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 while...baby 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 more...um, 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!