Friday, May 31, 2013

Checking in...

I know I've been a slacker this week, but we've been busy around these parts.

I had my six week checkup and am doing great!  Except for the fact that I'm still having what I think is gallbladder pain.  My doctor recommended an abdominal sonogram, which I had today, so hopefully we'll get that figured out soon.  I can't figure out if I hope they tell me it's gallstones (which means I'll have to have my gallbladder removed) or not (which means there's no known cause for the pain, which makes me feel slightly crazy).

Miss Priss has been doing so great in her crib at night!  She's been consistently going 5 to 6 hours from about 10:00-11:00 to 3:00-4:00.  She's also been napping better during the day, which is nice.  Turns out, she sleeps much longer when she's swaddled and in her crib.  I know this means she probably won't be one of those kids who can sleep anywhere and will likely prefer her crib, but I'm just thanking my lucky stars that she'll sleep

We've been seeing a whole lot of this face lately:

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(She may or may not have promptly spit up all down the inside of my shirt right after I snapped this.)

I'm loving all of her sweet little smiles and happy noises.  She loves it when we tickle her belly or run our fingers down her face.  Diaper changes on her changing pad usually turn into play sessions (which has probably resulted in me going through more diapers than I should).  I'm loving watching her little personality emerge. 

I'm also trying to be better about dressing her each day.  We've been staying in our PJs a lot of the time, but I feel like I've got to make use of all of the adorable clothes she has hanging in her closet. 

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I'm in love with this little romper (that I scored for $4 at Kid to Kid - whoop!).

And also...

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I'm pretty sure these leg warmers are the most adorable things I've ever seen. 

So there are the obligatory baby pictures. :)

I also made it to the nail salon for a mani/pedi on the way to our meeting with our financial planner this week.  It was glorious.  Tomorrow we've got our niece's second birthday party (Happy Birthday, Stella!) and a wedding and on Sunday, we might try and brave the worship service at church.  Here's hoping Grace cooperates. :)

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!  I'll check in again soon.  Promise. :)

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Hi from Grace...

We're not doing a whole lot around here on this long weekend.  Mostly just taking it easy, spending time with family, and snuggling our sweet girl.  She spent the first night in her crib on Friday night, and she's doing wonderfully!  

So I don't have much to fill you guys in on.  I just thought I'd drop in because Grace wanted to say hello.

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Ha. :) Hope you all have a fabulous Memorial Day!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Grace's newborn pictures... part two

I'm finally getting around to posting the rest of Grace's newborn photos (you can find the first half here).  Truth be told, I saved most of my favorites for this post. :)  Enjoy! 

And thank you again to my beautiful and talented best friend (who has her very own blog that you should go check out here!) for taking these pictures that I will cherish forever.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

How I'm doing...

It hit me this weekend after I posted Grace's one month update that this is my blog, and some of you might actually be interested in hearing how I'm doing. Ha.  Apparently it didn't take long for Miss Priss to take over my entire life, including my little corner of the internet. :)

So in case you're curious, here's what I've been up to lately.

I've been...

... drinking sweet tea like nobody's business.  Now that I'm not pregnant or breastfeeding anymore, I can indulge in caffeeine without any guilt whatsoever.  In a few days or so, I'm going to have to rein it in because the syrupy-sweet goodness isn't exactly calorie friendly, but for now, I'm letting myself enjoy it.

... watching a whole lot of this:

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Are we the only people who never saw this when it was on TV?  Holy cow, I'm in love.  It's the perfect combination of small town drama/family values/yummy Taylor Kitsch (who plays bad boy Tim Riggins on the show.  My infatuation with this guy is so out of character; we all know I'm usually drawn to the wholesome quarterback and not the long-haired, brooding fullback. :))

... stealing Grace's Johnson's Baby Bedtime Lotion.  I swear, y'all, this stuff smells fantastic.  Every time we bathe her, I slather both of us in it and breathe in the scent like a weirdo.

... watching the scale like a hawk.  I'm down about 41 pounds since I had Grace, and although that sounds like a lot, I've still got a long way to go to get back down to my pre-pregnancy weight.  I ate way too many cheese tator tots from Sonic over the last nine months, you guys.  Next time I swear I'm sticking to grilled chicken and veggies.

... cuddling with this guy.

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We are still in an almost honeymoon-like state of bliss, and it's so wonderful.  We'll eventually get back to fighting over the remote and picking at one another's annoying habits, but for now, we're enjoying each other and this little girl.

... searching for an internal medicine doctor.  I'm pretty sure that the middle-of-the-night stomach and back pain that I experienced during pregnancy and is now rearing its ugly head again is related to my gallbladder.  I figure that since I've already met my deductible for the year, I might as well get it taken care of.

... enjoying my freshly-colored and cut hair.  We left Grace for the first time this weekend while Micah had softball practice and I went to the salon.  My mom and stepdad took incredible care of her, and it was nice to get away for a little while.  It made the snuggles she gave me when I got home even sweeter. :)

... munching on the delicious red velvet brownies that the sweet cousin of one of my oldest friends brought Micah and me on Saturday.  Thank you again, Rebekah!

Alright guys... the little girl is napping in her crib for the first time (she usually sleeps in her Rock 'N Play or her bouncy seat during the day).  So I think I'm going to lay down and take a little nap myself. :)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Grace: one month...

My darling Grace,

You are ONE MONTH OLD!  It's so insane because, on one hand, it seems like yesterday that we were bringing you home from the hospital.  But on the other hand, you absolutely and completely fit, and it feels like you've been a part of our family forever.

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Here are your one-month stats:

One Month at a Glance

Weight:  ? (we don't go back to the pediatrician until your two-month appointment)
Length:  ?
Eating:  3.5 to 4 ounces every 3 hours during the day and every 4 to 4.5 hours at night
Sleeping:  4 to 4.5 hours at a time at night, usually an hour or so in between feedings
Diapers:  size 1 (you've worn size 1 since you came home from the hospital, you chunky girl!)
Clothes:  newborn (some newborn onesies are getting difficult to snap!) and some 0-3 months
Things You Love:  your MAM pacifiers, cuddles, Tommee Tippee bottles, bath time (as long as we keep your legs covered with warm wash cloths), your bottom being patted, being swaddled, conversations with Mommy and Daddy, being held, your bouncy seat, your swing
What You Can Do This Month:  reach for things, smile (although I think these smiles might still be gas), hold your head up, pull Mommy's hair, recognize Mommy's and Daddy's voices

You are such a good baby, little girl.  You are completely happy 90% of the time.  You only fuss when you're hungry, dirty, or occasionally when you're, ahem, in the process of making a dirty diaper. :)  Your waketime has increased significantly, and we spend a lot of time looking at and talking to one another these days.  When you're awake, you're so wide-eyed; your Mamaw says that you look like an owl.

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Eating:  Since we've switched you to formula, you've consistently gone 3 hours between feedings during the day.  At night, you've gone as long as 6 hours (Mommy didn't mean to let you go that long - she set her alarm for p.m. instead of a.m.!), but you usually go 4 to 4.5 hours.  You're eating 3.5 to 4 ounces at each feeding.  I worry that I'm overfeeding you, but you down every bottle like you've never eaten before, and the pediatrician says we're right on track. 

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Sleeping:  You sleep like a champ at night, sweet girl.  Mommy is so thankful that you finally got your days and nights figured out because at first I was only getting an hour or so of sleep at a time.  Now, you fall asleep almost immediately after each feeding, and since you're going 4 to 4.5 hours between each feeding, Mommy's getting sleep in 3.5 to 4 hour stretches.  Whoo hoo!  During the day, however, you're not as consistent.  Although you'll sometimes sleep for an hour or hour-and-a-half at a time, you often prefer to take a few small catnaps between each feeding.  It's not a problem right now since you're generally so content when you're awake, but I hope you eventually learn to take real naps so Mommy can have an hour or two at a time to get things done. :)  You also occasionally fight falling asleep during the day, but if I swaddle you, you usually fall right asleep.
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I honestly couldn't have asked for a more perfect or easy baby, and I am so excited to watch you continue to grow and develop.  We're in for a fun adventure, sweet love!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Thoughts on nursing...

What's funny is that I never really intended to breastfeed.

When I was pregnant, I had heard about all of the benefits of breastfeeding from many well-meaning friends and family.  I had done the research and knew that it would be great for both Grace and I if I nursed her.

But honestly?  There was a part of me that just couldn't get over the ick factor.  The whole idea of using my body to feed my baby just seemed strange, and I knew that it would be too weird for me to get over.  So my plan was to "try" and breastfeed while in the hospital to appease the nurses (I had been warned that they'd be pretty pushy about it) and then transition to formula and bottles once we got home.

I never imagined that I'd become so attached to it.

From the first time I held Grace skin to skin, that oxytocin started flowing, and the nursing experience bonded me to her in a completely unexpected way.  It didn't feel strange at all.  In fact, it felt so, so natural and right.  As the days went on, I became convinced that I really wanted to give nursing a legitimate try.  No one was more shocked than I was, but I'm nothing if not flexible.  

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(Lest you all think I'm breaking my rule against showing you inappropriate pictures, we were definitely not nursing here.  I'm just showing a lot of cleavage - ha. :))

I'd be lying if I told you that it wasn't incredibly painful.  My nipples were cracked and bleeding (even though I slathered on the lanolin like nobody's business), and the first minute or so of each nursing session kept my toes curled and usually drew a cry of pain.  But it was definitely bearable, and I knew that it would get easier.  So I met with three different lactation consultants at the hospital and one at Grace's pediatrician's office in attempt to learn how to feed her effectively.  We mastered the latch and the hold, and Grace was eating like a champ.

Well, that is, she was trying to eat like a champ. 

My milk didn't come in for six long days.  Before that, there was very little, if any, colostrum getting to her.  (I tried hand-expressing multiple times and got a whole lot of nothing.)  She dropped from 9 pounds to 7 pounds and 10 ounces in a matter of days, and I was panicked.  I knew that a certain amount of weight loss was normal, but she had lost over 15% of her birth weight, and her pediatrician was concerned enough to recommend that we offer her a 1-ounce bottle after each feeding. 

So we did so without hesitation.  As much as I had fallen in love with nursing and knew that offering a bottle so soon might compromise my ability to breastfeed, the mama bear in me took over, and I happily watched as she got full and happy after each bottle.  We had bought both Dr. Brown's and Tommee Tippee bottles, and she ate well from both, but the Dr. Brown's are supposed to help prevent fussiness and colic, so we mostly used them. 

After two days of supplementing (and still before my milk had come in), she stopped latching.  Girlfriend was smart enough to realize that bottles were way easier than nursing, and she had no interest in nursing.  I cried uncontrollably (yay, hormones!) at the thought that I had failed her.  It's silly, I know, but I was juar so disappointed.  (Which was pretty ironic considered how uninterested in nursing I had been before Grace was born.)

Micah's parents were over for dinner after almost a full day of Grace refusing to latch.  I was frustrated beyond belief and was THISCLOSE to giving up.  It was time for her to eat again, and I told Micah that I would try nursing one more time before we'd just switch over to bottles.  Lo and behold, the girl latched like a champ, and it appeared that my milk had finally come in!  From that point on, I stuck to Tommee Tippee bottles (which are supposed to be best for breastfed babies), and she went back and forth perfectly.

She begain gaining weight again, but my doctor recommended that we continued to supplement until she got back to her birth weight.  I agreed (again... the instinct to help her thrive overcame my concern that the bottles might compromise nursing) and did so until she got back up to 9 pounds.

After that, I was thrilled to put the bottles away and nurse exclusively.  We bought a nursing cover and another nursing bra and looked forward to providing breastmilk at least until I went back to work at 12 weeks. 

But my body had other plans.

From the moment I stopped giving her bottles, she went from being a happy and content baby to a fussy demon child.  I wasn't sure if she was just extra hungry because my body wasn't used to producing all of the milk she was demanding or if there was something I was eating that was upsetting her stomach.  Either way, we were both miserable.  I was feeding on demand around the clock and even throwing in extra pumping sessions to try and teach my body to make more milk but was consistently only getting 2 ounces per session.  And she was still crying all the time. 

After three days of constant fussing (and constant pumping!), I decided to try an experiment.  I picked up a can of Similac Sensitive formula (we had been using Enfamil's Gentlease for the supplements) and a bottle of gas drops and to feed her only formula for 24 hours (while continuing to pump to keep up my supply) to see if there was any change in her demeanor.  My experiment was flawed in that we were changing multiple variables (the substance of her food, the amount of food, and the addition of the gas drops), but I was desperate. 

The change was immediate.  Her crying essentially disappeared, and she slept better and longer than she ever had.  I cried tears of relief because she was back to being our sweet, happy baby.  But I was incredibly disappointed at the realization that nursing probably wasn't going to work for us.

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Because as much as I had grown to enjoy nursing, I knew that the effort it would take to teach my body to create enough milk to satisfy my hungry girl would drive both of us crazy.  And since I had planned on switching to formula at three months anyway, it didn't seem worth it to put us both through days and days of misery to satisfy my desire to breastfeed, particularly given how much Miss Priss loves her bottles.

So after almost a month, we're throwing in the towel and switching to formula.  I'm totally at peace with our decision, as I know that formula has worked wonderfully for many bottle-fed babies that I know.  And, truth be told, I'm excited for the newfound flexibility - finally other people can help me feed her! (My dad, in particular, loves feeding bottles to babies, and it was awesome to watch him give Grace a bottle on Sunday.)  I will definitely miss nursing (which still feels strange to admit - I swear... that oxytocin is some powerful stuff!) but I'm glad to have gotten to nurse her for as long as I did, and I'll cherish those sweet moments forever.

Link Party Button #milkingit

Monday, May 13, 2013

Happy (Belated) Mother's Day...

Yesterday was an incredible day.  It was my first time celebrating Mother's Day as a mom, and Micah did a wonderful job making me feel special.  All day long he kept saying, "but it's your first Mother's Day as a mom... it has to be special!"  He's a keeper, that one.

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Plus, we got to spend lots of time with family, which is always nice.

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(me, Grace, and my sweet Momma.  I'm so, so lucky.)

But as I was snuggling my little pumpkin during the early morning feeding yesterday, I was reminded what a gift it is to be a mom.  And I know so many of you are struggling to get pregnant or are mommies to heavenly babies, and I just want you to know that I'm thinking of and praying for you.  God is in all things, big, and small, and I have faith in His ability to give each of you this incredible gift.

So I hope you all had a fabulous Mother's Day!  I'll check back in later this week to chat about our nursing adventures (which appear to be coming to an end) and to do Grace's one-month post.  Holy cow... how has it already been a month?  Crazy...

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thankful for... {newborn pictures, part one}

Loved and Lovely

Look at me, finally getting up a Thankful Thursdays post!  But I must admit... this is probably the easiest one I've ever done. :)

{I'm thankful} for our happy, healthy, beautiful and sweet little princess girl.  She is already the joy of our lives and I couldn't be more thankful for her.

I also wanted to share some of our newborn pictures, but because there are so many, I thought I'd split them up into two posts.  Here is the first half.  Enjoy!

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What are you guys thankful for this week?  Link up and tell us!

Also linking up with black tag diaries, The Fontenot Four, First Day of my Life, kate says stuff, and a punk a pumpkin and a peanut.

All images courtesy of Lauren Ammerman of Lauren Ammerman Photography.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Grace's birth story...

At long last, here's the story of how our sweet little girl made her grand entrance. It was a beautiful and exhausting adventure (perhaps a foreshadowing of life to come? :)), and I don't want to forget a single, sweet moment. Ready?

Here we go... (and get comfy because it's long).

We were scheduled to be induced on Wednesday morning. After my last doctor's appointment on Tuesday, I still hadn't felt a single contraction, but I was 80% effaced, so my doctor didn't seen any reason for me to come in on Tuesday night. So after having gotten almost no sleep the night before, we woke up on Wednesday morning, got ready to go (you'd better believe I fixed my hair and did my makeup!), and loaded ours and Grace's bags in the car. It felt so weird leaving the house knowing that we'd be coming home with our daughter.

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7:30 a.m. We picked up Jack in the Box on the way and got to the hospital a little after 7:30. When I went to check in at labor and delivery, I about had a heart attack: they didn't have me on the books for Wednesday. They had made a mistake and scheduled me for the day before. After a mini panic attack and a miserable and tear-filled 30-minute wait, they "squeezed me in" (whatever that means).

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9:00 a.m. We got set up in the labor and delivery room and got started. After asking me about a billion questions, they started the IV and got the pitocin flowing around 9:00 a.m. At that point, I was still just dilated to a 1. My family started to arrive around that time (God bless them, they didn't realize they were in for a looong day). I don't remember when I felt my first contraction, but I remember that at first, they felt like menstrual cramps. At one point, I think I actually said, "this isn't so bad! Maybe next time I'll think about going without an epidural!" Ha. Silly me...

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12:30 p.m. By this point, we were just waiting. My water still hadn't broken, and the contractions were still pretty sporadic.  We watched a whole lot of Friends. :)

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1:15 p.m. A little while later, my doctor stopped by and broke my water. If you've never felt the sensation of your water breaking, it honestly feels like you've peed on yourself. So, so strange, but not painful. Unfortunately, they could tell that Miss Priss had had her first meconium bowel movement in utero, so that complicated things a bit. The NICU team would have to be in the delivery room to make sure that her lungs were okay. When my doctor checked me at that point, I was dilated to a 3-4.

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2:30 p.m. After my water was broken, we continued to wait. The contractions began to get more intense and closer together and definitely more painful. At this point, I went ahead and asked for the epidural. I had let myself feel several pretty strong contractions at that point and was satisfied that I had felt more than enough pain to have "experienced" labor. Again... silly me. I had no idea what was waiting for me.

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Getting the epidural wasn't at all what I expected. They gave me a numbing shot beforehand that stung for a second, but after that, I didn't feel anything. I had seen the scary videos of the enormous needle and was dreading it, but it was really nothing at all.

After the epidural kicked in, however, I got incredibly weak, and my blood pressure shot up. I'm honestly not sure why, but that epidural and I did not get along. I absolutely couldn't stand the feeling of being numb from the waist down. I can't really describe it, but I don't think I've been more uncomfortable in my entire life. I also began to feel nauseated. They kept me full of anti-nausea medication, though, which helped a lot.

4:00 p.m. My doctor stopped by to check me, and I was still just at a 4. They had difficulty regulating the Pitocin because, if they gave me too little, my contractions would become irregular and weak, but if they gave me too much, they'd remain fairly weak but get too close together and stress Grace out.

For the rest of the afternoon, we continued to wait for me to dilate.  All the nurses called my room the party room because it stayed full the entire day. My family would rotate in and out, but there were always at least four or five people in at a time. I wouldn't have had it any other way. :)

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6:30 p.m.  This time after my doctor checked me, she announced that I was at a 10! We were ready to start pushing. I can't explain what a jumbled mess of emotions I was at this point. I was so, so ready to meet Grace, but for some reason, I was incredibly afraid of pushing. The entire pregnancy, I had been afraid of this part, and that it was finally time to face the music was just a lot to take in. As he had done throughout the entire day, Micah held my hand and made me feel safe and strong. So after kicking out everyone but the pushing crew (Micah, my mom, Micah's mom, and my best friend Lauren, who took these incredible pictures), we got started.

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I can honestly say the next two hours were some of the most tiring of my life. At first, the pushing seemed to be going well. For the first 20 minutes, she was moving, and my doctor didn't think I'd have to push more than 20 or so more minutes. But at some point, she just stopped making progress. My contractions weren't very strong, so I wasn't getting any help from my body. And I was so numb that it was difficult to know where to push, but I felt confident that I was pushing as hard as I possibly could. (And for the record, the pushing itself was totally painless. It was utterly exhausting but not what I expected at all.) After I had pushed for about an hour and a half, my doctor suggested the other thing I had feared: she wanted to turn my epidural down. She thought that I might be able to push more effectively if I could feel more pressure. I really, really didn't want to, but I really wasn't ready to give up on a vaginal delivery yet, so I agreed.

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From the time they turned down the epidural, I pushed for about 30 more minutes. They had turned it about 1/3 of the way down, so I really started to feel the contractions and the pressure. I knew at that point that I was pushing against the pressure as hard as I possibly could, but she still wasn't budging at all.

8:30 p.m.  I finally looked at my doctor in between contractions and burst into tears. I knew I was giving as much as I possibly could, but I couldn't keep going for much longer. When I asked her what she thought, she told me that it wasn't unreasonable to be thinking about a c-section given that my contractions weren't really moving Grace along at all and the Pitocin still remained difficult to regulate. She told me that it'd likely be another two hours of pushing to bring Grace into the world through a vaginal delivery and that it was probable that I'd push and push and still end up having to have a c-section anyway. I looked at Micah and knew that it was time to throw in the towel. For some reason, I had predicted this outcome (a long delivery, several hours of pushing, and a c-section) and was oddly at peace with it. I think I was just ready to meet our sweet girl, and I didn't have another ounce of energy left to push with.

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So they started preparing us (and the operating room) for surgery.  The epidural was still turned down at that point, and the pain became unbearable.  I had resisted the urge to drop an f-bomb the entire labor, but I remember letting one fly when I yelled at the top of my lungs quietly explained that I was ready for them to turn it back up.  (And, for the record, the doctors and nurses were all out of the room at that point.)

They got us back to the OR and quickly got to work.  The moment that blessed anesthesiologist pumped me full of the good stuff again, I wanted to cry tears of joy.  There was absolutely no pain and not nearly as much pressure as I had anticipated.  But I could feel them tugging and pulling and working away.  I held Micah's hand and prayed over and over for a healthy baby.

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11:35 p.m.  And then suddenly, I heard the most precious cry and burst into tears.

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Our Grace had arrived.

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She was 9 pounds even and 19 and a half inches.

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At that point, Micah got up to go be with Grace as the nurses measured and cleaned her.

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And then Daddy got to hold his little girl for the first time.

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Grace was absolutely perfect.  Her lungs were clear, so the NICU team wasn't needed. 

But at that point, things got a little scary for me.  My uterus had torn in two places, and my doctor was having trouble stopping the bleeding.  I remember looking at Micah's face and seeing sheer panic.  And my doctor, who is usually very calm and relaxed, sounded more anxious than I've ever heard.  But I had lost a lot of blood, so I was in and out of consciousness, and the gravity of the situation wasn't really hitting me.  All I could do was reach out and touch her sweet little feet as Micah held her.

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Thankfully, they finally got the bleeding under control and got me all put back together.  And then I got to hold our little angel.

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I will never, ever be able to describe the wonder and joy I felt holding her for the first time.  For nine months I had imagined what it would be like, but I could never have guessed how much I'd love her.  And how much I'd love Micah for loving us both.

She was incredible.  She is incredible.

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Fourteen hours of labor, two hours of pushing, and a scary surgery... and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat to bring her into this world.

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Our little family of three was finally complete.

All photos were taken by Lauren Ammerman of Lauren Ammerman Photography.
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