Monday, March 26, 2007

My New Life As A Mom

These last few weeks have seemed so tremendous and unbelievable all at once. We are honest-to-goodness parents! You always talk about someday starting a family, but it seems so strange when “someday” is “today.” Our lives have quickly become all about naps, feedings, diaper changes and baths—we looked at each other yesterday and realized gone are the days when the weekends were our own.

I think we’ve slipped into the parenting role rather well though. The other roles? Well, we’ve had a smidge of help. It’s amazing the team of friends and family we’ve leaned on since Grace’s been born—they’ve filled the roles of nurse, chef, housekeeper, babysitter and party planner (ok, usually party planning isn’t something you need—but I was also psycho enough to try and throw Ira a surprise 30th birthday this last month).

And then there’s trying to prep Grace for a simple outing. I will, inevitably, forget something important in the diaper bag (like a warm blanket)—and will have to makeshift something else (like sub a burpcloth for the blanket) so I don’t feel like a completely worthless mother. Grace needs 5 times as much stuff as Ira and I do when we venture out—diapers and wipes and baby powder and trashbags, a nursing cover and nursing pads and burpcloths and a change of clothes, and last but not least—a binky, a receiving blanket, and a warm blanket too.

If you didn’t know, Murphy’s Law on going out with baby states that: even if you are running perfectly on time, once you have gotten baby completely ready in the appropriate cute outfit (the one you want to show her off to all your friends in), loaded said diaper bag, gotten baby buckled into the carseat, snapped it into the car, wrangled your spouse, locked the house, started the engine, and are inching out of the driveway—the baby must emit massive volumes of spit-up or poop all over herself, her cute outfit, her carseat, carseat base, and the car. By the time this catastrophic event is over, you will be late anyways, so why even try?

I won’t begin to even try to explain the joys of trying to breastfeed modestly in public. Isn’t that an oxymoron?

Hmmm, the stretchmarks, well, stretched. The boobs swelled to inhuman sizes (and sprayed like firehouses—I swear it was impossible to control ‘em). And I fear my body will never be the same again. One girlfriend of mine confided it took EIGHT MONTHS till sex didn’t hurt anymore, so I don’t want to even talk about it right now with you. I’ve also read that though you lose an enormous amount of weight breastfeeding, you can forget even trying to get back to your pre-prego size till after your 3rd post-delivery period. Ugh. Let’s just say I’ve had to invest in a few new pairs of jeans since I loathe the sight of my slip-when-you-stand maternity jeans.

I really do enjoy being a full-time stay-at-home mom! I don’t know how women are able to go back to work—it would be really tricky to figure out how to make it work out even if I did want to return. I never dreamed how quickly the day would fly by (and it really does) between naps and feedings. Before I know it, Ira’s usually home from work, and I’ve barely been able to get anything done around the house, let alone for myself. But it’s all sooo worth it when I am able to look at our little Grace.

I’m definitely treasuring this time of snuggles and naps; watching her make such leaps and bounds as she grows and begins to discover the world around her. Like that she can put her hands into her mouth (even when mommy hasn’t had a chance to wash them off since that last stranger held them—yikes!), that mommy and daddy love her (so much!), that her little mobile is fun to look at, and dances when she shakes her bassinet. Our new favorite game is copycatting sounds—she’ll coo, I’ll coo back at her, then she’ll coo back at me and smile.

I love looking at her little feet and toes and nails, watching her when she’s sound asleep, and I even enjoy our special mommy and baby times during midnight feedings (even though I can barely keep my eyes open). Every inch of her is fascinating to me, and I love her little personality, her little voice, and spending time with her each day. I am so blessed beyond words.

I am so excited to watch her little life unfold—and being there for all her milestones. My mom said she couldn’t believe that her baby was having a baby—that it was one of her life’s high points watching Grace be born. And I look at Gracie now, and know that someday I will again trade places with my mom, and Grace will trade places with me—but it seems oh so impossible. My little girl will always be little to me. And I am so so thankful that day is yet a ways off—because I want to savor each step she takes from this day forward. God’s grace: that we should experience such joy.

May you be equally blessed by God’s goodness,

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Labor & Delivery of Baby Grace

Last Friday, January 19th at 12:53pm, little Grace Corinne was born. Weighing 7 lbs 14 oz and 18.5 inches long. Ira, Grace and I are all home now and doing fantastic. Can't believe we have a little person here with us!

I ended up getting induced on 1/19 at about 1am. They administered pitocin (the labor-inducing hormone) to get things started, and gradually increased the drip every 1/2 hour--everything was totally manageable. At 6:30am my OB arrived and broke my water, which REALLY got things moving. I was 80% effaced and 2 cm dilated at this point in time. The contractions started getting so intense then, and the doctor said I could still be as much as 10-20 hours away from delivering.

Um, no thank you--I asked for some pain meds, and they recommended I get my epidural. I had really been on the fence about the epidural, but this was the clincher. So they sent in the anesthesiologist who put to rest all my fears, and in less than a half-hour I was virtually pain-free (and felt like a slug from the waist down—seriously, I struggled just to roll over to my other side!). At around 9am or so they checked my progress again, I was around 4 ½ cm dilated, and 90% effaced.

At 11am I began to feel my first contraction in a while, the nurse happened to be in the room, and I mentioned it to her. She said that as the baby’s head descended, that I would start to feel the contractions once again—she said she’d check my progress at noon, unless I was feeling remarkably different. They conjectured that I’d have the baby by mid to late afternoon. The 11am contraction was just the beginning—I was feeling EVERY contraction now, so I pressed the call button at 11:30 to have the nurse check on my progress. She was surprised to find that I was now 100% effaced and 9 ½ cm dilated. Only ½ cm to go!

I started to push at around noon, and my OB came at 12:30, and Grace was here by 12:53pm! Truly a miracle. They placed her little white wiggling body on mine, and I was in shock—I couldn’t believe that this little person just came from inside of me. Ira was there, holding my hand and tearing up over the grand entrance of our little tiny baby girl.

We spent the following 48 hours in the hospital getting acquainted with our new little one. It truly felt like a honeymoon period. We watched her get all cleaned up, get all her little documentation and health tests taken care of, and took our 101 crash course on caring for a newborn (who knew that breastfeeding could be so difficult! Thank you Lord for lactation consultants!)—and of course got to spend hours just gazing into her new little eyes, touching her soft skin, hearing her tiny sounds, and cradling all her new little parts.

We both find it so unfathomable that this new small person is in the world because of us, and because God, in His infinite grace, mercy and goodness, gave us our little Gracie as a gift. We are so so blessed. And I am so happy to have been able to share this experience with all of you. I pray that your experience is just as excellent.

Take care,

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Countdown is ON

Well, I’m officially in the homestretch. Only 9 days to go until D-Day (delivery day!). And my OB says he’ll induce me on the 19th if she hasn’t come on her own by then—so I will definitely be a mommy here very shortly!!!

Why induce? Well, the doc says that “taller mommies pop bigger babies,” and that the longer I wait after my due date, the greater likelihood I will have for a cesarean. And I dunno about you—but as much as I shy away from the thought of my vagina opening up to 10 centimeters, I’m even more hesitant about having my belly ripped open. So induction, though not ideal, doesn’t sound all that bad compared to major surgery.

So what have I been doing these last couple of weeks? Well, work officially ended for me on December 22. So, now that the holidays are over, I’ve been preparing house. This includes… setting up our baby area, removing tags from tiny clothing, prepping the diaper changing station, cleaning every nook and cranny, assembling various gadgets and gizmos (i.e. car seat, stroller, pack ‘n’ play, etc.), and yes—even getting a 4-door vehicle. I am so thankful for my mom—who will be coming over next week to do all that cleaning that I really can’t (ever tried to bend over a tub and scrub when you’re 9 months along—yikes!).

So in these final days, what am I thinking??? I’m thinking... I’m about to experience labor, probably the craziest physical exertion I will ever endure. And that this is really my last weekend alone with my husband in a very long time—our lives are about to take on an entirely different reality. We’re about to be parents (and really are already). This title will never leave us for the rest of our lives. So crazy to think that in 2 short weeks from now our life together will look totally different. A new little person will be here—with little fingers, little toes, her own little voice, her own smell, and her own warmth. A little person who looks to me and Ira for everything she needs. A little person that we both already love so so much. So incredible to think you can carry so much love for someone that you haven’t exactly met yet. What a blessing, and a joy. I look forward to every moment, every minute of our new life.

Blessings until Grace arrives,

Monday, January 01, 2007

My Ambulance Ride - 12/23/06

I would never wish upon you any emergency involving your unborn child. It is my understanding that these things are rare, but they do happen. That was why we were so surprised when we thought we’d discovered that one of these childbirth emergencies was happening to us.

We’ve happily registered and attended several childbirth classes up till now through our hospital. These include Preparation for Childbirth (think labor and delivery prep, including breathing and relaxation techniques), Prenatal Breastfeeding, and Baby Care Basics. All very worthwhile classes. In our Prep for Childbirth class, we learned of some of the dangers that may occur during labor. There was one that they labeled a 911-call, and that’s if the umbilical cord is protruding through the birth canal before the baby. This is a very dangerous, though rare circumstance, that can cut off both air and blood supply to the baby—endangering her little life. This is the danger we faced on the day before Christmas Eve this year.

I was in the shower when I noticed there was a “bulge” protruding from er—“down there.” It felt smooth and soft, and definitely had no nerve endings that seemed to belong to me. Since this part of my body has become increasingly difficult to inspect, I called in the only other expert I knew on the subject—my husband. He said that whatever it was appeared to be a purplish color, and definitely wasn’t normally there. So this threw our otherwise normal morning into complete chaos.

Ira called our OB’s line, but since it was Saturday and the office was closed, he had to wait for the on-call doctor to return our call. So while waiting for the one, he called 911—who immediately dispatched an emergency team.

I was calmly trying to towel off as much as possible, and then immediately tried to elevate my pelvis (something they’d mentioned in classes you were supposed to do to alleviate pressure on the cord). Whatever-it-was felt like it popped back in when I did this. Ira had me move to the bedroom and cover up with a sheet, so that when the medics arrived several moments later I wasn’t naked on the bathroom floor with my hair all wet—I was naked under the sheets with my hair all wet. A much better situation.

I heard the sirens scream up our street and dreaded the thought that they were coming for me, and that all the neighbors would see. I was completely mortified. But I still hoped that all this drama was for nothing, even if it would just make us seem like panicked first-time parents.

There were suddenly 8 male emergency peeps in my untidy, unprepared house. Asking personal questions, and one was inspecting me. Whatever-it-was was no longer visible, and after ruling some items out (since I’d so recently had an ultrasound) the medic made speculations that it might be several different things… the cord, the amniotic sac, or possibly a blood clot. They wrapped me up in blankets, walked me to the gurney, and wheeled me to the ambulance. Ira followed us to the hospital a few minutes behind.

All I could do was pray that everything would be ok for our little baby Grace. We were so worried about her well-being. But I felt reassured that she was ok, because I was feeling little kicks here and there. A sign of fetal distress is lack of movement—and she was still moving, so that was a good sign.

In the ambulance, they slipped an IV in my arm, strapped on heart rate monitors, and fed me oxygen. I tried joking with them as much as possible over the next 30 minutes spent in agonizingly slow holiday traffic. They didn’t feel it necessary to put on the sirens on the way to the hospital as there weren’t any visible signs that I or Grace were in any danger. But the medic speculated that he thought there was a 90% chance I would deliver that day—and that my water had likely broken in the shower without my realizing it.

A 90% chance?!? Woah. I was thinking how unprepared we were for Grace’s arrival still. We had just assembled the crib at least, but nothing else was really ready yet—we didn’t even have a 4-door vehicle to put the car seat in. I had no dresser for her clothes, and as I mentioned before, our house was a wreck from prepping for the holidays. But I realized we might not get a chance to prepare—she could come that day whether we were ready or not.

We arrived at the hospital, and I thought how ironic it was that I’d wanted a tour of the maternity ward—and now I was getting one from the comfort of a gurney, being wheeled by my very own ambulance team of 3. I felt so helpless and completely out of control. And as they wheeled me into my room I saw the little baby bed, and it all came flying at me that I could have a new little person in my life in a matter of moments.

Ira was by my side within 5 minutes as the maternity ward nurses took over. They were monitoring Grace’s heartrate and my contractions in no-time. All of which looked good and normal—thank God! My OB was there very shortly—he was very concerned, and started his examination…

It took just a few moments to confirm that yes, there WAS something there. However, the doctor inspected further, and showed the nurse how it was actually a vaginal cyst. She exclaimed that it looked just like the amniotic sac would if it had descended. Upon further discussion, my OB assured me I had nothing to be concerned about—that while cysts like this aren’t entirely common, they aren’t harmful, and I could still deliver vaginally when it was time. He said that we’d done the right thing by coming in. Whew. We received confirmation both that Grace was ok, and that we weren’t totally crazy all at once. This was quite reassuring.

Because this cyst wasn’t going away anytime soon, I asked the nurse how I would be able to tell the difference should something actually be quite wrong. She said that was a very good question… if it was the cord, she said that it would appear to be slightly more twisted and have somewhat of a pulse to it; if it was the sac, I would likely be in a lot of discomfort.

As I dressed in the clothes that Ira had snagged from the house before leaving (thank you!), I thought about how truly blessed we were. It was a scary experience, but I thank God that it was all for nothing. Some people are not so fortunate.

One week later, we’ve done some serious baby shopping to wrap up loose ends, and purchased our “baby-wagon.” Still have a bit of a ways to go, but we’re ever so much more prepared than we were at Christmas.

Ira and I pray that your Christmas and New Years were truly blessed, much less eventful than ours, and that you found yourself surrounded by those you love.

Looking forward to a fabulous and life-changing 2007,

Friday, December 15, 2006

3rd Trimester - Getting Big

I didn’t really start popping until about month 7, and now that I’m at the tail end of month 8, things are getting fairly er—uncomfortable. This is definitely a whole new chapter in the pregnancy book o’ fun. It certainly is a new experience for my bellybutton too.

My EVER Changing Body
First of all, when you have a watermelon strapped to the front of you, there are some unattractive things that begin happening to your increasingly squished body. Back, leg, rib and pelvic pain certainly top the list. I learned in my child-birthing class that for every pound you carry up front in your uterus, 10 pounds are exerted on your sacrum area (lower back). This causes many women posture and waddling issues—compensation for the weight if you will. I have definitely had my waddling moments, although more often than not, I feel much more like a turtle that’s flipped on its back. Makes getting out of cars and up from couches lots of fun—and very entertaining for my husband to watch.

Also—frequent peeing. This past week I’ve woken up at 4am for the past 5 nights straight—unable to return to sleep for 1-2 hours. I’m writing this lovely note to you at 4:30am. Mostly it’s a pee-problem. I usually have to pee 2-3 times in the middle of each night now. My last pee of the night wakes me completely up—and so here I am. In my childbirth class, they showed us pictures of our pre-pregnancy and 3rd-trimester pregnant bodies in class. The instructor was quick to point out a very thin line that rests just under the baby’s head—“That, ladies, is your bladder.” And all the men in the room suddenly understood their partner’s potty trips.

One fun side-effect they call “incontinence” got the best of me over Thanksgiving at my parents’ house. Lounging around playing games with family, I got up and noticed my p.j.s were soaked through in a place that you don’t wanna soak through… if you catch my drift. I ran to the bathroom to show Ira—“I think my water broke!” I decided to remain calm, take a shower, and see if the problem continued, or if additional symptoms began appearing. After a few moments of panic, we discovered that I’d simply peed my pants and didn’t know it. I’ve never peed my pants and not known it—how can you pee your pants and not know it?? Apparently this happens to pregnant women all the time—I’d never heard of it before.

And finally, my very new favorite—dadadadum—hemorrhoids. I had never experienced hemorrhoids up until these last 2 weeks—was I missing out or what. There’s not much to say about them except for that they really hurt, make those potty trips a lot less fun, and are a complete pain in the butt to get rid of. Witch hazel is my new best friend. It doesn’t really cure them, but it sure helps curb the pain.

Baby Grace—On Her Way
I can’t believe that I’ve been entrusted with such a huge task as raising a child. Isn’t it crazy to think that just anyone can go out and do this—you have to get a license to get married, or drive, or literally do anything. But having children, one of the biggest and most life-changing things—anyone can do.

It has been so amazing to see how much God has prepared our hearts to welcome our little baby Grace into this world. I can honestly say that we are both very ready for her to be here now. Flashing back to May, we were absolutely dumbfounded—but now we are so excited and can’t wait to meet her. I have these moments of complete disbelief that I am growing and carrying a little person inside of me. My husband is thrilled just to greet her and feel her move each day—he says his day doesn’t feel complete until he’s said hello to her this way. It’s just amazing that we know her better than any other people in the world right now—a unique little girl who we will be completely and utterly responsible for. A little person who will be so important to us for the rest of our lives. I feel so blessed—and absolutely can’t wait for her to be here.

Cute for the pregnant belly: Due & Sprout T-shirts. I have a black tank that says "girl" - and I've gotten quite a few compliments on it!
Pants support: Belly-Ups (think suspenders that kinda link your pants up to your bra)--helps keep pants from falling down. =)

Monday, November 27, 2006

Baby Registry--A.K.A. Torture in its Purest Form

One thing that many people DON’T tell you about having a baby is all the STUFF that goes along with it. Like what in the world is an aspirator, and why would you need one? There’s baby clothes (also called “layette”), baby furniture, baby toys, baby bedding, baby bath accessories, baby feeding (and—er, potty) accessories, baby health and safety items, and the baby gear—all those items that are specifically baby—like strollers, carriers, car seats, swings, bouncers, high chairs and walkers. With all the stuff people tell you that you might want or possibly need—“Baby” is definitely an industry.

Ira and I walked into Target so innocently the day we thought we were going to register. I figured we would walk down the baby aisles and get ideas of what we should register for. Let me just tell you now—this is NOT the way to do things. We were so unprepared for the amount of stuff we would be assaulted with, and so ignorant of what we would actually need or want, that we were practically frozen in place—just staring at the different stroller systems without a clue.

Then enters baby-Yoda lady… she sauntered down the stroller aisle with a happy, bouncy, rosy-cheeked baby strapped to her front in a Baby Bjorn. This lady could immediately sense our frustration, and offered us some wise counsel. She suggested we first purchase a baby-gear guidebook to help us, and recommended “Baby Bargains”—a book all of her girlfriends had passed around to each other. So we stashed our registry wand for the moment and headed for Borders. Ok—just to warn you, “Baby Bargains” is not a bargain to purchase. It was about $18 for a skinny 200 page paperback. But it was full of indispensable information, and I’m glad we got it.

Basically “Baby Bargains” is a critique on all of the baby gear currently available. They compare gear, measure safety, cost and quality and offer the best buys for your buck. This was especially helpful when it came to strollers. We’d been looking at travel-systems (3-in-1 strollers), that the book reviewed as too bulky and heavy—it gave us alternative options for our lifestyle instead. I spent hours pouring over this book, reading reviews, and determining which items would be best for baby. They even have a quick-pick registry reference guide in back—which was oh-so-helpful.

So we entered Target and then Babies-R-Us anew and refreshed. And several exhausting hours later, had completed our registry. All I have to say, is thank goodness for online registries. Making changes was a breeze.

By the way, to answer my question at the beginning... a nasal aspirator is a little bulb-thingy that sucks the boogers out of baby's nose. Aren't you glad you know now?

Cool Stuff—

Baby Carriers: Here are a few cute and trendy ones you might want to check out—The Sweetness Pouch, and The Sugar Sac. These both go over one shoulder, and are great for cradling and carrying your precious itty bitty one.

AIDS Awareness: AIDS has killed more than 25 million people worldwide making it the most destructive epidemic in recorded history. In 2005 the AIDS epidemic claimed an estimated 3.1 million lives of which, more than 570,000 were children. Everyday more than 2,000 kids are infected with the HIV virus. AIDS is beyond a cause, it’s an emergency! Join ChicBlvd to help put an end to AIDS, visit

Monday, November 13, 2006

Ultrasound Extravaganza

Ultrasound #1
The doctor wanted a little more clarity on just how far along I was. I showed him my Natural Family Planning calendar of my cycle—showing him the day we thought we’d conceived. Since there was about a five-day window that the egg could’ve fertilized, and we weren’t sure about which day was my “peak,” our OB wanted to narrow down to the week as much as possible. So in we went for our first ultrasound.

When you are this early in your pregnancy, a normal on-the-belly ultrasound doesn’t cut it apparently. Nope—they have to use the wand o’ fun. Super. All that aside, the process wasn’t terribly uncomfortable (not as bad as say, your pap smear—youch). But it was totally incredible. Everything seemed to become so real once we could see our little bitty baby. The shape wasn’t fully formed yet—but you could distinctly make out limbs, the little head and the little body. And we got to see the heart beating. That was pretty incredible. Knowing that a little life—so separate from my own was in there—already completely taking shape.

The nurse said we were at about 8 weeks at the time. So pretty much half-way through the first trimester already. Interesting fact—and I’m sure if you’ve been pregnant you know this… They actually count your pregnancy week-count from the first date of your last period. So for the first 2 or so weeks of your pregnancy, you aren’t even pregnant yet!

Ultrasound #2 – September 5, 2006
This was the one we were really looking forward to. By this time we’d felt the baby move already, seen the little heart beating, and heard the heartbeat on the little machine in the OB’s office during our normal checkups. But this one—this is the one they check for healthy pregnancy, and da-da-da-dum—gender! And unlike some people who want to be surprised at birth—we wanted to be surprised NOW. I know—very patient =) I’m just a planner—I want to register for the right stuff for the shower, so people can get our little baby the right kind of clothes—green and yellow can only go so far.

What did we want? Hmmm—good question. I’d really felt that from the beginning of pregnancy, that since God allowed this to happen to me, that He would have to give me a little girl first. I know that if we ended up having a little boy, that I would cherish him just as much. But there is something about the idea of having a little girl—someone that I can be girly with, dress in pink, and cuddle with all the time. Just so—appealing. I’m sure that there are some of you who totally understand what I mean. And there are others who are on the verge of throwing up right now. Totally understandable. Ira, like every guy I’d ever heard of, wanted a boy first. And for pretty much the same reason. Someone he could be buddies with, wrestle with, and relate to.

So as we were getting ready to go in, I made up my mind that I could be very wrong about the whole girl business. After all, I only had a 50/50 chance of being right. God could be giving us a boy. And that would be great. It would just be different than a girl.

This being our very first baby, Ira was video taping the whole thing—even though my assignment as “Mom-to-Be” wasn’t a sure thing yet. This video was pretty much just for us—but I hope you enjoy it too!!! The lady at the front desk was super cool, and excited for us (even though she was a bit camera-shy, as was the doctor). The front-desk lady brought us to our examination room, and asked us if we’d brought a VHS to tape the Ultrasound. I was so disappointed—I didn’t know we could record it! But she snuck us a tape out of the cupboard, and we got to record it anyways—told you she was super cool.

The doctor came in a few moments later, and it all started. She checked for all the health signs and risk factors. And in the end, told us we were having (with 90% accuracy) a healthy baby GIRL! I was so excited I totally teared up—even though you can’t really tell on tape. A GIRL! YAY!

So that was our new big news! Now we could register—yesssssss.

LUSH Cosmetics - These are some super cool, all-natural facial and spa products that are perfect for pampering yourself, or giving to your shower hosts as gifts! I tried the Ultra Bland Cleanser, Eau Roma Water toner, and Imperialis moisturizer. Some pretty chic stuff. =)