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).