them home and showed my husband who got nearly as happy about them as I was. That’s parenthood right there: a grown man getting excited about Christmas Minnie Mouse dolls.

    Case in Point #3: I don’t have much time off of work to spare these days with my numerous doctor appointments and my I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-going-to-do-about-time-off maternity leave coming up, but the few pitiful hours I’ve managed to scrape together have been happily traded in for field trips with Sarah. I’ve been with her to a farm out in the middle of nowhere to feed baby cows and goats and plant seeds and pick pumpkins. I’ve been to the local science center to watch an awful IMAX movie about Santa vs. the Snowman, and on Friday I will go to Sarah’s Christmas program where she will dress up as a shepherd (but we have to tell her she’s Mary, because otherwise she deems the costume unacceptable) and watch her sing her little heart out to “Away in a Manger” and I could not be more excited.

    I feel like little things like this come up all the time – these swings from absolute frustration to pure joy at the thought of our girls. These moments where we get so caught up thinking of their joy that it spreads infectiously into us.

    These twins are no exception to that. Morning sickness, exhaustion, impatience, fatigue: it all fades away (well mostly anyway) the moment I sit in front of the ultrasound screen and watch them shove each other around. Even now, exhausted at the end of the day, at the end of a long string of days, I’m smiling as I feel Baby A flutter in my ribs and Baby B shove on my bellybutton (though it helps that my husband just returned from a run to TCBY to help us eat away the stress of this evening).

    I am exhausted. I am worn out. And I may not always feel like sunshine, but man am I happy… especially when all the exhausted children happily and willingly go to bed early. :)

  • Your Burning Questions

    Date: 2014.11.11 | Category: Baby, Family, Friends, Life, Mark, Me, OMG YAY!, Pregnancy | Response: 4

    I have to admit, even through the shock and tears of finding out we were unexpectedly expecting twins, I have loved sharing our news with people and watching their reactions. People almost always fell into two camps: 1) They were overjoyed and extremely excited, or 2) They were vaguely horrified. The second camp was hilarious because I often found myself reassuring these folks that, no really, we were going to be ok. Everyone has been just as shocked as we are though, and their expressions and physical reactions have been hilarious. From yelling out obscenities to nearly choking, it’s been pretty entertaining.

    I’ve also found myself answering a few of the same questions over and over, so for those who are dying to know, here they are in no certain order.

    1)   Do you know if they are identical?

    We do know that they are not identical – they are fraternal. That has to do with their yolk sacs and the number of placentas. Plus, we just found out that they are a boy and a girl, so no chance of being identical there!

    2)   Do twins run in your family?

    Yes, there are lots in Mark’s family, but there are none in mine. Which is crazy, because fraternal twins come from the mother. Oh well, got to start somewhere I suppose!

    3)   How old are your girls?!

    When the babies are born, our oldest will be turning four and our baby will be 18 months. Yes, I know, it will be insane.

    4)   Are you going to move?

    Nope! We love our house and our neighborhood and we have way too many stressful things going on right now to be worried about trying to sell/buy a house and keep our house clean for people to look at. If we need to in a few years, we will look into it. In the mean time, I’m taking the advice of my good friend Katie and stacking those kids up.

    5)   When are they due?

    Well, that’s kind of complicated. Their 40week due date is May 4, but with twins they won’t let you go past 38 weeks, so the latest we would have them is April 20. In all likelihood though, we are going to do our best to make it to 36 weeks and hopefully have April babies.

    6)   Why did you wait so long to let people know you were expecting twins?

    I was very emotional and unsure of everything for a while and I had to come to terms things and arm myself with some of the comments I knew people would make so I wouldn’t take them to heart.

    7)   What do you mean? What kinds of things would people say?

    In no particular order: “Again?! Or Already?!”;  “You know how that happens don’t you?” (Me: Why yes, I have a very happy marriage, thankyouverymuch); “Your life is going to be insane.” Plus there’s always those looks from people who are obviously thinking, “Glad it’s not me!” Note: I know almost all of these people meant nothing mean or hurtful by their comments, but when a girl is already stressed and worried, sometimes she just needs to think happy thoughts.

    8)   But you look like you’ve lost weight!

    Hey thanks! Some of that I can take credit for. I dropped nearly 20 pounds before I got pregnant, and then once I got pregnant I dropped another 13 or so (not on purpose). Thanks morning sickness. I’ve been really struggling to put on any weight this pregnancy at all (and I NEVER thought that would be a problem, especially with two on board!)

    9)   What’s been different about this pregnancy compared to your others?

    Well, we’re still pretty early into this whole thing but there are some biggies: 1) Morning sickness. I had it with both girls, but never lost a significant amount of weight with it. It’s been more like all day and all night sickness this time and it’s lasting much longer. 2) Fatigue! But that is more than likely from taking care of two on the inside and two on the outside. 3) All the ultrasounds and doctor appointments have spoiled me this time. Instead of every four weeks, we go to the OB every two, plus a high risk appointment thrown in there so that I go to a doctor and have an ultrasound 2 or 3 out of 4 weeks of the month. It’s pretty amazing.

    10)  Are you ok?

    I really appreciate people’s concern, but I’m happy to let you know that, Yes! I really am ok and very happy and excited now. People have been private messaging me and calling me and offering to help in a variety of ways: from hand-me-downs to bringing food once they are born to throwing a diaper shower to coming to visit just to stay and help around the house while we adjust. I am constantly overwhelmed by the amount of love and support in our lives. We are more than ok, we are excited to welcome and meet the two new members of our family in the spring, and can’t wait for you to meet them, too!

    P.S. If you like this sort of thing, here is their most recent “picture.” Baby A is on top and is the girl, Baby B, the boy, is being crushed on the bottom. Poor little guy.

  • The Surprise: Part 2

    Date: 2014.11.03 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Pregnancy, Weirdness, Whoops | Response: 3

    I wrote this post about a week after we found out we were expecting twins. I know that this post may sound a little doom and gloom, but rest assured we are very happy and excited now… nearly two months after the fact. Still though, it never hurts to keep us in your prayers. Many of these worries still plague us!

    *****

    After we learned that we were unexpectedly expecting again, Mark and I settled into a state of disbelief and shock that manifested itself in a few different ways.

    I had to start acting pregnant again for one.  After previous progesterone problems with Sarah and Norah, I immediately had to have blood work done and schedule my first appointment. And then there was that whole not drinking wine thing and heating up my lunch meat again. The blood work came back and confirmed the pregnancy and things started getting real.

    Mark and I battled with worry. How would we provide for an additional child? We needed to get bunk beds for the big girls. Norah was only ELEVEN MONTHS OLD!  How was I going to tell work after not even a year back from maternity leave?

    All these questions continued to bounce around in our heads when we went in for our first OB visit. After filling out paperwork and saying hi to all my “old friends” at the office, we went in for our first ultrasound that would both confirm the pregnancy without any doubt and give us an idea of the baby’s due date.

    As we prepared for the ultrasound, I told the tech how I had always wanted three children, but we just weren’t prepared for it to happen so soon. She stared at the screen and said, “Well, what about four?”

    My heart dropped and I started to shake. Sure enough, up on the screen were two very distinct little babies, each in their own yolk sack with little heartbeats fluttering away.


    Our first ultrasound

    I cannot adequately explain the shock that went through my body. I yelled, “Holy shit!” very loudly and I think I scared the tech, though she laughed good-naturedly.  Mark sort of half laughed and we held hands and stared as she checked each baby and explained that they were fraternal twins (not identical), which is the very best situation for twins because they each have their own nutrition sources. There was a chance, of course, that one twin could dominate and we could lose one, but they both were the exact same size and both had good heart rates and looked very healthy.

    As we left the ultrasound room, we were the last people left in the waiting room. The ladies at the front desk were joking a little about “seeing us again so soon,” when I told them about the twins. The news drew a massive crowd of nurses and workers. “How old is your baby?” “How old is your oldest?” “Oh my gosh that’s going to be a lot of work.”  I continued to shake.

    We went to see our doctor from there.

    I love our OB. She delivered both my girls and has a very good sense of humor and is very direct about everything. She has been a great fit for us and knows us very well.

    She came in, turned the lights off and in a very calm voice said, “It’s going to be ok.”

    “You say that so calmly,” I said. “That’s because I don’t have to take them home,” she said and smiled.

    She then started explaining what we are looking at as far as the pregnancy goes. We would be getting an ultrasound every doctor’s visit and going to the doctor a lot more frequently. We would be seeing a high-risk pregnancy doctor. We went over past pregnancy history and she took a big sigh of relief.

    “I know you probably don’t want to hear this right now,” she said, “But you’re the perfect candidate for twins. You are tall, which will give them more room to grow and hopefully allow you to carry them longer. You’re young, you had two healthy pregnancies before and you have a stable family environment.” She was right, of course, but I just couldn’t process it all.

    We got home and told Mark’s mom who didn’t believe us until we handed over the ultrasound picture. She picked up congratulatory dinner for us. I could barely eat a bite, but Mark managed to eat like six pieces of chicken, all the sides and two biscuits. During dinner Norah started this fake choking thing she does to get attention. It completely freaked me out. Then she started laughing at me when I panicked and I broke into a horrific sob right there at the dinner table… and then ran to the bathroom and hurled.

    The number of emotions racing through me were unbelievable. I was terrified. How in the heck were we going to pay for childcare for FOUR children? Would we need to get a bigger house? We definitely needed two bigger cars… and then two of EVERYTHING – two carseats, two cribs, two highchairs and OH MY GOSH I would have FOUR children ages four and under.  I was a shaking, rattling mess. I called my family later that evening and they were amazing. They lifted my spirits and reminded me of the awesome support network I’m surrounded by in town. My mom and my youngest sister are both teachers and don’t work during the summer and they will be ready and willing to help.

    I’m not going to lie, it took me nearly a full week to be truly happy about the news. I found myself driving Sarah to school and simultaneously freaking out and then sobbing with joy.

    Here I was, the girl who was suppose to need help to conceive children, accidentally pregnant with twins while I had a 3-year-old and 11-month-old at home. It was insanity. It was a blessing.  It was a miracle.

    I can honestly say now that Mark and I are overjoyed. Yes, we are still worried about paying for four children and providing all that they need. Yes, I am worried about their health and welfare already. But, I truly believe that after all the trouble we had conceiving Norah, that the fact that we’re having twins is no fluke. Our babies may be a surprise, but they are a gift from God and we are ready, willing and excited to take up this gift and do our absolute best.

  • The Surprise: Part 1

    Date: 2014.10.31 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Love, Mark, Me, Pregnancy, Whoops | Response: 9

    I originally wrote this post a week after we found out we were expecting again in the first few days of September (before I knew the WHOLE story). I know I’ve been absent from blogging for a while, but sometimes when something like this is so life consuming and you’re not ready to share, it’s difficult to stare at that blank screen and write. So with this, get ready for my stream of ramblings to start up again!

    *****

    I need to write this down now, while the memory of that day still clings to me.

    But before I tell you about that day, let me tell you about the few days leading up to it. On Sunday I had been at my parents house hanging out with my family, celebrating my sister’s graduation with her Master’s degree and drinking a couple of glasses of wine. My heart started racing of its own accord, something not unfamiliar to me, but also something that hadn’t happened in a long time. I got it under control and chalked it up to the alcohol and sleep deprivation.

    Monday I went to my Piyo class, and during the sections of the class where we moved up and down, constantly changing elevation, my heart again started speeding out of control. I chalked it up to the elevation changes – even though I’ve been doing that class for a few months without any other problems before.

    Tuesday I went to lunch with my friend Angela, and we started talking about hormone changes, and I thought, “Oh that must be it, my cycle is about to start and that must be what’s causing these heart issues.”

    After lunch I checked my calendar to see when I was supposed to start and realized that I was very late – eight days late in fact. And then I remembered the last time my heart took off racing all the time: when I found out I was pregnant with Norah.

    I drove to the store and bought a two pack of pregnancy tests, but didn’t take them. Those things are kind of pricey and I didn’t want to waste one. I went home and put them in the cabinet and then settled down to a fun evening with my best friend who was in town for a few days. We drank wine, watched our girls play and had a great time. Shortly after she left that evening, Mark and I started arguing. Honestly I can’t even remember what it was about now, but that evening we had a long talk and he mentioned my short fuse and extreme impatience. I confessed to him then that I was worried because my cycle was late and my heart had been racing. He comforted me and reassured me that this wasn’t completely unusual and he was sure everything would be fine.

    Still though I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned and worried all night. Finally at 5:30 that morning, I decided I needed the reassurance of that little negative sign so I could get on with my day without fretting.

    I went to the bathroom, took the test and watched as the positive sign immediately showed up. I sat there in a state of shock muttering not a few profanities. Finally, 15 minutes later I pulled myself together and went back into the bedroom. I told Mark I needed to turn on the lamp and handed over the test. His immediate response was a disbelieving and reverent, “No way.” Then he immediately broke out into a huge grin. And me? Well I burst into tears and started sobbing.

    It’s hard to describe what I was feeling at that moment, but I’ll take a stab at it. For one, I was in complete and utter shock. I have always wanted three children, but I did not expect them to be quite so close together. Norah was only 11 months old and still nursing after all. We had so much trouble conceiving Norah, that I figured when we did get ready to try for a third, we would have to prepare ourselves for another year-long journey of months of hope and disappointment. I had even prayed about it and come to complete acceptance and happiness with having two children. In fact, part of me already felt like we were done. God had given us these two amazing little girls and we felt complete; we were happy. We had even started planning a big family trip for 2015.

    And then there was the overwhelming feeling of having three, THREE children ages four and under, with two very much still in diapers. How could we possibly manage it strategically, mentally and financially?

    And then there was a feeling of complete and overwhelming amazement and disbelief. I was told, after all, many years ago that conceiving children would be difficult and we would likely need assistance. And here we were, despite the fact that we were actively avoiding pregnancy, pregnant so quickly with a THIRD baby.

    Mark gazed up at me in that early morning hour as we sat alone in our bed, grinning at me and said, “It’s a miracle.” And truly, it is.

    I pulled myself together as best I could and, in a daze, took Sarah to school. I stayed for morning assembly where I learned that it was the feast day of Saint Monica, the mother of Saint Augustine. During morning prayer, all the children said a prayer for their mothers and all mothers. I felt my knees get a little wobbly. Following an inner call to go to Mass, I stayed for the school Mass that morning. The priest started by telling all the children who Saint Monica was and how she prayed desperately for her son and asked that the children pray for all mothers everywhere who are worried and in distress.

    If anyone was looking, I’m sure they were wondering why that crazy lady standing by herself had tears running down her cheeks for most of Mass. But I left there with a new perspective and a stronger feeling of joy. And though I’ve existed in a state of shock and disbelief for a week now and continue to worry about logistics and finances, I am so very thankful, so very blessed and so very happy.

    We will, I pray, welcome our third baby to this world in April of 2015. Here’s to the start of another great adventure.

  • The End of the Year

    Date: 2013.12.31 | Category: Baby, Family, Friends, Halloween, Health, Holidays, Home, Kitties, Life, Mark, Me, Norah, Pregnancy, Sam Cat, Sarah, Travel | Response: 1

    As I was looking back through photos from this past year, I found myself in awe over just how big my Sarah girl has grown. She looked like such a little baby way back in January, but now she is a big, talking, silly little girl. I’ve seen a lot of people complaining about 2013, but we, mostly, had a really fantastic year.

    I typed up a pretty lengthy summary, but feel free to skip all that and just watch the video. :)

    2013 from Jessica Rinaudo on Vimeo.

    In January we found out we were expecting another baby, which changed our whole world. Sarah would no longer be an only child, and my yearlong obsession with getting pregnant again came to a close. We let our families know we were expecting by allowing Sarah to walk into their homes proudly wearing a “Big Sister” shirt.

    In February we took Sarah to her first Mardi Gras parade – the animal parade downtown. We missed the others we had planned to take her to thanks to illness. She also got sick on Valentine’s Day  for good measure. We also got to see our little bean on the ultrasound for the first time that month too!

    In March I quickly discovered that pregnancies show much faster the second time around. We spent a lot of time playing outside and going to friends’ birthday parties. We spent Good Friday at the pediatrician’s office after Sarah landed herself with croup. This meant we couldn’t go to church for Easter, but Nana and grandaddy were willing to let her come around them, so we visited there and hunted down a few Easter eggs.

    In April Sarah turned two and we celebrated with a Alice and Wonderland themed “Mad Tea Party” in our backyard. Friends and family came and jumped in the bounce house and ate homemade cupcakes. A few days later my nephew Jacob turned two and we celebrated at his construction themed party. Sarah also got to meet her “Italian granny,” Sr. Martinette Rivers, while she was home for a month.

    May was super exciting! Not only did we learn that we would be having another little girl, but we took Sarah on a big vacation that included her first trip to Baton Rouge and New Orleans. We hit up the aquarium and ate lots of great food before heading to the beach in Florida. We stayed there with Susan and her family and had a great time in the sand and water. Sarah still talks about the beach all the time. We will have to plan another trip in 2014!

    In June my friend Tammy and her daughter Kiri came down for a visit from Indianapolis. I also got a new, bigger, family- sized vehicle that month to replace my tiny, but wonderful, Honda Fit. I also went to my conference in Denver in June with my friend Becki. In addition to the conference (where we won a big award for our magazine!), we ate at a lot of Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives restaurants, went to the top of a mountain and checked out some campy museums. That was the longest I’d ever been away from Sarah!

    In July our cat Sam ran away and never came back. We held out hope for a long time without any good news. We also went to Austin in July to visit our friends Dana and Scott. We spent a lot of time in the swimming pool with the kids, and I loved the comfort the pool gave my growing pregnant body. Mys sisters also threw me a “Baby Sprinkle” in July, where close friends and family came and brought lots of goodies for baby #2, including some much needed diapers!

    In August I started having excruciating pain in my right side that lead to several rush trips to the OB’s office and lots of tests. A GI doc finally figured out that I had a bulging ligament that was pressing on a nerve. When the baby would move a lot, she would hit that spot and it would get inflamed. It was horrible! We also went to Baton Rouge in August to see my Aunt Amy get married and I had a great time with my whole family and spent more time in the pool!

    In September my coworkers threw me a baby shower and we started preparing ourselves for Norah’s scheduled c-section on September 23. Due to some horrible problems with Sarah knotting up her hair, we took Sarah to get her first haircut. On September 11 I was rear-ended and, for the sake of my 9 month pregnant baby, was taken by ambulance to a hospital where I stayed overnight to make sure we were both ok. I also had a false labor run on my sister’s birthday, and then went into labor for real on September 20, three days before my scheduled section. We welcomed Norah into the world at 12:38 p.m. and were immediately in love with our beautiful little girl.

    I started October off by turning 29! Cassie came to visit from Pittsburgh and helped us clean and paint our house while she was in town. October is also  when we began the long, hard road of dealing with colic. Norah kept us up every single night screaming hour after hour after hour. It quickly unfolded into months of sleep deprived torture. Mark and I learned the true meaning of being a team and worked out a way to take shifts with her all night long. It was terrible. We also took both girls trick-or-treating in October. Sarah went as Olivia the pig and Norah as Minnie Mouse.

    November gave us no relief from the colic, but we learned that Norah loved the Moby wrap and we put her in that often. Sarah also learned to start sleeping through the long nights of screaming. We also took Norah to meet her great grandparents who live an hour away. We celebrated Thanksgiving at my parents house.

    In December we started counting down until Norah turned 12 weeks – the magical age when the doctor and several friends said colic usually stops. At 12 weeks and 4 days old, Norah slept through the night for the first time because she found her thumb. We rejoiced! We took the girls to meet Santa (Sarah hated him, Norah liked his beard). We decorated for Christmas and then celebrated it with our families. It’s also the month Norah got her first honest to goodness cold – the same cold the whole family managed to share just in time for the holidays.

    A new baby, a couple of big trips, a new car and a lot of love. You were good to us 2013!

  • Pregnancy and Body Image

    Date: 2013.10.03 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Life, Me, Norah, Pregnancy, Sarah, Style | Response: 33

    I have never been mistaken for being thin, and most of my life I’ve fought long, hard, guilty battles about my weight and body image – a battle I still continue to face today. The difference is, at one point I finally realized that I am who I am and I have to love the person I am now as much as the person I want to be.

    Pregnancy plays into all those insecurities about weight gain. I think almost all pregnant women are insecure about gaining weight, but being overweight to begin with makes it doubly hard. When I was pregnant with my first baby, I had visions of my belly transforming into a perfectly round little bump that shouted, “I’m going to have a baby!” Instead, it got kind of big, oblong and never round. It screamed, “I’ve had too many donuts!” It wasn’t until I was about eight months pregnant that I looked pregnant and not just overindulgent.

    To that end, when Kelly offered to do maternity photos as a gift to me when I was pregnant with Sarah, I turned her down. I hated how I looked and felt like I wasn’t the beautiful, glowing pregnant woman I had imagined myself to be. My boobs were huge, my belly was huge and misshapen and I just felt like I looked gross.

    Plus, when you’re pregnant, people love to comment on your size and touch your stomach. For someone who has always tried to hide both my size and my stomach, I did not take well to those things the first time around.

    After I gave birth to Sarah, I immediately tried to start dieting hard core. No one told me that doing this would mean my milk supply would virtually dry up to nothing. A couple of days of decreased milk supply and Google research later, I learned that I had to embrace eating to create plenty of milk and provide for the health of my own baby. And while all I wanted to do was “get the weight off right now” at the time, I continued to eat until I was full and tried to mostly stay away from bad foods (though, oh man, ice cream!)

    With time and patience and a year’s worth of breastfeeding, the weight came off on its own accord and I ended up weighing five pounds less than my starting pregnancy weight.

    When I found out I was pregnant the second time, I was determined to keep my established exercise routine up and not gain as much weight as I did during my first pregnancy. This hope was quickly dashed when I started having heart skips. That meant any exercising outside of walking was off the table. Still though, I persisted in walking for a while. Then my ligaments and my nerves started causing severe pain and it hurt to be on my feet for more than 5 – 10 minutes. I wasn’t put on bed rest, but there was no more walking around the neighborhood either. At first I let it get me down, but then, just as before, I realized I had to embrace the gain for the health of my baby. I chugged along and didn’t let it bother me (except for that one time at the OB’s office).

    In the end, I ended up gaining about three more pounds than I did the first time around. But it’s ok, because I know, just like last time, that I can and will get it off again.

    I regretted not having any maternity pictures with Sarah, even with my low self image at the time. So this time, I asked Kelly if she would snap a few of me with Sarah. These were taken SIX DAYS before I gave birth to Norah bean. Yes, I’m huge like the sun, but I love that I have these moments captured with Sarah who loved to kiss sister in my belly. I bravely posed for these photos and wanted to show Sarah that it’s great to be happy no matter your size and shape (especially when there is a little sister as the outcome). And Sarah responded in kind with love and hugs for mommy and Sister. Having photos to remember those moments by are way more important than trying to pretend like I wasn’t nine months pregnant and hiding from the camera.

    Here I sit now 12 days post partum. I finally got the courage to step on the scale. (Note to new moms: Do NOT step on the scale the same day you give birth, you will be horrified to see that your body does not immediately drop a ton of weight, or even the full weight of the baby. It’s depressing. Don’t do it. Trust me on this one.)

    At any rate, I stepped on the scale. I am officially down 18 pounds. And while that is a huge relief to see, that means the easy part is over. It’s those remaining 20 pounds that love to cling to my hips, my boobs and my belly. But this time, I’m not scared. I’m going to breastfeed, and as soon as I’m released to resume “normal activity” again post c-section, I’m going to put that stroller to the test and work up to getting back on the spin bike at the gym.

    To show you how brave I’m feeling right now, here is a photo of me tonight, 12 days post partum. Yes, there is a lot of toning that needs to happen. But most women don’t snap back like rubber bands after having a baby. I’m here to tell you that’s ok. It takes time. And, after all, look at that sweet little baby I have as my reward.

  • The Accident

    Date: 2013.09.13 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Mark, Me, Pregnancy, Sarah, Weirdness | Response: 18

    What a wild ride the past 36 hours have been.

    Wednesday evening I was driving home from work. I made a right turn and several cars were stopped up ahead of me on the street, waiting on another car to turn. So, I came to a stop and waited as well. I sat watching the cars in front of me, waiting for them to go so I could move on. Needless to say I wasn’t watching my rear view mirror, so imagine my surprise when I was suddenly catapulted forward after being hit from behind. It was a loud hit and I felt the impact radiate through my lower back and into my very pregnant belly. I pulled over and immediately tried to squash the rising panic that was growing inside of me.

    The lady who hit me pulled over as well and immediately started apologizing, then quickly hopped back in her car and sat there. Satisfied that she couldn’t drive off  because her car was destroyed, I called the police. The whole time I kept trying to get baby to move. About that time, my coworker, who was driving on the road going the opposite direction of mine, saw me and called out to me. She came over to sit with me until Mark arrived.

    The cops showed up in the mean time and were very concerned about my pregnant state as well. The police officer convinced me to let them call EMS and get checked out. The accident happened right near a fire station, so within minutes the sirens of a fire truck and ambulance were blaring up the street. They checked out my blood pressure and pulse immediately and were concerned about my back, hip pain and lack of baby movement.

    While all this was going on, Mark showed up with Sarah in tow. Sarah was completely terrified by all the lights and noise and just wanted her mama. After talking to my OB’s office, it was agreed that I needed to be transported to my hospital’s labor and delivery unit. Cue my first ambulance ride.

    I refused to be strapped to a board (can you imagine at 9 months pregnant??) But I did get loaded up into a stretcher and hoisted into the ambulance. I was so impressed by the kindness and professionalism of the EMS staff. The guy who sat with me in the back kept me calm. On the ambulance ride I finally felt baby move and he and I both relaxed some.

    The ride was a short one, but we had to go up the busiest street of our city during rush hour. That was entertaining. I heard them radio ahead to the ER, and the ER told them to go straight to labor and delivery. Once I got to L&D, Sarah had had enough of all the hooplah and jumped out of daddy’s arms into mine and got to ride on the stretcher with me the rest of the way, clutching to me like a little spider monkey.

    They took me straight into a room and hooked me up to a baby heart beat and contraction monitor. Once I heard baby’s heartbeat, I was finally able to let the anxiety go and the emotion of everything came crashing down around me.

    Baby was ok. I was ok. It was all going to be ok.

    Sarah was fascinated by baby’s heartbeat. She asked me what the noise was. I told her it was Sister’s heartbeat and she gave my belly a big hug. The nurse was so sweet and spoke to Sarah so kindly that Sarah relaxed too.

    After talking to the OB on call, they decided to keep me overnight for observation. We got the full workup with an ultrasound and got to see baby super crammed into my body. Her head is so low now that they couldn’t see it all fully, but they registered that the placenta, lungs, heart, kidneys, etc. were all fine.

    I spent most of the time in the hospital resting and dealing with the terrible soreness that was all over my lower back and hips. They gave me a muscle relaxer, which helped for about 4 hours and let me have at least a little bit of sleep.

    While I was there my OB came and checked me out, followed shortly by Sarah’s pediatrician who happened to see my name on the chart and asked my doctor if I was ok. She came in just to visit and make sure baby and I were both ok. The nurses were amazing too, always checking on me to make sure baby and I were ok. Mark brought them a big box of donuts in thanks. He’s already wooing them for when we go back in 10 days (10 DAYS) to deliver.

    I saw my doctor this morning and everything is fine. I think we were both surprised that the whole thing didn’t throw me into labor, but there are still no labor signs. Her husband is a lawyer and made her promise to share some sound legal advice with me on how to handle the insurance companies, etc. I took note and told my husband.

    And my car? Well it doesn’t look so bad from afar, but the bumper, back part of the car, hatch door and some of the steel underneath will have to be replaced to the tune of over $5500. It’s driveable at least, which is more than I can say for the other lady’s car.

    I am so thankful that Baby and I are both ok, and I am so thankful for the EMS team, the labor and delivery nurses, my doctor, my husband, my mom and my sister (who courageously tackled Sarah’s knotted up hair on picture day while I was in the hospital). I’m so blessed to be surrounded by so many caring people.

  • All is Out of Whack

    Date: 2013.09.04 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Pregnancy, Sarah, Weirdness | Response: 10

    The stress of Baby R.’s impending arrival is taking a toll on the whole family.

    I’m obviously at the most uncomfortable phase of this pregnancy. I can’t breathe, bend or be on my feet for any length of time. The ligament pain has gotten more frequent and worse, and insomnia has reared its ugly head. During the night I’m wide awake and restless, wanting to get up and run around the block a few times. Last night I wanted nothing more than to get up at 3:30 a.m. and pack our bag for the hospital, but I knew that would wake my husband up. I think the next time I get that compulsion to “get up and do something,” I’m going to finish organizing the nursery. Why not, right?

    And then during the day I’m exhausted of course. I’m sure this is all nature’s way of preparing me for baby, but dang it I want a normal sleep schedule!

    My stomach is completely squished now too. I feel sort of nauseous all the time now and I’m going back to my first trimester ways of not liking food at all – something that is completely out of touch with my normal way of life.

    And to add to all these fun things, I am HOT. I knew being 9 months pregnant during the hottest part of our year was going to be hard, but I didn’t expect to feel like I heater pointed at my entire body 24/7. I would be completely happy to walk around in my underwear all the time, but that might raise some eyebrows at work. This morning I gave up, stripped down to my undies and laid under the fan only to have Sarah come in the room and say, “Mama, where are your jammies?” She was very concerned.

    As a consequence of my physical limitations, Mark has been really picking up the slack – cooking, cleaning and taking care of Sarah. My pain was so bad Saturday that I gave up, retreated to the bedroom and just let him handle it. Sarah would come in and check on me every 30 minutes or so and say, “Mama ok? Mama all better?” It broke my heart!

    Sarah’s way of dealing with all of this is to twirl her hair into terrible knots all day and night. They are so bad sometimes that we end up pulling a ton of her hair out to get them out. She is now balding on the left side of her head and it looks terrible! The hair that’s left is all broken and short. We’ve tried pulling it up and keeping it away with no luck. She’s even taken to calling herself “knot head.”  I’ve researched it and apparently it’s a relatively normal way for toddlers to express anxiety and worry – one of the leading causes of which is a baby coming.

    It’s like we’re all sitting around on a time bomb now, just waiting for it to go off.  And while we’re all ready to just have the baby already, at the same time I’m nervous about how her arrival is going to catapult us into further chaos. But hey, at least then I’ll be so tired that any desire to run blocks around the neighborhood at 3 a.m. will be long dead.

    19 days guys, 19 days.

  • The Home Stretch

    Date: 2013.08.26 | Category: Baby, Family, Friends, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, OMG YAY!, Pregnancy, Sarah | Response: 10

    Well, we’ve made it to the final four weeks of pregnancy. Due to complications during Sarah’s delivery, we will have to have a c-section this go round. And while I was extremely anxious and upset about it when I found out, I have some great friends who had very positive experiences with their c-sections talk to me and tell me how great their experiences with their own were. My doctor, too, answered all my questions and allayed a lot of my fears about the whole thing. I’m just trying not to focus on the fact that I will be awake while they slice into my stomach, because that totally freaks me out.

    An unexpected boon to the scheduled c-section is that I have a concrete date in my mind for her arrival. She will be born on her scheduled date of September 23, or before. That’s my light at the end of this hot, huge tunnel.  I’m really happy about that date too because that’s the second day of fall and will make her a Libra like her mother. She will come right in between my sister’s birthday and my own birthday.

    As we wind down this pregnancy I’ve continued to struggle with bad ligament and nerve pain, both on my left and right sides. When it hits, it’s agony and I have to lay flat and take something until it subsides. This has cut me off from all photography gigs, both freelance and at work. And Sarah has figured out that she can get away from me by dropping to the floor where I can’t bend down and reach her. Little stinker.

    Speaking of Sarah, we pulled out her baby Minnie Mouse and she has been calling Minnie her baby and being absolutely adorable with her. She rocks her, sings to her, carries her around, puts her down and covers her up for “night night” time (though we did have to talk about how we don’t throw baby on the floor when we’re tired of her). Sarah has also started clearly labeling things as “Sister’s clothes” or “Sarah’s toys,” making it clear what she’s ok with Sister having and what is irrevocably her own.

    I’ve also been so surprised and thankful by several extremely thoughtful gifts from my girlfriends. I didn’t really expect much for baby #2, but it’s like my friends are taking it on as a challenge to find the perfect things.

    Kacie sent me a package from Sephora with bath stuff for baby and bath stuff for mama. Susan picked out the perfect prints for baby’s room. Stevi sent me diapers and baby Tylenol (aka mama’s savior).

    And Becki? Well Becki drove all the way to Dallas to stand in line at an event she didn’t have tickets for so she could see and record Neil Gaiman (my favorite author), and then get him to sign books dedicated to me and my girls. I still tear up when I think about it. I quizzed her on him, of course, and she said he seemed just as wonderful in person as I think he is.

    I have the best friends and the best family. Little Sister has no idea what a great group of people she’s being born into.

  • Pregnancy Round Two: It Ain’t No Joke.

    Date: 2013.08.07 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Home, Life, Mark, Me, Pregnancy, Sarah | Response: 7

    Here lately I’ve found myself reminiscing the days of my first pregnancy when I would get home from work and lay on the couch. So tired, I would watch tv while Mark went and picked up Taco Bell or Newks or whatever food I happened to want at the time while I laid there and rested before finally moving myself from the couch to the bed and going to sleep.

    Gone are those days my friends. Leaving work now means that on the 10 minute drive home I mentally prepare myself for what is waiting on me at home. I love having a two-year-old and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, but there is no more laying on the couch and resting these days.

    Even with Mark working overtime to do dishes, help prep dinner and take on many of the physical things that I can no longer do, there is a mischievous little girl who needs tending to. And while we occasionally still pick up dinner, financially and for health reasons it’s best for us to cook at home, and so we usually do.

    Yesterday when I got home we all went to the grocery store. We’ve discovered that it’s easiest to divide and conquer at the store and Sarah loves going. After shopping, there’s the 100+ degree heat we had to go through to get out, load up and unload. Then we put all the groceries away. Then it was time to prep dinner and eat, then rotate and fold and put away laundry. By the time I finished that I was beyond exhausted and planted myself on the couch. I happily let Sarah watch a show while she ate a cookie, so content to have her sit at my feet while I lay there for 20 minutes before the bath and bed time ritual began…. Back on my feet to help get her ready and put her down, then finish up a few chores, freelance work, etc.

    Then, every night, I find myself staying up WAY too late so I can enjoy some down time to myself either watching TV or reading a book before I go to sleep.

    My favorite moments these days are the first moments of the morning when Sarah wakes up. She runs into our room, crawls into bed and turns into a lovey little snuggle bug. Sometimes she brings a book for us to read (or for her to “read” to us), sometimes she brings a stuffed animal and sometimes she grabs my iPad. But mostly she just wants to snuggle, giggle and enjoy 20-30 minutes of uninterrupted time with mommy and daddy. And I absolutely love it. Every morning I wish I could play hooky and stay that way with our girl in bed, but I know it would end. It always does when Sarah declares, “EAT!”

    I know things will only get more challenging soon, though I do relish getting some of my physical mobility back. And, oh, how I look forward to finally holding Baby R.! In the mean time, I’m trying to cherish these last few weeks of having an only child and a semi-organized way of life. I remember adjusting to the “new normal” when we first brought Sarah home, and we will do it again – all four of us.

    p.s. I’m going to live. All the pain I’ve been experiencing is from a very angry, bulging ligament in my right side that should subside after baby is born. In the mean time I’ve just got to deal. I can do it. Right?