Saturday, December 08, 2012

2 months in...

Graham is two months old now and he gets cuter every day, in my (not so) humble opinion. A lot has happened over the last two months and I'm not sure where to start.

Let's start with his sleeping habits. I told myself I would transition him to his crib at four weeks. Well four weeks came along and he was still sleeping in our room and I just wasn't ready to move him yet. Not only was he still in our room, but do you remember how I referenced keeping my bedside lamp on that first night we were home from the hospital?

Well, I must confess that it wasn't just a one night thing but instead I kept that light on every night for the entire first month of Graham's life. I know, I'm nuts. But it just made me feel more comfortable being able to roll over and see his face. And it wasn't that bright of a light.

I have good news. One night I decided it was time to start sleeping in the dark. But that seemed a little too drastic so I switched to only turning on the frog nightlight that we got at our baby shower. I LOVE the frog light which projects stars on our ceiling and gives me just enough light that I can still see his face and then it goes off after about twenty minutes when I'm already asleep.

(This is just one of the many baby items I've grown to love. Stay tuned for my "favorite baby items" blog that will be coming up next...perhaps next month at this rate)

Next I started putting him in his crib for nap time during the day to get us both used to the transition. Let's just say it did not go well. He did a lot of crying and not a whole lot of sleeping. Not a lot has changed in the napping in the crib department. Actually napping in general starts out with a lot of crying and not a lot of napping.

So his nap sleeping habits aren't exactly awesome but his nighttime sleeping habits sure are! At exactly six weeks old, he slept through the night for the first time. I thought maybe it was a fluke but he did the same the next night, and the night after that and the night after that... You get the idea. But then I got really nervous because he was still sleeping in our room at that point and I thought maybe he wouldn't sleep through the night when we moved him to his crib.

So last Friday, when he was eight weeks old, we finally made the big move to his crib. I may have teared up a little bit. My baby is growing up. First you move them to their crib and the next thing you know you're moving them to college.

Well my fears were all for nothing because he slept soundly through his first night in the crib. I, however, slept horribly. I kept zooming the video monitor (another favorite item) in on his chest to make sure he was breathing. Don't judge me. I already admitted that I am crazy.

And he's been sleeping soundly in his crib every night since. Last night marked one full week of him sleeping in his crib and three weeks of sleeping through the night. Yes, I'm crazy. But I'll tell you what, I'm a whole lot less crazy when I'm getting sleep. That being said, I'm still not sleeping quite as long as Graham is because I pump after I put him to bed and then I wake up to pump before he wakes up in the morning.

About the whole pumping issue. It has been a daily battle. Some days I think, "This isn't so bad. I can definitely keep doing this until he's six months old and starts eating solids." Then the next day, I tell Pat that I'm going to quit pumping because it's overwhelming and keeping me from being a good mom. Lucky for me, he is completely supportive no matter what I decide and actually has been suggesting that I quit pumping for quite some time now.

You may not know this about me, but I'm extremely goal-oriented (my nice way of saying that I'm really stubborn). And when I put my mind to something, I have a really hard time giving up or quitting. Being a parent is teaching me that having a plan is nice but a much more effective plan is accepting that nothing with parenting really goes as planned.

Well, this whole breastfeeding and pumping issue has not quite gone as planned. I had visions of breastfeeding for six months and pumping after breastfeeding to store enough milk to give him breast milk for a full year. I was so confident about how much extra milk I would be producing that I actually had been looking for extra refrigerators on Craig's List to store the abundance of milk I was going to have.

So imagine my surprise to find out that I really didn't have a milk supply at all and was starving my child by trying to breastfeed. But I worked really hard, pumping at least eight times a day, sometimes for an hour at a time, even when I was only producing an ounce total at each session. My hard work paid off and my milk supply is up from almost nothing to now producing as much as he's eating each day (about 30 ounces).

So you can imagine why it's difficult for me to just quit now. When I reach a breaking point and tell myself that I'm going to quit pumping, and try to convince myself that it is OKAY if I quit, I can't let myself. I worked too hard to stop now.

So on the day that Pat was outside, I was attached to the pumping machine and Graham started crying, I told myself I was quitting for good that day so that I would be able to pick up my son when he needed me.

But instead of just quitting, I decided I would cut back and be more relaxed about pumping to see if that would make me feel better. Before doing this, I had to accept the fact that it might deplete my milk supply if I wasn't pumping as much.

Well, I cut back a few weeks ago and am now only pumping five times a day as opposed to eight and I'm producing the same amount of milk and it's much less stressful. Best case scenario, right?

I'm extremely proud of the fact that I had barely any milk to begin with and have now given Graham exactly nine weeks of breast milk and have almost 250 ounces of milk in the freezer. Turns out, we're going to need that extra freezer space after all!

Parenting lessons:

  • Don't underestimate the power of the swaddle. The boy loves to be swaddled! He can go from spitfire mad and screaming to calm and collected as soon as you swaddle him. But you MUST leave his hands out at the top so he can put them in his mouth and touch his face. The boy also loves to soothe himself with his hands.

Such a sweet little guy
  • I had my first "I love you so much I could cry" moment(s) - okay, it's happened a few times and I do tear up a little bit each time. The first time it happened I was sitting on the couch holding him (while he was swaddled and sleeping - see picture) and he was making these little whimpers and wheezes in his sleep and I just got overwhelmed by how much I love him. It's cheesy, I know. And three months ago I would totally be judging myself for these corny thoughts but it's true. 

I look at him in complete awe of the fact that Pat and I made him and what a miracle he is. Exactly one year ago, I was sitting at home recovering from a miscarriage, wondering when I would get pregnant again and if the next pregnancy would "stick," as they say.

I pretty much had ruled out the chance that I would have a baby in 2012 and here I am a year later, with a happy, healthy two month old baby. How could I not get overwhelmed with how blessed I am?

  • Whoever coined the expression, "There's no use crying over spilled milk" was most definitely a man who had never pumped before. I had an incident where I had pumped for 20 minutes and one boob was leaking the entire time so the milk, AKA liquid gold, did not go into the bottle at all but instead was all down my shirt and on my bra. Unfortunately I didn't realize it until the pumping session was over. It was quite devastating. Since that time, much milk has been spilled and leaked and it's equally devastating each time. 
  • I had my first experience with a complete stranger, in public, ask very loudly if I was breastfeeding my baby. I felt like you could hear the record skip and everyone stopped to look at me as I answered. She was an old lady and I was completely caught off guard so I just said there were so complications but that I'm pumping. Later, I realized that I owed her no explanation and could have just said no. Lesson learned. But it's amazing to me how people have no hesitation to ask such personal questions. People I don't know. In public. 
  • I also had my first experience making my son cry out of pain. I accidentally bumped his head on our kitchen table while trying to multitask and hold him while also eating cereal. It didn't work. He was really quiet at first and I knew that was a bad sign... the crying was building inside of him and just as I suspected, a crying explosion came out. It even left a mark for his dad to see when he got home from work. I'm pretty sure my mother-of-the-year trophy was already in the mail prior to this but if not, this sealed the deal. Unfortunately it probably won't be the last time I accidentally hurt him.
  • I had my first pumping in public experience. We were at an indoor tailgate at the Hyatt downtown before a Browns game. I went into the handicapped stall in the ladies restroom, hung my pumping bag on the hook on the stall door and away I went. It wasn't a perfect experience, since many people came in and used the restroom while I was in there, some of them going #2 (sorry - but it's true). Needless to say, I didn't produce much milk. But it at least gave me the confidence that I could probably pump just about anywhere. 
  • Grady cannot be trusted anymore. All of the puppy issues we thought we were done with - Grady swallowing anything and everything - has returned. He has now swallowed four bibs - that we know of. He has also gone back to swallowing paper products, too. The only reason we know this is because he leaves traces of evidence and because he also woke us up at 4 AM while he was throwing up the fourth bib. Pat found the other three in the backyard. This is either Grady's cry for help that he isn't getting enough attention since the arrival of the other G, or he hates his life so much that he's trying to commit suicide. Either way, he probably needs some more attention.
The biggest lesson I learned this month is that you never really have this whole parenting thing figured out. Just when you think you've got something figured out - it changes. It definitely keeps me on my toes and sometimes it can be stressful and overwhelming but I can't imagine my life any other way.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

One month in...

Graham was born a month ago. I cannot believe it. The good news is, we're all still alive. But I have no idea where the last five weeks went. Time is going by so quickly and it probably will never slow down. Next thing you know Graham will be getting married and having his own kids. Okay, I'm getting ahead of myself. But seriously, time is flying by!

The days fly by, too. I feel like I blink and it's time for Pat to come home from work already (and usually this is when I realize that I haven't brushed my teeth or showered all day).

But finally I can say I’m feeling like I might be STARTING to get the hang of this whole parenting thing. And my energy is back which is great. Now I just feel the normal exhaustion that all new parents feel from being sleep deprived (will I ever sleep eight hours in a row again? EVER? What about 4? Or 5? Or 6? Or 7?).

We might actually be getting on a little bit of a routine, too. And by routine I mean I am a slave to my son and he calls all the shots but he is starting to be a little bit more consistent with his demands.

The boy knows what he wants and that is (in order of priority) to eat, be held and to sleep. Preferably he would like to combine 2 and 3 and be held while he sleeps. And if he doesn’t get what he wants, his little Irish temper (which he does not get from me, by the way) kicks in and he lets you know he is not happy.

As Graham and I are still getting to know one another, I am slowly catching on to some of his mannerisms and I'm actually very lucky to have learned that he does about 20-30 minutes worth of "warning grunts" in his sleep before he wakes up.

This works to my advantage because when I hear those grunts, I either jump out of bed to pump before he wakes up or I run to the kitchen to prepare myself a quick meal or any other last minute things I really need to get done before he wakes up.

Since I am not able to breastfeed...yet (still not giving up hope), I am pumping my milk and feeding him by bottles (AKA exclusively pumping or EPing). He eats every 2 1/2-3 hours and I pump every 2 1/2-3 hours. Doing both of these things leaves me little time during the day to do much of anything else.

Whoever said, "sleep when the baby is sleeping," was not exclusively pumping. I promise you, there is no time for sleeping during the day. If I remember to brush my teeth, it's a good day. If I brush my teeth, shower, and eat three meals, it's an exceptional day. So no, there is no time for sleeping while the baby sleeps.

So how do I have time to blog, you might ask. Let me introduce you to a little thing called a hands free pumping bra. This item is LIFE CHANGING for those who pump. I pump anywhere between 6-8 times a day for twenty minutes at a time (except during power pumps which last for an hour. It's like a new kind of power hour except without the fun music and alcoholic beverages).

That is a total of two to three hours I spend pumping each day. Instead of sitting there holding the pumps, the hands free bra lets me turn that time into productive time. In fact, I am wearing the hands free pumping bra right now while typing this.

How I define "productive time" is another story. Sometimes I spend it writing thank you notes, catching up on work emails, reading the plethora of baby books I have or even blogging. But most of the time, I spend it on facebook or playing games on my phone. But it makes the time go by faster, nonetheless.

I have learned many things over the last five weeks, some of which are making my life as a mom easier now that I'm aware. For example, I have learned that it is important for me to pump BEFORE the baby wakes up. Otherwise, I try to lay him down for a nap and start pumping and like clockwork, he wakes up crying while I am attached to a machine. This leaves me with the choice of either stopping pumping and not having milk for his next bottle or just letting him cry. Either way, it's a helpless feeling.

So if I can stay ahead of his eating schedule, life is much less complicated. Although, there was a time when I couldn't listen to him cry anymore while I was pumping so I turned off the pump, disconnected myself, picked him up, warmed up a bottle, returned to the machine and hooked myself back up to pump and bottle feed him while pumping. How is that for multitasking? It can be done but it is less than ideal and quite tricky.

Another thing I have learned since becoming a mom is that all boob modesty goes out the window when you start breast feeding or pumping. I think anyone who has come to my house in the last month has probably seen my boobs. (Disclaimer - I do have a small amount of dignity left and do cover up when males other than my husband and son are present).

I have also learned, and am rediscovering this every single day, that new moms get LOTS of advice. Some of it solicited and most of it not. Some from friends and family, some from doctors and some from your own research on the internet and in books.

And almost every single piece of advice you receive is contradictory. Trying to sort through all of this advice and decide what is best for our life and our baby has been one of the most difficult parts of being a parent so far.

One person says never wake a sleeping baby while another person says your baby needs to eat every 2 1/2 to 3 hours so you must wake them to eat. One person says watch the baby not the clock when it comes to feeding while another says don't feed your baby sooner than every 2 1/2 to 3 hours, thus requiring you to watch the clock.

One person says you can't spoil a newborn baby, hold them when they want to be held and do whatever you need to do to get them to sleep (use swings, vibrating chairs, let them fall asleep on you, etc.) while another person says don't develop bad habits by relying on using swings, vibrating chairs, etc. to fall asleep.

Even if you talk to your friends about what their pediatrician recommends, all doctors say different things too. It's nuts and can leave parents feeling completely overwhelmed.

I don't really have a solution to this yet, but we are just trying to figure it out as we go. And we still have a lot to learn!

Other important milestones during the first month:

Our dog Grady, who hasn't swallowed any human items in over a year and a half (if you were unaware of this habit of his, read more about it here and here and here and here), had a small relapse and swallowed one of Graham's bibs. He would have gotten away with it except he left behind one of the snaps as a piece of evidence.

Then Hurricane Sandy came rolling through and it rained for an entire week straight. And for that entire week, Grady was trying to pass the bib and needed to go outside like ten times a day and spent what felt like hours out there at a time pacing back and forth in the rain trying to poop out the bib.

So when I wasn't pumping or feeding the baby, I was drying off our wet dog. Don't worry - he did pass the bib, as you can see to your left.

I got introduced to a little thing we like to call projectile spit up. You might think this is something that only happens in the exorcist but even my cute little baby can shoot spit up across the kitchen floor (it happened and there were witnesses).

On a positive note, when I get spit up all over me, this forces me to make time for a shower so I guess we all win. Except on the days when I have just showered and get spit up in my clean, wet hair. And yes, that has happened, too.

The Baby Bijorn is great. I will admit, the first time I wore it around the house, I felt a little silly like I was straight out of the movie The Hangover. But it does make life easier being able to keep Graham close and he feels like he's being held and I still have my hands free. The problem is, I usually try to do this while I'm eating lunch and then I end up eating over his head..not a good idea with hot food. 

Graham celebrated his first Halloween and got to celebrate this fun holiday with both of his cousins. On night number one, he was a bumble bee and on night number two he was an army man. He won't remember this first Halloween, I'm sure. But don't worry, his mom took plenty of pictures!

Bumble Bee Graham with his Zebra cousin Harper

Army man Graham with his army cousin Max

This month's big accomplishments:
  • Making it to Graham's one month appointment on time. Okay, I was two minutes late but given my track record of being late even before having a baby, I'm counting that as on time.
  • Taking Graham out to Crocker Park for our first big outing and successfully coordinating my pumping schedule and his bottle feeding schedule to get there by a set time (would have been late but everyone else was running late, too so I was kind of on time). I even did my hair and make up for the occasion. 
  • Graham smiled for the first time on the exact day he turned one month old. I thought he had smiled a few times before but on this day he did it several times in a row so I knew it was the real deal!
Graham's first smile!

And finally, here is a look at our growing baby boy.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Welcome home, Graham

I don't remember anyone telling me how hard the first two weeks of being a mom would be. And if they did, maybe I blocked it out. I guess I was expecting nothing but rainbows and butterflies when bringing baby Graham home.

Heading home from the hospital
Turns out it's more like baby boot camp coupled with raging hormones and parents who have no idea what they are doing. I was actually terrified to leave the hospital because I wasn't sure how we were going to do this on our own when walking to the bathroom felt like running a marathon for me.

But alas, we were home. Ready or not...we were on our own.

Within 5 minutes of walking through the door Pat changed a blowout poopy diaper and was peed on.

The next day I let Graham pee on his own face while trying to change his diaper. Since then he has peed on himself or someone else at least once a day. Today, he is in his third outfit already and it's only noon...

Our first trip out together was for Graham's doctors appointment on Friday. It was a lot of work getting myself ready and then getting him ready and all packed up. We were late to the appointment and didn't realize we forgot the diaper bag until the nurse had us strip him naked to weigh him.

It was pretty embarrassing to have to tell the nurse we didn't have a clean diaper to put back on him. Luckily she gave us a diaper to use - although it was about three sizes too big. In the meantime, he peed all over the exam table while she was taking his measurements.

He ended up peeing in the diaper she gave us (and out of the diaper since it was too big) and then pooped in the next diaper she gave us. We ended up using three of their diapers. We didn't need to have "new parents" tattooed on our foreheads because we made it quite obvious.

The first night home Graham slept really well... I did not. I was so paranoid that he was going to stop breathing or something was going to happen to him while I was sleeping. So I barely slept and just kept watching him to make sure his chest was still moving. And I never turned off my bedside lamp. Paranoid, I know.

I was so excited for people to finally get to meet him. I wanted that experience we never got in the hospital where people were constantly stopping by to meet the baby. So we welcomed visitors the entire week. Everyone was extremely generous - bringing us meals and gifts for the baby. We are so blessed with awesome friends and family!

But the more visitors we had, the more tired I got and by the end of the week, I came to the brutal realization that I had overdone it and had spent the week trying to pretend that I was 100% when I definitely wasn't. Coupled with several all nighters in a row, I was absolutely exhausted.

This is what the day after an all-nighter looks
like. All my boys asleep on the couch. 
Our first "all nighter" lasted from 11:45 p.m. to after 3 a.m. in the morning. As we approached the 3 o'clock hour, Graham, Pat and me all awake, the only sound you could hear in our bedroom was our dog at the foot of our bed snoring. "At least someone in this room is sleeping," Pat said.

When Graham started crying again because he was still hungry, Pat said, "So this is what all the parenting jokes are about."

On top of the lack of sleep, Graham and I were having some serious breastfeeding issues. Call me naive, ignorant or just plain stupid, but I just assumed that the baby is born, you put the baby on your boob and everything just works.

Unfortunately this wasn't the case for us. It would take about 45 minutes to get the baby on the boob (and he was screaming the entire time we tried), and when he was finally there, his latch was bad and extremely painful - like make me cry the whole time he was eating and makes my boobs bleed kind of painful.

The whole process became very stressful for both of us. After several days of just fighting through the pain and tears and the frustration of him screaming the entire 45 minutes we tried to get him to latch, I finally decided it wasn't working. It had gotten so bad that I cried as soon as he woke up knowing the pain and frustration I was going to have to experience to try to feed him. 

So on Sunday night, when he was just eight days old, I decided to introduce the bottle and used breast milk I had pumped and frozen. This was not a decision that came easily for me. I can't even begin to tell you how many tears I had shed.

I read books, took a breastfeeding class and it had been drilled into my head "breastfeeding is best." It had never crossed my mind that breastfeeding might not work for us. And now, here I was - not able to breastfeed my baby. I felt like a complete and total failure as a mom. It was so difficult for me to accept.

But I wasn't giving up that easily. The next day, I went to a breastfeeding support group to talk to a professional about the issues we were having and come up with a plan to make things work. At this point, my nipples were blistered, bloody and even pussy.

After I stopped crying and was able to articulate why I was there, the lactation consultant looked at my battered nipples and told me I was in need of a prescription nipple cream and that my nipples were "way beyond Lanolin" like I had been using.

She then weighed Graham and we realized he had lost about ten ounces in just three days. "It's time to start supplementing with formula," she said. I wasn't sure how this could happen since I felt like I was nursing all the time but she explained that between his bad latch and my anemia, I probably was suffering from low milk supply.

This could explain why Graham was getting so frustrated before feedings - because he knew he wasn't going to get enough milk from me. She tried to correct his latch, too, but wasn't successful so she suggested using a nipple shield.

But for now, she suggested giving my nipples time to heal and continue pumping and bottle feeding. So that is what we're doing and things have been much less stressful for everyone. I do feel like all I do is pump and yield very little results but I am not giving up. As of now he is getting half breast milk and half formula with every bottle. I am taking an iron supplement, drinking mother's milk tea, eating oatmeal and drinking lots and lots of water - all with hopes of increasing my milk supply.

Someday I would like them to be full breast milk bottles and maybe even get him to nurse again (because let's face it - formula is not cheap!). But for now, I have come to terms with where we are and I know that the most important thing is that my baby is getting the food he needs - regardless of the source.

In addition to crying over breastfeeding, I also shed quite a few tears over Pat going back to work. I felt like we had just started to get into a "routine" - as much of a routine as you can with a newborn - and I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to do it all on my own without him. I was terrified of being by myself.

But with the help of my mom and my friend Aubrey, I survived Pat's first few weeks back at work. It was so nice to have their help and it felt much less overwhelming. It is definitely getting easier every single day. And most importantly, I am absolutely in love with our little boy. I know I'm biased, but I think he's absolutely as cute as can be.

Photo taken by Julie D Photography

Even when he's peeing on me.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Graham's birth story and the annoying nurse that saved my life

There are people who believe in miracles and there are people who don't. I've always been one who doesn't. The problem I have with miracles is that when you believe one happened in a situation with a positive outcome, you have to wonder why one didn't happen in situations with bad outcomes.

As I sit here typing this, with my two-week-old baby boy sleeping next to me, I am seeing the subject of miracles a little differently. Maybe it's becoming a mom that has changed my opinion because let's face it - from conception to birth, everything about bringing a child into the world is miraculous.

To say that Graham's birth story turned out a little differently than I had ever anticipated is a huge understatement. But knowing what I know now and how very much worse it all could have been, I believe the story is nothing short of a miracle.

Let's start from the beginning.

Thursday, September 27:

I was sitting at my desk at work when I started getting really weird changes with my vision and just wasn't quite feeling like myself. I was very tired and worried that my blood pressure was high. I went to our school nurse and she took my blood pressure. It was elevated for me, but nothing too high to be alarming. Still, she recommended that I call my doctor and tell him. So I did.

I told them I was worried because of what I had read about vision changes being a warning sign of pre-eclampsia. They recommended going into a dark room and resting my eyes and coming to see them in the afternoon. So I did. My blood pressure was fine and there was no protein in my urine - two of the biggest indicators of pre-eclampsia. The doctor said I wasn't showing any signs and he didn't seem too worried.

Sunday, September 30

I woke up at midnight with lots of contracting and lots of cramping. I was in so much pain that I couldn't sleep for the rest of the night. I tried to time the contractions but when the contraction would stop, I would have horrible menstrual cramp pain so there was never an "end" to the contractions.

Monday, October 1

Due to lack of sleep and still not feeling like myself, I stayed home from work. I still experienced lots of contracting and cramping throughout the day.

Tuesday, October 2:

At midnight I woke up again with lots of contracting and cramping. I started timing the contractions again and from 3-6 a.m., the contractions were five minutes apart consistently. I got in the shower at 6 AM as an attempt to see if I could go to work. I got extremely nauseous in the hot shower and called the doctor when I got out.

The on-call doctor said to head to the hospital so I called Pat at work and he headed home. By the time he got home, the contractions had spaced out and were less painful but we decided to go to the hospital anyway. They took my blood pressure, tested my urine, checked my cervix and found that I was still only a centimeter dilated, monitored my contractions for an hour, and decided that I wasn't in labor and sent me home with a brochure that said, "Ready...Set...Not Yet.."

The rest of the day I was absolutely miserable with pain, cramping, and contracting. I started getting flu-like symptoms of feeling very feverish, achy, and nauseous with diarrhea. 

I was still in a lot of pain before going to bed so I took two extra-strength Tylenol, something I had avoided throughout the entire pregnancy but I just couldn't take the pain anymore. I woke up at 3:30 AM as soon as the Tylenol wore off and took one more.

Wednesday, October 3:

I woke up feeling better and rested and decided to go to work. I made it through the entire day but around 3:30 PM the cramping and contracting returned so I headed home. That night I took more Tylenol so that I would be able to sleep again.

Thursday, October 4:

I woke up feeling okay so I went to work but as soon as I got there, I started feeling extremely nauseous and the flu-like symptoms of being achy and feverish returned. During my drive home from work, I noticed the upper right part of my stomach was really sore to the touch. Every bump I drove over actually hurt my belly like it was bruised or something.

I thought this was weird so I called the doctor. By the time the receptionist took down all of the information, she said I had already missed the nurse and the doctor but she would leave them a message. I took Tylenol again and headed to bed, hoping to be able to sleep.

Friday, October 5:

I woke up at midnight with contractions. The Tylenol wasn't doing anything to help the pain and they weren't coupled with any cramping, so I thought maybe this was the real thing. I couldn't sleep at all so I went to the living room and started bouncing on our exercise ball. It was the only place I was comfortable.

I stayed up all night bouncing on this ball, folding laundry, re-organizing the drawers in the nursery, etc. When my husband, Pat, woke up for work at 4:30 AM, he found me in the nursery putting clothes away and bouncing on the ball. I told him that I was having contractions and that they were getting stronger and more regular. Neither one of us wanted to rush to the hospital only to be sent home again so I told him to go to work.

I kept timing the contractions and they were still getting stronger and closer together and just when I thought they had been less than five minutes apart for an hour, they would space out again so I started the timing over again.

I had a doctor's appointment that afternoon so Pat decided he would come home at lunch either way and we would either go to the hospital or he would drive me to my doctor's appointment. He wasn't even home for 20 minutes when all of a sudden I felt a drop and instant pressure, enough to make me yell, and then I started leaking fluid. I was pretty sure my water had broken.

We headed to the hospital. I was in pretty intense pain by the time we arrived. They took my blood pressure, tested my urine, and then checked my cervix. I was 3.5 centimeters dilated and my cervix was 100% effaced. They confirmed that my water had broken and we were definitely staying at the hospital until we had a baby.

They said I could get the epidural when I was 4 centimeters dilated and that it should only take 20 minutes or so before I could get it. Four hours later someone finally came to get me hooked up for the epidural.

In the meantime, the cord-blood donation representative came to talk to us about donating the umbilical cord for research and to save lives. We said we wanted to do it. In order to be able to donate, they had to take my blood first for their records. After they did this, the anesthesiologist started attempting to get me hooked up to an IV.

I warned her how tricky my veins were but she thought she could do it. Her first few attempts were not successful and she ended up blowing one of my veins. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but I bled A LOT from where she had attempted to insert the IV. There was blood all over the sheets. I'm not usually much of a bleeder, but I was in a lot of pain so I didn't give it much attention.

After a few more attempts, she finally got my IV in and I finally got my epidural. Life was much better at this point.

The baby was sunny-side up, and despite our efforts to get it to flip, it didn't. At around 10:15 PM I started pushing with the on-call doctor, someone I had never met before. But she was young and really nice and I liked her a lot. The nurse was great too and between them and Pat, I felt like I had a great support team.

With each push, I could never really tell if I was doing it right, pushing hard enough, etc. But I told myself that each time I would try harder and make sure I was giving it everything I had. I was so determined not to have a c-section.

After an hour of pushing, I wasn't making much progress. But I had a slight tear that was bleeding like crazy, the doctor said. She asked me if I had any hemorrhoids because she couldn't figure out why it was bleeding so badly. I told her no and we moved on.

I continued to push for another hour and still wasn't making much progress. I had it in the back of my mind that eventually, the doctor was going to throw in the towel. Finally, she said I was making progress. The rest happened so quickly and before I knew it, they were showing Pat the baby's head and my adrenaline really kicked in and I was able to push the baby out.

They announced that it was a boy and put him on my chest. Pat cut the umbilical cord and I just stared at this baby, waiting for him to start crying. But he didn't. Instead, he laid on my chest with a stunned look on his face, no movement, and no sounds.

I started to panic and kept asking the doctor and nurse, "Why isn't he crying? Shouldn't he be making noise?" The nurse said it was going to be okay and that she was going to call a pediatrician to come in and evaluate him. The doctor interrupted her and said, "No, you need to call a code pink."

Pat and I both knew what a code pink meant and we knew it wasn't good. An entire team of doctors rushed in and took the baby and started working on him. I couldn't stop crying. I remember thinking to myself that he wasn't going to make it. Our baby was going to die.

For the next few minutes, I heard the doctors talking, using suctioning on the baby, flicking him and trying to get him to react but I still didn't hear that cry I had been waiting so desperately to hear. The nurse kept assuring me that he was going to be okay but the look on her face told me she wasn't so sure.

Finally, after what felt like a lifetime, we heard a cry and they said our baby was going to be okay. He had a bowel movement of his meconium during the birthing process - known as meconium aspiration - and he ended up swallowing the fluid and filling his lungs. Although he had a low APGAR score, they assured us he was going to just fine.

When I finally got to hold him again and we were able to get a good look at him, we decided to name him Graham Evan Robinson. He was born at 1:17 AM, weighed 8 lbs. 2 oz., and was 20 inches long.

After that, things get really blurry. I had a lot of tearing and required a lot of stitching that took over an hour. I was completely out of it during this time and didn't do any of the things I had learned about in my breastfeeding classes. I didn't even think about it. All I wanted to do was sleep. 

The next thing I remember, they were wheeling us up to the postpartum floor for recovery. It was around 5:30 or 6 AM. One nurse started assessing Graham and another nurse, Emilia, from Romania, started to go over some information with me.

The first thing she asked me was whether it was normal for me to be so pale. I told her no and that I was just really tired after a very long week and getting no sleep for the last 48 hours. She wouldn't drop it. She kept emphasizing how very pale I was. "As white as the sheets," she said.

She started to go over paperwork with me but I kept dozing in-and-out of sleep while she was trying to talk to me. I was hoping she would get the hint and just let me sleep, but she didn't. She continued through all the paperwork. (I remember none of it.) Finally, she left. I remember telling Pat that I had liked every nurse up that point but that she was really bugging me. I was tired and pale because I just had a baby! All I wanted was to sleep.

When she came back, she woke me up to ask if I had a history of low platelets. Begrudgingly, I told her that I didn't even know what platelets were. I think she tried to explain it to me, but again, I remember very little. The only thing I got out of it was that she said my platelet count was 50 and that was very low.

She then explained how important it was for me to page a nurse if I felt any gushes of blood. I asked her how I would know since I was still pretty numb. She said it would be gushing off of the bed. Even as I type this, I find it so scary that I was at risk of hemorrhaging. But at the time, I was too out of it to even be concerned.

When she left, I asked Pat very nonchalantly, "Should I be concerned about this low platelet thing?" He said he didn't think so but I asked him to text my step-mom, Jill, a Nurse Practioner, just in case. I then rolled over and drifted back to sleep.

The next thing I knew, I was being woken up again but this time it was by a lab tech who was poking me to draw some blood.

I needed to go to the bathroom at that point so I paged to have someone come help me. A nurse's aid came and helped me out of bed. From the moment I stood up and made my way to the bathroom, things did not seem right. I felt like the world was closing in around me. I got really dizzy and I started getting a very loud ringing in my ear that was slowly eliminating my ability to hear.

I asked the aid if she also heard the ringing. She asked if I meant the phone ringing at the front desk in the hallway. I told her no. I explained to her what I was hearing and that I was quickly becoming very dizzy and feeling like I was going to pass out. She helped me back to bed.

Before I knew it, that annoying nurse, Emilia, who wouldn't let me sleep, was back in the room asking me more questions about the symptoms I experienced when I got up. She emphasized that if I needed to get up again, I must make sure it is a nurse who is assisting me, not an aid.

I drifted back to sleep again and this time, I woke up to not only the annoying nurse Emilia, but also the doctor who delivered Graham. This part is very, very fuzzy. But here is what I remember. The doctor explained to me that I had a rare complication with my pregnancy called HELLP Syndrome - which means:
Again, most of what she was saying didn't mean much to me because I didn't understand the medical terminology and I was too out of it to comprehend much. I know I was asking her questions, I just don't remember what.

What I do remember her saying is that I was at risk of having a seizure or stroke and that I would probably need a blood transfusion. She explained that my platelet count had gone down from 50 to 20 and I was at risk of hemorrhaging. She told me they were going to move me back down to the labor and delivery floor where I could be monitored more closely and that I was going to need to be hooked up to a Magnesium drip for 24 hours to keep my body from having a stroke or seizure. I was told I wasn't allowed to have any food or drink, only ice chips, for the entire 24 hours in case I was to have a seizure.

As they wheeled me back down to labor and delivery, I was crying a lot. For as out of it as I was, I knew enough to be scared of everything that I had just been told. What I didn't know at the time, thank goodness is that Graham could have been affected by this disease too. Thankfully, he wasn't. And thankfully, I didn't know to be concerned about that. (Pat tells me I was made aware of this risk, I just don't remember it.)

Next, we met with a high-risk doctor who specializes in all pregnancy complications, including HELLP Syndrome. I know I was asking him a lot of questions but unfortunately, I remember very little of what I asked or what he answered.

In fact, I remember very little of the entire 48 hours after giving birth. I know I have never been so thirsty in my entire life. I know that I was poked, stabbed, and prodded with needles way too much (see picture). I had little to no use of either of my arms because one had an IV in it and the other was so sore to the touch that I couldn't move it because of an infiltrated IV.

With no use of my arms, my inability to comprehend what was going on (even though at the moment I felt like I was), I couldn't really hold my son, let alone breastfeed him.

The nurses were wonderful and between them and Pat, they were constantly trying to get Graham to nurse and get him the ever so important colostrum that he needed for nutrients. I would say these nurses went above and beyond their call of duty - manipulating my boobs for me so that my baby could breastfeed.

I remember feeling completely helpless and overwhelmed as I watched my husband take care of this baby every time it cried or needed to be changed. Instead of looking at this new baby and feeling joy, I felt nothing but overwhelming sadness that I couldn't take care of him.

When nurses would come in to ask us how many dirty diapers he had had or when he last ate, etc., they would look to me for answers. But I couldn't answer any of the questions because I had no idea. Pat was doing it all. I wondered if I would ever feel like a mom and even worse, I wondered if I would ever even bond with my baby. It was such a sad and helpless way to be feeling in a time that was supposed to be filled with joy and happiness.

I also felt so bad for Pat. I can't imagine what it must have been like for him to be thrown into this situation where he was worried about if I was going to be okay while also taking care of this newborn baby, not knowing a thing of what he was doing.

Because I was on bed rest and on the Magnesium drip, Pat wasn't supposed to leave me alone with the baby. So he rarely left to eat or drink and I felt like I was watching him get more tired and more skinny right before my eyes.

He never complained once and he never even showed me if he was scared or insecure about any of it. He was definitely my rock through it all. He never ceases to amaze me and this is just another example of why I am the luckiest girl in the world to have him as my husband.

After about 36 hours on the magnesium drip (and strict bed rest), they took me off and let me have liquids again. I was very excited about this. I had never been so excited about nasty green jello in my life. The orange Popsicle was like a dream! When they finally let me have solid food again, the first thing they brought me was Graham crackers. I thought this was quite ironic.

After getting some food and liquid into my system, I had to pass one more test before they would let me return to the postpartum floor and officially begin my recovery - I had to show that I could get up and walk to the bathroom.

I failed the test miserably. As soon as I got up, my face went ghost white again and I instantly felt nauseous and like I was going to pass out. The doctor paid me a visit moments later and very bluntly said, I failed the test and I needed a blood transfusion.

By 11 PM on Sunday night, they had me all set up to start the transfusion. From the moment the new blood started entering my body, I instantly felt very weird. The best way I can describe it is that it was an out of body experience and maybe what it feels like to get high (don't worry, Dad - I wouldn't know).

Half of my body was physically and mentally exhausted and the other half was being pumped full of energized blood. It was so weird and I started having a slight panic attack thinking something was happening to my brain. I was too afraid to go to sleep, fearing I would never wake up. Eventually, I did fall asleep and when I woke up, I felt better and more like myself than I had felt since having Graham.

By Monday morning I had received two units of blood and by late morning, I was taking another test of walking to the bathroom. This time I passed. Yes, I still got pale they told me but I didn't feel like I was going to pass out which was a huge improvement. I got my catheter out and before I knew it, I was finally moved back up to the postpartum recovery floor.

Seems I had left quite an impression on the nurses on the postpartum floor. Several nurses stopped to say how happy they were to see me with some color in my face and told me the last time they had seen me, I was as white as the bedsheets.  I was still moving very slow and it was a lot of work to get to and from the bathroom. But it felt so great to be in an actual hospital bed instead of a birthing bed where I had spent the last 36 hours.

As an ironic end to this miraculous story, on Monday night, our last night in the hospital, the "annoying" nurse Emilia was our night nurse. It was the first time I had seen her since the morning I was diagnosed with HELLP. I was glad to see her so I could thank her for recognizing that I was really sick.

What I didn't know until talking to her, is that she did more than just recognize that something was wrong with me. She pretty much diagnosed me with HELLP on her own by looking at my old labs, ordering new labs, and comparing them. She was the one who notified the doctor that there was something seriously wrong.

When she saw how pale I was and that I was drifting in and out of sleep while she was talking to me, she went to my chart and checked my lab results from before I got the epidural (the only reason I had those labs taken was so that we could donate our cord blood for research). This is when she came back to me and asked me if I had a history of low platelets and told me that mine was in the 50s.

After this conversation, she had the lab come up and draw my blood again. This time my platelets were in the 20s so she then called the doctor. She explained to me that she even stayed beyond her shift to make sure I was okay because if she would have left not knowing, she wouldn't have been able to sleep.

She also explained how nervous she was to call the doctor and tell them what she thought was going on with me because typically doctors don't like nurses telling them how to do their jobs. But she did it anyway - to make sure I would be okay,

It was at this moment that I realized the "annoying" nurse Emilia did more than just look out for me - she went out of her way to make sure that I was okay and ultimately, could have saved my life. I've heard the quote so many times that nurses are angels but after this experience, I really believe it to be true.

Graham was the miracle and Emilia was my guardian angel.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

38 weeks

Week: 38
Baby length:
19.75 inches
Baby weight:
6.8 lbs. - the weight of a mini-watermelon
Bump size:
42 inches (down half an inch from last week)
Weight: +35 pounds (+1 lb. from last week)
Apple crisp

Wow. A lot has happened during my 38th week and I'm not about to sugar coat anything. Things are about to get real on my life as I know it.

Not to say that I've ever really censored my blogs before but I'm about to be even more graphic than ever. Why? Because someone needs to talk about this stuff so that all future moms can say they were warned.

Let's start with the fact that I am once again using a watermelon this week to illustrate the baby's weight. We still haven't eaten it, obviously, and I don't know what a leek is and it was a long week/day when this picture was taken so I just stopped caring.

Besides, my What to Expect When You're Expecting app used the watermelon comparison for two weeks in a row so why can't I? Don't be surprised if you see it in next week's picture, too, since I am 39 weeks tomorrow and currently don't have anything else to use.

Maternity Lessons

"No one said pregnancy was going to be easy," Pat said to me as I was sitting on the toilet checking my underwear for the second time in 20 minutes. I confirmed that yes, I had peed my pants for the second time that night, immediately after using the bathroom and despite the fact that I didn't even feel like I had to go nor did I feel it coming out until it was too late.

"No one talks about this s#!& before you are pregnant," I responded. "And no one prepares you for this shit before you get married," my dear husband said as he was helping me change out of my underwear for the second time since not only is it super uncomfortable to bend over to put on clean underwear, it actually physically hurts.

Touche, Patrick. Touche. Needless to say, my husband is taking very good care of me.

I had a doctor's appointment at the beginning of this week and my doctor checked me for progress for the first time. Remember how excited I was to get checked for progress? Take note, friends - it is not all it's cracked up to be.

First of all, it hurts like h#%%! It was more painful than any pap exam I've ever had. Second, in my case anyway, you don't get the answers you're looking for. You want your doctor to say, "wow you are really dilated, completely effaced and you are going to have this baby SOON!"

But instead, you hear "You are 1 cm dilated, 80% effaced, but this means basically nothing because you could still be a week late." Awesome. In addition to that great news, my doctor also reminded me of how tiny my bone structure is down south and that he really doesn't think I am going to be able to push out a baby.

Most people have about a 10% chance of having a c section - he told me I have about a 50% chance and that knowing this, he will be much more quick to "throw in the towel" during labor. He still will let me get in there and try and he hopes that I prove him wrong but he's been doing this for a long time and I believe he knows what he's talking about.

The good news I got out of this is that he's not going to let me spend 24 hours waiting for me to dilate to a 10 and start pushing, only to prove that he was right and ultimately give me a c section anyway. If he sees that my body is really struggling to dliate, he will take this as further proof that my body just can't get the baby in the position it needs to be and he will call it a c section.

I find this oddly comforting because I know he's not a big c section guy and I just really trust him. Now let's just hope he is actually the doctor that delivers my baby and not someone I've never met (the odds are about 1 in 9 that he will be the on rotation doctor when I deliver).

He also told me that Baby R is "sunny side up" meaning it's back is facing my back and it's face is facing my belly. This is not good. He suggested I start getting down on all fours at least once a day. Which I've been doing, but then can barely get myself back up.

On Sunday of this week, I got a huge burst of energy. I was cleaning our house, doing laundry, going shopping, etc. Everything was fine and I was feeling great. Until midnight Sunday night/Monday morning when I woke up with extreme cramping and some contractions.

This did not go away. I also started to lose my mucus plug on Monday morning. I ended up working from home that day because I was exhausted from not sleeping at all and was in miserable pain. On Monday night, I went to bed and woke up at midnight again with even worse contractions.

These contractions were actually timeable so at 3 a.m. I started to keep track. They were anywhere from one minute to two minutes and were coming every 5 minutes. From 5-6 a.m. they were actually coming every 3-5 minutes. I was starting to think this was going to be the real deal.

I got out of bed at 6 a.m. and decided to shower to see if that helped. It didn't. In fact, the pain was so strong that when I got out of the shower, I thought for sure I was going to throw up from the nausea. My doctor said this would be a sign that it was the real deal so I called the office.

The on-call doctor called me back and told me to head to the hospital and that she would notify them that I was coming. So I called Pat who had already been at work since 5:30 a.m. and he headed home. While I was waiting for him I decided to bounce on the exercise ball for a little bit and then I went and laid down.

By the time he got home, I was almost falling asleep in bed and the contractions weren't coming as frequently. I started to suspect it was a false alarm because the contractions I had been feeling for the previous 3-4 hours were not contractions I could have slept through even if I wanted to.

But we decided to head to the hospital anyway. I stayed for an hour and they told me I was dehydrated and that could be one cause for the contractions. They monitored the contractions and even though yes, I was having them, they were 6-8 minutes apart and not 3-5 like they should be.

The nurse checked me and said I was still only 1 cm dilated (and that was being generous, she so nicely added) so they sent me home with a pamphlet titled, "Ready. Set. Not yet." which really annoyed me for some reason.

When I got home, I was in serious, serious pain for the rest of the day. Cramping and contracting so that even when the contractions ended, I found no relief because I was still having such bad cramping.

I was also feeling flu like symptoms all day - feeling feverish even though I didn't have a fever and feeling like I was really cold even though my cheeks were bright red and my head was hot. My whole body felt really sore and achy.

So after 48 hours of constant pain, I decided to take Tylenol last night - something I've been avoiding this entire pregnancy - just so I could find some relief and get some sleep. It worked.

I slept like a baby (a metaphor I might find more similar to an oxymoron in a few weeks) and so did Pat. I went to work today and made it through the entire day before the pain got bad again and I headed home.

So here is what I now know about false labor.

The contractions can be just as painful as real contractions and can be coming regularly for hours, only to suddenly become sporadic and less intense
There are ways to find relief from these contractions which if you do, indicates they aren't the real deal

So here is what I plan to do the next time I think I'm in true labor, just to make sure I don't get to the hospital again only to be sent home. I will wait until contractions take my breath away before I even start timing them. Once they are five minutes apart and one minute long for an hour, I will try the following to see if I get any relief:
  • Take a shower
  • Bounce on the exercise ball
  • Walk around
  • Chug water
These are all things that have provided me relief before and if they do again, I will know it's still false labor. If I find no relief after doing all of these things, I will call the doctor.

But please can't my water just break so that I know for sure? Did you know that only 1 in 10 women will have their water break at home? I didn't either until recently. I just always assumed that is how this whole thing worked. Your water breaks and you know you're in labor. None of this time the contractions, think you're in labor only to find out you're actually not.

What is the worst thing about false labor? That I experienced it for 34 hours only to find that it did absolutely nothing to get my body any closer to having this baby. That is just downright depressing. I do not enjoy pain and I certainly do not enjoy pointless, unproductive pain.

On a positive note (yes, I'm still trying to be positive), the pain I experienced on Tuesday really made me appreciate the lighter pain I experienced today. Pat and I have also gotten lots of practice with breathing through contractions and we are definitely packed and ready to go to the hospital now that we've already been there once...

Weight Gain

I gained one pound this week, bringing the grand total to 35 pounds - the weight my doctor would like me to not surpass. Another reason why Baby R needs to come SOON!

Gender Prediction

Have you made your gender prediction yet? Click here to enter the pool and pick when you think the baby will be born, how much it will weigh and whether it will be a boy or a girl. You just might be running out of time (I hope!) or you may have at least a week left. Time will tell....

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

37 weeks

Week: 37
Baby length:
19.25 inches
Baby weight:
6.3 lbs. - the weight of a mini-watermelon
Bump size:
42.5 inches (down half an inch from last week)
Weight: +34 pounds (+.5 lbs. from last week)
Pumpkin spice cookies - yum!

I'm glad this isn't a full length picture so you can pretend that I didn't wear high water pants and flip flops to work on the day this picture was taken.

But the truth is, I did. Oh, and my hair looked exactly like that, too. Obviously, I have completely stopped caring about my appearance.

Maternity Lessons

Something you should never tell an emotional pregnant woman is that they are emotional. Completely disregard the fact that it may be true, no hormonal pregnant woman wants to hear you say this.

Instead, please let me pretend that even though I have no control over anything happening to my body anymore, I at least have control over my emotions (even though we both know that I don't).

I'm not one of those pregnant women that you look at wrong and I will start to cry. I don't get upset about things that normally wouldn't upset me. What is happening is that things that would normally upset me and make me cry are sending me into a state of sobbing so hard I can hardly catch my breath (this happened twice this week).

So maybe I'm a bit emotional - but you're not allowed to say it to my face.

Let's revisit maternity clothes. In the beginning, I thought I was sticking it to the maternity clothes "man" by making it through my entire pregnancy without purchasing a pair of maternity dress pants or maternity jeans.

But now that I'm almost 9 1/2 months pregnant, and accepting the reality that I will still be wearing maternity clothes after the baby is born, I'm realizing that I may have totally screwed myself.

I also continued to buy small shirts and I felt really good about myself that I could still fit in them. But again, now that I'm 9 1/2 months pregnant and all my small shirts are too short, I'm realizing that I should have bought all mediums.

So my advice to all of you future mammas-to-be, don't skimp on the maternity clothes. Comfort is key. Buy a pair of maternity jeans and maternity dress pants, even if you can still fit into some of your old ones. And even though you can still fit into your regular size shirts, buy a size up so you are still comfortable in them even at the very end of your pregnancy. You will thank me someday.

Baby Movements

It's starting to get uncomfortable in my belly. Where I used to only feel stretching and tightening when I was experiencing a Braxton Hicks contraction, I now feel it most of the time. It feels like my stomach is constantly being stretched and sometimes based on its position, the baby actually pushes out on my belly enough to cause discomfort. Not pain, just an uncomfortable feeling.

The baby is still getting hiccups most days and sometimes a few times a day.


The surge of energy I was hoping to get this weekend did happen. Sort of. But we spent most of our free day on Sunday finishing the nursery (click here if you haven't seen it yet) and I got all of my fall/Halloween decorations out. Not quite the cleaning I had hoped to accomplish, but important tasks nonetheless.

My energy is still not quite what it used to be but I'm getting by.

I am still sleeping pretty well through the night until about 4:30 a.m. when I am suddenly wide awake and can't turn my brain off. By the time I fall back asleep, my alarm clock goes off. Not fun. But considering a lot of women don't even sleep for six hours straight, I will not complain about this.

I only had one night this week where my heartburn was bad enough to wake me up at night and I didn't really have any bad back days. Yay!

All in all, I would say I am MUCH less miserable than I was at this time last week. The thought of going to my due date or even a few days late, doesn't make me want to cry (today at least). But the thought of dropping something and having to bend over to pick it up, still does.

Weight Gain

I made it through the week with only a half pound of weight gain. This gives me one more pound until I've reached the doctor's recommended 35 pounds. Something tells me I'm not going to make it, but at least I should be close.

That being said, I've completely stopped caring about what I eat. If I want an ice cream sunday, I will make one (like I did tonight - and it was delicious). 

Gender Prediction

Have you made your gender prediction yet? Click here to enter the pool and pick when you think the baby will be born, how much it will weigh and whether it will be a boy or a girl. You just might be running out of time (I hope!) or you may have at least two weeks left. Time will tell....

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Baby R's Nursery

I'm so excited to finally be able to say that we are 100% finished with Baby R's nursery. It's been a long time coming but the beauty of starting these projects early is that then it's not stressful. And I can honestly say, this was a pretty stress-free project.

Of course, no project which requires a husband and wife to assemble furniture, hang artwork and paint together is without it's stressful moments, and we did have a few. Broken glass, chipped furniture, etc. But we made it through.

So here is how the room all started...

A bright yellow guest bedroom, painted in Sherwin William's Daffodil yellow. I selected this color over four years ago when we first bought our house.

As soon as it was up on the walls, I knew it was much brighter than I had planned and I wanted to change it. But Pat, who had just spent hours painting the room, wouldn't let me.

Four years later when we decided the guest bedroom would become the baby's nursery, I knew the yellow room would finally serve it's purpose.

So I needed to find bedding and a "theme" that would match this yellow...

And I did! I found it on clearance at Target for $24. What a deal! I absolutely fell in love with all of the bright colors like aqua blue (my favorite color, which was also my wedding color), lime green, avocado green, yellow and even some orange.

I also love all the little pond animals - frogs, snails, turtles and ducks, oh my!

And, it's gender neutral.

So once I found my inspiration, the fun started. I had such a great time finding all of the little details that would make this nursery come together. At times, I wasn't sure if it would ever look "cohesive" or if it would look like I just threw a bunch of random things together and tried to make it a room (which is essentially exactly what I did). Now that it's done, I absolutely love it!

Some of the details:

The dresser and the bookshelf were both originally oak and we painted them white.

The bookshelf we already had and the dresser was a Craig's List find for only $100. What a steal! After we painted the dresser, we added the knobs and it looks brand new!

I love the fact that it has the cabinet in the middle for storage.

The hanging shelf was mine when I was a kid and was a gift from my Uncle Mike. I believe he made one for all of his nieces and nephews for Christmas one year when we were little.  A fresh coat of white paint and it's as good as new!

The cow piggy bank you see on the shelf was a gift from my Aunt Kathy (my step-dad Mark's sister) and actually belonged to their mom so it's really old and really neat and I'm so honored that she gave it to me!

The duck and baby carriage salt and pepper shakers on the shelf were my great grandma's and my sister and Aunt Marlene set them aside for me to use in the nursery.

The hanging lanterns were actually decorations at our wedding reception that much to Pat's dismay, I haven't been able to part with for the last three and a half years. And now, they have a new purpose!

The changing pad cover was an etsy purchase from Sweetheart -n- Sunshine. They don't cost much more than you would pay at Babies R Us and you get to pick the colors to match your nursery perfectly. I highly recommend them.

The mirror was made by my sister using little wooden figures I found at JoAnn Fabric for less than $1 each. We hope the mirror will provide Baby R with some entertainment while he/she is getting changed. We also hope that Baby R doesn't try to pull the mirror off the wall while he/she is getting changed.

The chevron striped baskets were a target find and so was the frame next to them (a clearance find, no less). I put the quote "Follow your dreams" in the frame to go with the "dream" theme we have going on in there.

The dry erase board hanging on the wall was made by my sister. The lamp was from pottery barn kids (I had a gift card leftover from our wedding - yes, it took me three and a half years to find something I could afford from Pottery Barn) so it was FREE to us.

The dream coat rack was another JoAnn Fabric clearance find and cost me less than $5.

The piece of artwork above the bookshelf is a hand painted original illustration that my mom has had for over 30 years. She stumbled upon it after I chose my nursery theme and realized how perfect it would look in there. And she was right. She painted the frame and bought the glass and I absolutely love it!

The "Welcome Baby R" banner was made by my Aunt Marlene for my baby shower and I saved it to put in the nursery. I found the aqua blue chevron curtain fabric online and my sister made the curtains for us. I love how they turned out!

The quilt on the chair was also made by my sister (she's a talented lady!) and uses fabric that I had, she had and some of my great grandma's fabric, making it extra special. The entire backing of the quilt was my great grandma's, too. 

So there you have it. Baby R's completed nursery. Hope you love it as much as we do!

Now all we need is the baby!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

36 weeks

Week: 36
Baby length:
18.75 inches
Baby weight:
5.75 lbs. - the weight of a gallon of apple cider (or a crenshaw melon, depending on who you ask)
Bump size:
43 inches (up almost 3 inches from last week!)
Weight: +33.5 pounds (+3 lbs. from last week)
Chips and cake (not at the same time - chips for dinner and cake for dessert)

So yes, week 36 is technically supposed to be a crenshaw melon. I had never heard of such a melon but after a little research, discovered it is a cross between a cassaba melon and a cantaloupe.

Supposed to be very tasty, too. So I was excited to have an excuse to buy (and eat) one. But as it turns out, I don't think such a melon actually exists - not at my grocery store, anyway.

After a brief panic attack and a near meltdown in the fruit department at Giant Eagle (and a threat of giving up on the weekly fruit pictures all together), I spotted the gallon of apple cider and thought it looked mighty tasty (and it is) so I decided it was going to be my "fruit" of the week.

Truth be told, a gallon of apple cider actually weighs much more than 5.75 pounds (yes, I actually weighed it) but sometimes when life throws you lemons instead of crenshaw melons, you have to get creative. I'm sure you understand.

Maternity Lessons

We already know that I'm absolutely terrified of the life changes that are coming my way with this baby so no need to belabor (no pun intended) that issue. But there were a few things that happened this week that actually made me feel much better than I was feeling at this time last week.

First of all, my best friend since ninth grade in high school became a mom! And right after last week's post where I spilled my guts about my motherly fears, I get a text message from her saying, "Emily, being a mom is awesome!!"

Sweet baby girl Karter
Not only did her text give me goosebumps because I'm so extremely happy for her, but it also made me feel more calm about going through the process myself. She also said the labor pain is totally worth it. I didn't mind hearing that either.

On Saturday I got to spend the entire day with her and her new baby girl Karter and I learned SO much just by observing and talking to her which calmed a lot of my fears too.

Then on Tuesday, the ladies I work with surprised me with a shower! It was so cute and so nice of them. They all left me wishes on a card and I felt like so many of them were saying the same thing, "Life will never be the same - it will be better." This is exactly what I needed to hear and it was so comforting. 
I work with the sweetest ladies ever! Such a nice surprise work shower!
We had our last birthing class on Tuesday. Hard to believe we made it through five weeks of classes already. I don't know where the time went. In this last class we focused on taking care of the newborn. The 2 1/2 hours flew by and I didn't want the class to end. I had so many more questions I could have asked!

We practiced giving the baby (doll) a sponge bath, swaddling it, picking it up, changing its diaper, etc. We went over basics about choosing the right bottles, tummy time, trimming the baby's fingernails and lots and lots of other really useful information. Now let's just hope I remember it...

I had my weekly appointment and the doctor said everything is looking good. The baby's head is still down and is measuring about a week ahead which he said isn't too bad but he suggested that I have the baby soon so it doesn't keep getting bigger. Then he laughed. If only it were that easy!

Next Friday he will begin to check me for "progress." So now it's just a sit and wait game. I will be considered full term on Thursday, September 20, so he said hopefully I will go into labor soon. Now I just walk around like some sort of ticking time bomb and wait for something to happen! Such a weird feeling.

We still don't have our hospital bag packed so we should probably get that taken care of soon, just to be on the safe side.

Baby Movements

Still feeling lots of movement and when the baby gets hiccups now, it actually moves my entire belly.

I got some great advice from one of the weekly email updates I receive. It was a reminder about how easy it is to wish the remaining weeks of the pregnancy away because of the aches and pains but instead, it is important to try to enjoy what time I have left of this special time feeling my baby move inside of me. So that is what I'm trying to do.


Still having some cramping on and off and I would say they are a little stronger than they were last year but definitely not unbearable and they don't "hurt like hell" which is when my doctor said I will know I'm getting real contractions. But hopefully my body is doing lots of practicing and getting ready for the big day.

One day this week I had the worst heartburn to date. And once again, my lips flared up too - swollen and felt like they were on fire. Someone told me that the lips could be a side effect of the heartburn. Who knew?

My feet are pretty swollen and I am officially wearing flip flops to work - except for today because it was too cold. Fall isn't really great flip flop weather but desperate times call for desperate measures and other than tennis shoes, I really have no other options.

I still don't have much energy. I want to scrub our house from top to bottom but I have no energy after work to even start. I have the most energy on the weekends but haven't had a free day on the weekend in a few weeks.

I'm hoping this Sunday (my only free day this weekend) will be my cleaning day. We'll see how that goes.

Weight Gain

Yikes. Baby only gained half a pound this week and I gained three. But considering my bump grew almost three inches in the last week, maybe the baby and I are both gaining more than we should be. But guess what? I stopped caring.

If I want to eat my baby shower cake, I'm going to eat it. If I want a pumpkin spice cookie, I'm going to eat it. If I want a zucchini brownie, I'm going to eat it. You get the idea. And if I want to eat all three instead of dinner, I just might.

Gender Prediction

Everyone has their opinions about what we are having and now you can make your guesses official on our baby website. Click here to enter the pool and pick when you think the baby will be born, how much it will weigh and whether it will be a boy or a girl. You can also suggest names for us. We are getting some good ones like Shelby Whippet Robinson.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

35 weeks

Week: 35
Baby length:
18 inches
Baby weight:
5.25 lbs. - the weight of a honeydew melon
Bump size:
40.75 inches
Weight: +30.5 pounds (+.5 lbs. from last week)
Salt & Sweets

Have you ever held a honeydew melon long enough to have your picture taken with it? The thing is not light. I can't believe I'm carrying that weight around in my stomach.

I had a doctor appointment this week and all is well with me and the baby. Although I will start to see him weekly now, the doctor will not start checking me for "progress" in two weeks.

Since everyone around me seems to think I will be having this baby early, it will be really interesting to see if anything is happening down there in the way of getting my body ready for delivery.

Speaking of having this baby early, I would not be opposed to that whatsoever (as long as baby is healthy). I have to be honest with you - I am about done with being pregnant.

Don't get me wrong, I realize how lucky I am to even be pregnant. This is what I wanted and I know I have had a great, easy pregnancy. Which is why I feel selfish for feeling this way. But it is what it is.

I'm tired all of the time. It is all I can do to get through the work day. I can barely keep my eyes open on my way TO work so you can imagine how tired I am by the end of the day on my drive home.

And then whatever lofty goals I had for that evening like cooking dinner, cleaning, putting away laundry, etc (yes, those now seem like "lofty" goals to me) - forget about it. All I'm capable of at that point is a nap on the couch. By Wednesday I feel like I've already worked a 50+ hour week (and believe me, I've worked many of them so I know what that feels like) even though I've only worked 24 hours.

I'm over the heartburn - I officially finished my first bottle of tums this week. I'm sick of my back hurting. I'm tired of dropping things and then feeling like I would rather pay someone $100 to pick it up for me than go through the exertion of bending over and picking it up myself. And I'm dropping things quite often.

I want to be able to easily tie my shoes again without having to prop my leg up on some high object just to be able to reach them (see example on left).

I want the swelling in my feet to go away so that cute shoes will fit me again. I want to be able to wear shoes that actually match my outfits.

Instead, I have to wear the same blue sanuks every day - regardless of whether or not I'm wearing black or brown work pants and/or anything that even remotely matches the blue in the shoes (see example on right).

But at the same time, I'm not sure which terrifies me more - being pregnant for four more weeks (or even worse, the thought of being late) or having this baby (literally - the labor and delivery process) and then taking care of it.

As much as I'm complaining about being pregnant, I'm no dummy. I know that incubating this baby is way easier than taking care of it will be. I complain about how tired I feel now and yet, I'm still sleeping through the night. I can't even imagine how tired I'm going to be when I haven't had a full night's sleep in weeks (or months... or years - shudder).

So that's where I am. Stuck somewhere in between I can't wait to be done being pregnant and I'm terrified to be done being pregnant. I've always been someone that warms up to change slowly. And you would think having nine months to prepare would be considered "slow" enough.

But yet, I'm still terrified. I know I keep using this word but it's the most accurate word I have to describe what I'm feeling. Pure terror about getting this baby out of me, taking good care of it once it's here and adjusting to the astronomical life change that is coming our way.

How's that for honest?

Maternity Lessons

Someone told me this week that my butt is getting big. :( That one stung a little bit. She tried to lessen the blow by adding, "It's okay. You're pregnant." But it didn't help.

The truth is, it's not the first time I've been told I have a big butt - this baby has always had back (insert Sir Mix A-Lot song here). But the fact that it might be getting bigger (and let's face it, I already knew it was weeks ago when I had to buy bigger underwear) is not something I particularly enjoy hearing.

The same guy who started laughing at me last week and told me I keep getting bigger and bigger, asked me quite seriously this week if I was sure I'm not having twins. Since he has twins of his own, I told him "you would know what twins looks like." He responded with, "I know, that's why I'm asking."

My response to people who tell me they think I'm having twins (and I get it a lot) is that if I do, they are raising one of them. It seems to shut them up in a hurry. :)

We took our tour of the hospital this week during our birthing class. I did not enjoy it. It's impossible to pretend that you don't have to deliver the baby when they take you to the place where you will be delivering it. This is one circumstance where I choose denial and ignorance over education. Sorry.

Then we had to watch a video about what to expect AFTER the delivery. As if learning about the delivery part isn't bad enough, now you're going to tell me that I will be bleeding for 6 to 8 weeks AFTER the baby and show me elephant-sized pads I'm going to need to wear?

I'm not kidding - this is the kind of stuff they need to be showing these high school girls to prevent teen pregnancy. If that isn't enough to send them running in the other direction from boys, I don't know what is. It almost sent me running right out of the hospital conference room where we were watching it.

Baby Movements

The baby has been getting the hiccups a lot more often lately. Sometimes four or five times a day. I think it's whole body jerks with each hiccup, poor thing.

I can definitely tell the baby is getting lower because I'm now feeling movements and pressure in places I haven't before.


There were definitely a few days this week when I was waddling again. Even more than before. Some days my tailbone is really sore and the only way I can walk was if I waddled. And of course people pointed this out to me when they saw me walking funny because people point out everything to pregnant people.

I got menstrual like cramps almost every day this last week. Sometimes they were accompanied by Braxton Hicks, sometimes they weren't. Doctor said it's normal.

Heartburn seems to be getting worse (see rant above). Maybe our baby won't be bald after all?

My feet seem to be more swollen this week (see rant above). I'm down to only one pair of shoes that actually fit without cutting off my circulation. Unfortunately, I may have to start disobeying our work dress code and start wearing flip-flops. Believe me, it will be a last resort. I like my feet much better when they are out of sight. The last thing I want is to draw more attention to my swollen feet. But it may come to that.

I'm definitely more tired than I was last week (see rant above) and I have no motivation to do anything. Unfortunately for me, I have tons to do at both work and home so I better get an energy boost STAT.

And my favorite new symptom is skin tags. Yes, that's right. Skin tags. They just keep popping up. My book said it's normal but what I want to know is WHEN if EVER will they go away? Luckily, they are pretty small and not very noticeable but I still think it's weird and gross that skin tags are a symptom of pregnancy.

Weight Gain

Not sure how I only gained a half a pound this week but I will take it. That gives me 4.5 more pounds of wiggle room for the next five weeks...

Gender Prediction

Pat's aunt called me and told me she went out on a limb and bought a boy outfit for the baby. I think it's safe to say she thinks we're having a boy.

My friend suggested that we buy two coming home outfits for the baby - one boy outfit and one girl outfit. I thought this was a good and fun idea since we haven't picked out any gender specific clothes yet. So I found a cute and comfortable baby girl outfit and bought it. Now the hunt continues for the boy coming home outfit.