Wednesday, August 31, 2011

3 months ago today...

…we welcomed the sweetest, happiest, most beautiful baby boy into the world. Little did we know how much our world would be forever changed that day, but in the best possible way. As my husband says, “It’s like Christmas every morning.” That’s how excited we are to see him first thing in the morning. There is no better way to start my day than by getting a big gummy smile from my sweet boy when I go in to wake him up in the morning. We can’t get enough of him!

I love that fact that he is living up to the meaning of his name already, which means bold or strong. He embodies this in so many wonderful ways. But we have known this from when he was in the womb when he was kicking and punching my insides! He is a feisty little guy, fighting us during diaper and clothing changes. He has been lifting and holding up his head since the day we brought him home from the hospital. During tummy time, he gets so frustrated and ends up pushing himself up even more. Already at 3 months, he knows what he wants and when he wants it. Additionally, just like the character in the Bible, we pray that as he grows he will fully/wholly follow the Lord (Numbers 14:24, 32:12, Joshua 14:8-9).

I want to take some time to mention how lucky I am that this day does not signify the end of maternity leave. I thank my wonderful husband for letting me be a stay at home mom. Even if we have to stick to a strict budget and won’t have the “finer things,” it is well worth it to be the primary caregiver to our baby boy. I love my new job and its many benefits!

Some highlights about Baby C as of today:
-he is growing out of size 0-3 months
-he wears size 1-2 Pampers diapers
-he weighs about 14 lbs and is about 24 in long, at best guess
-he sleeps 7-8 hours a night
-he eats 6 times a day
-he smiles most of his awake time
-he has started to laugh, and it’s the best sound
-he also has been babbling and cooing, and those are the second best sounds
-he is very serious when not smiling
-he does NOT stop moving, well he’s always been like that
-he is starting to reach out for us
-he has found his hands and feet, and is in awe of them
-he’s happiest when sitting up, which leads to the next point
-he loves to explore his environment, taking in everything with his big, alert eyes

Baby C, it is such a blessing to call you our son. You are a special gift from God. You bring so much joy and happiness to our lives. We love you, and look forward to many more months and years of your sweetness.

I’ll end with some pictures of my 3 month old! Like I said, he is constantly moving, so trying to take pictures of him these days that aren’t blurry can be challenging. And, I just couldn’t capture a smile today. They were either way too blurry or I was too slow. Oh well, enjoy anyway!

I know it’s blurry, but his expression is too cute to not post.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Grow, Baby, Grow

Breast is best. That is what I heard over and over during my pregnancy (and after as well). It got to a point where that got incredibly annoying. Not because I didn’t agree, but because I had made up my mind from the beginning that I wanted to exclusively breastfeed my baby. There was no doubt in my mind, so I didn’t need to be convinced that breast is best. I do understand that people out there needed to be educated on the benefits for mom and baby, so it is wonderful that breastfeeding is being promoted so much.

Before Baby C was born, I was worried that I would have issues with milk production. It was a constant prayer to not have complications. Too many women in my life have had difficulties with breastfeeding their babies. So, as you could imagine, I was thrilled when my little guy latched on from the beginning, and other than soreness, things seemed to be going well. My milk came in when it was supposed to. The lactation specialist even said everything looked great. When we left the hospital he had only lost about 4 oz, which from what I hear is better than most. I was so relieved that there didn’t seem to be any problems with breastfeeding.

That was until we had his first doctor’s appointment when he was 1 week old. He weighed 7 lb 2 oz, about 8 oz less than when he was born. His pediatrician wanted us to bring him back in 2 days for a weight check.
June 8

At his weight check, he weighed the same as he did 2 days earlier. Not good. I felt like a failure. I wasn’t providing enough for my baby. I have never felt more horrible. There were lots of tears that day, as well as many days after that. The doctor suggested that I pump after EVERY feeding and feed that to him in addition. So, I had to go out and buy a breast pump (something we had not budgeted for). I cried the whole way to Target, choked back tears while in Target, and cried the whole way home. It was so overwhelming. I felt like a slave to the pump. Feedings were taking so much long. He would nurse for about 40 minutes, then I had to pump for 10 minutes (and of course it took longer due to assembly) and give him the pumped milk by bottle. Don’t forget the time it takes to clean everything up. It’s not that one time is bad, it just gets grueling when you do it 8 times a day. Needless to say, I was exhausted because it was cutting in on my sleep time and I felt like I wasn’t able to simply enjoy my new baby. But, I was bound and determined to NOT put my baby on formula, so I pumped away. And prayed without ceasing.
June 10

We went back to the doctor often for weight checks. The first time back he had gained 3 oz in 3 days. His doctor was very pleased, as were we. However, she wanted me to continue pumping at every feeding for the next 4 days. Hoping that this was all temporary, I agreed. I would do anything for my sweet boy.
June 13

Four days later, he gained 6 oz. He finally had passed his birth weight! I also didn’t have to pump after every feeding, only half of them. Huge relief. And, he didn’t have to take the bottle every time I pumped, only when he didn’t seem content and that was rare. But, we weren’t out of the woods, yet.
June 17

We were scheduled to come back in 5 days. Unfortunately, he didn’t gain enough, only 1 oz, during those 5 days. We were back to giving him the bottle after 4 of his feedings. I was still pumping 4 times a day. I just couldn’t understand. He was one of the most content and alert babies I had ever seen for his age. He never displayed any signs that we were starving him. He also was dirtying up diapers like he was suppose to, actually more.
June 22

We were back in the pediatrician’s office 2 days later for another weight check. He was no longer my 7 lb baby. He weighed in at 8 lb even, which was a 4 oz increase in 2 days! I still had to pump 3-4 times a day and supplementing with the pumped milk.
June 24

A week later, we had his 1 month well-baby appointment. He was a very healthy, 8 lb, 12 oz baby! That’s 12 oz in a week! It’s funny, though, because that is how much my husband weighed when he was born. With how well Baby C was gaining weight, the doctor decreased the amount of pumping and supplementing to 2 times a day. She was a little hesitant to cut it out completely, as was I, even though I was more than ready to stop pumping. I just knew the end was in sight.
July 1

Since it was too long of wait for his next well-baby appointment at 2 months to make sure he continued to grow properly, his pediatrician wanted to do a weight check after 2 weeks. He weighed in at 9 lb, 14 oz. And, the best news: I no longer had to pump and supplement! That meant I was providing enough for my baby. Victory! I finally was able to relax and truly enjoy him.
July 13

At his 2 month well-baby appointment, he weighed 11 lb, 5 oz. Breastfeeding was clearly going well! My baby was growing well! Everyone was happy!
August 1 (so pitiful from his shots)

In his first 2 months of life, I think we ended up going to the pediatrician 9 times. I’m so thankful for a pediatrician that supported my efforts to exclusively breastfeed.

Now, at 12 weeks and after LOTS of prayer, I’m guessing he weighs around 14 lb (I weighed myself on our home scale several days ago, got back on holding him, subtracted the difference, and calculated 13 lb, so I’m sure he is closer to 14 lb now). And, I am still breastfeeding exclusively without having to supplement by pumping or with formula! Praise the Lord! I LOVE nursing him. It is no longer exhausting, but an amazing and beautiful experience and such a sweet moment with sweet boy. Oh, and that precious little smile of his after he is just finished nursing and still laying in my arms that only I get melts my heart every time. He is growing way too quickly in my mind. But, I am so thankful that he is healthy. I love his little baby fat rolls!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Baby C's Birth Story

*warning: this contains a lot of information, some that you might not be comfortable reading about as it is after all a birth story. However, for privacy reasons, I left some details vague on purpose.

I have been wanting to get this down for some time, mostly for myself to look back on. Truth is, I started writing it in the hospital on my phone, but when things got intense, I obviously put it aside. So for several weeks after Baby C’s birth, I slowly would add to it, again on my phone. As time went on, I couldn’t remember some of the details as clearly, or maybe I could never remember them due to the pain! Anyway, here is Baby C’s birth story, as best as I can tell it.

I woke up Tuesday morning (May 31) at 3:30 feeling uncomfortable. I was cramping like I was having my period. I got up hoping that would help. It didn't. After laying back down, I started to feel contractions. Now, I should note that I had been having contractions for a few weeks but only at night and they were not regular. The night before, they were coming at best every 6-10 minutes. That morning, I timed them for the next hour. They were coming every 3-5 minutes. At 4:45, I got up to take a shower and get ready to go to the hospital. After going back and forth deciding whether we should go, we arrived at the hospital around 6:00 or so. When checked, I was not far enough along, but they wanted to observe me for a bit. They encouraged me to walk, so I did. However, we were preparing ourselves to be sent home. We even planned breakfast.

At 8:45, my doctor came in to check me again. I'd dilated enough to have my membranes ruptured (she broke my water). Needless to say, we were shocked. There went our breakfast plans! Around 9:00, my nurse hooked me up to an IV antibiotic since I had GBS. My husband ran to the cafeteria to get breakfast, and as soon as he was out of sight, I got very nauseated and vomited. The nurse gave me Zofran for that. The on-call doctor came in around 9:30 to check me again. There was a little more improvement. Over the next couple of hours, I had not dilated enough, so they started me on Pitocin to help intensify my contractions to help me dilate more. At that point, labor was going great! I seriously thought it was not going to be bad since my contractions were only uncomfortable and not painful. Ha!

I can't remember exactly when the pain from back labor began, but it worsened quickly. I was contracting every minute for a minute. However, I wasn't progressing like I should and they were having a hard time monitoring my contractions - they weren't really showing up on the monitor. I had to press a button with every contraction so they could see when I was contracting. I tried to labor sitting on a birthing ball rocking side to side to help open my cervix and try to ease the pain. My husband sat behind me holding a heating pad against my lower back. At 3:30 (I remember this time because it was shift change), my contractions from back labor were so bad and so close together that I was begging for meds, something I didn't want to do. I was miserable. I started with an IV drug that I thought would take away my pain, but it only made me drowsy. No relief. I guess I didn’t hear the nurse explain it very well. After getting my husband's ok, I ended up with an epidural, something I indicated in my birth plan that I did NOT want. Only problem was that the anesthesiologist was finishing up a surgery. I was in agony - worst pain I had ever experienced, and I’ve been known to have a very high tolerance for pain. It wasn't until around 6:00 or 6:30 when I finally got the epidural. After 3 contractions, I could no longer feel the back labor. Sweet relief!

Because my body finally was able relax, I was able to dilated further. Looking back, the epidural was one of the best decisions I made during my labor. It saved me from having a c-section or other complications. They also increased my Pitocin again. By this time, I was so worn out. We watched tv but I couldn't keep my eyes open.

Around 8:00, the pain in my back return to the same degree it was earlier. I wanted more meds, but had to wait for the on-call doctor who was finishing up a c-section. The nurse kept checking me. I was so close to being fully dilated. She had me lay on both sides for 10-15 minutes to help dilate the last bit. I was in so much pain and so tired that I was falling asleep between contractions, if that's possible!

At 8:30, the nurse had me start pushing. We were still waiting on the doctor. She wanted me to push twice with each contraction, but I could and wanted to do three in hopes to speed up the process. At one point she called them practice pushes and that really upset me. I thought that if I was going through that much pain and effort, it better have been doing something! Well, it was. The nurse and my husband were at my sides holding my legs helping me push and encouraging me. They would tell me how much I progressed and when they could see the head. They told me he had a lot of dark hair. I remember being so dehydrated. But I wouldn’t let my husband or the nurse get my ice chips or a cold washcloth because they wouldn’t get back in time for the next push. Without thinking, I literally was pulling skin off my lips. I was drenched in sweat, my hair completely soaked. I definitely was not one of those women who didn’t look like they had been through labor as soon as they delivered! I still wanted more meds, and when the doctor finally came in around 9:30, she told me no because it would slow the process down - take 4 more hours. On top of the back pain, I was starting to tear and could feel it. The doctor cut a little bit to help but said she wouldn't even call it an episiotomy. I asked her how much longer, and she told me within the hour. I watched the clock as much as I could. Well, an hour later, at 10:33, Caleb entered the world. Even the nurse told me on my last contraction it was going to be it. I asked her if she promised, and on the third push, he came out. Because there was meconium in my amniotic fluid, they had to take him right away to check and clean him since he could have aspirated it. Once they determined he was ok, I got to hold him and nurse him. It was such a sweet moment when he looked right into my eyes. He immediately stole my heart! I was overjoyed (and exhausted)! He was perfect! He weighed 7 lb, 10.5 oz. I got my 7 lb, May baby by an hour and a half (I'd said from the beginning of the pregnancy that he would be born in May instead of June and I couldn't fathom delivering a baby over 8 lb)!

I had the best medical team. The doctors were great. My nurses were unbelievable and very attentive to my needs. And, of course, my husband was the best coach I could have ever asked for. He was by my side the whole time. I seriously could not have done it without them.

So alert during the wee hours of the morning

I love my little family!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Praise God from whom all blessings flow

After a little over two months, I’m back! Well, I'll try! I’ve been meaning to blog sooner, but you know how it goes. The longer you wait, the harder it is and the more you have to say. It just gets daunting. Well, I thought that today would be no better day to reflect on my southern life in the Northland. My husband and I are celebrating our 6th anniversary today! I can’t believe it has been 6 years already.

So happy to finally be husband and wife!

A little history about us. We met the summer before our junior year of high school on a church youth group retreat in Panama City, Fl. From there, a friendship developed. He became my best friend (and still is!). I could go to him about anything and he could always make me smile and laugh. We hung out a lot, mostly in my driveway but we had fun, and spent hours talking on the internet late at night (remember the days of AIM?). We started dating half way through our junior year, so that was in 2000. We went to UGA together and pretty much knew our freshman year that we were going to be married one day. On New Year’s Eve in 2004, he proposed to me at Kirk’s Restaurant. He always said he would NOT propose to me at a restaurant or on a holiday – ha! Of course, I said yes. I married my best friend a little over 7 months later. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made! He is the second best thing in my life – with Jesus being first. We honeymooned in St. John, USVI. We agree that was the best vacation we have ever had. We made so many wonderful memories there. We started our married life in St. Louis a few days after we returned from our honeymoon, where we both attended graduate school at Covenant Seminary. We then moved to Minnesota about a year ago. It has been exciting to see where the Lord has taken us, and I look forward to what the Lord has in store for us in the future!

For the past 5 anniversaries, we either have spent elegant nights away or gone on elaborate vacations to celebrate our anniversary. But this year is different, and that is perfectly fine with me! We will enjoy dinner at a nice restaurant with the company of our hopefully sleeping baby. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our anniversary this year than by spending the day with my love and the beautiful product of our love!

I am so thankful for the blessings that the Lord has bestowed upon me and my little family.

Oh, and for those who don’t know, baby C was born on May 31. I’ll blog about him soon!

Happy anniversary, Babe! I love you so very much!