Friday, December 14, 2012

Ella and the Fur Babies

One of the questions I have gotten since Ella's arrival is "what do the dogs and cats think of Ella?"  That  is a great question.  Fortunately, the answer is everyone is getting along just fine.  But I was pretty worried that wouldn't be the case. 

What We Did to Prepare the Dogs
All the pets, but especially the dogs, were used to being the center of our world.  Early  in my pregnancy, like 8 weeks early, we started to retrain the dogs.  We set new rules- no dogs on the couch unless invited, sitting and waiting to eat, reduced number of toys (on the rare occasion Oliver and Matilda would fight, it would almost always be over a toy).  Slowly, the dogs got the hang of the new routine.  While I know it was hard for both Seth and I to enforce new rules, it would be so much sadder if we had to re-home any of our babies because we didn't properly prepare them.

After Ella was born, we sent a couple blankets with her scent on them with my mom (the dogs were staying with her), so that they could learn the new smell.  When we got home, Seth went in the house first and greeted the dogs.  Then he came out and got the baby and I went in and greeted the dogs.  We then set Ella, in her car seat, down between the two of us on  the couch.  Matilda was very interested in what was happening.  She jumped up on the couch (bad Tilly) and gave the baby a good once over.  Oliver was a bit more hesisitant.  He actually growled at the car seat (we weren't surprised- Oliver is a bit of a head case), so we let him out for an hour and tried again.  This time, we held the baby and hid the car seat.  He slowly approached the baby and gave her some good sniffs.

And that was that.  Ever since everyone has been fine.  The dogs are freakishly protective of the house.  We have to know when people are stopping by so we can make sure they are out (Matilda actually tried to nip a guy delivering flowers).  As much as everyone is fine with Ella, each pet has a different approach to her.

Matilda meeting Ella

Tilly is out oldest baby (6 1/2!) and is used to being Seth's little princess, but like I said, she showed great promise in the beginning.  But she hasn't exactly warmed to the baby.  She likes to sniff Ella, but if you try and put that baby down anywhere near her, she runs away.  When Ella cries, she always checks to make sure she is okay, but then retreats to another room.  I don't worry that Til would ever hurt Ella, she just isn't particularly interested.  We are 100% sure that will change as soon as Ella can drop food on the floor.

Oliver snuggled with Ella during nap time (excuse the unmade bed)

Ella is Oliver's baby.  This was very surprising.  He took a while to warm up to her, but as soon as he figured out he could give her kisses, he was sold.  Now whenever I put Ella down for a nap on our bed (she sleeps better that way), Oliver can be found snuggled right up to her.  We figure that he will want to sleep with her once she is in a big girl bed in a few years.  It makes my heart happy to know that Ella and Oliver will be best buddies for years to come.

Ava trying to get some attention too

Ava seems to be a bit jealous of the baby.  One day, I had Ella in the carrier and was working at the computer.  Ella climbed on my lap and proceeded to lie down on top of the baby.  I shewed her off and haven't had a repeat performance.  Since then, Ava has warmed a little to the baby.  She was hanging out on the back of the chair while I was burping Ella a few days ago and Ella got the biggest smile on her face and giggled at the cat.  I don't think Ava was amused, but she's coming around.  She also enjoys new places to sleep- mainly the changing pad and Ella's chair.

Henry says "What baby?  This chair is for me."

I'm not entirely sure Henry is even aware that someone else has joined our family.  He definitely likes to come visit when I am feeding Ella in the morning, but like I said, I don't think he realizes that I am up for any reason to do anything other than pet him.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Time is Here...

I really love Christmas.  This holiday combines a lot of the things I enjoy- cooking, spending time with my family, driving Seth crazy, and decorating.  This weekend, we finally got around to that last one.  I try hard not to go over board and I think I usually do a pretty good job.
The Christmas tree is up (sorry for the kinda blurry picture).  The only presents we've gotten around to wrapping are the ones Seth picked out for Ella.  I am a little behind this year.

The baby artificial tree I got in college is up on the sideboard.  In a few years, I imagine Ella will have a blast with this one.
And the stockings are up.  Seth and I both have our stockings from when we were young and we ordered a similar knit stocking for Ella.  I like that the stockings don't match, it kinda shows how our family has been built over the years. 

We also have wreathes on both doors and lights up on the fence, but that is it.  The house feels Christmasie (Christmasy?) without feeling obnoxious.

I really am so excited for this Christmas! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin, Beets, and Kale

It's been a while since I have posted any recipes or meals.  Mostly that is because dinner is now whatever I can make in between feedings, diaper changes, and load of laundry.  I have found that anything I can throw in the oven for a solid chunk of time is really helpful.  This whole dinner took 45 minutes, with most of that being cooking time.  In addition to being easy and fast, this dinner was super tasty and pretty healthy.

Pork Tenderloin stuffed with Goat cheese, Spinach and Cranberries

1 pork tenderloin
handful spinach
2 oz. goat cheese
1/4 c. dried cranberries
1/4 c. balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing

Preheat over to 350.

Butterfly your pork tenderloin and pound until thin.  Sprinkle 2 oz. of goat cheese over the pork.  Layer spinach on top of cheese.  Sprinkle cranberries on last.

Roll up your pork and place seem side down in a baking dish.  Coat with salad dressing.

Bake 35 minutes or until cooked to satisfaction (I like my pork with a bit of pink).

Roasted Beets

Peel and slice your beets (3 beets is plenty for Seth and I).  Coat with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Place in covered baking dish (cast iron works wonderfully).  Roast at 350 for 40 minutes.


Wash your kale well (it can be gritty).  Pull the steam out of each leaf and tear into bite sized pieced.  Get a pan and just a bit of olive oil  pretty hot.  Dump in a bit a kale, it should crackle and pop a little bit.  Turn it until it starts to wilt.  Add more kale.  Repeat until all your kale is cooked down.  I like mine on the less done side of thing (wilted, but not limp).  Toss your cooked kale with the juice of 1/2  a lemon and a sprinkle of coarse salt.  The cooking process generally takes about 5 minutes.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

One Man's Trash...

Its no secret that I am perfectly willing to pick up things off the side of the road in hopes of restoring them in some fashion (I come by it naturally- my mom is the queen of finding roadside treasures).  So when I was out running a summer ago (yes more than a year ago) and I found this beauty, I had to go  back and get it...
Yes, thats right- an old school chair, plastic seat and all.  I placed this sweet little chair on the front porch with promises that I would make it pretty real soon.  And that didn't happen.  The chair ended up sitting there, unloved, for well over a year.  Whoops. 

But with the impending arrival of Seth's family for Thanksgiving, I finally found the motivation to make this lovely actually lovely.
 I started by taking the chair apart and sanding it well. 
I spray painted the frame oil rubbed bronze.  The light fixture on the porch is ORB, so I figured a darker frame would go better.
 I spray painted the sets green.
 And put it all back together...

And placed it back in its home on the porch.

Like most projects I tackle, this was insanely easy and fast.  It really is embarrassing that it took me so long to finally get this done, especially because it looks SO much better.  I think the chair needs a plant or something sitting on it.  Hopefully it wont take me more than a year to get on that...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Thanksgiving revisited

So Thanksgiving, right?  I know, I am a little behind.  Even though it was only a little over a week ago, its already been long forgotten in the rush that is the Christmas season.  But I'm not ready to let it go yet, plus these recipes would all be great for Christmas!

Before I go on much further, let me say I actually impressed myself.  The day was a bit nutty between making dinner, running the dogs back and forth to my moms house, feeding the baby, and enjoying time with my in-laws, but dinner was on the table by 4 and it was mighty tasty.

Lets start- you remember the plan?  I followed it to a T.

The Pork- OMG, the pork.  I skipped the pan sauce, but holy cannoli this was amazing!  Please, promise to make it for a gathering.  Its super simple and way tasty.

The Stuffing- also really good.  I meant to add bacon to the recipe, but forgot.  Seth commented that it was "very appley," which I take as a good thing.

The Carrots- if I could skip one recipe, this would be it.  They weren't bad. so much as they were just meh...

Mashed Taters- I wish I has paid attention cause my MIL knows her way around a tater...  Those suckers were good.  She tells me the secret is evaporated milk and lots of butter.

The Kale- MAKE THIS ONE NOW...  Do not wait for a special occasion, it is amazing!

Cranberry Sauce- generally, I just kinda make up my own recipe and it always turns out just fine.  This year, I decided to take the easy route and used a recipe.  It was excellent and it was so nice to use the crockpot instead of worrying about another pot on the stove.

Pecan Pie- I am not generally a pecan pie kinda girl, but this pie was pretty freakin good.  Give it a try.

Apple Pie- Much like the kale, I demand you make this pie.  I did tweak the recipe just a bit.  I just poured the sauce over the apples and then did a crumb topping.  It was pretty awesome.

That was my Thanksgiving- it was tasty and fairly easy to pull off.  How did everyone else fair?  Anybody started to think about Christmas dinner yet?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Lets Talk Turkey...

Or rather, lets not, since I don't plan to make a turkey (blasphemy I know).  But lets back just a bit...  This Thanksgiving, we will be hosting Seth's family- his mom, brother, sister in law, and 13 month old niece.  I am very excited to see my in laws and celebrate Ella's first Thanksgiving. 

But, like I said, I will not be making a turkey.  Simply, neither Seth nor I like turkey.  I find even  the best cooked turkey to be boring and I don't like boring when it comes to my food.

The only turkey we'll see on Thursday is the one on Ella's sweet bottom
So what will I be cooking?  So glad you asked...

Before dinner, I will have a few cheeses, some crackers, hummus, carrots and celery set our for munching.  I know one of the cheeses will be have to be goat cheese since Miss E seems to have a dairy sensitivity and I cannot say no to a cheese plate.

The star of the dinner will be a pork crown roast with a pecan apple stuffing.  We will also have braised kale, glazed carrots, cranberry sauce, spiced peaches if I can find them) and my mother in law's mashed taters.  I am sure my papa would be ashamed that I am skipping the picked watermelon rind...

And for dessert I will be making a pecan pie and an apple pie.

Most of these recipes are new to me, so there is always the chance that some dishes will fall flat.  However, I am pretty selective about choosing recipes, so I am hopeful that everything will turn out a-okay.  Plus everything seems pretty straight forward, so kitchen chaos should be minimal.  I'll be back sometime after the holiday with a full debrief.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

One of the many things I love about my husband is that he not only tolerates, but supports and encourages me to pick up things off the side of the road.  Imagine my delight when he came home with this ugly ass mirror...
He pulled it our a garbage can.  The things we do for love...  

Other than the light oak colored laminate and fake marble pieces (see below for picture), this baby had some real potential.  It is huge and has a nice shape to it.  I hoped a little spray paint could fix her right up.  But I was also knew there was the chance that no amount of spray paint could save this puppy.  Since the  mirror was free and spray paint is only $4 a can, I decided to go for it.

 Yes, those would be laminate counter top bits on top...  Oh my...

I started by wiping everything down really well and tapping newspaper over the actual mirror.  And then it was time for Valspar's metallic silver spray paint.

It only took a few coats to make this baby look good as new.  It even covered the laminate counter bits perfectly.  Having the frame in just one color (not two different types of laminate and metal) made a huge difference- it looks much more cohesive. 

And then it was time to hang it.  I forgot to take pictures of the mirror that was in this spot before, but don't worry it has a new home. 
I love that the mirror has similar detailing as the sideboard.  And  the scale of the mirror is much more appropriate based on how big the side board is.

Anyone else redeem a piece with some spray paint?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

A Day

I love when bloggers do "a day in my life" posts.  Its so much fun to see how other people spend their days.  Before Ella, my day was so predictable and routine- wake up, hurry out the door, work, hurry home, go for a walk, make dinner, watch TV with Seth, go to bed.  Now, days are dramtically different, so I present a day...

5:30am- Ella is starting to bang around and its been 6 hours since her last feeding.  I get her up, change her diaper and feed her.  She eats pretty fast, but because she has reflux I need to hold her upright for a while before I can put her back to sleep.

6:30am- Ella is finally back to sleep, so I turn the light off and go back to sleep myself.

7:00am- Seth's alarm goes off.  He hits the sleep button until 7:30, when he gets up and goes for a run.

8:15am- I wake up.  Seth changes Ella's diaper and I feed her again.  We watch an episode of West Wing.

9:05am- Seth leaves for work. 

9:15am- I get out of my PJs, make up the bed, and start a load of diapers.  I make breakfast (instant oatmeal).  I then try to eat breakfast while holding the baby and checking email.  I mess around on the internet for a while.

10:30am- Ella needs a bath, so we set all that up  and have a grand old time in the bath tub.  After she's clean and dressed, its time to feed her again.  Because of the reflux, its better for her to have shorter, more frequent meals, so she eats every 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

11:10am- Seth comes home.  I hang diapers out on the line to dry and start another load of laundry.  We bundle Ella up and go for a walk.

12:00pm- We're home from the walk and Ella is zonked out.  We take the opportunity to eat together without having to hold the baby (a rare luxury).

12:45pm- I lay down to read and Ella spits up all over us.  We both change clothes.

1:05pm- The little bird is hungry and wanting her next meal.  I change her and feed her.

1:35pm- Lunch seems to be staying down, so I strap Ella into the car seat and we run to the bank real fast.  She falls dead asleep in the car.

2:00pm- Home from the bank and Ella is still sleeping.  I take advantage of the quiet and get some school work done.

3:15pm- Ella is still asleep, but its time to feed her again.  I wake up her, change her diaper, and feed her.  We watch another episode of West Wing.

4:00pm- I can't handle sitting in front of the TV anymore, so I strap Ella into the carrier.  We head outside and get the diapers off the line.

4:10pm- I figure I should start a blog...

5:00pm- The dogs are getting crazy cause its dinner time for them.  Seth gets home.  I realize I don't have anything for dinner, so I hand the baby off and run to Earthfare to grab something.

5:30pm- Time to feed the baby again.  Seth changes her, hands her back to me, and then heads out for a meeting.

6:00pm- Nighttime fussiness starts.  I throw Ella into the carrier and try to eat dinner.  Both hands free is nice, but its hard not to spill on her.

7:00pm- Baby is asleep in the carrier, so I read a bit and try and get comfortable.

7:45pm- Ella is awake and hungry.  Time to feed her.

8:00pm- Seth gets home.  The dogs bark.  Ella cries.  Its been a long day.

8:30pm- We finally figure out that she is crying because she is bored.  We break out the play mat and she happily flails around for a while.

10:30pm- Time for bed.  Ella gets a diaper change and pjs and I feed her one last time.  She goes back to her dad for a little bit for snuggle time and I head to bed.  She sleeps 6-7 hours a night, so I am officially done for the day.

In all, this is a pretty typical day for us- lots of sitting around feeding the baby.  And you are correct- I didn't get a shower in, but I did brush my teeth and the bed got made up (win).  I never thought my life would look like this, but for now, I am pretty glad it does.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

1 month

On Sunday, Ella turned one month old.  The last month has gone by so quickly- a bad sign, I am sure, since I am told that the time just keeps going by faster and faster.  Already, she is growing and changing so fast- it amazes me.  Her newborn clothes are put away and the newborn napper is out of the pack and play (I cried when all that happened).  Seth and I laugh when people comment about how little she is because, to us, she is already SO much bigger (and getting to be such a little chunk).  Instead of just gushing on about my child, I figured I would present 10 things I have learned this month...
  1. Babies are noisy... or at least mine is.  I thought I would be up all night, unable to sleep because I would be so anxious about whether she was breathing or not (which really isn't an issue since we have this handy little monitor), but instead I am up all night because she makes so much racket.  She grunts, groans, coos, knocks around, and even makes something that can only be described as a satanic goat noise.  Charming.
  2. Laundry is no joke.  I used to run 3 loads a week- one for me, one for Seth, and one with sheets and towels.  Now, I run at least 1 load a day.  And things get ugly real fast if that laundry doesn't get folded and put away the same day.  It is beyond me how someone so little can make so much laundry.
  3. Free time is hard to come by.  Before Ella arrived, I had this naive little notion that I would have plenty of time to do projects, make tasty things, do school work, and generally get my act together.  I know all you experienced parents are laughing at me, and I am laughing at me too.  Between feedings, diaper changes, the endless piles of laundry, trying to keep the house from descending into complete chaos, and trying to get an occasional nap, I don't have time to get much else done.  My to do list is laughably long and not getting much shorter.
  4. Breastfeeding is much easier than I thought it would be.  I know that isn't the case for every woman and, honestly, I was pretty anxious about the whole thing.  But I seem to have lucked out. She has been a champ since day one- great latch and a very fast feeder (yay for getting back to bed faster).  Plus I haven't had any pain, bleeding, or cracked nipples (always a plus).
  5. Baby carriers are a god send.  Ella is a really easy baby for the most part, as long as she is being held and that is a problem sometimes.  But, the remedy is pretty easy since we have two fantastic carriers (a britax and a k'tan, I recommend both!).  Honestly, wearing the baby bit is the only way I can get anything done.
  6. Family is wonderful, and by family I mean those related to you and those that become family.  We have been so blessed to have so much support from everyone around us, but my mom deserves a special shout out.  She has been beyond helpful, from making meals, to folding laundry, to taking Ella on walks so I can nap, to babysitting so Seth could take me out for  my birthday.  Moms are the best, especially mine.
  7. There is nothing as sweet as having a baby fall asleep on you, especially when you get to watch the process.  Sleep grins are my favorite.
  8. My other children (the canine and feline ones) are pretty freaking awesome.  They have done beautifully with accepting Ella into our home.  The dogs are so protective of her- its really sweet.  And they have been so patient with us- they let us sleep in the morning instead of whining to go out and they are a little more relaxed about dinner time.  And the cats have taken all the change in stride with no acting out.  I was a bit worried how all this change would impact the pets, but they have done wonderfully.
  9. I am far more capable  that I knew.  Ella came two weeks early.  I was really counting on those two weeks to get ahead on school work, make some more meals to freeze, and wrap things up at work.  That didn't happen. So this first month has been full of trying to write papers and explain things to my coworkers as much as possible, all while handling a newborn and being seriously sleep deprived.  Doing anything beyond just taking care of the baby makes me feel like superwoman. 
  10. Love at first sight is real.  I knew I loved Ella before she was born, but it was a very abstract sort of emotion.  But as soon as I saw her under the water, I fell madly, deeply, in love with her.  I remember that first night in the hospital.  Seth was asleep with Ella on his chest and I just cried out of sheer happiness.  At that moment, and during so many other moments this month, everything was perfect with the world.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Concrete Planters

How 'bout a post that has nothing to do with the baby?  Well, maybe a little to do with  the baby cause she was there (and very helpful). 

We have jasmine growing up the sides of our pergola.  It is a beautiful vine and it smells heavenly when it blooms.  Simply, we love it.  However, we do not love the planters we put it in.  They are cheap, falling apart, allow no room for root growth and are simply ugly.  Don't believe me?  See for yourself...

Not so pretty...  So we set off to make some easy, awesome looking planters out of those big, concrete stepping stones you can get at any hardware or landscaping store.  We opted for the 16" squares because we wanted lots of room for the plants to grow.  Plus we only made the four sided (no bottom), so the root system could eventually work its way into  the ground.

To start, we purchased 16 squares (4 squares per planter times 4 planters)  and some landscaping adhesive.  Once we got then home, we positioned Ella to supervise (babies first project, yay!)...

And we laid out our steps...
applied some adhesive...
And added the next step...
And the next...
And the last one...
And pretty soon, we had 4 planters all set...
Two quick notes:  this stuff sets up pretty fast, but we found it was helpful to hold the steps in place for just a minute to ensure that it was stable and the adhesive we got recommended allowing 5 days before the project was used, so these babies got a few days in the garage before they were installed.

And speaking of installation, my darling husband gets all the credit here.  These suckers are crazy heavy and Ella decided she wanted to eat.  So Seth got the planters into place, removed the old planters, added new dirt, and got the plants all settled in their new home (my husband is pretty awesome).  And the results are fantastic...
The planters look slightly industrial and really complement the pergola (rather than making it look cheap)...
I am super excited about the  new planters, especially because they are so large.  I may be able to nestle in some annuals come spring time.  Anyone else do some last minute fall gardening?

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ella's Bith Story

Disclaimer:  Birth is kinda a messy subject, so if talk of dilation and tears wigs you out, you may want to skip this one.  Also, it is pretty long.  Sorry.

So lets start this story by first talking about what I thought Ella's birth would be like (in other words, the birth I thought about and prepared for).  My assumptions about "normal" birth were formed through lots of informed research- I read both of Ina May's books, I talked to my midwife and doula a lot, I read tons of birth stories, we attended birth and baby class.  In all, I "knew" that birth was unpredictable, but that there were some pretty normal patterns that it would follow.  I figured somewhere between 41 and 42 weeks, I would wake in the night to some mild contractions.  They would get stronger and closer together.  Seth and I would work through them.  Sometime the next day, we would hit the magic 3-1-1 (contractions 3 minutes apart lasting 1 minute a piece for an hour or more) and would take that as a sign to head to the hospital.  Once there, I would endure the misery of triage with the help of Seth and our doula.  Triage would confirm I was in active labor and a check by our midwife would show I was 6-7 cm dilated.  I would be admitted.  The birth tub would be set up and I would hop in.  The water would help relax me and contractions would pick up more.  I would labor for a few hours and then be ready to push and out Ella come with no tearing.  Both Ella and I would be calm and serene.

This is not how things happened.

On September 27, at 11:45 pm, just as Seth was climbing into bed, I felt a little trickle.  And I thought "theres no way..." but I got up and by the time I got to the bathroom, the water gushing down my leg confirmed that yes, my water had just broke.  I called to Seth "babe, my water just broke."  He hoped out of bed and we both giggle because, well, we were having a baby!  We called the midwife. who confirmed that we were good to stay at home and wait for labor to pick up.  We also called our doula to give her a heads up that this baby was coming way sooner than we anticiapted.  And then it occured to Seth and me that we hadn't packed for the hospital yet.  So we started some laundry and tried to get things together. 

By about 1am, Seth was tired, so I sent him to bed.  But I was not tired at all, I was wired.  Baby was coming and there was so much I hadn't done.  So I emailed work and tried to get some stuff together.  And then I worked on some assignments for grad school.  And then it was 3 am and I knew I needed to sleep, so I climbed back in bed and tried to get some rest, which just didn't happen.  By 5:30am, I was ancy and I could tell my contractions were getting closer together, so I woke Seth up.  I knew being vertical and moving would help things along, so we set off on a walk with the dogs.  Things picked up a little more, but not much. 

When we got home, we finished packing for the hospital and made a trip to the grocery store for snacks.  I did get some funny looks at the grocery store when I had contractions.  We got home and Seth headed into work for a bit.  I folded laundry and put new sheets on the bed.  I talked to the midwife around 9:30 and she suggested another walk and told us to call her back in an hour.  So walk we did and things really started to pick up.   My contractions were 4-5 minutes apartment and lasting about a minute.  I was having to focus a bit to get through them- I took all of this as good news.  I hopped into the shower and then talked to the midwife again.  She was already at the hospital checking someone and wanted us to come on in (this was roughly 12 hours after my water broke).

So we loaded up the car and headed to the hospital.  Our doula was waiting for us when we got there.  And we got a pleasant surpise- the midwife had already admitted us, so we got to skip triage.  YAY!  We got to our room and the pool got set up.  I answered 8 million questions and then I got checked.  I was only 1 cm dilated.  I can't even begin to tell you how fruststrating this was to hear.  I had been laboring for 12 hours already and made such little progress.  And contractions already seemed intense to me.  But my labor team was great.  They offered lots of encouraging words and told me not to stress out about the  numbers, that my body was working the way it was supposed to.

So I labored on.  I really liked being on my hands and knees over the birthing ball with  lots of pressure on my back during contractions.  Things kept picking up.  And then I puked (a really good sign, in my mind). Our fabulous L&D nurse suggested I try the shower for a bit.  And so I did.  And things really picked up. It felt like contractions were right on top of each other.  I started getting emotional and crying.  It hurt like hell.  And I took this as a good sign- surely with the puking and crying, I must be close to transition.  So out of the shower I came and got check again.  This time I was 5 cm.  Again, I was frustrated and disappointed- I had been laboring for so long and it hurt!

Part of why things were moving so slow was because little bit was sunny side up (and we would later find out, her hand was up by her head), which is also why I was having such bad back labor.  But the upside of this was  that it meant I got to hop in the pool early, but just for an hour.  So I labored in the pool for an hour.  And then had to get out and that was really unpleasant.  The doula and the nurses tried to come up with lots of fun things for me to do to try and get the baby to flip over, but these required being upright.  And every time I tried to stand up, I got really dizzy.  I was simply exhausted (and starting to get dehydrated).  I needed some rest, so I climbed into the bed and was put into a SIMS position to help baby turn.  Let me just say, contractions lying down really suck.  And things were really starting to pick up.  And I was starting to really not handle things well.  I hadn't been able to rest, contractions were on top of each other and peaking higher than I imagined they could go.  I wasn't able to get on top of the contractions- essentially, I wasn't handling things well at all.

I was checked again and was now between 6 and 7 cm.   And I needed a break- just a little break, just an hour or two to get some rest so that I could get back in the game.  So my midwife suggested a little cocktail of some IV fluids, a muscle relaxer, and a low dose narcotic.  I still felt everything, but it was through a nice fog.  I was checked again after an hour and was at 8 cm.  Let me say, that my birth plan stated that I was very much against using drug interventions, but I am glad I went for it.  I know my body and I know my limits.  I was exhausted and at my limit.  Clearly, I needed rest and my body responded very well to taking a little break.  After another 20 minutes, I started feeling pushy (and was apparently saying "pushy pushy, need to pushy, pushy).  Turns out I was complete and ready to pushy pushy! 

The nurses very quickly pulled the IV out, refilled the pool, and threw me in.  I was still a bit fuzzy because of the drugs and couldn't really figure out how to push. Seth says I got grumpy  here, but I maintain I was just confused.  The midwife and doula showed me what to do and I got underway with the pushing.  Pushing was intense and I understand the term "ring of fire" in a whole new way (Seth says I actually yelled "ring of fire" at one point).  And after just 1/2 hour of pushing, as 8:05 pm on September 28, Ella made her arrival!  The midwife let her float under the water for a minute and then told me to bring my daughter to the surface.  I swear as I pulled her up and saw her face come towards me, the brain fog just cleared.  She was just perfect- purple and screaming, but perfect (with an 8 and 9 on her apgars).  After the cord stopped pulsing, the midwife clamped it off and Seth cut it.  I then handed her off to Seth, so that I could get out of the pool to deliver the placenta and get stitched up (Ella was born with her left arm over her right shoulder up by her head causing a 2nd degree tear and a small urethral tear). 

And that's how Ella came into the world.  Was it what I expected?  No.  Am I disappointed in how things went?  Not at all.  Here's the thing that I truly understand about childbirth (and life), you get dealt a hand.  You can't change it and you can't plan for it.  You just have to go with what you got.  And in the end I got what was most important to me- a healthy daughter (who was very alert despite the drugs), who was born vaginally in the water.

So I end this post with a hearty thank you to everyone who supported and loved me through my pregnancy, for all those sent happy thoughts and prayers our way once I was in labor, and to  my incredible birth team (my husband, who was so beyond wonderful, our super doula, our fabulous midwife, and the L&D nurses at Womens Hospital who were so respectful and supportive of our wishes).  And just one picture, that makes me cry every time I see it (and if you want to see more picture of L&D, check out triad birth doula on facebook- the album is Happy Birthday, Ella)...

Friday, October 12, 2012

2 weeks later

Yesterday was Ella's due date and today marks 2 weeks since she has come into our lives.  It seems only fitting to have one more post, done in the same style as all the updates I have done over the past months.

Size: Ella was really good at gaining weight while gestating and the trend  has continued.  She was 7lbs. 11oz at birth.  Her discharge weight was 7lbs 6oz and by one week old she was already up to 7lbs 15oz.  And today, she weighed in at 8lbs. 9oz.  What a chunk!  Of course, this is all good because she is eating well and growing like she is supposed to.  And for me, I gained right at 30 lbs. during pregnancy.  As of today, I am down 22 lbs. and feeling really good.  Its odd that I am still so far away from my happy weight, but I have never felt smaller or skinner in my life.  Its pretty awesome.

YAYS:  Umm, hello, Ella is here- biggest YAY EVER!  The past 2 weeks have been exhausting, but beyond rewarding.  Pregnancy may have sucked, but being a mom is wonderful.

NAYS:  I did  not have an easy labor and delivery and am still recovering.  Its pretty frustrating- I am so used to being on the go all the time and I simply cant do that right now.  So I am doing what I can to try and balance my need for rest and recovery with my need to stay busy and escape the house.  And there is that whole I haven't slept for more than 2 hours at a time in over 2 weeks, but I totally expected that.

Happenings for the last 2 weeks: Ella came 2 weeks early, which was entirely unexpected.  That meant that both Seth and I had lots of stuff that was still up in the air.  I was counting on 2 more weeks to train the temp at work and was planning to get way ahead in with my grad school work for the semester.  Work is also nuts for Seth right now.  This means that I have spent hunks of the last 2 weeks trying to get stuff done, which has been exhausting and stressful.  And poor Seth has also been pulled in a million different directions.  The up side is that surviving the last 2 weeks without killing each other or threatening divorce means that I think we can get through just about anything.  Hurrah for parenthood!

Friday, October 5, 2012

The Nursery!!

First, and most importantly, little bit made her appearance last week, Friday, September 28, a whole 2 weeks early!  Seth and I were totally shocked when my water broke, but really she has been full of surprises from start to finish, so that was a fitting way for her to come into the world.  I am working om her birth story and will also have a full report on how we have all settled in (canine and feline children included).  So for now, just a quick picture of her all dressed and ready to leave the hospital.

And now, as promised many times, the NURSERY!  Fortunately, I had it pretty much done when I went into labor.  However, I am thankful to my mama who went by and hung up a few things for me and organized some diapers.  If she hadn't done that, I can promise that the nursery would still be a mess.  So without further ado...
This is the view from the hallway.  You can see the curtains mom helped me make, the glider I recovered, and the sweet blanket Ella's Great Aunt Missy knit for her.
This is the view looking back towards the hallway.  You can see the animal art I made, as well as her shelf.  The shelf has been attached to the wall with L-brackets so that there is no was it can fall over on her once she in mobile
Another view of the left side of the room.  In this one, you can see the fun lamp we got her.
The view of the right side of the room, including her crib, shelves, and some other artwork.

And for two close ups of some details...

 The mobile I made for her...
 And the animal art...

Even though her room is really only used for diaper changes and storing all her stuff (she sleeps in a pack and play with a bassinet in our room), I am totally thrilled with the room.  I feel like it is feminine enough for a girl without being girlie.  Its a fun room that should last her until she transitions into a big girl room (which would happen when baby 2 gets here, which will be a few years).

Thursday, September 27, 2012

38 weeks

Size:  No matter how you look at it, she is a bowling ball (maybe a nice little 6 pounder, maybe a heavier 8 pounder).  Regardless, she is getting pretty close to her final birth weight. 

YAYS: First, as of last week, I am officially term.  That does not mean that baby is done baking, rather if she was born now, she likely would not need a stay in the NICU and would be headed home with us when I am discharged.  Two, clearly I have dropped.  She's been dropping little by little over the past few weeks, but she is officially "really low" according to my midwife (the exact quote "lord, your child is LOW!)."

NAYS: Surprisingly, I don't have any.  Folks keep saying "you must be miserable," but the truth is, I'm really not.  Compared to the misery that was the first trimester and the emotional upheavals of the 2nd and early 3rd trimesters, this is a walk in the park.  Sure, I'm kinda uncomfortable and moving is slow, but I have plenty of energy and am pretty upbeat- I will meet my daughter sometime in the next 4 weeks!

Happenings for the week:  We have gotten lots and lots done. First, we went on a little shopping binge and have everything (well most everything) that was on our "need for baby list."  I still have a bit more laundry and organizing to do, but I should be ready to post picture of the  nursery next week!  Also, we have the car seat bases installed (another check).  Tuesday night was our last birth and baby class and tonight is our infant/child CPR class, so we are almost done with classes (I just have a breastfeeding class next week).  So, basically we are prepared as we can be.  Note: I did not say ready- I don't think anyone is every really ready for a baby, but at least we are (mostly) prepared.

Monday, September 17, 2012

36 Weeks

Size: We had an ultrasound at our 36 weeks appointment and the tech is estimating her weight at around 7 lbs.  We do know she is a long baby, so she may end up being a big baby as well.  BUT, ultrasound estimates can also be way off, so at this point I am not too worried.

YAY: The ultrasound also confirmed that Ella is head down!  YAY!  AND I didn't gain any weight in the last 2 weeks, which is a really good feeling.

NAY: My midwife also checked me at the appointment.  I was really hoping that she would report that I was starting to efface or that some dilation was happening, but that just isn't the case.  In fact, she actually said "my cervix is like Alcatraz."  Of course, at this early in the game and with this being my first kiddo, it really doesn't mean anything.  Just like it wouldn't mean anything if I was running around 3 cm dilated. 

Happenings for the week: Seth and I spent some time last weekend working on our birth plan and we had the chance to talk it over with our doula and midwife.  Both were totally supportive of our wishes.  Actually, just about everything we want is standard practice of care for our midwife.  Some highlights include:
  • Being able to eat and drink during labor
  • Being able to labor free of time limits, as long as baby is doing a-okay
  • Avoiding purple pushing
  • Delaying babies assessments until after the initial bonding period (roughly 2 hours)
We are really excited about working with folks who are so supportive and open to our wishes (even if our wishes aren't anything too wacky).

Friday, September 7, 2012

35 weeks

And when did I get to be 8 months pregnant?!

Size: Little gal is still packing on the pounds.  She should be around 5 1/2 pounds or so.  We'll get a better estimate next week when we go for our 36 week appointment.  While she may be getting fatter, she shouldn't be getting much longer.  By this point most babies are roughly the length they are at birth.

YAYS:  New party trick- I can balance a cup on my belly while sitting down.  Its pretty handy. 

NAYS: I am terribly sad to report that stretch marks have appeared on my belly.  I thought that I had managed to avoid them, but not so much.  It seems like each day another one pops up. 

Also, sleep is really hard to come by these days.  Between back and hip pain, Braxton Hicks contractions, having to pee all night long, and general insomnia,  I have more bad nights than good nights and that is leaving me feeling really worn down. 

Happenings for the week:  We finally picked a  pediatrician!  Its not that this was a hard task, it just took us a while to get to.  We actually only met with one pediatrician (who came highly recommended by a colleague) and really liked her, so we just went with it.  Some of the things that sealed the deal for me:
  • Everyone at the practice was so friendly!  I felt very comfortable.  The office is very kid friendly without feeling like a germ factory (does that make sense?).
  • The nurse who brought us back volunteers as a lactation consultant at one of the local hospitals.  She also makes herself available to all the practices' patients.  Its very nice to know that there is so much support around for breastfeeding.
  • The pediatrician really took her time to answer all our questions.  I didn't feel rushed at any point. She also talked to us like intelligent people.  She really explained her position on things (like vaccines) and used scientific evidence to support her positions.  She treats parents like partners and offers options instead of just pushing one right way to do things.
  • AND if everything works out, the practice is actually moving locations.  The new location would be SO much closer to home, Seth's job, and daycare.  That is a big bonus.

Friday, August 31, 2012

A Really Long Post about Recovering a Glider!

Before we get started with this post, let me make a few things very clear:
  • This post is going to be very long and have way too many pictures.
  • While this is supposed to be a tutorial, it probably won't make very much sense at all.
  • Really, I have no sewing skills. If I can do it, you can do it.
So lets get started.  Seth and I knew we wanted a glider for the nursery, but didn't want to spend a whole lotta dough.  After minimal searching, we found a solid glider at a great price at Once Upon a Child (I love consignment stores!).  The only issue was that the fabric, while in good condition, wasn't really vibing with what we had going on in the nursery.  See?
You can't really tell in the photo, but the fabric is a nice light blue and white stripe.  Want a close up?
Not bad, just not what we are going for...

So to get started, first I panicked and then I pinned (as in, consulted Pinterest).  I found two great tutorials (this one and this one) and decided to mix those methods for my plan of attack.

Step 1:  Rip some seams
I used my seam ripper to pull apart the top backy piece and the bottom piece.  This left me with the inserts for the back and bottom and pieces that I could use as a pattern.

For the back piece, you'll notice that part of it has some extra cushioning.  I left this part on and planned to use it.

Step 2:  Make a Pattern
For this project, we wanted some nice soft, baby friendly fabric.  Although, it is not upholstery fabric, I picked up some black minky dot fabric from Hobby Lobby (love their sales!).  I got 3 1/4 yards and had a lot left over.  I think 2 1/2 yards would have worked.  So, back to work...  I laid my old pieces out and pinned them to my new fabric and cut (generously) around them.

Step 3:  Keeping the seams
This step can also we called: here's where it starts to get complicated...  but not really.  So, if you look at the original glider, you'll see all these nice seams on the back piece.  Since I planned to use the fluffy back piece (like in this tutorial), I figured I should add the seams.  I found out the hard way (I snapped a needle) that the best way to do this is to use a heavy duty needle and just gently follow the seam lines that are already laid out.

So (sew?), this is the fluffy back piece pinned to my fabric.  I essentially just sewed into these lines to secure the fluffy piece to my new fabric.
I know its hard to see, but the lines are there!  Success!
Step 4: Putting it all together
So now I have one backy piece attached to a fluffy piece and I need to attach the other backy piece, essentially making a giant, oddly shaped pillow case.  I pinned my pieces wrong side in and realized something amazing- since my fluffy piece was part of the original piece, I could see exactly where the original was sewn.  This allowed me to use this old seam as a guide and meant that I was exactly reproducing the original.
See- all I had to was follow the seam...

And once those were put together, I just had to flip the whole thing right side out...
Not bad for someone who can't sew!

Step 5:  The bottom
The bottom piece was very much like the top, except there was no fluffy piece.  Since following the existing seam worked so well, I decided to try that again.  Basically, I flopped my fabric together wrong side in and pinned my patterny piece on top.

All I had to do from there was follow the seam again and flip it right side out.  OH and an important note that I may not have made clear yet- on both the backy piece and the bottom piece, I only sewed 3 sides (making an oddly shaped pillow case essentially).  One of the things that I didn't like about the original chair was that the covers couldn't be removed for washing.  I wanted to make sure that my covers could come off because 1) I'm a spaz and I spill things 2) there is a solid chance that a cat (or maybe even dog) will try and sleep on this thing and 3) babies are messy.  So at this point, both my backy piece and bottom piece have an open, unfinished edge.

Step 6: The Side Pieces
These were possibly the hardest thing to figure out about this whole project.  This is where I started following this tutorial.  I didn't want to take these pieces apart because I wanted to be able to use the snaps that were already in place.  I started by roughly tracing these guys on the wrong side of my fabric.

Then I cut my pieces out, pinned them together, and sewed the following my chalk line.  The result was very little oddly shaped pillow cases (closed on three sides and open on one).

Step 7:  Finishing the Edges and Closing her Up
Since all of my pieces has an unfinished edge, I clearly needed to do something about that.  I carefully folded the edge under and zipped in a quick hem.

Pretty easy and fancy looking!  To close my pieces, I figured I would just use velcro...
Of course, I bought black velco so you can't really see it, but I promise, its there.  But really, it didn't need to be.  The velcro didn't stick very well and when I put everything together I realized that you couldn't even see the bottom of the pieces.  So I ripped the velcro off and my bottoms are hanging open (don't tell).

Step 8:  Those stupid little side pieces...
Okay, so my side pieces are tricky- they are attached to the chair by snaps at the top and the bottom.  Since the bottom was open, it was easy to snap those babies in.  Following my tutorial, I cut slits in the already sewn top part to expose the snaps.
If you look closely, you can see the snap 

Now, friends, here is where I went wrong.  I cut my holes and then tried to install the damn thing, only to find that my holes were way off.  Here is what I recommend...  cut a hole for your middle snap, snap it to the top part of the chair.  From there, figure out where you need to cut for your left snap and then cut that hole.  Repeat for the right snap.  I ended up having to cut some HUGE holes in order to get everything snapped in.  You can't see them, but I know they are there and they bother me.

Step 9:  Secure the back...
Since the back is so tall, it has to be secured or it will flop over.  To do this, I put the back in the chair and marked where I wanted to secure it.
Then all I did was stitch on some long, skinny pieces that could tie around the bars of the chair...
Step 10:  DONE!
I am insanely proud of this project.  It looks surprisingly good, especially when you consider that I can't really sew.  Just for fun, lets look at the start and the end together...

But seriously, kudos to anyone who can follow this convoluted tutorial.  More than anything, I hope this inspires y'all to tackle projects that are way out of your league (because sometimes they turn out okay).  Anyone else insanely proud of a project?