Archive for September, 2013

  • Norah: The First Few Days

    Date: 2013.09.25 | Category: Baby, Family, Life, Norah, Photography | Response: 9

    After the no camera for the delivery debacle, we charged the DSLR and got a few shots of Norah’s first few days, all in the hospital. I love how big facial features always look on little tiny babies.

    And I also love how much her cheeks chubbed up in 24 hours! Yay for a healthy eater!

  • Norah’s Birth Story

    Date: 2013.09.24 | Category: Baby, Family, Health, Life, Mark, Me, Norah, OMG YAY!, Weirdness | Response: 16

    Norah’s birth story actually began almost a week ago. Last Tuesday evening I was feeling bad and achy all over. There was pain and pressure in my lower abdomen, and I wasn’t sure if it was being caused by baby, or by contractions. My memory of contractions, after all, are of ones induced by Pitocin – aka contractions on steroids. These were uncomfortable, but not unbearable. I started texting and then talking on the phone to my friendly baby birthing expert Cassie. Together we decided that yes, these were indeed contractions. I waited and timed them over the course of about three hours before deciding to go to the hospital and get checked out. As these things often go, shortly after I got to the hospital, the contractions slowly tapered out until they came to a grinding halt. My cervix wasn’t progressing and it ended up being a late night for everyone involved with no baby to show for it.

    My body stayed pretty calm on Wednesday and most of Thursday. Then Thursday evening things started feeling weird again. My extremely happy mood that had lasted all day and into a cleaning spree that evening, suddenly tanked. It felt like baby had balled herself up into the bottom of my pelvis and was trying to roll herself out. A storm was rolling in that night and the moon was full. Sarah was restless too. Normally a great night sleeper, she came into our room three times that night and, for the first time ever, ended up sleeping in the bed with us cuddled up next to me.

    Friday morning, I had my regularly scheduled OB appointment. I went in and told my OB of all that had gone on that week. I told her I was “cramping” a lot. She asked me if I was sure I wasn’t having contractions. I wasn’t. She wanted to get me hooked up to a monitor and see what was going on. Before she did that though, she checked my cervix. Afterwards she looked at me and said, “We are going to have a baby today.” Sure enough, I was dilating and contracting and baby was on her way.

    Because I had to have a c-section, I left her office and went straight down to labor and delivery to get prepped while Mark went home and packed a few bags. They started the IV and did all they needed to to prep me for surgery. I waited about another hour, enough time for family to show up, then was wheeled back to the OR.

    It’s weird. I had been fretting and nervous about this c-section for 9 months, but when it came time to do it all my nerves and fear were gone. Even moving myself onto the OR table, I was ok. I attribute my unexplained calm to getting my nerves out during my test run on Tuesday night, the anointing I had at church prior to the surgery, the awesome people working at the hospital and a lot of prayer.

    To have a c-section you have to have something called a spinal block – they essentially insert a needle into your back and block off all feeling from the boobs on down. Apparently since I’m tall, I had to have a big dose. It is such a strange feeling. First my legs got super warm, then tingly and then they were nothing but dead weight. They lowered me down, raised the sheet, and then I started feeling like I couldn’t breathe and was going to puke. I let the anesthesiologist know, and then I suddenly had oxygen, anti-nausea meds in my IV and a fan on my face. Just like that I was back up and going again.

    It was a surreal experience being in the OR awake. All the doctors were talking about music and their kids. Mark walked in all suited up and ready to go and they told him that they had already started – which was news to me! I had no idea! The only thing I could feel at all was the occasional tugging up near my ribs. No pain or pressure at all.

    Turns out we were so unprepared to have this baby that both the cameras we brought had dead batteries and both our phones had been left back in the room. Our anesthesiologist, who was amazing, was razzing us about being a computer guy and a photographer and not having a functioning camera for the delivery of our own child. And then she obligingly took some photos for us with her phone.

    Norah came roaring into the world at 12:38 p.m., and I do mean roaring. That girl has got a set of pipes on her that had everyone in the room laughing. She was all wrapped up in the umbilical cord – from her neck on down to her waist. She also had a firm grip on the cord and refused to let go, much to the humor of the OB’s working on me. Her screams immediately sent me into a wave of tears and continued unbounded as they brought my girl around the curtain to meet me. She was big and healthy and beautiful.

    She weighed in at a robust 7lbs, 13 oz and was 19 inches long – nice and big for a baby born nine days before her due date!

    The doctors stitched me up and took me back to the recovery room where they finished cleaning up baby and brought her to me. One of the first things I noticed was how different she seems to look from her sister. They have common features, like their lips, but overall they look so different. The general consensus is that she looks like me, but babies change quickly and often in their first couple of months.

    We stayed in the hospital two nights, and it proved to be a much better experience overall than my first stay when I delivered Sarah. The nurses were great, the hospital wasn’t overcrowded and it was a weekend – which meant  our family members could come visit without the stress of work. Sarah got sick over the weekend, so she didn’t get to meet Sister up close until we brought her home – but that’s another story for another day. For now I’m enjoying my super laid back baby girl, Baby Norah.

    Welcome to the world my girl, we love you.

  • We had a baby!

    Date: 2013.09.21 | Category: Baby, Family, Life, Love, Norah, OMG YAY! | Response: 5

    Welcome to the world Norah Kathryn! We already love you so much.

    7lbs, 13oz and 19 inches long.

    Birth story to follow, but for now we are going to try to sleep.

  • First Hair Cut

    Date: 2013.09.19 | Category: Family, Life, Me, Sarah, Toddler Time, Weirdness | Response: 3

    So, as I’ve mentioned before, Sarah has gotten really bad about this hair twirling thing. She twirls and twirls until the left side of her head is a giant collection of tiny little knots. One morning she managed to fashion her hair into a sort of beehive that would have put many an old lady to shame. And while I can manage to untangle some, we have had to cut equally as many out and it breaks her hair in the process.

    Needless to say the left side of her hair looks absolutely terrible. Not only is she now balding on that side, but all the hair had been trimmed or broken off, making her look lopsided.

    When Sarah’s pediatrician dropped by to check on me in the hospital last week, I asked her about it. Apparently some kids twirl to relieve anxiety or stress, which could easily be caused by the impending arrival of Sister. She said most kids grow out of it by the time they are 3 or so. Mark, however, was (and still is) a hair twirler, and it’s worse when he’s tired, just like Sarah.

    Saturday I finally had enough and texted my friend Kelly who cuts my hair. She advised me to bring Sarah in so we could trim up her hair, cutting off the thin ends and making it less likely to knot.

    So Tuesday I took Sarah to the hair salon for the first time. She wasn’t thrilled with the idea of sitting in the chair by herself, but she was willing to sit in my lap, so we went with it.

    She did a really great job and was thrilled that she got to play with Mrs. Kelly’s different colored hair brushes and clips.

    When it was all said and done, we ended up bobbing her hair so that it looks more even all around. It’s also a lot thicker now that we cut all the thin, nasty stuff off the bottom. And while I was anxious about getting it cut, I ended up really loving it. And she does too!

    Sarah got a certificate for her very first cut, complete with a lock of hair tucked in it.

    For being such a good girl I told her she could have any treat she wanted. She opted for a cupcake, so we went to Julie Anne’s Bakery and enjoyed.

    And while it totally looks like she’s taking a selfie in that last photo, she was in fact trying to poke me in the eye with a plastic fork. Kids.

    She looks like such a big girl now!

  • Life’s Surprises

    Date: 2013.09.17 | Category: Baby, Family, Friends, Health, Home, Life, Me, Sarah, Work | Response: 3

    This is my last week of work before baby arrives. Some people have made it clear that they think I should be at home by now… I guess sitting around and waiting on baby? True, last time the week before baby arrived I was home, but that was only because I landed myself with a terrible upper respiratory infection.  This time I’ve opted to keep on going. After all, the only thing I’d be doing at home is sitting around, staring at my feet and making myself even more anxious. Maybe baking. I’ve been doing a lot of that to relieve pre-baby anxiousness. But then I would eat all the baking too.

    Plus, I have a mostly desk job and I’d rather be sitting around doing something, keeping my mind off of things and earning a paycheck.

    I’ve been surprised by how much pre-baby anxiety I’ve been facing this time. But it’s not about what you would think. I’m not worried at all about having another baby or bringing baby home. I’ve done that before. I have every confidence that I can do that again, and hopefully better this time.

    Instead I’ve been waking up at 3 am worrying about the financial implications of having another baby, work while I’m out and how Sarah will do when I bring baby home – and how she’s going to be while we’re at the hospital for that matter. I also worry about the actual process of the c-section and pray that my mind will be in a good place that day.

    Yesterday was the hangover from one such night. I got to work tired and anxious and had trouble focusing on everything. The work day slowly clicked into place though, and I went about tying up lose ends and settling into the daily rhythm, focusing on other things.

    On my lunch break I went to the police station and collected the police report on my car accident and learned, much to my great relief, that the other driver did have car insurance. I’m not sure what all it will cover health bill wise, but it will definitely cover all the damage to my car. We will wait and see what happens now.

    After lunch I learned that our magazine had been recognized in a national newspaper again – this time for a story I wrote on some local kids who went to World Youth Day in Brazil! That gave my spirits a huge lift and the great boost in confidence I needed.

    And then, at the end of the day, something really amazing happened. I can’t go into all the details here, but through the kindness of people I work with, one in particular, I learned that I will not have to stress about finances during the course of my maternity leave. This is the biggest blessing I could have ever hoped for. I teared up and felt a huge weight slide off my shoulders. Suddenly, I could breathe again and move forward during the last week of my pregnancy with one of the anxiety balls that’s been sitting in my stomach gone.

    Not to be outdone, after work, both of my sisters came by to return my jogging stroller. And while I was fixing dinner, they took it upon themselves to clean up my living room.

    It’s days like yesterday that really open my eyes to how really and truly blessed I am by God and the people in my life.

    Now, today we try to do something about Sarah’s hair twirling problem that has spiraled out of control.

    Six more days.

  • 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.