Saturday, November 29, 2014

Six Must-Haves for the First Six Months

There’s nothing earth-shattering about this list, and of course every baby is different.  But for what it’s worth, here are our favorite baby gadgets for the first six months.

  1. Halo sleep sack – we love this sleep sack that has the option to swaddle with arms in or out. Keeps baby warm and cozy without the fear of loose blankets covering the face.
  2. Aden and Anais muslin swaddle blankets – these lightweight blankets are so versatile. We used them to swaddle, as burp rags, and as a breathable stroller cover to protect from the sun.
  3. Dohm white noise machine – *clank!* Did you hear that glass in the sink? Maddie didn’t! We love this sound machine to help block out household noises while baby sleeps. It has adjustable sound levels, which is really helpful depending on the size of the room you’re using it in. We don’t travel without this little machine!
  4. 4moms infant tub – this bathtub constantly cycles through new clean water and has a temperature gage that beeps at you when the water is too warm. The tub is pretty big, and doesn’t fit in our kitchen sink like I’d hoped it would. But it works really well in our bathroom tub.
  5. Bright Starts activity gym – easy entertainment! It comes with toys and links, and can be used for laying down, tummy time, or sitting. The play mat is machine washable too!
  6. Lightweight travel stroller frame – just attach the infant car seat and voila! This stroller frame makes running errands a cinch. It’s super lightweight and folds up pretty thin. Perfect for a trip to the doctor’s office or running into Target before baby is big enough to be carried or ride in the shopping cart. Babywearing is of course a great option too, but I’ve found this stroller and it’s storage basket very helpful many a time!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Whole30, holy moly!

Whew! Tom and I just completed our first Whole30. Thirty consecutive days of clean, healthy eating. Saying it was our “first” implies that we might intend to do it again, and you know, we just might! We’re feeling so great!

A little bit about the program:
In a very quick and not at all inclusive explanation, Whole30 is a nutritional program aimed at eliminating inflammatory foods from your diet while resetting your body’s metabolism and food cravings. The list of “don’t eat” foods is daunting, and includes dairy, grains, legumes (beans), sugar, and alcohol. It’s probably better to view it from the “allowed to eat” standpoint of: vegetables, meats, eggs, fruits, tree nuts, oils and seeds. The Whole30 program is based around a book, It's Starts with Food, but truthfully, I haven't read it.My friend Katie read it,and she said, while it is a little extreme, it really made her think about food in a very different way. Maybe I'll get around to reading it someday, when Maddie is grown ;)

What made me hesitant:
I’m no stranger to dietary restrictions, so I wasn’t all that intimidated by the strict Whole30 rules. While I was pregnant, I avoided dairy meats, soft cheeses, alcohol and caffeine.  Once I had Maddie, I nixed dairy products due to her milk allergy. My biggest concern with the program was sugar. I have such a major sweet tooth! As in, chocolate, without fail. I honestly cannot remember a time before Whole30 where I went without chocolate on any one given day. Chocolate makes me happy! Mmmmm, I’m imagining a hershey’s kiss melting in my mouth right now, popping a handful of M&Ms, smelling warm brownies in the oven, topped with a chocolate chip cookie, and a scoop of rocky road ice cream. And I’m in heaven! Except that, chocolate also makes me feel…. fat. I’m not saying I’m fat, don’t jump me, just hear me out. Eating chocolate does not make me feel healthy. And in the past 30 days, I’ve realized that feeling healthy makes me happy too! So my main takeaway in regards to sugar is, everything in moderation. I’m still going to eat Oreos occasionally. Just not an entire bag every week (yes, that was real life before Whole30).

What I most enjoyed:
I LOVED that I didn’t have to count calories. That would be difficult anyway since tomatoes don’t  come with a nutrition label ;) I’ve always been one to read nutrition labels, and to obnoxiously call Tom out. You know that thing has like half your saturated fats for the day, right!? Nevermind the fact that one package of Oreos has 1,920 calories in it. Every week I was eating a whole day's worth of calories in Oreos! Although the program encourages you to eat 3 meals a day and not snack, as a nursing mother, I am hungry around the clock. But I didn’t feel guilty at all for grabbing a banana or an orange in between meals!
(Side story - one time, while I was pregnant, that’s my “excuse” – we went to dairy queen and I ordered my favorite Georgia Mud Fudge Blizzard. Tom initally said he wasn’t going to get anything, he didn’t need any ice cream – politely implying that maybe a third Blizzard in one week wasn’t my healthiest meal choice. At the last minute, he added on cheese sticks to my order! I informed him that cheese sticks were worse than a Blizzard, but his disbelief directed me to the DQ website nutrition facts. And the truth? A medium DQ Georgia Mud Fudge blizzard = 850 calories VS. a large box of cheese sticks = 440 calories. Ouch! That's nearly twice as much in the Blizzard!)

The Scale:
Weight loss is certainly not the purpose of Whole30. But most participants do see a significant difference in their body composition. I had just 5 little pounds left to lose to be back at my pre-baby weight, and I was hopeful, after ready so many success stories, that I could kick those last few pounds. According to the program rules, you're not supposed to weigh yourself or take any measurements during the 30 days. And I held off all the way until Day 29, when I caved and pulled out the scale. I was feeling awesome. My pre-baby clothes were fitting, I felt light as a feather, floating on air. I was fully expecting the scale to give me a number lower than my pre-baby weight. And then BAM. I'd only lost 4 pounds. At first I was really ticked. WTF, all this healthy food and I only lost 4 pounds!? But as I gave it time to settle in... I was actually totally okay with the result. Even though the scale said 4 pounds lost, I felt so good when I looked in the mirror! It really showed me that the scale shouldn't dictate how I feel about my body and my health. It's just a number.
Now, Tom, on the other hand, lost 13 pounds! Isn't that crazy good!? And he is feeling so great, that he is still maintaining the Whole30 diet! (Ok ok, he did eat some popcorn tonight.. but he reported that it didn't even taste good and he felt guilty eating it!)

Full Disclosure:
I should tell you though, that I did cheat. The program guidelines tell you not even to contemplate what to do if you cheat, to not let it be an option. But I’ll be truthful in telling you, I cheated. I cheated by having a glass of wine (ok ok and a beer and a piece of cake) at my best friend’s wedding. I cheated by having a beer at ACL fest. I cheated at my parent’s house when I ate a dollop of mango coconut sauce with my veggie shish-ka-bob. I may have incidentally cheated when I ate out at restaurants and did my absolute best to pick the cleanest, healthiest option on the menu (that still might have been cooked in butter). I cheated by eating oatmeal for breakfast some mornings (I swear by it for milk production). And I cheated the one time I ate a chocolate Luna bar because my milk supply was tanking and I was panicked. Whew! I feel better getting all that off my chest. I am such a rule follower, and clearly, all of those cheats really made an impact on me because I remember every single one! I still feel like I got many benefits of the program despite my oopsies. So cut yourself some slack and don’t give up even if you do slip.

Favorite Recipes:
Crockpot Beef fajitas -

Mustard Chicken -

Roasted sweet potatoes -

Chicken apple sausage -

Burger salad - burgers on the grill, over a salad instead of on a bun

Mexican meat loaf -

Stuffed peppers -

Shrimp kabob, pineapple kabob -

Cauliflower rice -

Fried apple dessert -

Tools of the trade:

Have I convinved you yet?? :)  Happy to answer any questions you might have and support you if you decide to give it a try!

Monday, September 8, 2014

On Being a FTM

In case your 2:00am google searches don’t land you on forums, allow me to explain.

FTM = First Time Mom

And LO = little one, DD = dear daughter, DS = dear son, DH = dear husband. Then there’s EBF = exclusively breastfed, BLW = baby led weaning, SAHM = stay at home mom, CIO = Cry it Out, and STTN = sleeping through the night. Seriously, the list goes on and on. I’m pretty sure the time it takes to decode the acronyms negates the time saved by typing them.

We’ve been doing this “new parent” thing for about four months now, and we’ve learned so much. We’ve read books and watched videos, called the doctor a couple of times. But mostly, we’ve learned by trial and error. Lots of trial and lots of error.

Here are a few pearls of wisdom we’ve learned along the way.

On Labor & Delivery

It’s rough. But it’s worth it. A few months out, your momnesia will kick in and you’ll forget just how rough it was. Momnesia – it’s a real thing! How else would anybody have more than one child!? Up until the 2 month point, I might have told you would never have another baby. The labor, the crying, the sleepless nights… they’re just a fuzzy memory now. What remains clear in my memory are the snuggles in the rocker, the fine downy hairs that covered her little forehead, the way she breathed so sweetly while she was falling asleep. A few hours of pain (or 28 hours in my case) for a lifetime of love. Worth it.

On a Postpartum Body
Remember that infamous picture of Duchess Kate in a blue dress outside the hospital after the birth of baby William? Everyone had something to say about her little belly bump still showing. I mostly remember a lot of praise for her, for not being afraid to show what a real postpartum body looks like. I was ready for that. I was prepared to look like Kate. Pretty hair, pretty dress, pretty little lingering bump. Well let’s be honest, I left the hospital looking a couple months more pregnant than Duchess Kate. And a couple months out, I still look like Kate did on day 2. But someone recently said something that really resonated with me. It took nine months to grow a baby, gain 40 pounds, and look like the pictures below. Why should the weight and roundness come off any faster?
 (I once swore you'd never see a picture of my bare pregnant belly on social media. But it's really too funny not to share, right? This was the day before Maddie was born)

Moral of the story, cut yourself some slack on the baby weight, it will come off eventually. There are more important things to worry about in the meantime.

On Hormones
Be prepared to cry before/during/after labor, and really for a few weeks (months?) after that. Every emotion – happy, sad, frustrated, elated – is 10x stronger than you’ve ever felt it before. There are good tears, bad tears, joy and struggles. Cut yourself some slack here too, it’s okay to cry. One of the most beautiful, incredible, terrifying, and absolutely life-changing things has happened to you. It’s perfectly normal to be emotional! And, well, while we’re on the topic of hormones, remember all that gorgeous thick hair you had during your pregnancy? It falls out =( For me it started happening around 2 months postpartum. Tom actually commented to me, “I feel like I’m constantly walking through spider webs in our house” *sigh* Goodbye thick hair.

 On Being Flexible
You know that boyscouts saying, “always be prepared”? It’s excellent advice. Plan for everything: packing your bags, getting to the hospital, the birth plan, how you will feed the baby, where the baby will sleep, who will do diapers, who will rock the baby at 2am, who will feed the dogs and cook the dinners and mow the yard and check the mail. Talk about it, write it down, have a plan. But possibly more important than having a plan, is being flexible. There’s another saying, “nothing ever goes as planned”. Yep, that one definitely applies to a newborn baby. Some things won’t go according to plan, and you’ll change your mind on things. Do what works for you and your family, even if it wasn’t in the plan.

 On Lowering your Expectations
Seriously on this one. Lower. Your. Expectations. Of yourself, of your spouse, of your baby, of the state of your house, of your [lack of] style. You’ll be a mess is every sense of the word. You’ll be tired, you’ll be frustrated, you might even feel like you’re failing. But you are not! Being a new parent is tough. Don’t make it tougher on yourself with unrealistic expectations. You will wake up one day and try to remember the last time you washed your hair and brushed your teeth. Your spouse will sleep right through a midnight crying session. Your baby will wake up every hour when you thought she’d sleep for three. Your sink will be full, your hamper overflowing, your vacuum untouched. Sweat pants and no make up will be your new MO. It’s OK! All of it, it’s OK! This time is fleeting. Let things go. Try your best to enjoy the good moments.

 On Technology
I highly recommend using an app to track your newborn’s activity for the first couple of weeks. We used (still use) Total Baby, and it’s been awesome. Now I just use it to track nursing sessions, because good heavens, I can never remember what side I last nursed on. But in the beginning, we tracked diapers too – better count those 4-6 wet diapers and 3 dirty diapers per day! Or whatever it is they tell you. I was a sucker for the blue line on the pampers diaper and changed it every time I saw a speck of blue... alright alright I still do.  Ok but back to the app, I found it really useful to try and find trends, count feedings, count diapers, etc. You can even track sleep, medications, doctors visits and more.

 On Doctors
I thought I had posted the story of how we switched OBGYN’s during my pregnancy but apparently I did not because I just searched through all of my posts and couldn't find it, *sigh*. But now you know, we switched doctors and it was the best decision. Annnnd, we did it again. We started Maddie out with our family practice doctor. We thought it would be convenient for all of us to see the same doctor. But a couple weeks in, we decided we would be more comfortable with a pediatrician. And I highly recommend that, seeing a pediatrician! At our first visit with our new doctor, he asked me, “and she’s taking her Vitamin D drops, right?” ... “Umm Vitamin D? Nobody mentioned Vitamin D” … “And that’s why you see a pediatrician!” he said. We’ve felt so much more comfortable and confident with our new doctor. Side note – both of her doctor’s are named Dr. Berg. And they are not related. Weird, yeah? Another side note – on the topic of Vitamin D, I HIGHLY recommend Carlson Labs Super Daily D drops. One tiny tiny drop, so much easier than the D-Vi-Sol syrup kind from Walgreens.

 On Cankles
Well there’s really nothing to say here, other than, your feet and ankles might look like this when you come home from the hospital, even if they never swelled during your pregnancy. Laugh at them and know that they will eventually go back to normal.

And there you have it, everything you need to know to be a new parent ;) HA! Just kidding. But in all seriousness, live and learn! To all the new parents out there, you’re doing a great job.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Weekend in Wimberley: Katie’s Bachelorette!

Bring on the food, wine, and gossip! Last weekend, we loaded up for a girls weekend in Wimberley, Texas to celebrate the Future Mrs. Burton. It was my first overnight trip away from Maddie, and I didn’t even cry! Well okay, I might have teared up once. But really, it was such a fun trip and it felt so nice to indulge in good food, good wine, and good [grown-up] conversation.
Friday Night:
Girls night in! We stayed at these cottages, in #8 Black. It was adorable! Well maintained, plenty of space for the 5 of us, and had a small, but full kitchen. Which was perfect for our homemade pizzas! Katie’s cousin, Christine, has been having terrible heart-burn in her pregnancy, and I’m not eating dairy… so our slices of the pizza were pretty silly. No sauce on hers, no cheese on mine! Still delicious though :) We ate and drank, talked and took it easy. Since three fourths of the bridal party are mothers, the conversation included the usual bachelorette party banter, you know, breastfeeding, childbirth, baby-weight loss. Totally normal things to discuss while celebrating someone who is about to get married. I sure hope we didn’t completely bore the bride-to-be and her soon-to-be-sister-in-law!
Our first stop of the day, after a quick selfie outside our cottage of course, was The Leaning Pear for lunch. De-lish! The food was great and the restaurant was super cute. Everything in Wimberley is super cute. Katie sported her Bachelorette sash and looked stunning all day – don’t brides just have a glow!? Our waitress wore jean overall shorts (are those making a comeback?) and made a comment about how she would like to go to a drag show for her bachelorette.  Mmhmm, sure, crazy girl!  In case you care, I ate the chicken and grits – it was awesome.
Next up, we visited Bella Vista, for wine and olive oil tasting. Drinking shots of olive oil is… weird. But the wine was good and the girl pouring our wine was so fun! The vineyard was really pretty, but it was so dang hot outside. 
While there, another fellow wine-taster (slash Texas wine-connoisseur) recommended the Wimberley Valley Winery as another nearby location for us to visit. So we did! We made our way through winding roads to a second winery. This one had much more space, but the wine tasting was much less intimate and educational. But hey, wine is wine, and the wine was good! So good, in fact, that w oman approached me and suggested I should have a glass….

Lady in pink:       Is this your first baby?
Me:                      Yes! What gave it away? My pumping bag? [assuming she was referencing the tell-tale black Medela suitecase I was lugging around.]
Lady in pink:       [silence]
Me:                       Nevermind.
Lady in pink:       You should have a glass of wine, my doctor said it’s okay to have a glass while you’re pregnant!

Ohhhh. You think that I’m… Ohhhh. Well this is weird. In order to avoid making things awkward or creating a scene, I simply said thanks. And promptly rushed to the ladies room to evaluate my silhouette and determine if I did, in fact, look pregnant. Perhaps I hadn’t made the best wardrobe decision, but hey, my pre-baby pants were fitting again, and my husband says I look great, so I thought I could pull off a fitted maxi skirt. Maybe I do still have a bit of a baby bulge. But truthfully, it doesn’t really bother me… didn’t really bother me, until someone called me out on it. Then it bothered me more than I thought it would. I grew a human in there! Just three months ago! Anyway, looking back on the situation, I wish I would have told the lady in pink that I’m not pregnant. Then maybe she would think twice the next time she feels compelled to give advice. Whew, okay, way off track there, back to your regularly scheduled programming.
Before heading back to our cottage, we stopped by the Cypress Creek Reserve rum distillery. The rum was good and the owner was friendly, but the distillery was not air conditioned. And, as previously mentioned, it was so dang hot outside. We toughed it out, drank some rum, learned about the distillery process, and sweated out any lingering wine in our systems.
Time for a rest! We had a couple hours before dinner, so we relaxed at our cottage for a bit. Katie took a nap while the rest of us chit-chatted and I had a visit from Tom and Maddie. You didn’t really think I could go a whole weekend without seeing my girl, did you!? They actually stopped by twice on Saturday so I could pass off milk bottles. Maddie love love loved visiting with the girls. She was really quite the talker. And who wouldn’t want a tiny baby (and someone’s husband) at their bachelorette party!? ;)

Next up on our tour of Wimberley was Kate’s Place for dinner. As with everything else in town, this place was adorable! Had the weather been cooler, we would have loved to sit out on the patio. The food was really good, although some of us thought our meals were slighty overcooked. We enjoyed more girly conversations, reminisced on old times, and of course, drank more wine! I would definitely recommend this restaurant, but do note, they don’t do split checks. I ate the pork chop, and the honey-serrano glaze was especially tasty.
Still feeling festive, we decided to check out the night-life in downtown Wimberley. I had read about a place online that supposedly had live music. We parked where my phone map said we should, but we couldn’t see the bar and the girls were possibly a leeeetle skeptical of my bar choice. Especially because we could hear live outdoor music coming from somewhere nearby. But I persevered and convinced them to follow me into what turned out to be the cutest little small-town bar of all time, the Buzzard Bar, where a band was covering Brown Eyed Girl but singing it with the lyrics green eyed girl. The dance floor was packed and all the tables were full. The place was straight out of Hope Floats or some other hometown movie. So stinking cute! But when the song ended, the band announced they were taking a break. Off we went in search of the live outdoor music!

We crossed the street to Inoz, where a band was playing on the patio. We made it just in time for a round of drinks before the bar was closing (at 10pm). The temperature had cooled just enough for us to enjoy the music outside. The band was fun, but we only caught a couple songs before they finished, and we stuck around long enough to be told by our waitress that we had to leave. Closed down bar #1 of the night!
Back over the Buzzard Bar for more music, people-watching, having the cutest little waitress ever, laughing at the guy sleeping on the patio, oogling over the doggie outside, and dancing next to crazy-legs. Oh and guess who we saw? Overalls girl from lunch! Katie and Laura proudly partied through until 1am while the mothers started yawning and struggling to stay awake ;) We made it until they flashed the lights and announced the last call! Before stepping out of the picturesque scene, the girls got caught up in the bathroom chatting with a lady who couldn’t believe she didn’t have a ring yet after 5 months of dating someone! I think she went home with Katie’s oversized, flashing bachelorette ring.

Jessica and Laura had flights to catch, so we didn’t stick around long on Sunday. We awoke early, packed, and cleaned, said our goodbyes and headed back to reality. We had such a great time celebrating Katie’s upcoming nuptials, and I would absolutely recommend Wimberley for a weekend getaway or a bachelorette party! It’s not far off the beaten path, but it’s a whole ‘nother quaint and sweet little world.

Love you, Katie! Can’t wait for the wedding!

Selfie photo credits to Christine’s camera and Laura’s fabulous long arms

And special thanks to the best husband ever, who managed to care for the baby and two dogs all weekend long while I partied it up. His mother said he was…. frazzled. But he seemed calm and collected every time I saw him. Which was often, because he and Maddie drove back and forth several times to meet up with me. I had no doubt he would do an awesome job, he is such a wonderful dad! And a great husband too :)
"She really wasn't that close to the ledge"

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

"Nice break"

We had a little baby shower/lunch today for a co-worker who is due in a few short weeks. We all signed a card to go along with our big group gift. One of the guys who (clearly) doesn't have any kids wrote:
Congrats on the baby boy! It will be a nice break from work. - Jim*
Hahahahaha. I died.
P.S. Have a "nice break" quickly became the running joke amongst the parents in the office.
*Name changed to protect the innocent

Monday, August 11, 2014

Motherhood Monday: Spilled Milk

Whoever coined the phrase:

"No use crying over spilled milk"

... never dropped a bottle full of freshly pumped breast milk. 


And for your viewing pleasure, here's a sweet little clip of Maddie's first giggles! There's a good one at the very beginning and some more at the 0:55 mark. She has only given us a few laughs since then, she's a little stingy still. Water splashing is apparently way funnier than Mom's silly faces and Tom's "dad jokes"......

P.S. if you search for "maddie laughing" on youtube, you get 32,600 results. Ha.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

maddie grace goes swimming

We took Maddie swimming for the first time last weekend at my parents' house.

We suited up in our polka dots

And slathered on the sunscreen

At first, she didn't love it...

But she did her best to appease her parents.

She looked way too cool in her summer shades,

and had the best time swimming with her dad.

Check out their synchronized swimming!

swimming = success

Monday, July 21, 2014

Motherhood Monday

Some days, motherhood is like this:

Other days, motherhood is like this:

And sometimes, on a Monday, motherhood is like this:

You realize on your way to work that you forgot to grab the car seat carrier you need when you pick up your baby. So after work, you swing by your house, drop off your bags, grab a granola bar, and take off to pick up said baby. You pull into the daycare parking lot and realize you didn't grab the car seat. UGHHH. You turn back toward home. You arrive again at daycare 20 minutes later with car seat in hand. When you walk into the infant room, your baby's teacher tells you that your little one had a major diaper blowout, requiring a total outfit change... 

about 10 minutes ago. 

#silentlysnickering #sorrynotsorry

Sunday, July 20, 2014

The Sun is Shining

The smoke has lifted. The fog has cleared. We're emerging from the rubble. And by rubble, I mean our house. Our house looks like it was hit by a tornado. A Babies R Us tornado.

We are finally emerging from the haze of the newborn days. 

We survived the first twelve weeks with Miss Maddie Grace. And let me tell you, it was not easy. It was harder than I ever imagined, in ways I never imagined. Labor and recovery was brutal, sleep deprivation was exhausting, and the worry-wart in me had a heyday wasting hours of precious time googling all sorts of ridiculous things at all hours of the night. Our marriage relationship was challenged, the state of our house was at times disastrous, our sanity was often in question. And the emotions, oh the emotions and the cries. Happy cries, tired cries, painful cries, the I-don't-even-know-why-I'm-crying cries. And I'm talking about me here, not Maddie. Of course she did her fair share of crying too. Some afternoons we just cried it out together, neither of us knowing why we were crying. I blamed hormones, she blamed gas.

But, somehow, whilst our lives we're turned upside down, we learned, we grew, and we loved. We have been so blessed to welcome this little girl into our family. She is so special, so beautiful, so unique. And at times so confusing (what does that high-pitched-semi-whiny-followed-by-a-whimper cry mean? is that different from the high-pitched-semi-whiny-followed-by-a-grunt cry?). We are all learning more and more about each other every day and making precious memories (that we will hopefully look back on fondly? perhaps some we even laugh about?).

I'm back at work now, and Maddie has started daycare. We've ventured out of the house on errands and made several short road trips (even a couple overnighters!). On my last day of maternity leave, I not only baked brownies but also went jogging! Because those cancel out, right? Anyway, point being, we're like real people again. Who do things other than wear sweatpants, bounce around the room praying the baby will eventually fall asleep, then blankly stare at each other on the couch once she does and we have zero energy left to even speak. Well, just kidding about the sweatpants, I will forever wear yoga pants every day I can.

A blogging hiatus was absolutely necessary for me in the first weeks. Most days, I could barely find the time to shower or scarf down lunch with one hand while whisper-yelling in a sing-song voice from across the room, "I'm right here baby, Mommy's coming right back!" And when she finally fell asleep? Well I couldn't move, because she only wanted to sleep on me. And being unable to do anything because she was sleeping, was 100x better than being unable to do anything because she was screaming. But now that things are (sort of/maybe) settling down, I'm ready to get in the groove again. I need to write things down before the memories disappear right along with the size 1 diapers.

I'll start out with Maddie's birth story today, and have plans for Advice/Lessons Learned post, a Newborn Must-Haves post, and a Returning to Work post. Fortunately, I did write down a very long and detailed novel about Maddie's birth shortly after we went home from the hospital. I'll spare you all the unnecessary TMI in this lengthy play-by-play version. [If you plan to read the whole thing, you better go pop some popcorn and settle in for the long haul] 

Monday, April 28 (40 weeks, 6 days pregnant)

3:00pm:  I feel my first contraction. At least I think I do, but how could I really know? I take a shower and quietly time the contractions for a couple hours before I tell Tom.

5:00pm:  I'm 95% sure I'm having real contractions, and cautiously, excitedly tell Tom. We are giddy... tentatively. The days have been dragging on painfully since passing our due date, and we don't want to get our hopes up too high. We have pretty much accepted the fact that we will probably have to wait until our scheduled induction on Friday, May 2.

7:00pm:  Tom decides to go for a bike ride. I sit quietly in Maddie's room, listening to soothing music, thinking to myself, "wow, this labor thing is going to be a breeze - these contractions are but a minor annoyance, la de da de da"

7:30pm:  My mom calls. I know she has to work the next day and I don't want to get her excited just yet. I'm still 5% sure this is a fluke. I ramble on about our plans to visit the Arboretum the next day, hoping I'm totally playing it cool.

8:00pm:  Based on our calculations from timing my contractions and everything we learned in our labor and delivery class, we figure I'll probably be pushing this baby out at about 1:00am. Piece of cake, only 5 more hours to go!

11:00pm:  Yikes, ok so maybe this labor thing is no joke. The contractions are getting stronger and longer. I find a cool app on my phone to track them, which is fun. "Fun." As much "fun" as you can have while wincing in pain every 7 minutes.

Tuesday, April 29:

1:00am: OH MY GOD. Am I dying? The contractions are super painful, but still averaging about 6-7 minutes in between, sometimes longer.  We learned the 5-1-1 rule in our labor and delivery class. Don't go to the hospital until your contractions are 5 minutes apart, lasting 1 minute, for one full hour. I call the hospital anyway. The nurse says to keep on waiting it out. She suggests I should "take some Tylenol, drink a glass of water, and sit in a warm bath." IS THIS A JOKE? I'm 100% sure this woman has never been in labor. [Later find out, she has two kids] I cry in frustration.

2:00am:  After following the nurse's advice, I am still painfully in labor. But I think, what the heck, why don't I lie down for a bit? Surely I can fall asleep while I'm writhing in pain.

2:20am:  Yeah that was a fail. Tom falls asleep, but I find that lying down makes the contractions hurt worse. So I put on my tennis shoes to go for a walk. Because that sounds like a very reasonable, responsible thing to do, venturing out into the neighborhood, alone, in the dead of night, while in labor. I make it to the end of the street before I realize this is a terrible idea.

4:30am:  I've been walking in figure eights around the dining room table and the kitchen island for two hours.  The contractions are still only 6-7 minutes apart. What the heck!? I am officially very tired at this point. Moving around makes the contractions less painful, but I am too exhausted to keep walking. I decide to sit in the recliner for a bit, save some energy. I watch the morning news, eat a granola bar, moan and cry a bit.

6:30am:  Tom comes running down the stairs in a panic. "I fell asleep!" Don't worry, you haven't missed anything exciting down here. I detail my past few hours to him, and tell him I want to disregard the 5-1-1 rule and hit the road to the hospital. So, naturally, he decides to cook up some breakfast first. Mmmm, love the smell of eggs while I'm doubled over the kitchen counter trying to breathe through my contractions.

7:00am:  Tom is packing things up and I call my mom. I tell her about my night and get her thoughts on heading to the hospital. She agrees that I should go up there. If they send me home, they send me

7:15am:  We hop in the car, and no sooner than we hit I-35, the contractions quicken to every 4 minutes. I am suddenly very very happy! Practically elated! With every awful contraction, I cheer! I even tell Tom not to drop me off at the front door, I want to walk in from the parking lot.

7:30am:  We arrive at the hospital. Labor & Delivery is packed. So packed, in fact, that they don't have a single room open. Eight rooms full, eight babies born on Monday, April 28th. Seriously, what are the odds? They set up a temporary spot for us in the nursery. There aren't any babies in there since the babies generally room-in with their mothers. I disrobe and the nurses ask me 500 questions before Dr. Chapman (not our usual doctor, but equally as nice and wonderful) comes in and checks me. Yep, 5cm dilated and 100% effaced. She asks me if I plan to have an epidural, and I say yes, oh yes. I am caught off guard when she tells me she'll have the anesthesiologist come in as soon as they move us to our real room, which is supposed to be in the next 30 minutes. I can't believe it's already time to get an epidural! The night sure did drag on forever, but things start moving too quickly! Suddenly I'm hooked up to IVs and monitors, there's fluids and beepings and needles galore. Our doctor, Dr. Fernandez, stops by to say hello. He comments to Tom about how I'm doing so great for being 5cm dilated. I start to get a big head, thinking I have some sort of super-human pain tolerance and I'm going to be the Queen of Delivery. Ha. Oh you silly little first time mother, you don't even know.

7:45am: Tom calls our parents to let them know we've been admitted to the hospital. He also texts Katie back for me - as we were going up the elevator at the hospital, I got a text message from her that said she had a dream I was going into labor!

8:30am:  They move us to a room and my parents stop by to say hello.

10:00am:  Before long, the anesthesiologist comes in and administers the epidural. It isn't too terrible, other than the fact that he did it twice because the first one didn't work out very well. But hey, better than the contractions! It kicks in pretty quickly and I chill out in the hospital bed for, well, the rest of the day. Our parents, siblings, grandparents, all come in occasionally for visits. It's pretty uneventful. I snooze a little here and there and watch the clock.

3:00pm:  Dr. Fernandez comes in to check me. 10cm dilated! It's time for some "practice" pushes. We do a few, he gives me advice on how to breathe and push, and it doesn't appear that Maddie wants to come out yet. He says we'll wait another 30 minutes.

3:35pm:  I thought you said 30 minutes? It's been 35. I was mentally ready to get this baby out. But physically, I had some challenges. It was time to start pushing again, but I just couldn't get the hang of it. They wanted me to bear down, hold my breath, and push for 10 seconds. My mom and Tom were in the room holding my feet. My mom was my cheerleader, and Tom, well you know Silent Tom. He was my quiet supporter. But I just couldn't seem to hold my breath for a full 10 seconds! The bed was super uncomfortable, and I couldn't feel anything down there, so I wasn't sure if I was even pushing or just bursting blood vessels in my forehead

5:30pm:  I've been pushing for nearly 2 hours. The nurse says she can see the baby's head full of hair. But I just can't seem to push her out. I am in so much pain, so so much pain. And it all seems useless! I'm exhausted from pushing, and not sleeping, and only having had a granola bar in the past 20 hours. And I'm frustrated, really frustrated. Dr. Fernandez has to leave for his son's award ceremony, so Dr. Chapman comes in. She asks us to make a decision: try using forceps or go for a cesarean. In my drugged, delusional state, I opt for the forceps because I'm terrified of surgery. But using forceps requires a pediatrician to be present, and she has just gone home for the day. So we wait on her to come back.

6:00pm:  The pediatrician has arrived, there are seemingly 300 people in the room (maybe just 8), and I am trying my hardest to remain somewhat composed, but on the verge of falling apart. We try the forceps 4 times, which requires 12 more pushes. No avail. Baby is not budging. By this point, I am a crying, blubbering mess. "It hurts so bad," I repeat every 10 seconds. Things started to get really hazy for me at this point. It was just so darn painful.

6:30pm:  Time for the c-section. The new nurses (doctors? techs? who were these people?) start introducing themselves to me, and I am so over it. Seriously, I would have let a janitor delivery the baby by this time. I don't care what your name is, Mr. Doctor! They wheel me into the freezing cold surgery room and start administering drugs. My teeth are chattering, they're all making small talk. They cover me with blankets and invert the bed so that the numbing drugs will move further up my abdomen. Tom comes in and sits beside me. Someone makes jokes about Longhorn doctors delivering an Aggie baby. It's all REALLY hazy for me.

7:30pm:  Everything is ready, they tell me what they are doing behind the blue sheet. Finally, it's time to make the incision. They tell me that they're going to pull the baby out, and it's going to feel like someone is sitting on my stomach. Suddenly, a CRY! She cries immediately.

7:39pm:  Madelyn Grace Cooper makes her debut. She enters the world at 8lbs 11oz, 20 inches long. Tom gets to see her and hold her as soon as they clamp her cord and wipe her down. I am still a hazy mess.

8:00ish?  I see our baby for the first time, and she is nothing like I imagined. I pictured a petite little thing. But she is big. Big and swollen from all the fluids. It doesn't really feel like she is ours, and I don't immediately feel the love and attachment like I hoped I would. I mostly just feel exhausted. I don't know it at the time, but it will take a little while for me to have these feelings for sweet Maddie. But they do come, and when they do, they are fully encompassing. So much love, I feel that my heart will burst from it all. Such an incredible, powerful, life-changing love.

The rest of the hospital stay (until Friday morning) was really a bit of a blur for me. Recovery was brutal. I was on a lot of meds and in a lot of pain. I was definitely not a super-human pain-tolerating all-star. But we had lots of sweet visitors, our doctors and nurses were wonderful, TOM was wonderful. Seriously, the best ever. Since I was so incapacitated, Tom took over on everything - the diapers, the swaddling, the bouncing around the room. The rearranging of pillows, the calls to the nurses, the helping me pull up my pants when I couldn't bend over.  Seeing him this way was so special to me and truly made me appreciate what a wonderful man I married. The perfect husband and father, perfect to us.

It's hard to believe it was nearly three months ago that Madelyn entered the world. It's true what they say, babies really do grow up fast. That puffy, bruised, sleepy baby has blossomed into a cheery, smiling, playing baby. We love watching her grow and soaking up all the snuggles we can. Sweet Maddie Grace, we love you so!

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Nursery

The curtains are hung, and the furniture assembled. The onesies are washed, and the drawers have been filled. Everything is in it's place, ready for Miss Maddie. Here's a look at her pink and green nature-themed nursery:

This is the view from the hallway. Tom installed the round drum light that I LOVE, and it has a dimmer switch, which I also LOVE.  I made the mobile above the changing table using twine, an embroidery hoop, and circular paper cutouts.

When you walk through the doorway, there is a little wall to the left that showcases the precious autographed print that my Dallas coworkers gave us.

We ordered the white crib (with matching changing table) from Amazon. The linens, mobile, and rug are from Pottery Barn Kids. I made the banner above the crib using twine and scrapbook paper - super easy and cheap! We ordered the white tree wall decal from Etsy, and it took us HOURS to put up. The reviews said "quick and easy to install" but apparently these people are not the perfectionists that Tom and I are ;) Or maybe our walls just have too much texture. Regardless, I'm really happy with the way it turned out!!

We ordered the glider from Babies R Us, and the green polka dotted curtains were a Pottery Barn Kids splurge.

Another view of the left side of the room. Toy/book shelf from Target, wooden tree decoration from Hobby Lobby, and that's the closet door. Tom set up the baby monitor up in the corner of the room with a perfect view of her crib. The brown basket sits on a little white table beside the glider, which I'll use to store my breastfeeding supplies.

To the right of the window leans a blanket ladder that Tom and I made in an afternoon using two pieces of wood and some wooden dowels from Home Depot. Again - super easy and cheap!  (I had to find some ways to save after all the PBK linens...)  We received so many cute blankets and I really wanted to show them off. The brown dresser was Tom's childhood dresser.  We were a little hesitant at first about mixing and matching the white and brown furniture, and I considered painting the dresser white. But in the end, I just wasn't that motivated, and it's in good shape anyway. I really like how the mismatched furniture goes together after all.

On top of the dresser sits the Dohmie (white noise maker), brag book photo album I can't wait to fill, precious little shoes I couldn't say no to at Old Navy, and a cute little necklace holder turned headband holder that I found on clearance at Garden Ridge. On the wall, I hung another DIY craft. I used scrap paper from name banner for the background and the white frame (from Goodwill, spray painted) that has been holding my weekly photo chalkboard numbers. The "M" is from Hobby Lobby, spraypainted to match the frame.

And finally, to the right of the dresser sits the Diaper Genie, changing table, and laundry hamper. I switched out the white knobs on the changing table with wooden knobs (97 cents at the Home Depot) that I stained brown to match the dresser. Easy way to tie the two pieces together! I painted the little wooden bird on the wall (using a cutout set from Hobby Lobby) and attached a little knob to hang her bath towel on.

Ta-da! There you have it, Maddie's first room! Our due date is TOMORROW and I am so impatient to bring her home.  I arrived precisely on my due date, but I have a feeling Maddie may take her sweet time (since she already passed April 18th, the date I thought she was going to come!). As ready as I am to meet her, I'm also counting my blessings that she is still happy, healthy, and safe in her cozy little home. Fingers crossed she'll be here soon :)

Friday, April 11, 2014

38 Weeks

38 weeks 3 days, and bursting at the seams.  My once round belly is now lopsided and lumpy, with various body parts protruding, barely squeezing into my maternity shirts. And pants?  I say, who needs 'em!  I've been wearing this stretchy black skirt basically every day for the past 2 weeks.  Highly recommend for the last month of pregnancy!

How far along:  38 weeks 3 days

Size of baby:  A pumpkin, somewhere between 18.9 - 20.9 in, 6.2 to 9.2 lbs (according to the  I was just a tiny thing, born at 6 lbs 7oz on my exact due date.  Fingers crossed little Maddie will inherit some of my genes and won't be a giant.  My money is on April 18th for her arrival, along with my dad.  Tom and my mom both think April 24th, which is my half-birthday, so that's kind of cool.  My grandma thinks April 25th.  Lord please, don't let me still be pregnant by April 25th! ;) Official due date is April 22nd - 11 days and counting!  As long as she isn't born on an odd date, I'll be happy.  I have a serious and unreasonable aversion to odd numbers.  I hope she inherits that too, and picks a nice even date for her big debut.

Total weight gain:  33 pounds, yowzers.
Symptoms:  General discomfort, everywhere.  My ankles/feet swell up occasionally, still having back pain, and baby has dropped down low so there is lots of pressure in my pelvis.  And the stretch marks have arrived.  I really thought I was going to survive my first pregnancy without any, but alas, the skin around my (now outie) belly button can stretch no more.

Cravings:  I've actually had some really strange cravings lately, including but not limited to:  cottage cheese, McDonalds chicken nuggets, and orange soda (yes, like the kind you drank when you were 10, and Kel loved on Nickelodeon).  The cravings are SO random and they come out of nowhere.

Sleep:  At this point, I've accepted that there is no comfortable sleeping position.  The beachball on my stomach is really in the way, and it's difficult to roll over.  I generally wake up a few times during the night - restroom, snack, insomnia, back pain, baby kicks and hiccups... pinterest, reading random blogs, wandering around the house aimlessly.  Last night, I bought a grout scrubbing brush on amazon at 3:45am.  I guess this is nature's way of preparing me for what's to come!  At least I've stopped dreaming about tax returns and excel files, dreaming about baby is much more fun :)

Movement:  Still lots of movement and hiccups!

Gender:  It’s a girl!

Name:  Madelyn Grace 

Style:  Hahaha, "style".  I'm not sure you can call yoga pants and maternity shirts "style".  It's sort of like how my Old Navy maternity yoga pants are from their clothing line called "Active" but all I ever do in them is lounge around.  We'll go with the term "comfortable" for my style, because it sounds better than "lazy" or "nonexistent".

Nursery:  Ready for her!  Pictures to come soon.

Best moment of the week:  My maternity leave started!  Holla!

Whew!  I anticipate this being my last "bumpdate".  We know I'm not very good at blogging regularly.  My last weekly update was at 27 weeks... so... doubtful that I'll post another before she arrives :)  Plus I figure I'll probably just get more whiny over the next couple weeks if she hasn't made her debut, so I'll spare you the complaints!

I officially started my maternity leave this week.  My employer has an awesome policy - 2 weeks pre due date and 12 weeks after birth.  I am so grateful for this time off before baby arrives.  I feel like I have struck the perfect balance of productivity and restfulness this week.  The house has been ready for baby for the past few weeks, but I've been able to take care of a lot of general life things:  brakes checked, dog flea meds refilled, fixed my broken iphone screen, carpets cleaned, grocery shopped, frozen meals made, dropped of my wedding dress to be cleaned/preserved (better late than never right?), etc!  It feels so good not to have those things weighing on my mind, and I anticipate errands like that to be a bit more difficult with an infant in tow.  

I've also taken several naps this week and I treated myself to a pedicure yesterday.  I went to a little hole-in-the-wall nail salon near my house that had a few good reviews on google.  Upon arrival, they directed me to the candy bar, just like at our wedding, a little table where you can fill a cup with teeth-rotting candy!  A little strange for a nail salon, but instantly, I knew I had picked the right one for me.  It was even fresh candy.  We're talking soft gummy bears and tootsie rolls.  Yum!  I picked out a pedicure package that was advertised at 45 minutes.  Two hours later, I left feeling so refreshed!  I was the only customer there for a while, and my poor girl must have been really bored.  She gave me three different massage scrubs, a masque with hot towels, a hot stone massage, and another lotion massage.  Ahhhhh.  But my favorite part about this spa experience was definitely the eclectic music selection.  Tom will be the first to tell you that I have some random playlists on my phone that I love to pull out on long road trips.  But this sound track was something else. And now for your listening pleasure, here is a sampling of songs I heard while I was there:

Ok the last thing I'll leave you with today is a doctor's visit update.  We went in yesterday for our weekly checkup.  The belly tape-measure test showed right at 38cm (cm = weeks, still so strange to me how that works!), and her heart rate was thumping along at 130 beats per minute.  Great and great.  Then came the cervix check to see if I had dilated any yet.  Our doctor prefaced by telling us that most first-time mothers have not dilated at this point, and the tip of their cervix feels like the tip of a nose (odd comparison, but sure).  Now, at no point did anyone ever tell me, nor did I ever read anywhere, that a cervix check would hurt.  So let me be the one to tell you, future mothers, that it can be very painful!  I first started to grasp this fact when the doctor told me to "pick a spot on the ceiling, focus on it, and keep breathing".  It was quick, but it was miserable.  Thank goodness he told us that I was 1-2cm dilated, and my cervix has started to point forward rather than down.  I fully understand that you can walk around dilated for weeks, but it was still music to my ears to  hear that there is progress. Also, he touched her head! He.touched.her.head. There is a baby inside of me, and he touched her!  It still seems so surreal.  He said her head is already really low, and when he poked it, her head moved away then came right back down into place (as opposed to squirming away and assuming a different position).  All good news!

When we left, I was in a bit of a panic, thinking I was going to be the biggest wimp ever in labor if I thought the simple cervix check was painful.  Luckily, I stumbled upon this article, where the writer says she thinks the check is worse than childbirth! Whew.  Maybe I won't be a total wuss.  We went ahead and met with the anesthesiologist to sign the epidural paperwork yesterday.  I'm not even going to kid myself and say I will do it all natural.  Pain, be gone!

Alrighty, back to my busy maternity leave schedule, it's just about time for my morning nap ;)  See you all next time with nursery photos!!