Thursday, October 1, 2015

Chloe's Newborn Photos

Some moms look like they have it all together. They wear pretty clothes, do fun things with their kids, and post beautiful photos on social media. We just got our hands on Chloe's beautiful newborn photos (see all of them here). And the photos are gorgeous, but they are misleading. I didn't have it together the day the photos were taken. Our house was a disaster zone as we were preparing to move the next day. I was on the verge of a total meltdown. And today I am again breaking down.

So far today we've (I've) had maybe 4 hours of sleep, we kicked the morning off with a blow out which required a bath, followed by two rounds of hiccups, dogs growled and interrupted her nap (just as I had laid my own head down for MY nap), house is a mess, laundry piled up, all my nursing bras are dirty...and so on.

Just having a rough day here. I was starting to feel like we had made progress, started a little routine, and it seemed like night time/sleep was improving. Today feels like all progress is out the window and all the work I've done the last 5 weeks was ineffective.

My pregnancy was so easy and the delivery is over in the blink of an eye. Actually caring for your child - whew - it's no joke. I feel so burnt out today - like I have nothing to give Chloe and it makes me sad. I feel like I'm running on fumes, and those fumes are actually body odor because I couldn't even get a shower in before bed last night.

So kudos to all the exhausted moms out there - wearing pajamas and yoga pants all day, with messy hair and smudged mascara from yesterday. Being a mom is hard work! Praying for God's help today. I especially need it.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Chloe 3 Weeks

Here's me scarfing down nachos and breast feeding in between shots for our newborn photoshoot.

Chloe is already three weeks old today.  Three weeks ago, I was in labor at Athens Regional (loved my experience there by the way - awesome hospital and staff!).  So much has happened since her birth and my emotions and stress level have definitely been high.  We left Monroe so that Michael could start a new job.  Now that we're slowly settling in and the crazy moving stress is beginning to die down - my heart is really starting to grieve Monroe and all our friends there.  I already miss everyone so deeply.  Our friends and family in Monroe bent over backwards to make sure we were well fed when Chloe came, and that we were all packed up and moved out.  We felt so much love there.  So many people came to visit Chloe.  There is absolutely no way we could have survived her birth/the move without our sweet friends.

It is ridiculous how sweet my friends are.  One of my dearest friends actually came over - found me in a state of distress - went and turned off my utilities for me, had my mail forwarded at the post office, and picked up my dog from the groomer!  She also packed all our clothes (and God knows what other random stuff).  I am overwhelmed by the support we've been given.

Chloe has gradually been learning how to sleep at night.  She's been a good eater from day one.  We've been experiencing the "witching hour" almost every night and it seems that we can do nothing to make Chloe comfortable, happy and sleepy.  After we get through the witching hour, she has been sleeping quite well.  My mom and dad have been here the entire time helping me endlessly.  They will leave soon - another reason I have been emotional.  I will miss them so much.  And once they're gone, it will be pretty lonely around here.

Overall, things are great though and we have so many things to be thankful for.  Hopefully we'll get into a new routine and meet some new friends.  Right now, I feel pretty confined to the house.  Let's hope Chloe and I can start getting out more.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Chloe's Birth Story

We are in baby heaven over at our house and I want to tell Chloe's birth story before I forget any details.  I already feel like a lot of it is a haze for me because I went 100% natural and I was so focused on managing the pain that I was completely unaware of my surroundings.  Forgive me - I'm not sparing any details so it's long.

On Wednesday August 26th, I woke up at 4 am with contractions!  I knew this was something because I was 10 days overdue and had felt nothing the entire time.  I was finally noticing Braxton Hicks just before bed that night, but before that - really - nothing.  It seemed as though I would be pregnant forever because every single day that goes by past your due date feels like an eternity.

I immediately loaded a contraction timer app and laid on the couch in the dark counting my contractions.  They were lasting about a minute with 13 minute breaks in between.  I was able to get a little more sleep from about 7-9 and then woke Michael up to let him know!  Our baby girl is finally coming!

He ran to get Chick Fil A for me for breakfast and then stayed by my side the entire day, keeping track of my contractions and bringing me water.  We labored at home all day.  The contractions got more intense and frequent as the day went by.  Around 4:00 pm I felt like the pain was strong enough that I needed to get to the hospital.  At this point, things are a little hazy in my mind. My eyes were closed while I managed the pain, but I could hear Michael running around the house and starting the car.  We got in and Michael drove. As I sat on towels (in case my water broke), it felt like every minor crack and bump in the road was a giant pot hole or speed bump.  It was an uncomfortable car ride to say the least, but we made it there!

 Michael got me on a wheelchair in the ER and rushed to park the car.  Someone wheeled me over to the registration desk as I contracted. It smelled like body odor and cigarettes and I couldn't wait to get wheeled up to the labor and delivery floor.  However, once we got up there, I had to wait in the lobby where families wait - they didn't have a clean room ready for me!  It must have been a very busy day full of births. They prepped the room for me as quickly as the could. I didn't know at the time, but I was already dilated to 7 cm as I sat there having another strong contraction out in the lobby. It's probably better that I didn't know I was so far along because I might have freaked out, but I just sat there with my eyes closed and dealt with the pain.

Finally they rolled me over to a room, I got out of the wheelchair, ripped my clothes off and got into a hospital gown.  I think I asked for an epidural at that point, but they told me I had made it so far!  Already 7 cm! (They were shocked because outwardly, I seemed too calm to be at 7 cm).  They asked - was I sure about getting an epidural?  I guess I wasn't sure (don't really remember what I said).  So I kept laboring naturally and it continued to get much more intense.

It was probably another 3 or 4 hours until Chloe was born although I had lost all sense of time.  Michael coached me through every single contraction.  He was so good at timing them (and knows me so well) that he could tell me right when I was about to have one.  I actually thought there was a monitor telling him when I was contracting, but there wasn't!  He really was so focused on taking care of me and watching for signals of another contraction.  He would tell me when the pain had peaked and kept reminding me that I would get a break until the next contraction.  He fed me ice and massaged my back.  There's no way I ever would have made it through without him and I am forever thankful to have such a loving and caring husband.

Around 9 or 9.5 cm I really showed the final "emotional signpost" - self doubt - and the feeling that you can't do it. I wish I could say I never wavered, but...  I begged for the epidural.  The pain had really hit a new level and I didn't think I could make it another hour - or push for that matter.  Everyone in the room apparently knew that this baby was coming soon and she was coming naturally, but humored me and said they would get the IV set up, but warned that it takes a long time and that the baby might come before they can get me all set up.

My amazing midwife looked me in the eye and told me I could do it.  I had made it this far.  That I would push soon.  Still, I couldn't be convinced.  I continued to hope that they would get the epidural ready in time.  They had me do some things (probably to distract me until it was time to push).  I sat on the toilet, I draped my arms over Michael and swayed from side to side for a few minutes.  They tried to get me to sit on a birthing ball, but that was just unbearable to me.  So I laid back down waiting for the urge to push.  I have always heard that the urge to push is so strong and your body just knows what to do, but I never felt it.  I was also terrified to push.  I was already in pain like I had never felt in my life - and I was so scared that pushing would hurt even more.

The midwife told me I could push.  I shook my head no.  I wouldn't do it.  Didn't feel ready and was full of fear.  So she grabbed a sheet and had me do tug-of-war to force myself to squeeze and push.  That worked and I began to push!  Eventually we threw the sheet off to the side and just pushed like normal.  Michael thinks I pushed maybe a total of 12 times in about 30 minutes.  To me, it seemed like it wasn't doing anything and I don't remember anyone telling me "okay the head is coming" or "you're almost there."

In my mind, she was stuck and I was going to endure this pain forever.  But I was wrong of course!  She came out!  It was a meconium birth, meaning that she pooped before she came out, so they couldn't give her to me immediately.  They had to make sure she didn't swallow it or breath it in.  I heard her cry and she must have been fine because they brought her over to me just a minute later and put her on my chest.  Michael really wanted to do skin-to-skin too, so he ripped his shirt off and hugged us to his chest.  It was the sweetest!  I will always remember how excited he was to be a daddy.

Her face was so close to mine that I couldn't see it, I just saw that she had a head full of black hair and dark "gorilla hair" (haha) all over her back and shoulders.  My brown baby!  I always wanted our babies to have Michael's beautiful Nicaraguan traits, but never knew if it would happen.  She looks so much like her daddy (at least at this point).

As soon as she was out, I felt no pain.  It was amazing and worth it. For me, it feels like the short term pain is paying off in a long term easier recovery.  I was immediately able to get up, walk around and feel somewhat "normal." They made me eat a turkey sandwich and apple juice since I hadn't eaten all day.  It was terrible hospital food, but it tasted like the best thing I had ever eaten.

We had an amazing stay at the hospital and brought our sweet baby girl home on Michael's 31st birthday.  Everyone has been so helpful bringing us food and giving Chloe snuggles.  My parents have bent over backwards taking the night shift with me and keeping my house clean.  I have never felt so much love towards my husband and daughter and I have never felt so much love from other people.  God has blessed me and my family so much!  We are in love with our little Chloe!

Friday, August 21, 2015

40 Week Update

40 weeks... and 6 days.... but who's counting? ; )  I am definitely counting and trying not to freak out.  I just really don't want to get induced, but I'm thankful my baby is full term.  Here are a few shots of me and Michael.  I've enjoyed being pregnant (and I am fortunate to have had a great pregnancy), but pregnancy is something that isn't supposed to last forever!

Monday, August 10, 2015

39 Week Update

We're getting very close to the 40 week finish line. I am processing so many emotions, thoughts and feelings - I don't know if it's even possible to articulate it all.  I am finally going to be a mom!  I've been looking forward to this for so many years.  Now that it's finally happening, I'll admit that I'm scared.  The responsibility is huge.  You want to be a great parent and do everything well, but Michael and I are going into this knowing that we'll make mistakes.  Jesus is the only perfect person and the only one who will not let our girl down.  I pray that she knows Him at a very young age and always feels his presence.  All the good parenting in the world is nothing compared to having that.

I'm soaking in every moment with Michael (who has been buckling my sandals for me, walking our dogs so I don't have to, lifting everything, putting pillows behind my back, giving me back rubs, and helping me get up off the couch).  It's been just the two of us for 10 years and now things will never be the same.  It's a good change, but these last 10 years have been so special.  We've gone to college, been best friends, gotten married, traveled, struggled, loved, cried, laughed, grown up, woke up spiritually, worked hard, and have made so many memories together.  And I know that is just the beginning.  We're starting a new chapter with a sweet baby girl!  I can't believe all the amazing things God has given me.  So much more than I deserve.

On top of all these major life changes, we're moving and Michael is starting a new job right after the baby is born.  We're leaving our sweet and supportive community and headed into the unknown.  We'll meet new people, live in a new city and go to church somewhere else.  But it's hard to leave the support and love of the community we're in now.  No one can replace the friends we have here.  We've never felt so connected to a place before.  When we came to Monroe, we were spiritually immature and seeking God.  It has been a place of growth for us where people have really mentored and cared for us.  It's really cool to me that right before we leave, we're having a baby.  It feels like the icing on the cake of such a beautiful season of life.

This is my brother and sister's dog Moose.  He's just a 7 week old baby!

How far along? 39 weeks - baby is the size of a 7 lb watermelon : )
Total weight gain/loss: give or take 35 lbs
Maternity clothes? definitely, unless I walk around in my undies.  Which I do a LOT now that I'm huge and the weather is hot.
Stretch marks? I think I'm going to make it through without them.
Sleep: Not great, but I'm getting a lot more than I'll probably be getting when our baby arrives. Trying to enjoy it!
Best moment this week:  My family from Michigan came to town!  I haven't seen them in 6 years (when Michael and I got engaged).  I got to hold my cousin's sweet baby girl.  And I got to meet my brother's new golden retriever puppy!  He is so sweet.

These are my "half siblings" (cousins) from Michigan - our dads are identical twins, so genetically, we like to joke that we're siblings.

Worst moment this week:  We thought we knew exactly where we were going to live a month from now when we move, and this weekend - those plans seemed to crumble.  I'm not sure what's going to happen and I really need to focus on delivering this baby.  I am hoping that my best moment this week will be when God works out the entire situation.  I am really struggling with doubt.   This whole move has been a leap of faith for me.  And God has come through in so many ways, but this is really pushing it for me.  I've been trying to stay positive even though I don't have a nursery set up.  I keep reminding myself that I'll set one up when we move in.  Now, I'm feeling completely unprepared.  I never in a million years would have chosen this scenario - having my first baby - and not having a place to live.

Miss Anything? Breathing.  I keep getting short of breath.  Kind of feels like suffocation sometimes.
Movement: She's big and strong now. It can be uncomfortable when she gets really active, but of course I love to feel her moving because it means she's healthy and strong!
Food cravings: Last week I wanted cashews, fruit and cheese. And chocolate.  This week, it's sub sandwiches.  And chocolate.   Especially Alter Eco Quinoa dark chocolate.  Mmmmm!  If my midwives were worried before about me gaining enough weight, they can breath a sigh of relief now.  Gaining weight is a little too easy.  See... this was me at 5 months and again at 9 months.  Operation Weight Gain was a 100% total success.

Anything making you queasy or sick: no, but I have to be careful about spicy foods because I get heartburn now.
Have you started to show yet: I am about to pop.  Even my feet are about to pop.
Gender: girl : )
Labor Signs: Not that I've noticed.  But I'm starting to think that I don't recognize Braxton Hicks.  We'll see at my check up tomorrow. My midwife says that you can't dilate without contractions.  So, if I am at all dilated, then I've been contracting.
Belly Button in or out? OUT
Wedding rings on or off? OFF : (  I'm swollen.  Don't want to risk my ring getting stuck or cut off.
Happy or moody most of the time: Trying to follow what Philippians 4 says about rejoicing at all times (and I do have a LOT to be joyful and thankful for).  But I am pretty terrified and panicked right this moment.  We really need to secure a place to live in September.
Looking forward to: seeing my baby face to face!  And finding a good place to live. And being a family of 3!  

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

33 Week Update

This trimester is going by scary fast.  I can't wait to meet our sweet baby, but I have so much to do in so little time.  I think I've had two baby showers since my last update.  One was family & friends and another was all my church family!  My girl will definitely be looking stylish... she was given a lot of precious little outfits.  I feel so fortunate to have so many loving people in my life who already love our baby girl.

Pregnancy has still been great.  I have gained at least 30 lbs and after I eat, my belly button pokes out.  My boss has been so sweet to let me work just four days a week now.  I really need the time off to rest and get our house packed up - because we're moving... oh... about two weeks before the baby is due.  No big deal haha.  I'm trying not to stress and I just keep asking God to help me through the next few months because so much is happening in such a short time.  I don't have a nursery set up.  I haven't prepared for natural birth yet (but I did just order a book).  I only have like two cloth diapers (when I think you need to have about 20 if you're really going to do it).  And we're still on the hunt for a house to move into.

I think my fingers are starting to swell a little bit because sometimes my ring won't budge.  I also think I have finally had some real cravings (I haven't really had any yet).  I have been going to town on some homemade guacamole.  And I'm making more of it today haha.  Plus, I really want a BAGEL.  Not just any bagel.  I want one from Einstein Brothers.  I haven't had one in a long time because I try to stick with Ezekiel bread only (it's sprouted + organic).  But if I ever have a reason to splurge on some "bad" carbs, it's now - when I'm getting huge pregnant.  I'm still being as healthy as I can be about it though ; )  I bought some imitation cream cheese, so I'm still avoiding dairy : )

I also was wondering when I would start to feel like nesting.  It hit me a few days ago and lasted until 1:00 am because I was so furious about the filth in my house.  I normally like my house to be clean.  And it really is dirty right now, which would normally bother me.  But I don't usually lose sleep over it.  I couldn't even sleep it was bothering me so bad.  And I've even been nesting at work haha.  I think it's overflowing into other areas because I can't set up my nursery right now.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

29 Week Update

Time is flying!  I'm 29 weeks - moving right along in the third trimester.

I'm really gaining weight (20+ lbs) and wearing nothing but maternity clothes.  My belly button is super flat now.  It was really tender and kind of bruised looking, but feeling and looking better this week.

Sleep has been okay, but due to being on vacation - I got completely off of my routine and have been waking up at odd times, falling back asleep, and then feeling exhausted when my alarm goes off.

Other random symptoms have been heart burn, leg cramps, and shortness of breath, but really I'm not complaining - this pregnancy has been great!

These last few weeks have been loaded with great things!  We went to the beach (on our last kid-free vaycay) with our friends Ross and Hollis.  We had perfect weather, beautiful water, tasty food, and played lots of Catan.

As soon as we got back from the beach, we headed to Lake Oconee to Michael's staff retreat with the Grace Monroe staff.  Then, I stayed home and went back to work while Michael and Ty took a guys trip to D.C. for a few days.

And just last night, we got to celebrate the marriage of my brother Clint and sister-in-law Sari!

Whew!  What a month!  This summer is going to be full.  Now that we're getting back to normal life, I'm looking forward to going to the chiropractor this week AND we get to see our baby girl at an ultrasound appointment.  The doctor will be looking to see if she is growing on track because they thought her head measured a little small last time.  Prayer would be greatly appreciated!

Our girl has been moving around like crazy in my belly.  It feels less like kicks and more like entire body movements.  I can't believe I get to meet her in just 2 1/2 months.  Which reminds me - we really need to pick a name.  Everyone is asking and I am frustrated with myself for being so picky and indecisive.

I do miss feeling in shape.  And being able to move around like normal haha.  I've lost most of the strength in my abs and bending over and walking the dogs is getting tougher.

I'm feeling so thankful and happy.  Michael has been such a great husband - I'm excited to see him being a dad!  We have two baby showers this month.  I am so grateful for all the love and support that we feel from our family, friends and community.  God has been sooooo good to us.