Five months

Monday, January 27, 2014

Her little face gets more expressive by the moment and her body has definitely followed suit this month- there are always grabbing hands and flailing limbs- it's hard to catch more than a blur!

Things to know about Margaret at five months:
-Rolling over! From back to stomach one day and then stomach to back the next. As exciting as that is, her pediatrician said it's not even a milestone anymore! When babies were put to sleep on their stomach, 90-95% of infants could roll over by four months. Now it's barely 45%.
-We have weaned her from the swaddle. We ordered one of these in hopes that it would make the transition easier and she slept 10.5 hours the first night! We had to stop swaddling cold turkey, as she starting rolling over in her swaddle. We got the Zipadeezip that afternoon in the mail, I threw it in the wash and it was dry by bedtime! It's been pretty good and I hope it will get even better.
-Solids! We've been easing our way into organic whole grain rice cereal (makes me sound way more crunchy/granola mom than I really am), and she loves it. She likes being spoon-fed and it's just too cute to see her eat. We've been a little sporadic- fingers crossed we get our act together this week.
-She's sleeping in her nursery pretty much full time. She had a fever after her 4 month shots, so I kept her with me that night (she woke countless times!), but most of the time she's snoozing in her big girl crib. It's working out well for everyone, but I must say I loved having her co-sleep for the first four months. We rarely opted to bed-share, but there were definitely some times where pushing the covers down and spooning her would calm a fussy girl.

-4 month visit stats: (more like four and a half because of holiday hours) 14 pounds, 13 ounces and in the 80th percentile for weight. 26 inches tall! 90th percentile for height and the 92nd percentile for cranial size (that would be from your father, Margaret).
-Margaret got baptized Sunday! In the Lutheran church, we believe in one baptism for the forgiveness of sins (oh hey, Nicene Creed!) and we believe that it can be done in infancy, because baptism is a gift from God, not something that can be attained through a certain measure of faith. If you're like, say what? Then take the time to read this. It's a quick read. Love me some sacraments.
-Miscellaneous: She's really into faces, always grabbing at cheeks and lips and noses. Constantly making noises. She's developed this hilarious little fake cough that she made during the baptism- I lost it at the front of church. Still taking three naps a day and eating about five times a day, plus solids. She's still okay with strangers, but definitely prefers us and my family. Though she took to Natalie (one of my best friends and her godmother) in about an hour- and probably spent more time in Natalie's arms in the last 6 days than she did in my own! I've never seen her take to anyone so fast. Certainly made me feel confident in my decision!

Behind the scenes with one of her favorites. (the feeling is mutual)

Things to know about parenting this month:
-Never say never. I was so sure I was going to make it to 6 months before starting solids, but that didn't happen. Margaret's pediatrician was my pediatrician, so he's been doing this for a while. :) He said that veggies and rice cereal were fine to go ahead and start with. Margaret's been swiping at food and showing interest in general, so we went ahead. I asked some friends on Facebook- different answers all! So we're just going with what's approved by our pediatrician and what feels right to us. I will be making most of my own baby food, so I'm looking forward to that! It should be fun.
-Read this. It made me laugh, it made me shake my head, it made me nod along in agreement. "Using CIO will make them think they've been abandoned and will be eaten by a lion shortly. It also causes brain damage. Not getting enough sleep will cause behavior and mental problems, so be sure to put them to sleep by any means necessary, especially CIO, which is the most effective form."
-I'm learning to read my child's cues- and they are ever changing. Margaret set her own schedule at 6 weeks. I sort of gently guided her into a sleep, eat, activity, sleep schedule as a newborn, but she started sleeping through the night when she was ready. I know it sounds very laissez-faire and like we let her rule the roost (she does not), but sometimes it's easy to get caught up in what works. Until 4 months, she napped in the late evening, woke for a feed and went to bed around 11. She slept through the night, so we weren't exactly complaining. But a few weeks ago, she made it clear (via lots of fussiness) that something had to change. And so we abruptly shifted to a much earlier bedtime of 8:30-9. No easing into it. We just decided to try it one night and we haven't deviated since.
-Bedtime routines are good. About 7:45, we go upstairs and Thomas gives Margaret a bath (she loves this part). After dimming lights and putting on clean jammies, I feed her and then zip her up in her Zipadeezip. Then Thomas reads her a story or two and part of her Bible. It's pretty simple, but it works wonders. She knows exactly what to expect next and it gives Thomas and I each some quality snuggles with our girl. The early bedtime then gives us some time to catch up with each other and do things around the house. I'm really glad we found something that works for us.

I love this little noisemaker.

The one in which there is a Margaret

Friday, January 10, 2014

If you are overly squeamish, dislike the notion of giving birth, or will blush and run away awkwardly the next time you see me, you might want to skip this. If you can deal with the nitty-gritty details of how my girl came into this world, read on. You have been duly warned.

I debated for a while before sitting down to write this. Before I got pregnant, I wasn't too keen on reading birth stories. It seemed weird that people would pour out such an intimate moment on the interwebs. But as my due date came closer, I could not get enough. It demystified the great unknowns about labor. I've read everything from un-medicated home births (hi Kayla!) to hospitalized c-sections. And everything in between. I am most grateful for having read these posts because I realized that I had options. I was bringing Margaret into this world. I could make some choices.

So this is my story.

Our story.

It began in November of 2012...

Just kidding. I won't do that to y'all. This thing is already going to be the length of that book you should have read for English class in high school and you didn't. Whatever that book was.

But it did begin a bit before August 20, about a week before. I had false labor. I had gone in to see my midwife and after weeks of her telling me this babe was going to be early, my due date was right around the corner- that Sunday, August 18. So she opted to strip my membranes (separating the amniotic sac from the cervix), in hopes that it would jump start some contractions. Well, contract I did- so regularly that Thomas and I opted to go to my parent's house (actually across the street from the hospital) to wait things out. But after we got there, they slowed down. So we went to the midwife's office to get checked out first thing in the morning. After a non-stress test, they had all but stopped, so we got some breakfast and drove home. Majorly disappointing.

 Me *thinking* I was getting ready to have a baby.

My due date came and went. I should mention that my sister (August 18th birthday) and my dad (August 19th birthday) were hounding me as to when she was going to arrive!

On August 19th, I started having major contractions. Nothing can prepare you for that moment. Because some women will say it's not painful at all, other say it's like a tightening, and I will say that I thought that my cervix was going to rip in two. Grain of salt or two.

My contractions were increasing in frequency and they were definitely worse as the night went on. At this point, Thomas was on swings (3 pm to 12:30 am) and I had already had to call the submarine once when I thought I was going into labor. So, typical me, when I actually did go into labor, I didn't call. They started up with enough frequency for me to start counting about 7 or 8 pm (I still have that piece of paper somewhere). So I'm home alone with the dogs, trying to eat some food, watch tv between contractions (and keep my mind off the next one), and calling my mom a lot. Around 11, I was quite sure that this was not at all like the false labor I had previously experienced.

But I still had an hour and a half to wait before Thomas got home. I was delivering at a hospital 30 minutes from my house, but I knew she wasn't ready right then, so I opted to wait. I took a shower, laid on the bed, tried to eat and hydrate. I was comfortable in my choice of hospital (and my choice to give birth at one), but I knew laboring at home would be way more comfortable. I gathered the few things we hadn't packed yet (camera, pillows, blankets), and called Thomas' phone to leave a message (no phones allowed at work) that he better hurry home once he got off.

He walked in the door with the strangest grin mixed with a look of concern - a look only a to-be dad can have. He was ready to pack me up and ship me off to the hospital, but I knew there was nothing they could do for me there (yet) that I wasn't already doing here, so he helped me count contractions. This proved to be an issue. I firmly knew what I wanted: to stay home until those 5-7 minute apart contractions were regular. Except they never were regular. They'd come anywhere from 4-10 minutes apart. But by 2 am, I was holding onto the side of my bed and Margaret's assembled pack n play, growling and moaning and perhaps screamyelling ateenytinylittlestbit through contractions. The contractions weren't regular, but I knew one thing:

This baby girl wanted out.

Said pack n play that I growled with.
 Trying to break up all of the words with a picture.

So we took the dogs out, loaded up our stuff, and got in the Outback. I gripped the dash and the door handle for dear life, trying not to get to fussy about Thomas taking turns too fast or hitting bumps in the road during a contraction. Thomas got very fussy at stop lights that were set to a switch-only-every-other-hour mode. We made it to the hospital and I (stubborn, stubborn woman that I am) demanded that he go ahead and park and I would walk to the emergency entrance. Stubborn, stubborn woman. Don't worry, I accepted that wheelchair real quick once I got my stubborn pregnant butt in the door.

The kindly labor n delivery nurse who wheeled me up was saying how she had mentioned to the other nurses that it looked like it was going to be a quiet night... and then admitting rang up and proved her quite wrong. She asked me if I had a birth plan...

Ahh the birth plan. Or lack thereof. More power to you, if you have one. But I just had one thing on my teeny check list: let's see how it goes. So I announced that the only plan for the day was to have my baby girl safely in my arms when all was said and done. The nurse praised my birth plan and asked one other tiny question.

Do you want an epidural?

Me: (something along the lines of) Hell yes.

An epidural wasn't exactly what I had pictured. My mom gave birth to 3 big babies the un-medicated way. And though she always said that she respected every woman's right to choose, I had sort of pictured myself doing the same thing. But then there were the contractions that seemed to last forever and scrambled my brain into fuzzy oblivion, where my only thought was "I. Am. In. Pain."

As I got settled, surrounded with pillows and blankets and sanitary sheet things that can be easily changed out (keeping it real), my labor and delivery nurse came to check me out. And whatdoyaknow? I had made it to 6.5 centimeters all by myself. I was like "Hokay, excellent, go me, now please don't make me feel anymore because I can't even remember my middle name." There was so much stuff they wanted to go over- did I smoke, drink, did Thomas abuse me, where did I live? My brain was shot. The very nice anesthesiologist came up (I know every woman who gets an epidural says that, but seriously, he was so kind- even when I couldn't remember my left from my right) and took care of that- it was pretty painless. I just never look at needles that are about to go in me. Within 30 minutes, things were dulled and I had my brain back.

Last pregnancy picture!

My midwife had come to check on me before her shift ended at 7 am, and she talked me through what was going to happen. I knew there was a possibility that she wouldn't be on call the day I gave birth, and that I would have an OB instead. Dr. Osborne ended up being my doctor that day. I was really nervous about having someone I had never met deliver my child. But while "cuddly" wouldn't be the word I'd use to describe him, he was kind, straightforward, and had been delivering babies for over 30 years. And my midwife trusted him- and I trusted her. He ended up being a great fit.

After the first hour of checking and an epidural and fluids, etc, it was pretty relaxed. I was hooked up to monitors, laying in bed, not really feeling much. So Thomas grabbed some shuteye while I watched the sunrise from my window, prayed a lot about what was happening and what was to come. I closed my eyes some, trying to rest, but there was no way I was sleeping! At some point that I can't remember we got some rough news- the contractions were causing Margaret some stress. Based on how she was responding to them, the cord was wrapped around her neck! Way to freak me out. But they were confident that she was doing well and that we could proceed with a vaginal delivery. The word C-section was never even mentioned. I progressed very quickly, but around 9 cm, I started stalling a bit. They put me on the lowest possible dose of pitocin to keep my contractions steady and soon I was ready to push.

It's not like the movies. Most of the time it was just me, Thomas, and my labor and delivery nurse: exactly how I wanted it. My nurse coached me through each push and my epidural was done so well that I knew each contraction was coming, and with my brilliantly clear head, I pushed for over two hours (mostly alternating sides) and countless "she'll be here soon"s before we finally figured out what the problem was. My little ray of sunshine was coming face up, with her head tilted to the side.

Thank God I had that epidural.

They figured that out when I heard "Oh, she's not going to have much hair!" 15 minutes later, there came a "Just kidding!"

It was rough. It was exhausting- and I wish in this moment that I had never used that word because pushing a human out is freaking hard work and I don't think I've ever worked so hard. I was covered in sweat and I threw up at least 5 times. My poor downtown/downstairs/lady parts just couldn't take it any more- I had level 4 tearing. I had to have an episiotomy if she was going to be coming out any time soon. And at that point, I was like- yes please, let's get her out into this world! Shortly after that, I heard a "Stop pushing!" and I stopped mid-contraction, and Dr. Osborne unwrapped the cord from Margaret's neck, and then, after almost three and a half hours of pushing, she came into the world.

She was quiet. The room was quiet. And those huge gray eyes were just soaking up all of the sights of this big, giant world she had come into. Finally there was a tiny wail- the most lovely sound. My hospital (which I cannot say enough good things about) was very pro-breastfeeding and encouraging of skin to skin which is this:

40 weeks, 2 days, 16 hours of labor, 3+ hours of pushing = you better believe it was worth it

No cutting of the umbilical cord, nothing more than a quick wipe, a wristband, and a hat, before landing that tiny, perfect girl on my chest. And I burst into legitimate tears of joy. And I didn't stop crying for at least an hour. This gross, messy, bloody, sweaty mess that left me tore up from the floor up and pretty much naked in a room full of strangers (I promise you don't end up caring) was the best thing ever. My little heart was just exploding with joy and love and every good thing.

After snuggling that tiny, perfect creature and nursing her, they whisked her off to be properly cleaned and warmed. Which she did not like at all. And then comes Thomas' favorite part.

All through pregnancy, he talked and read to the Jellybean (at my insistence). As she started to wail when being cleaned up by the nurse, he went over and said "What's wrong, Jellybean?" And she stopped and stared straight at him. She's been a Daddy's girl since an hour after she was born.

He totally cried.

The nurse asked me to guess Margaret's weight before they put her on the scale and I refused (I hate guessing things). Next thing I hear is, "You did not look big enough to be carrying an eight pound baby!" I just laughed, because as a 9 pound, 13 ounce baby (and the smallest of my sisters), eight pounds is piddly. :)

Margaret Elisabeth
8 pounds, 20 1/3 inches long
August 20, 12:28 pm

And the most "liked" picture on Facebook:

I don't think I would change a thing. Delivery was extremely rough on my body. I am still bleeding (fyi- that's not normal, so don't be afraid, you probably won't). I still have horrible tailbone pain. I had the most extreme amount of tearing you can have. When we were taken to our room for the next few days, nurses kept saying as the checked on my stitches, "well, it's not the worst I've seen." Oh gee, thanks. What confidence you have inspired within me. [sarcasm]. I have a host of other issues that I will not discuss with you despite my disclaimer. Did you know that you can get physical therapy for your pelvic floor? I didn't. But I'm in it now! And if I had to do it all over again... you bet your bottom dollar I would do it in a heartbeat. Not an ounce of regret or resentment. I am lucky, blessed beyond measure to have this healthy, gorgeous child of mine.

While the good doctor was repairing the damage Margaret did to me (and it was extensive), I looked at Thomas and said, "I want more."

I think we'll wait a few years though.

Before we get too far into the new year...

Sunday, January 5, 2014

I found this over on Rage Against the Minivan, and it seemed like a good way to get this done.

1. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
I gave birth. I tried to think of something else that happened this year... that's pretty much topping all of the lists! And I still need to write about it.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I have only ever made one New Year's resolution before. In high school I committed to being very intentional about love. Loving God, and loving everyone else as He loved us. I told myself that when I made progress on that, I would worry about the smaller things in life. I make the same resolution every year, but for the first time in about 7 or so years, I am adding a few thoughts to it. Stay tuned.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
So. Many. Babies. And so many more pregnancies were announced that will bring gorgeous babies into 2014. I can't wait.

4. What countries did you visit?
No foreign countries this year. Not much traveling at all with pregnancy and then a baby, but there were some trips to Florida (for Thomas's eye surgery), Maryland (to see the lovely Sarah!), North Carolina (mountain love), and Ohio (to see Thomas's family).

5. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
A little more sleep. :)

6. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
I'm going to sound like a broken record, but August 20. When they put Margaret on my chest, my eyes exploded with tears and all I could think was "Oh my God, I'm in love" and the Grinch. Why the Grinch? Because his heart grew three sizes that day.

The most perfect moment.

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Truly realizing that I have the strength within me to do what I need to do and handle whatever life throws at me. I have been off my medication for 16 months and counting and I can honestly say that I have never felt better, stronger, and more confident in myself.
8. What was your biggest failure?
Worrying too much about what the future holds. I fully realize that Thomas and I have committed to a life (or at least a career for the time being) of unknowns (hello moves and deployments). But truly living with so many unknowns that can change so quickly, it can take a toll on me.

9. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I was sick for much of my pregnancy and I am currently dealing with some lingering effects from delivery, but I'm trying to take care of myself.

10. What was the best thing you bought?
I have no idea. I'm going to say the money we put into renting our current house on base. I love that it's only 5 minutes from Thomas' work, and even with my occasional complaints, for now, this is a good space for our family. Update: I'm stupid. We bought a 2013 Subaru Outback as a family car in January of '13. I loooove it. I hated giving up my Civic, but the Outback for sure was our best purchase.

11. Where did most of your money go?
Life. :) Having a baby is a huge investment. (And worth every penny.)

12. What did you get really excited about?
I was excited to bring a new life into our family and seeing her face when I wake up every day is the best and brightest motivation I could ever have.

13. What song will always remind you of 2013?
"Home" by Phillip Phillips.

14. Compared to this time last year, are you:
– happier or sadder? Far and beyond happier. Though I was pretty happy this time last year too.
– thinner or fatter? Haha! I think I probably weigh about the same, but last year I was prepping for getting really, really big and now I'm at the tail end of that huge weight gain and loss.
– richer or poorer? Richer. Not by much, but we've paid down more of our loans and we have more in savings, and hopefully this track continues.
-messier or neater? So much more messy. It sort of drives me nuts, but when I don't have endless piles of my child's clothes to clean or put away, I'll probably be quite sad. So I'm embracing the mess (and hoping that doesn't classify me as nuts).

16. What do you wish you’d done more of?
I can always work more on being present in the moment. I actually think I did a pretty good job of that in 2013. I tried to truly enjoy being pregnant and I have thoroughly enjoyed my first 4 months of being a mom. I hope I continue to remember to take the time to catalog those memories. I'm not a scrapbooker or a very consistent journaler, so putting up photos on this blog and cataloging my pregnancy and our daily moments and thoughts is what I really have to remember these things by. Once these times pass, they are gone.

17. What do you wish you’d done less of?
I wish that I'd spent less time stressing. I wish I hadn't spent so much time worrying where all of our baby stuff was going to come from or worrying about where the Navy is sending us next. Less worried about baby things now, but the Navy stress is still there and is hopefully something I can continue to work on.

18. How did you spend Christmas?
Such a great Christmas! We went to church on Christmas eve, and then went over to my parents on Christmas day to open piles of presents (and give lots too) and have a fabulous Christmas lunch. I love spending time with my whole family.

19. What was your favorite TV program?
I dove headfirst into The West Wing on Neflix, but I also love keeping up with Bones, NCIS:LA, and I ended the year (and started the new one) with watching way too much HGTV.

20. What were your favorite books of the year?
A Long Way Gone and Bossypants are the two that stick out in my mind.

21. What was your favorite music from this year?
Definitely The Lumineers (soundtrack to my Maryland trip) and Imagine Dragons (such a good cd! Thomas and I must have listened to it hundreds of times by now).

22. What was your favorite film of the year?
Not a clue. This wasn't a big movie year for me.

23. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 25 on November 3 and it was probably the most low-key birthday of the last quarter of a century. I still haven't made myself a birthday cake. I got to celebrate with my husband and new baby girl and my family, so it was perfect still.

24. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
I truly don't think it could have gotten any better. If I had to answer, money can make things easier and there are a few people I'd like to heal.

25. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
The year that Lauren's fashion devolved. Oh dear. I sometimes felt more stylish as a pregnant lady than I do as a mom. I was growing a baby, so waistbands were horrible- I wore a lot of dresses and skirts. I also frequently felt like a whale. Now I feel a lot less like a whale, now that the tiny human is on the outside of me, but it's harder. I'm nursing, so unless it's for date night for maybe 2 hours, I can't wear dresses. I may have lost all of my pregnancy weight, but my body is totally different now. My hips are permanently changed and I'm trying to figure out a new style that makes sense with a new life and a different body. However, I do want to state for the record that I don't think my new body is bad in any way- I respect what it's been though, what I've been through - it's just different.

26. What kept you sane?
Given that I wasn't on any medication for my Bipolar Disorder... I'm not really sure! :)

27. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013.
Life lesson, mantra, whatever: Do what's best for you and yours and stop listening to everyone else.