Friday, April 24, 2015

I'm Back! But Not Caught Up {Friday Link Ups}

Hi, ladies! Though I have been posting this week - sharing Vivian's first week at home, and her birth story (Part I and Part II) - today is the first day that I have participated in the usual Friday link-ups for a couple of weeks. And it feels good to be back!

Happy Weekend Everyone! Thanks for following me on Pinterest!

1. Real Life - Highs and Lows
Life has been interesting as of late. Beautiful. Exhausting. And interesting. I never know what to expect in the day-to-day. We are working on getting a little routine going, but with a volatile toddler and a newborn, there's only so much one can do to get them on a schedule. Aside from a trip to the Chick-fil-A drive-through, I have not left the house with both children on my own. Until yesterday, that is. When I had to do Mother's Morning Out drop-off and pick-up on my own. Just getting Caleb, Vivian and I out the door before 9 am was a challenge. But we managed it without incident, and Caleb was actually fed, clothed, and on time to school. I carted Vivian along in her pj's in her carrier, and held my sweet boy's little hand as we walked into the building. No problem. But pick up? A whole different ballgame, friends. I went from a sweet high to a crushing low in oh, 2.5 seconds. On the way to Caleb's classroom, a mom from another class stopped me to tell me how good I looked for having just given birth. It was such an unexpected compliment, and from someone who I hadn't met before. It really warmed my heart and brought a smile to my face (especially since I feel like such a hot mess lately). Said smile was quickly replaced with tears just a few minutes later when Caleb decided to throw a total tantrum and tried to run away from me at pick-up. His teacher caught him for me, as I couldn't exactly tear down the hall after him with a heavy infant carrier on my arm. I took his hand to try to walk outside, and he proceeded to throw himself onto his tummy on the floor in the front desk area, and attempt to army crawl away from me while crying and screaming. I was absolutely mortified, as he's NEVER done this before. And, of course, it was in the middle of peak pick-up time, so there were parents and children everywhere watching the debacle. I had no other choice but to awkwardly scoop all 30+ pounds of him up in my left arm, with my right arm feeling like it was going to snap off from the weight of Vivian's carrier, and trudge outside. I carried him all the way to the car, and then, as I buckled him in, I burst into tears. Just one of those moments. High to low, indeed.

2. Recent Purchases
So, I always like to update you all when I purchase items that I talk about here on the blog. That way, you all know what ended up being a good investment...And what didn't turn out quite as good as I'd hoped. Here's my thoughts on a few recent purchases:

This shirt. I loved the detailing - eyelet is my absolute favorite material for warm weather - and thought it would pair well with a variety of bottoms for a host of spring and summer events. What I didn't love? The boxy, unflattering shape. Sadly, this is going back.

These wedges. The price is great. They are comfy. And can be worn with anything. Love. I bought them in black and am seriously considering stocking up on the navy version as well.

While in the store snagging the wedges mentioned above, I came across these mint tennies. Swoon. I may or may not already have a whole bunch of outfits planned specifically around these cute things.  

This eyebrow powder. Which I mentioned a while back. I finally grabbed one, and my eyebrows have been thanking me ever since. If you are in the market for a product that will make your eyebrows look amazing, look no further. Check out the reviews - there's a reason people love this stuff. There are a variety of shades, and it's on sale right now at Nordstrom. Win.

3. Protecting Your Photos
I think we've all seen the scary articles talking about what can happen when you don't take measures to protect your photos on the internet. With a newborn at home, the baby role playing stuff scares me the most right now (search babyrp on IG and you'll see what I am talking about). I do not have a public IG account, and while I know that makes it harder for blog following, I plan to keep my account private for now. Especially in light of everything I've been reading lately. There are additional measures you can take to protect your photos - like watermarking, for example. There is also an html code that you can paste into a widget in your blog that prevents your photos from being copied and pasted- so people can't pull pictures from your blog and save them to their own hard drives. If you're interested in having that code for your blog, email me or comment below and I will happily send it to you. I've implemented it on my own blog. It's rather long, so I didn't want to put the whole thing on this main part of my blog.

4. Getting Caught Up
I know this probably goes without saying, but life with a newborn and a toddler can be a bit, well, hectic. I am so far behind with correspondence related to the blog, I don't think I'll ever catch up. Please know that if you have left me a sweet comment, emailed, or texted me in the last week or two, and have not gotten a response, it is not personal. I just don't think that, at this point, I will ever be able respond to each and every one individually. Your well-wishes have meant the absolute world to our little family over the last 13 days since Vivian arrived. And I will be doing my best from this point forward to respond as usual. Wish me luck!

5. My People
Some of my favorite shots from this past week. Oh, how I love these people. So lucky to get to do life with them:)

Linking up with the following bloggers for the Friday link-ups (Credit to Jenn for the graphic!)


Thursday, April 23, 2015

Vivian's Birth Story {Part II}

If you missed the first part of Vivian's birth story, you can catch up on that here. Warning: This second part of the birth story is a bit lengthy, so bear with me. I didn't want to break it up even further into three sections, so here it is in full.


Friday, April 10: After the unexpected proclamation of, "Let's have a baby!" from our labor and delivery nurse, Celeste, B and I could do nothing except gape at each other in a bit of shock for a minute or two. Being admitted for delivery was about the last thing we'd expected that night. However, Celeste had spoken with the doctor on call - who, thankfully, was familiar with the risks of ICP - and she had said, "She's 37 weeks tomorrow. Let's get this baby." In my complete shock, two random thoughts were running through my head: 1) I'd been off a day in my weekly pregnancy updates for, well, the whole pregnancy - instead of hitting the weekly mark on Sundays as I'd thought, my weekly milestones were on Saturdays. Oops. And 2) Could it be possible to politely decline to have my baby that night and instead arrange to come back on Sunday, after I'd had a chance to better prepare? I knew I couldn't do that, so instead, B and I just looked at each other for a minute before accepting that we were going to have a baby. Very. Very. Soon.

We were immediately transferred to the room in which we would be delivering. It was spacious and nicely equipped. My heart swelled as I took in the warmer and scale that would be used for a baby - our baby - in the very near future. B ran out to the car to grab our hastily packed bags, I was hooked up to an IV, and we began to settle in. Not long after, Celeste came back and we discussed our options for beginning the labor process. To my surprise, Celeste told us that my contractions were early labor contractions and not Braxton Hicks like I'd assumed, so more than likely, I would have gone into labor before long on my very own and ended up in L&D anyways. That was a bit of a surprise to hear, but made sense as I had noted that my contractions were becoming more and more uncomfortable and weren't stopping. I guess Vivian was in just as much of a hurry to meet us as we were to meet her. At this point in the evening, I was also checked to see how far I'd progressed, and found that despite the contractions, I was still just 1 cm dilated - though my cervix was definitely thin and starting to soften. Based on this we decided to start a medication called Cervadil, which is used to soften the cervix and prepare it for labor. It was a 12 hour medication, which was applied at 11 pm, so we knew we had until Saturday morning to try to get some rest and relax. B immediately conked out on the pull-out bed next to my hospital bed, but I was too excited and anxious to fall asleep. I mean, we were getting ready to meet our daughter!

My parents ended up stopping by around midnight - they were just too excited to stay at home - so that was a nice distraction. They stuck around until about 2 am (B slept through almost their whole visit), and after that, I was able to doze off here and there until around 8 am or so. The doctor on-call came in to visit with us, as well as the nurse midwife, Chiami, who would be heading up the delivery. B and I were able to eat breakfast, and before long, it was time to check the progress that had been made with the Cervadil. Disappointingly, I'd only gone from 1 cm to 2 cm dilated in the 12 hour period. It was time to discuss our next move. My options were to try another dose of the Cervadil (and wait another 12 hours - ugh), a Foley balloon, or the big guns - Pitocin. Knowing that I didn't want to be waiting around for another 12 hours on the Cervadil, and not knowing what the Foley balloon was, I was ready to vote for the Pitocin (which had been used during my induction with Caleb - and ended up being a textbook perfect delivery). However, my midwife recommended the Foley balloon, and as she explained it to me, I realized that it sounded a lot better than pumping my body full of hormones and medicine to stimulate contractions. A Foley balloon is inserted into the cervix and then filled with saline. The pressure resulting from this causes the cervix to think that the baby's head is pressing down, encouraging it to thin and ripen on its own. Around noon, the Foley was inserted, and not long after that, my contractions began coming fast and hard. It wasn't long before I was requesting an epidural.

And this is when things got interesting. My epidural with Caleb went perfectly. It took quickly, and though it wore off enough that I could feel my contractions during the delivery (which was actually helpful during the pushing), I didn't feel anything else. It was great. This time around...well...I should have known something was wrong. The anesthesiologist seemed very fidgety. He tapped around on my back for awhile, almost like he wasn't quite sure where he was going to insert the needle. And after insertion, I did not feel the cold sensation of the medication running down my back like I had the first time. Most concerning? I could still feel my legs a few minutes later. It's a strange feeling to not feel your legs after an epidural, but trust me, that's what you want. I now know that if you can feel your legs, something has gone wrong. Having only one prior experience getting an epidural, I didn't know to speak up or say anything this time around. I won't make that mistake next time. I did mention to my nurse that I was still feeling the contractions - especially on my right side. They had me lay on my right side to see if we could get the medication to pool there, and it seemed to help for a bit and give me a hint of relief from the intense contractions. I thought at that point that everything was fine (though I could still feel my legs and feet perfectly). So now, we would wait.

Around 4 pm, the Foley catheter was checked and proclaimed ready to be removed. I had gone from 2 cm dilated to 6 cm dilated in 4 hours. My contractions were still coming strong and steady, so my midwife felt confident that I didn't need any further medications to encourage labor. My body was doing it on its own. And she was right. We never needed the Pitocin. Vivian had dropped down, and just a couple of hours later, I began feeling the need to push. A little before 7 pm, with the nurse, midwife, B, and my mom by my side, I began pushing. And this time around, it was a whole different ballgame. Because let me tell you, ladies, there was nothing numb about any of it. The epidural hadn't taken, so I felt every little thing. Every. Little. Thing. Can you tell how nervous I was as I prepared to push knowing that my pain medicine would not be helping?

Despite getting an epidural, I ended up having a natural birth. Ain't life funny?

As with Caleb, I didn't mind feeling the contractions, as they were helpful in knowing when to push and to push effectively. But when Vivian crowned? Lord have mercy. I now know the meaning of the term "ring of fire." That pain was like no other. Thank the Lord that, for me, it was brief. Once she crowned, I pushed three times, and at 7:13 pm she arrived. If felt like forever in those moments, but both B and my mom told me that I pushed for a total of about 15 minutes. Feeling her slide out of my body was an experience I will never forget. I don't remember feeling that with Caleb - I don't know if it had to do with the pain medications or not, but I am so glad to have been able to get to experience that feeling this time around. 

Vivian arrived with a tiny little cry. And the most perfect little head and body you ever did see. Her head was perfectly round and covered in dark hair, just like her brother. Her skin was pink and startlingly clean. She had almost no lanugo or vernix on her at all. Her little body was tiny and petite, with the narrowest little hands and feet (and long fingers and toes). And she had the most perfect set of little cupid's bow lips. My mom summed it up well when she said, through tears, "She's so pretty!"

And just like that, I had a daughter.

And with that influx of pictures, I'll stop there! Separate post to come with pictures from our three day hospital stay.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Vivian's First Week

I'm struggling to believe that we have been at home for over a week with our little Vivian. She will be two weeks old on Saturday. For the love? I still can't get over the fact that I am no longer pregnant. For the first couple of days after arriving at home, I kept finding myself thinking I couldn't do certain things because of a big ol' pregnant belly. And then promptly being reminded that, actually, I could do those things because I am, in fact, no longer pregnant. My pregnancy ended so abruptly, I sometimes find myself missing my round, swollen belly. And I definitely miss feeling all the little kicks and rolls of my little peanut inside my tummy. 

Our first week at home was definitely one of adjustment. We are still working on adapting to life as a family of 4, which I anticipate will take a while. The first few nights at home were rough. Vivian had her days and nights completely mixed up. She would sleep all day, and was then up all night. Up. And crying. Which made our 7 am toddler wake-up call incredibly rough. She seems to be doing better now, and for the last few nights, has only been waking up to nurse every three hours or so. Which is much better. But I am still not sleeping well, as I just can't let myself relax when I look at her tiny little self lying in that bassinet. I remember watching a newborn Caleb breathe as he slept, and feeling like I had to keep an eye on him - and the feeling is back with Vivian. Do moms ever not worry about their children? B is back at work now, and I am settling into my new role as a stay-at-home mom of two. I'm finding that there are definitely never enough hours in the day, and I don't anticipate this feeling changing anytime soon - especially when we start getting out and about for our normal play dates and activities. So far, we've stayed cooped up at home for the most part, as I am completely terrified of attempting an outing with both children on my own. 

My sweet Caleb has adapted to being a big brother so well. He has done great. Much better than we expected, to tell you the truth. He loves his little sister so much, and it is heartwarming to watch. When she cries, he comes running. He'll search for her pacifier, attempt to kiss her, rub her head - whatever he can do to get her to calm down. He always wants to be near her, and loves to give her kisses and hold her hands. Despite how well he's done,  I won't pretend it's been all flowers and rainbows. For the most part, he's been amazing, however, there have been a few more tantrums than normal. He's whined and cried a bit more than usual. And been a bit clingier than is typical for him - Mother's Morning Out drop-offs have been a tearful affair lately. I know all of this is just part of the transition process for him, so we are trying not to be too hard on him. Monday was actually my first day at home alone with both children. We made it through the morning just fine. Enjoyed a lunch that Mawmaw brought over. And then things fell apart. While jumping around on our bed, Caleb bumped heads with Vivian - who was laying in her boppy on the bed. His eyes grew round as he looked at my face and said, "Ow." And Vivian started screaming. Luckily, she ended up ok (and was probably more traumatized by my frantic full body examination for any kind of bumps or bruises). Girl's going to have to learn how to take some hard knocks with a brother like Caleb around.

We're exhausted. We're overwhelmed. At times we look at each other like, "How did this happen?" But we're oh, so happy. And that's how our first week and a half has gone. Here's some pictures from Vivian's first week at home with us - a total picture overload, in fact:

Back tomorrow with the second part of Vivian's birth story.