Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sleep, please!

For the past month (to the day actually), Emma has suddenly been waking up every 2-3 hours (every 1 hour sometimes!). It's been a difficult and tiring month to say the least. We actually only had sleep cycles like this with her the first few days home from the hospital. She did 4 hour stretches pretty early on and started doing 7-9 hours at 7 weeks. People warned me that her sleep could change, but it didn't make sense as to why it would so we figured it wouldn't. 

Yeah, it doesn't make any sense, so that's why she decided to do it! Babies are tricksters and have a secret plan to switch everything up just when the parents are getting comfortable. Emma is not only just waking up, but she wants to feed every time she wakes up, which means I'm on duty every time. For a while we thought she was going through a growth spurt and really was hungry (which she probably was), but after a while I could tell she was just doing it for comfort. We started putting her down to sleep still awake so she can learn to self soothe (no crying it out though) and she seems to be doing well with that. We've also tried calming her when she wakes but it doesn't seem to work and I end up feeding every time still. 

She is in her crib in her room at night which is great, we love having that alone time at night now and we knew we'd have to move her was actually an easy transition and she did really well in there the first week. We're pretty sure that isn't he problem. I've had people suggest formula or rice cereal saying it will help her sleep longer. And actually, there was a study done that those are myths and breastfed babies actually sleep longer. Thank goodness because we don't plan on using either of those. Then there is the suggestion I've heard that my milk is low and she's hungry because she's not getting enough. This is totally not true since I can pump a whopping 5.5oz on one side in mere minutes. So, that's not the case either (not that I ever thought it was, I'm pretty much a geyser).

I talked to a sleep specialist as recommended by a friend and I was really comforted to know that all if these "issues" we're having are completely NORMAL. We are doing everything right and there is nothing wrong with Emma.  Whew, I loved hearing that! Basically Emma has "woken up" and is more aware of everything around her. She suggested just continuing to put her down awake and keep trying to comfort before feeding. She said in about another month or so she should get better...but if not we can start a sleep program with her (also not cry it out).

Looks like we'll just keep her routine, try to put her to bed around the same time every night and pray that 5 months brings us more sleep. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas!

A day late, oops! This year I used a template for our Christmas card...I'm tired and had my first big deadline this past month since being back from maternity leave. We're dealing with a big month-long sleep regression, so many things this holiday season have been simplified and made easier.

We had a great first Christmas with Emma, but all three of us were very tired. I said I would try not to make myself too busy or stressed out this year and just enjoy being with family, Mike and Emma on our first Christmas with her. I think I did ok with that, but the lack of sleep definitely didn't help. We were blessed with some very generous gifts this year – Emma is set for clothes until spring/summer time!

We're looking forward to next year when she will be running around and knowing a bit more of what's going on...although that is really hard to imagine now. The time is going so fast, we're just trying to enjoy every moment of time we have with her. :)

Hope you all had a great holiday season too!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Christmas Lights

Emma is completely fascinated by them. I love her little face checking out the Christmas lights at Luminarias this year. She has started showing us so much personality and talks our ears off. We always wonder what she's saying and thinking. :)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Baby Favorites: 0-3 months

While I was pregnant, I always enjoyed seeing new moms post their favorite baby necessities on their blogs. I've definitely learned that every baby is different and has different needs, but it was still nice to know about a lot of different product options out there and to hear reviews on them. I'm obviously no expert, but we did have a few favorite things for Emma that seemed to work wonders. I seem to have a lot of pregnant and new mom friends, so I thought I'd share what worked for us!

1) Dohm Sound Machine: We started using this from day one at home (had a sound machine app on our phones for the hopsital). Emma started sleeping 7 hours at night at 7 weeks and I'm sure this helped. She really doesn't get too bothered with noises while sleeping now. The doorbell can ring, her cousins can be rowdy and she doesn't hear a thing because of this machine!

2) 4Moms Bath Tub: I did some research on bath tubs to find out which we might like best. There are so many different kinds out there, it's confusing. We absolutely love this one! It constantly checks the water temperature and filters out the dirty water on it's own, so awesome! Of course we had to wait until Emma had better neck control to use it, but now she loves it. Bath time is her favorite time!

3) aden + anais Muslin Blankets: We love these blankets so much! We used them for swaddling Emma the first few weeks until she was able to bust out of them. We also use them every day to wrap around her, cover her in the house, cover her in her carseat, as a makeshift nursing cover, carseat cover and the list goes on and on. Since Emma was born during hot weather, these were the best because they are so light and breathable, but still keep her warm enough. They are so soft too! Seriously worth the investment. (Just be careful not to wash velcro with anything muslin!)

4) Exercise Ball: Yes, that is an exercise ball like you would use at the gym. We sit on it and bounce Emma to sleep instead of rocking her. It seriously works wonders!

5) Rock n Play: I didn't register for one of these because we wanted to keep baby equipment to a minimum (and we got a swing and bouncer as hand me downs...thank goodness because she rarely uses them). I regret not registering for this and using it from the beginning. Emma slept in this for naps and at night for the first 2.5 months! It's especially helpful when babies are stuffy or have reflux. Now she just loves sitting in it while we get ready, shower, use the restroom, etc. This one also has a vibration on it which is an extra little bonus.

6) SwaddleMe Swaddlers: We switched to these after she started breaking out of blankets and they have been really great! She's starting to grow out of hers now, but they make swaddling super easy and more difficult for her to bust out of. I also love the apple print, it's really cute!

7) BumGenius 4.0 One-Size Diapers: We didn't use these for the newborn stage, but were able to start them at around one month. We tried a ton of different kinds of newborn diapers (for that stage we like prefolds and covers). I definitely thought we'd like other brands over these, but it turns out these are the ones that fit Emma the best and hardly ever leak. If you are going to cloth diaper I still recommend trying out different styles on your baby, but definitely have a look at these. Best part is Buy Buy Baby carries them so you can use their coupons on them. :)

8) Look, Look! Book: This was a gift from Grandma and is by far Emma's favorite book! She doesn't like to sit and read before her nighttime feeding, so we read this to her when she's happiest...on the changing table, naked. I love seeing her look at the images in the book and I wonder what she is thinking when she sees them. She's starting to see a lot more things around her and not just high contrast, so I think we'll start transitioning to other books, but this was definitely best for the first few months!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Emma: Three Months

Date: December 3 (Daddy's birthday!)

Stats: 12 lbs 6 oz – measured on our scale at home, no doctor appointment this month

Sleep: Once again, she was doing very well with 7-9 hour streaks and once we got closer to 3 months, she switched that up to 1-3 hour streaks. Last night seemed to be better and she did a 5 hour streak, so hopefully we are getting out of that growth spurt. She officially sleeps in her crib full time!

Feeding: Exclusively breastfed. Still eating about every 2 hours during the day (lately every 2 hours at night too, she's growing!). We don't plan on starting solids until 6 months.

Clothing size: Has pretty much grown out of 0-3 month clothing and is wearing all 3-6 month sizes. We are finding that we love to put her in one piece winter outfits. They are so easy, cute and they look super comfy!

Likes: looking around at everything, bath time in her bath tub, going for walks outside, her new fish toy, her "Look! Look!" book every night before bed, smiling at everyone who talks to her, starting to like tummy time for a couple minutes, the Christmas tree, sucking on her bottom lip and her hands

Dislikes: putting clothes on, getting coconut oil put in her cheek (she has eczema) :(

Biggest changes: She can pretty much hold her head up, but still isn't fully supporting her own least it doesn't flop around anymore. She is constantly sucking on her hands, blankets, toys, anything she can get a hold of! She is really showing so much personality and interacts a ton with us. She loves to look at the world around her and explore lights, sounds, patterns and contrasting colors. This past month has been the best month so far and we can tell she actually knows who we are. She is such a fun, happy and loving baby!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Project Life Update

My first few tries with Emma's Project Life book were somewhat frustrating and for some reason I just wasn't happy with how the pages were turning out. I had seen so many awesome designs and layouts online, but just couldn't seem to love the ones I was doing. I realized I was craving more personalization and design elements, so I did some research on how to print on the cards and tried it out. Turns out printing on the cards is super easy with a template! I really don't like my handwriting, so it's nice to mix it up with some printed text too. The designer in me is loving the versatility and options I have now that I can print on the cards!

I went back to the layouts I had already completed and redid a few of the cards:

This is about as far as I am with her book...I have a long ways to go just to catch up, yikes!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Family Pictures in the Park

A few weeks ago we were lucky enough to be the winners of a giveaway for a family photo session by Jill McNamara! We love the parks in our neighborhood, so we decided to take the pictures in the main park by the lake and with the farm silos in the background (a historical feature in our neighborhood). We are so happy with how the pictures turned out and can't wait to design our Christmas cards with one of them and print some to frame in our house! We literally have nothing on the walls, so this will be a great addition and add some much needed color to our living room. (Speaking of our living room, we finally finished sewing the curtains thanks to my mom – they look fabulous!)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Day in Emma's Life

I'm officially in my third week back at work and so far our setup has been working pretty well! Most of the time when people ask what we're doing about child care and I tell them I work from home, they start by saying how nice that is, but then continue on about how difficult it must be to work with her in the house. I guess if I had to watch her and work, yes that would be near impossible (especially since her naps are still so unpredictable!). We feel very blessed to both be home with Emma every day, but it also takes some planning ahead and staying on top of things.

How we work it out is Mike is with her all day on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (unless I'm on deadline, then we shift everything around a bit), those are 'daddy days'. I am with her on Tuesday and Thursday, 'mommy days'. I still work on those days, but take my laptop out into the living room. We really enjoy this setup so far because it allows both of us to get stuff done, but still have that time with her that we enjoy so much.

Here's a look into a typical 'daddy day' for us:

Emma has been sleeping anywhere from 7-9 hours at night! If she gets less than 8 hours, its usually too early to be up for the day and she is still tired, so I feed her and we both go back to sleep for another couple hours. I'll wake up before her, get showered, and head downstairs to eat breakfast and get checked in to work. Usually she's up by that time so I go back up to feed again and get her changed and ready for the day. She is so smiley now and getting her diaper changed is one of her most smiley and favorite times!
See? She loves to smile! She also loves those hands lately and sucks and licks them almost all day.

I go back to work for a few hours and daddy takes Emma through her EASY (eat, activity, sleep, you time) routine. We're pretty lenient with the routine, but try to stick with it to give her some structure and what to expect next. Of course, if she's hungry I feed her and if she's tired we put her down to sleep at any time. During her activity time, we've started trying out tummy time, but she really hates it. :( She really has good neck control already though and practices tummy time when we lay her on our chest.

After about an hour of awake and active time, Emma is pooped out and ready for a nap. We put her down for naps in her crib now, trying to get her used to sleeping in there. She does pretty well in there and usually can calm herself back down when she starts stirring.
After she gets up, I know it's time to feed again. Honestly, this is one of my favorite parts of the day, I just love feeding her and I'm so grateful we are able to do this every day, all day (of course that means she is a bit challenged with taking a bottle, but I'll take that trade-off!).
Emma just loves to hang out with daddy all day and is usually pretty calm and relaxed most of the day. We're so lucky to have such a good baby!
I check out of work anywhere between 4-5pm, depending on how much work I have to get done. I make dinner and we all hang out until daddy leaves for work or until bath time.

We start bath time around 9pm and are in bed by about 10 or 10:30. I learned the hard way that at this age, it's best to put her down for bed at the time I want to go to bed! Her first stretch of sleep is always the longest and I don't want to miss out on any of that good quality sleep time. Her bed time routine includes bath (sometimes just on the counter and getting a good wipe down), coming her hair, lotion and massage time and then its to the changing station for freedom from the diaper time (her favorite!). While she's "free" she's the happiest and we read books to her at the changing station. I've tried showing her books in the chair after her diaper and pajamas are on and she gets fussy and just wants to feed, so this is what seems to work for now. :) After jammies and her puffy nighttime diaper are on, we feed, swaddle and she is down for the night. Rarely does she wake up after this for at least 4-5 hours on a 'bad' night.
The next day is my 'mommy day' so I can sleep until she sleeps and hang out with her all day. I love those days so much and it's really nice to get a bit of a work 'break' every other day.

We love this new way of life for us and feel so blessed to be able to watch our daughter grow and learn every single day!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Emma: Two Months

Date: November 3

Stats: 11 lbs 0 oz, 23 in long – up 4 lbs since birth

Sleep: She was doing so well, sleeping in 5-7 hours streaks (one night was 7.5 hours!) that it seemed too good to be true. She hit a growth spurt at 8 weeks and went back to 3-4 hour streaks. Her naps have dwindled way down during that spurt and she started sleeping for 30-40 minutes at a time instead of a couple 2 hour naps every day. Fortunately she passed that growth spurt and is back to 6-7 hour streaks at night and at least one long nap during the day. Yay!

Feeding: Exclusively breastfed. Has taken the bottle a couple times, but is not great at it unless she is really really hungry. Occasionally uses a pacifier but can't keep it in her mouth on her own. It eases crying when we can't get to feed her immediately though or during her 8 week growth spurt when all she wanted to do was suck (and mommy was back at work).

Clothing size: Fits in all 0-3 month clothing, can even wear some 3-6 month clothes!

Likes: play time right after feeding (she is so happy during this time!), being held facing out is her new favorite thing, her owl playmat, being outside, the sound of running water, being naked, the carseat, her minnie mouse stuffed animal

Dislikes: disposable wipes, putting pajamas on, not much else...she's a happy baby!

Biggest changes: She smiles so much more now and we can tell it is actually for us and not gas. :) She likes to 'talk' more and responds to us with noises and coos, even a giggle sometimes. She is sitting up (supported) much better now and loves to sit in our lap or be held facing out. She has started exploring things around her more and more and is intrigued by almost everything!

Friday, November 1, 2013


Yesterday was Halloween and it was Emma's first holiday! We figured since she's not even two months yet, we'd stick with a basic Halloween outfit and go all out next year since she'll actually get to trick or treat then. Our next door neighbors organized a BBQ in the front yard for anyone on our street to come to. It was so fun to meet a few new neighbors and get to know those that live right near us a bit more. The dads took the kids trick or treating (Mike had to leave for work), so the moms sat together on one driveway, socialized and handed out candy. We have some really great neighbors!

Next year we are hoping Mike will be able to take the night off work so he can take Emma around trick or treating. I always wondered what I would do...leave a bowl out and hope kids don't take advantage or stay at home to hand out candy? I'm hoping this neighbor get together becomes an annual thing because it was so fun sitting outside with the other moms! We've already started brainstorming ideas for her costume next year. I can tell you that she will not be a princess...we only have so many years until she has an opinion, right? ;)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Project Life

Being a designer (specifically one who designs magazine layouts for a living), I took a lot of time to think about how we would record Emma's first year and what we would use for her baby book. I finally decided on using the Project Life system (click on the link for more info on how it works). I'm pretty excited about how easy it will be to include unique items and if I feel up to it, even designing my own things to place in the pockets.

This is my first layout (I don't even have an album yet!) and I'm excited about the possibilities, but still feel like I'm missing something with this layout. I may change how I do the intro card because I'm not thrilled with how it looks with my handwriting, but that's the best part about this, you can change things out so easily since they are all just slid into the pockets. I figure I'll get better at this as I keep doing it, but I wanted to start ASAP so we didn't forget all the little details that have been happening with Emma.

Of course there's still a part of me that thinks I should be designing her baby book from scratch and with my own designs, but let's be real, I only have so much time in the day being a mom and working full-time. This album can be done during a nap time or during a lunch break, it's so quick and easy!

We'll see how well I can keep up with this and if I start to like my layouts better, but I'm hoping to start a 2014 album for our family and hope to keep it up every year. Such a great way to get those pictures out of the camera and phone and printed in a book!

Working Mama

Today is officially my first day back at work and so far it's gone ok. This morning was tough and I hardly got through half of my 400+ work emails, but I only cried once! During lunch it was time for another Emma feeding and this is the insanely giant smile I was greeted with. I love seeing that she is so happy even though I'm not with her most of the day (but so grateful I get to step outside my office and there she is, anytime I want to see her!). This baby is so happy with daddy! I recently stepped outside the office, worried because I hadn't heard anything in a is sleeping, floors are vacuumed (probably because it keeps Emma calm, ha!), dishes are done and the laundry is going. Wow, I could get used to this!

On another note, Emma is officially 8 weeks old today! Can't believe how big she is growing, we can hardly wait to see how much she weighs at her two month appointment next week. She has been out of newborn clothes for a while and is even fitting in some of her 3-6 month outfits! Full update coming soon with her two month post.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Thoughts on weeks 6 & 7

Six weeks hit and it seemed like we had a whole new baby. It's like she suddenly realized who we are and where she was. We've been blessed with smiles, a few small giggles, spurts of her being content in her rock n play and longer stretches of sleep at night (she hit six hours this past week!). It's also become much easier to take her out and get her calm if she fusses which makes me feel like a normal person rather than feeling like I'm hibernating in my house.

It's amazing all the changes we've already seen in the past couple weeks, we're excited to see what the next few will bring! :)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

We Survived!

I'm not sure where the time went, but we made it to six weeks! To be honest, the first few weeks are a blur and I think I was living off adrenaline and was constantly in survival mode. I have a lot of  friends having babies this month and when I see their newborn pics in the hospital I think, "how cute, but I don't miss that first phase." It's learning how to breastfeed, getting through random hormonal fights with your spouse and realizing what lack of sleep but still needing strength to care for a baby feels like. Yup, really don't miss those things, but I still cherish that time.

Now that we've hit six weeks it feels like we're in transition mode. She's in a big growth spurt and we can definitely tell! She's recognizing us, halfway smiling and is becoming way more content just being alert and around us. We've had multiple successful trips taking her out and have figured out her sleepy/hungry cues and how to calm her when fussy. It's actually getting fun now! Is that bad to say?

I head back to work (at my home office) in two weeks and while I've been loving the time of work, it really hasn't been "time off." It's going to be nice to get ourselves into our new normal life routine. Dare I say working will actually be my "me time" and escape? Funny how things change. :)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Parenting Lessons (so far)

We haven't officially been parents for very long, but I already feel like we've learned so much! I wanted to compile a list if things we've learned...more for ourselves to remember with the next one (obviously not anytime soon!) and just to remember where we were at in this stage with Emma.

• Go to a lactation consultant asap!
We thought breastfeeding was going great but just had a few questions on how to make it better and just to confirm we were doing it right (because really how are you supposed to know as a first time mom?!). Turns out Emma had a tongue tie and after getting that fixed she is still struggling to properly use her tongue. We're starting exercises to train her tongue, but if we didn't go and do all of this, my abundance of milk supply that I have right now may have dwindled by 3 months. My insurance covers visits with a lactation consultant, but even without that I'd go again in a heartbeat!

• Get out of the house.
I went completely stir crazy the first month! I'm used to being at home a lot, but days and weeks at a time is hard. Hand off the baby to hubby after a feeding and get out once a day, even if it's just to grocery shop. We're still hesitant to take her out too much, but have had some really enjoyable outings as a family by taking the 'risk' of going out. I know other people take little babies out all the time and it's no big deal, but it's been a struggle for me.

• Don't feel bad for taking offered help or saying no.
I never understood why moms would always ask if I was ok while holding their baby, but I get it now. As a mom, it's a 24/7 deal and you forget that others just love that hour of holding a baby, even if she fusses. Also, it's ok to tell people no or it's not a good time and you shouldn't feel bad about it. We've learned that evenings are typically rough for Emma (and us) with her getting tired, me trying to make and eat dinner and Mike trying to get to work.

• Don't be intimidated by the things you have committed to and are determined to stick to.
For us this was cloth diapering, babywearing and even exclusively breastfeeding. All those things seemed so overwhelming at some point, but we just dove in and did them. We're enjoying most the things we planned on trying, but of course there's rough moments with everything. By the way, cloth diapers are not nearly as scary/overwhelming/gross/cumbersome as everyone tries to tell you (which, by the way, is always people who have never tried it!). Mike loves cloth diapering now and even got excited about a new spray bottle for our wipes and AIO diapers we got from the new cloth diaper store yesterday.

• Help baby with a routine.
At about 3.5 weeks we started Emma on the EASY routine (eat, active, sleep, you time). We don't do a schedule with times since she is still too young for that and one if our goals is to be flexible with her, but she has reacted very well to a routine. The days we don't so her routine, she seems to crash by the end of the day and things aren't as smooth as her routined days. We also have a bedtime routine and she seems to really love it and it helps her calm down and relax before bed. We're going to start trying to initiate a dream feed right before we go to bed as recommended by our LC, but both if us are a little nervous to rouse her to eat when she's in a deep sleep!

It feels like every day we gain more and more knowledge about parenting, can't wait to see what the next month brings us!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Loving Every Moment

The past few days have felt like a turning point with daily life and getting to know each other. We started a routine with Emma and she seems to do really well with it (EASY - eat, active, sleep, time for you). She's been taking about three good naps per day and has three 3-4 hour stretches of sleep at night which has allowed me to get some alone/tv time at night. She's becoming more predictable and we can tell that she is starting to know who we are and react to us.

Not that I haven't always loved our baby, but I have been really loving her even more recently and during her naps I actually miss her! I love her soft skin, crazy hair (we call it her mad scientist hair), adorable faces and even the smell of her poo. She is just so awesome.

I can't believe how much love I have for our little baby and how much my love and appreciation for Mike has grown. He does so much for us and is so patient with me and Emma! He is already an amazing daddy, I just love seeing them together, interacting. Emma loves her daddy, I can tell. She locks eyes on him when he is close and doesn't let him out of her sight. It's the sweetest thing. :)

While I don't necessarily miss the past month (it was sooo hard!), it's making me realize how fast time goes and that I need to enjoy, cherish and record all these moments. We are starting Emma's baby book soon, Mike has been compiling a photo album of a picture of her every day of her first year and I decided to start making a Project Life memory book each year (one spread for each week) starting in 2014. (I can't post links on my phone but google Project Life and you'll see what it's all about.)

Our life right now is definitely not easy, but I'm loving every moment of it. This is the best!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Emma: One Month

Date: October 3

Stats: 8 lbs 12 oz, 21 in long (gained almost two pounds since birth!)

Sleep: Started regular naps during the day and sleeps in 3-4 hour spurts at night. Wakes up once in the night and again in the early morning.

Feeding: Exclusively breastfed, no bottle or pacifier yet.

Clothing size: Moved up from newborn to 0-3 month (mostly because of her fluffy cloth diapers!)

Likes: the ceiling fan, bouncing on the fitness ball (how we get her to sleep!), her snug-a-puppy, bath time, Grandma & Grandpa's house, walks in the morning with mommy and the football hold with daddy.

Dislikes: the sun in her eyes, diaper changes and dinner time (mommy and daddy's dinner time that is)

Biggest changes: She has grown so much since she was born and looks so different every day. We see smiles, but aren't sure if they're for us or because of gas. She's really starting to learn the difference between night and day which is making for two very happy parents. :)

Emma's Birth Story

I've been meaning to write this post for a few weeks now, but I guess it had to wait until a month later...we are finally starting to feel like we have a few free moments to ourselves again! Hoping I don't forget any of the details that were so special to us, but the timing of everything is kind of a blur for both of us. While Emma's birth didn't go exactly to our "wishlist", it is so special and perfect to us and we wouldn't have it any other way (we called it a birth wishlist instead of a plan because we wanted to be open minded about everything...and thank goodness we were).

For two plus weeks before my due date (August 30), I had been having contractions on and off. On the night of the 26th they got so intense that we were sure it was time! We ended up going to bed hoping we would wake up with unbearable contractions or that my water had broken, but everything died down. It was pretty disappointing to constantly be tricked by all these contractions, it made things seem like I would never go into labor which is silly because this baby had to come out some time! On my due date I came down with a cold and was so thankful I hadn't gone into labor yet and actually prayed baby would hold off for a few more days so I could get over that nasty cold.

Well, she did. At 7am on Monday, September 2 (aka, Labor Day!) I woke up and felt those familiar contractions. This time we didn't want to get our hopes up, so we didn't track them like before and just carried on with our day. By mid-morning I realized the contractions were pretty close together and I thought we should probably track them. Turns out they were 3-5 minutes apart, at least one minute long each and they lasted for a few hours. Since that met the criteria our doctor had given us on when to head in to the hospital, we decided to go in and see what was going on. Sadly, I was still only 1cm dilated and my water had not broken so they sent us home and told us to come back in when my water breaks or the contractions were unbearable. Fun.

We live very close to the hospital so we were back at home within a few minutes and we decided it's probably best to eat a good lunch. Not even an hour after we got back, the contractions became very intense and were only a minute apart. I had been texting my mom and sister-in-law Brooke and when she told me that she was pushing with her daughter at one minute apart, I started to think maybe we should go back! We decided to wait a bit still because I could bear through the contractions with my Hypnobirthing breathing and relaxation techniques. I also noticed I had a lot, fluid and thought maybe my water had broken? We so badly didn't want to be "those" first time parents who keep going back to the hospital only to get sent home. Shortly after the contractions got completely unbearable and I knew we had to go back. I thought, there was no way they could send me back with these kind of contractions and that I MUST be dilated to at least a 4 by now!

I could barely sit in the car (of course with a wad of towels under me) and when we got to the hospital, they made us wait in the front area while I groaned through contractions and people looked at me. Couldn't believe they made us check back in with registration (we pre-registered and had already been there a few hours earlier!). We finally got back in and were slightly embarrassed to see the same nurses, but I could hear them saying things about how it was clear I had progressed. Um, yes, I could barely walk! I was shocked to hear that I was still only 1cm dilated and just prayed that it was my water that had broken. I kept telling Mike that there was no way I could go home and I would demand that they keep me. By then, the contractions were 30 seconds apart with small contractions in between. It felt like what I imagined transition being like or how everyone described what it was like to be on Pitocin. I couldn't understand how my body was contracting like that but only 1cm dilated. I knew I had to relax to dilate and tried to, but it felt like I had no break in between contractions to even catch my breath.

The nurse finally came back and confirmed that my water had broken and that I would be admitted because of that. Thank goodness! They immediately stuck me with an IV of fluids, attached monitors, strapped on more wrist bands and asked me a million questions. I was slightly disappointed that I felt so tied down and could barely get through my contractions in a natural way. They wheeled me to the labor and delivery room and we were introduced to our nurse. She was so sweet and talked us through everything. During my contractions, I needed Mike there, holding me and helping me through them that he didn't even have time to let our family know that we were in active labor. This was not how I imagined a natural labor to be, I couldn't even imagine getting up to get on the ball or be in the shower. I had no breaks to even breathe or talk!

An hour later they checked me again and I thought, I had to be more dilated, but I was only 2cm by then. They told me it typically takes an hour per cm to dilate so that meant I had at least 8 more hours to go. I couldn't even imagine going through that for that long and we seriously started to think about an epidural. After about three hours of natural labor in the hospital, I decided a low dose epidural was the best option. In our situation, it would help me relax, dilate and rest enough so I could actually have energy to feed and take care of our baby. In the moment, it was the best option we had and I don't regret getting it. I tried the natural labor and my body just wasn't letting me get through it physically or mentally. It was a challenge to come to the decision to get the epidural and I was extremely nervous for it because of all the horror stories people like to tell you, but the anesthesiologist was excellent and made me feel completely comfortable. Honestly, the worst part is the fear of the needle and the numbing needle. I didn't feel a single thing other than that! The epidural was great too, it was fairly even on both sides and I could still move my lower half and feel my toes. The biggest difference was the warm fuzzy feeling in my legs, but that was ok considering how cold it was in the room. I couldn't have been happier. :)

An hour after the epidural I dilated to a 3/4, an hour after that I was at a 5 and then they left us in the room for three hours to rest. Rest, ha! I wish I could have but no one tells you how much you shake during labor! I laid on my sides with the peanut ball and rotated because of the epidural. Once we didn't rotate soon enough because I actually did fall asleep and woke up to the same intense contractions. Once they turned me, they disappeared, it was amazing!

After that three hour rest (I have no idea what time it was at this point), our nurse, Christa (who was 8 months pregnant herself and absolutely amazing), came in to check me. I had been feeling some pressure so I was hoping for at least a 7...but I was at a 9.5 and she said it was time to get ready. It felt so surreal that it was finally time and my body finally dilated enough to get this baby out! They turned on the warmer for baby and brought in a tray of tools, that made it feel so real and gave me a feeling of panic/excitement/anxiety. Our nurse left us for another hour to let the baby make her way down and let me tell you that was a long hour! I was glad I could feel the pressure and urge to push, but so glad I wasn't in excruciating pain. Nurse Christa came back and said she had called the on-call doctor to slowly make her way in (my doctor was on vacation...of course, just like in the movies, agh!). Notice how our nurse said the doctor would slowly make her way in. She assured us that first time moms take at least an hour of "pre-pushing" before the doctor comes in. I had no idea that I would be pushing with just Mike and the nurse there. Pushing was hard. I was still congested from my cold so that made it even worse and I could only get two pushes in per contraction. We did that for about 15 minutes and Christa said "Ok, we really need to stop now." I could see a look in her eyes that she was a little worried and as she moved her hand away, I felt a huge urge to push, almost uncontrollable. She asked someone to call Dr. Brass and see how far she was and Christa basically held our baby in as we waited. We sat like that for about 25 minutes when finally Dr. Brass walked in. She introduced herself, put on her gloves and asked me to push. I gave one last push that really didn't feel like a full push and out came our baby. One stinkin' push with the doctor, 25 minutes of torturous waiting for that one push!

Emma Joyce was born at 5:15am on September 3. She weighed 6 lb 15 oz and was 20.5 in long.

After she came out they placed her on me. We both just looked at her in awe, she looked back at us and we were filled with tears. It's a moment I don't know how to describe but the feeling of that moment will always be with us. We couldn't believe how beautiful all her details were and how much she looked like both of us. She was so calm when she came out and hardly cried.

We did skin to skin for a few minutes and then we shared a moment that will always be so special to me, she fed for the first time. It was amazing how she knew exactly what to do, I'm pretty sure I cried with joy the entire time.

We were given a golden hour as a new family before they cleaned us up and got us to our recovery room. During that time (I think? Everything was a blur as far as timing), Mike gave me a beautiful letter E necklace as my new mom/"push present". It was the sweetest thing to know he planned ahead and thought of me!

Throughout the day family came to visit. There's nothing like seeing your new baby with her extended family and to see the joy and happiness from everyone.

Emma and I were both healthy so we were allowed to go home the next day. We were fortunate enough to have my parents at the hospital to help us get home and at home that night to make us dinner and get us settled.

My mom cleaned up our house, washed our sheets and towels and bright over food. She also stayed with us for three days and two nights, it was the best gift we could have ever received! Mike and I still talk about how we don't know how we would have survived without her (morning birth equals no sleep for days!).

The past month has been incredible and so full of every possible emotion. We're finally starting to feel like we are getting into some kind of routine and are able to get out of the house and get things done. Our world is forever changed and we're constantly talking about all the amazing moments we've had and that are still to come. Emma is so sweet and we love her so much, we love learning more about her every day!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Speed Bump in Breastfeeding...

Isn't she just so sweet when she's sleeping? This is her most of the day, but when she is awake lately, it's been a little rough. Emma is such a good baby, but she's been struggling with gas, constant hiccups, irritability during feeding, etc. It's so hard to see her struggle and get upset!

Our pediatrician suggested I try cutting out dairy from my diet to see if that helps her. The lactation consultant agreed that we should try that, so I've been doing that for a week now. Let me tell you, being gluten and dairy free is so difficult, especially when I barely have time to cook as it is!

Fortunately the lactation consultant also noticed that Emma is tongue tied. I can't understand why pediatricians don't check for this, but over time it can cause problems with breastfeeding...something that is so important for us to keep doing for hopefully 12 months plus.

Yesterday we had a consultation with a specialist to confirm the tongue tie. They explained that it can cause all the symptoms that Emma is having. She is getting plenty if milk since I'm so engorged, but they explained how over time improper sucking on her part could lead to depletion of milk supply! We decided it was best to get this fixed asap and I'm so glad we did. Every day she has been getting more and more frustrated during feedings, it's the most challenging thing for me to watch because I feel like I can't help her. :(

We are hoping this procedure takes care of the symptoms Emma has been experiencing and that she is not intolerant to dairy, but I'm giving it until after the procedure to keep the dairy out. 

As much as I love cheese and ice cream and yummy creamy sauces, I will do anything to keep the breastfeeding going.  During our first week of nursing I felt so lucky that I didn't have soreness or too much pain like I've heard most people get and that I have plenty of milk...never thought she would have difficulties though even with gaining lots of weight.

I'm nervous and anxious for the procedure tomorrow, but know that it's best for her now and will benefit her later in life too. Say a little prayer for us...I know Emma is in good hands and will be just fine, but I'm sure I'll still be a wreck!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

One Week Postpartum

Today Emma is one week old! It's been such an amazing week full of lots of learning, tears, emotions and overwhelming happiness. This post will be short, but just wanted to conclude the belly pictures with one last one with Emma. (It looks like I'm stuffing her face into me, but I promise she's just sleeping and super comfy!)

We just love this little girl so much!

Monday, September 9, 2013

First Weekend at Home

Our first weekend with Emma at home was great! Mike is still off work and we had lots of visitors. I just love seeing our niece Leila hold Emma and the excitement on Leila's face. I've always had a close bond with her since we met her at four years old, so this is really special to see her grown up and holding our baby.

So how does it work with bragging about your child? I already feel the need to brag about her, she's doing some great things! This morning her cord fell off (after 6 days, seems early doesn't it?) so now we can move her into all the cloth diapers instead of just a few. That's great because she gets spurts of pooping constantly within 30 minutes so we're going through a lot of Honest Company diapers (expensive!).

We also just had the best night of sleep! She slept in 3.5-4 hour spurts throughout the night. So we had her bedtime feeding/change at 9, woke up at 1 and had some awake time, another at 5:45 and then again at 9am. I've never been so happy to get that much interrupted sleep! We're hoping this continues but won't be holding our breathe. :)

Emma is feeding so well and I'm so proud of her! There was some initial uncomfortableness and getting used to it for me but its pretty good now and rarely hurts (we had a shallow latch for the first day in the hospital, so that caused some soreness that is lingering). According to all her dirty diapers and weight gain after just three days she's obviously getting plenty of milk. This makes me so happy as breastfeeding was one of the most important things to us! It's so tiring and draining on my body, but we're adjusting and I know that this is my main goal right now..just to grow my baby. Learning to rest, nap, eat lots of snacks and constantly drink water is the most challenging part. The actual nursing sessions are my favorite thing ever. It's amazing that my body gives her all the nourishment she needs and calms and soothes her.

Everyday we are in such awe of Emma and can't believe how beautiful and good she is. We feel so blessed.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Emma Joyce

Our baby girl decided to make her arrival this past week!

Emma Joyce
September 3, 5:15am
6 lbs 15 oz, 20.5 in

All three of us are doing great, Emma and I are very healthy! Will post more about the birth, first week and nursery pictures soon.

We're so happy to finally announce the name to everyone too! We loved the name Emma for a long time but tossed around other options just to be sure. I struggled with thinking it was too popular, but neither of us actually know a baby/kid Emma and we decided since we love it, it doesn't really matter. It's so classic and timeless that it feels like it won't be dated or trendy in 30 years. We love that!

Her middle name Joyce is after my maternal grandmother. The older I get the more I realize how many qualities I get (or would like to get) from my mom..who is similar to her mother (which I also have realized more so after all her humble generosity this week). I love that we can connect Emma to that in some way and hope she gains those qualities throughout her life as well.

As I write this from my phone, I look down at our beautiful daughter who is knocked out from a feeding session (breastfeeding is going great so far, by the way). Mike and I are constantly in awe of her and can't believe she is ours. We are so in love and feel extremely blessed!