Monday, April 25, 2016

Birth Story {Nicole Victoria}

Let me start off by saying that I told the baby in my tummy that she needed to be born on Tuesday, April 19th, and she sure listened! My contractions started on Monday night, but they weren't too intense and I was able to breathe/sleep through them. Although, I did throw up everything in my stomach over the course of three sessions at the toilet during the night. This was something I had heard usually happens to women as they are in labor, but I never experienced it with Jessica's labor, so it was all new to me! About 2 a.m. on Tuesday morning, I told Michael that he needed to call my mom (who was on standby to come down and watch Jessica during the whole process and while we would be in the hospital). I wasn't sure how fast things would change, but it was apparent that I was in labor and I wanted her to have time to make the 2 hour drive down from Logan. The two hours passed and my mom arrived and things were still moving along, but nothing so significant that I felt like we needed to head to the hospital yet. Morning came and my mom and Michael got up with Jessica while I labored more/rested in bed. It had been a long night. 

I eventually was done being in bed and decided to get up and join the family in the living room. My stomach was still not feeling well after my puking during the night, so all I had for breakfast was a few bites of a plain waffle that Michael had made for breakfast. My contractions kept coming, but not very frequently and I was still able to breathe through them with relative ease and chat with everyone in between them. I did some time on the exercise ball, which felt good, and I actually bounced on it a few times, really hoping to get things moving. As my contractions intensified and became closer together (2-3 minutes apart) for about 2 hours, I decided we needed to head to the hospital. So, about 12 noon, we got everything in the car and said our goodbyes to Jessica and my mom.

Just like with Jessica's labor, my contractions slowed on the car ride and by the time we got to the hospital, they were about 6 minutes apart. They checked us in and took us to a delivery room, hooked me up to the monitors, and checked my cervix. I was only dilated to 3 cm (where I was at my last Dr.'s appointment the Thursday previous) but I had effaced fully, which was a change from the 70% a few days before. We were encouraged to walk around the halls to try to get things going again. Dr. Hebert was rushing to a delivery when we arrived and we saw her in the hallway again as we were walking. Based upon the monitors, she said she figured I was experiencing prodromal labor and that she was happy to let me stay a couple hours to see if things progress. After 1 hour, and a rather jumpy dance session to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" in our room (I really wanted our baby to come), I had only had 3 contractions and it seemed like my laboring was pretty much stalled, so we decided to go home. I was bummed, but not too surprised as a very similar experience occurred with Jessica's labor. 

It was about 3 p.m. when we got home. We were all very tired, but I was especially exhausted after laboring through the night, and I went straight to our bed to try and take a little nap and prepare myself for another long night of laboring. I listened to my Hypnobirthing tracks on the iPod and was able to sleep for about an hour, which felt amazing. Around 6 p.m., I decided to get out of bed as I could tell things were changing again and the contractions were intensifying. One thing Dr. Hebert had told me about labor this second time around, was to not pay so much attention to the frequency of contractions, but rather to the intensity of them. She said that once I have them at level 12 out of 10, that I needed to come in immediately. So, as I noticed they were more intense than what I had experienced in the morning, I decided to get up out of bed and join everyone for dinner. My mom had gone out and picked up some barbecue, which I normally would have been all over, but I still did not have an appetite, nor did I want to risk throwing up again. So, instead, I settled for sipping on my caffeinated Coke (my favorite upset stomach drink) and I took a couple bites of a roll and that was it for me. I had a few more contractions at the dinner table that I had to moan through. Looking back, this was the apparent moment when things really started to change. 

I decided that I wanted to lay down in bed again and try to relax with my Hypnobirthing tracks while Michael and my mom put Jessica to bed. Once Jessica was asleep (about 8 p.m.), Michael came and laid beside me, rubbed my back, and applied counterpressure on my lower back during contractions. They were still only about 6 or 7 minutes apart, but I was audibly moaning through each of them and I began to get louder and louder every time. I also needed to hold and squeeze Michael's hand through them. I remember having one contraction that was incredibly intense and then about 7 minutes later having one not as intense, but then 4 minutes after that experiencing another one that was as Dr. Hebert would describe a "12 out of 10". In the midst of my moaning I said, "We need to go to the hospital now". Michael jumped out of bed and got everything ready to go in the car while my mom came in and let me squeeze her hand through another contraction. Michael came and got me out of bed, and basically carried me through the house. I stopped at the kitchen table and had to lean on it as I had two contractions basically on top of each other. It was then that Michael just grabbed me and pulled me outside and into the car. I was moaning with each breath as we walked to the car and I told Michael that I thought I might be sick, so he grabbed a bucket from the garage and put it in between my feet. I immediately took my flip flops off and had to sit on one of my feet during another contraction, as I just could not be flat on my bum in that seat. I felt like I was going to come out of my skin and would rise up out of the chair during each contraction. I told Michael that he needed to run red lights and speed, do whatever he could to get us to the hospital. 

Michael sped like crazy to the hospital, running some lights, hazard lights on, and driving like 90 down the interstate. My contractions were so close together and so intense that I had started screaming through them. I honestly didn't know I could scream like that. I was grabbing the support bar on my side of the car and letting out some serious high pitched screams, along with a few primal moans. I eventually started saying, "I want this baby out NOW" and even pant-cried at the end of a few contractions. I had the very strong urge to push and couldn't stop myself from doing so when we were almost to the hospital. Michael made our usual 20 minute drive there in about 10 minutes. When we arrived, Michael helped me out of the car and I didn't even put my flip flops on. He calmly told the night security guard "baby" and the guard pushed the button to open the doors to labor and delivery. I was obviously in transition and a nurse ran out from around the desk and gestured me straight to delivery room #1 while Michael checked in with the receptionist. The nurse asked if I wanted a wheelchair or to walk and all I could do was wave her forward and walk behind her to the room. She then asked if this was my first or second child and I just put 2 fingers up. 

As soon as I got in the room, I leaned against the side of the bed for support and felt the "pop" and gush of my water breaking. That was such a cool feeling. Around that time I recall seeing the nurse place a gown at the foot of the bed and I remember thinking, "Haha, yeah right. Like that's going to happen." The nurse then pulled my pants off and said she needed to check me and did so while I was standing to the side of the bed. She said loudly, "She's complete" and then a bunch of people rushed in the room. The nurse said I needed to get up on the bed and I could only get one knee up, so she helped me. I was on hands and knees through another contraction and said, "I want this baby out NOW" a couple more times. I started panting and it was then that Michael made it to my side and told me to breathe in and out, while the nurse also encouraged me to calm my breathing. Michael helped the nurse take my shirt and sports bra off and then someone told me I needed to roll over. Somehow I did this and then the on-call doctor showed up and introduced herself, then I was told to my hold my legs up so I could push. I said the classic, "I can't do this!" to which everyone on the room replied, "Yes you can!" And then I pushed with a little bit of coaching from the nurses and doctor. Michael helped grab my legs back up when I was tired in between each push and let them fall out of my hands. I felt the "ring of fire" as baby's head was crowning. I can distinctly recall the relief once her head was out. Two more pushes and then her body was out also. In total, 4 pushes and Nicole Victoria was born!

She came out screaming beautifully and was immediately placed on my chest skin to skin. It was just as magical and beautiful as when her older sister was born. We just snuggled for the next hour while the doctor and nurses took care of my placenta, bleeding, and all the other afterbirth care. I did need a couple shots of Pitocin to help my uterus to shrink and to assist with the bleeding, and I had a small 1 degree tear that required a couple stitches. Nicole came out super hungry, smacking her lips and trying to eat my chest. It wasn't very long at all before I sat up and nursed her for the first time. She latched on with no problem and ate for an hour! Everyone was really impressed. I love that they even did the Vitamin K and eye ointment while she was nursing. Eventually, once she had finished eating, the nurse weighed and measure her and did all the other checks that needed to be done. 

Dr. Hebert made it into the room just about 5 minutes after Nicole was born and just looked at me and laughed. She was on-call that night, but obviously couldn't make it in time for the birth, even though she left as soon as she was called. We talked about how she just missed seeing Nicole be born and how we would need to strategize for the next birth considering how quickly everything progressed and how I almost had the baby in the car. I love Dr. Hebert. She was so sweet and so proud, and complimented me on having my natural unmedicated birth, just how I wanted! Eventually, we were taken to our recovery room and then the rest is history as we went through our first night together, Daddy, Mommy, and Nicole. 

Thoughts after this experience:

  • How awesome am I that I gave birth naturally?!?
  • I can't believe how amazing the human female body is that it knows exactly what to do to get that baby out.
  • I was slightly traumatized for a few days after the experience, mostly because I couldn't believe it happened so fast at the end and that I was afraid baby would be born in the car.
  • I laugh that I said, "I can't do this", completely out of the blue. I wasn't even thinking to say such a classic phrase during pushing, but it came out of my mouth nonetheless. How many other women have I heard stories about thinking or saying this as they were about to give birth and I joined their ranks as well?
  • Birthing naturally was such an out of body experience. There are some things I don't remember and had to ask Michael about because I was so out of it during the final moments.
  • Yes, yes, yes...I will do it again with the next baby. I honestly don't think I would want to have a baby any other way now.
  • Recovery has been awesome. No swelling, very low bleeding, etc. I contribute it all to birthing naturally and not having to be hooked up to many different IVs and such for hours at a time.
  • Michael is my hero and the best birth partner ever. I love him more and more with each baby we have.
  • I need to now go and nurse my baby as I believe writing this story down has stimulated my let-down about 6 times from all the hormones as I recall these memories. Lol.

Monday, February 01, 2016

2 Years {Jessica}

Our darling Jessica has grown so much in the past 6 months! I will admit, she has been the main reason I haven't blogged in as much time. We've been so busy everyday that I've been using my phone camera more than my Nikon, so Instagram has really become more of my blog. And I'm not really upset by that fact, because I feel like my phone can more quickly capture the real moments of everyday. It's much easier to snap a quick phone photo than run and grab my Nikon in those fun and spontaneous moments that happen so often throughout the day. I think I shall start printing chatbooks as a way of journaling. I hear that they are incredibly easy and fairly cheap. That being said, there is so much to update everyone on, I shall try to do my best in this post.

Jessica is officially a big girl. I honestly can't believe how much she has changed just in the past few days since turning 2 years old. Maybe my vision is a bit skewed, but she is acting more and more like a big sister each day. She is showing signs of readiness for when the new baby will be in our lives. 

 (I had to include a little bit of her classic "cheesy" smile.)

I love her personality. She is kind, compassionate, caring, observant, meticulous, methodical, giggly, sensitive, cautious, and whimsical. Just to name a FEW of her traits. And she is ALL girl. I am constantly amazed at the innate feminine traits which she embodies and displays, things that I haven't taught her, but that she just knows to do. Like today, Jessica and I were at a friend's house in the neighborhood and Jessica was playing with William (almost 3 year old son). My friend Christy commented on how cute it is that Jessica kind of skip-hops everywhere she goes, while William just runs hard, heavy, and fast. We talked about how different boys and girls are. Jessica just chooses to be a bit more dainty and delicate because that's who she is. 

It makes me realize how much our Heavenly Father has a plan for each of his children and how he places specific spirits in each person. And it's our job as parents to cultivate and encourage those spirits to emerge and shine. 

Jessica is a talker. She has always been advanced in her vocabulary, but it has really exploded as of late. She normally and frequently says 4-5 word sentences and just the other day, she said a 7-word sentence. Michael and I counted the words on our fingers to make sure because we were so impressed and blown away! What a smart little chatterbox we have. I'm not really surprised, because I was a very good talker as a child and I've always spent my days talking with Jessica even from the start. 

Jessica is also displaying immense comprehension of emotions. She is very aware of other's feelings and wants to comfort those who are sad or upset. This is something we have to be very careful with especially when watching a movie or something on TV, because she picks up on the smallest things and they stick with her. We feel a great need to protect our children from the things of the world that they are not old enough to experience, comprehend, and process yet. Children are only children for a short time, and as such, we feel they should have have that time to be carefree.

Jessica is still our "Muggins" as we like to call her. And that nickname suits her. She is a Muggins in every sense of the word. She is loved by all who know her and is seriously the favorite child in our ward (church) nursery right now. Granted, there aren't that many kids in there, but she is just so pleasant, kind, and non-destructive that all the leaders love her. I've peeked in a few times and she pretty much leads all the children at anything related to singing time. She's ready to push her chair over to the singing area, knows all the actions to all the songs, and enthusiastically sings and does the motions every. single. time. It makes this musician/performer mommy proud!

She loves to sing at bedtime and has her own version of Row, Row, Row Your Boat. It goes something like this, "Row row boat, gent(ly) stream, merwy (merrily), life dweam (dream)". She pretty much sings one or two words from each phrase and that's the song! Also, she loves to sing "Bubbles", a song that we made up months ago in the warmer weather when she used to play with bubbles outside everyday. 

This girl is a nurturer. She got a baby doll for her birthday and carries it around, pretending that it's crying "wahhh", but then she comforts it by humming a simple 3 note "hmm hmm hmm" and going "shhh". She'll rock that baby and wrap it up in her favorite pink blanket, then lay it down to sleep. She always tells us when the baby is sad or crying, then starts the whole comforting routine. It's adorable. I think she's going to be a big helper for Mommy during the days with a newborn. I can just picture her bringing all her favorite stuffed animals and placing them next to the baby, trying to comfort her. 

Speaking of being a big helper, she loves to put the dishes away, cook and bake in the kitchen, sweep, and fold and put away clothes. I'm loving her willingness to be a part of the daily chores in the house and definitely taking advantage of this desire she has to help out. I think it's so important to establish the habit of helping around the house at such a young age, because then she knows it's just part of the norm. So those days when she fights doing chores (hopefully years from now, lol),  she will know that they are just part of daily life around here and maybe that will make it easier to get things accomplished. 

Even with the tantrums and power struggles that have emerged lately in our lives, we are reminded with how special Jessica is and how much we love her. Truthfully, she is so pleasant and sweet most of the time, that those little frustrating moments are definitely bearable. Especially when they are followed by hugs, kisses, and giggles all around. Oh Jessica, we are so proud of you and the little girl you have become. We are excited for this next year of our lives as a family, with a little sister to come in April, and to see how things will change and grow for the better as we become a family of 4. We are incredibly happy that you are our first child and have great hopes and dreams for you. We know you will rise to the occasion and show us more of your sweet spirit as time goes on and only pray that we can be the parents that you need us to be to help nurture your personality and guide you to grow in the way our Heavenly Father has planned for you. WE LOVE YOU!

Friday, August 21, 2015

18 Months {Jessica}

Well, Jessica officially reached 18 months at the end of July, but we had to reschedule her well-checkup at the doctor for just this week because! So, her stats and other details are a little late, but still quite close to what she was at the 18 month mark. These photos are from the weekend she turned 18 months, when we took a little family drive up Big Cottonwood Canyon to Silver Lake. It was a beautiful hike and Jessica had a blast looking at the ducks, climbing rocks, and just being in nature.

How much Jessica has changed since she was 15 months, even 1 year. I know that babies grow a lot in the first year, but I feel like Jessica has grown and changed even more developmentally since she reached 1 year. Every day is something new, specifically related to communication. Our girl learns a new word every single day; she is so interested in trying out new sounds and I love watching her learn. Below I've listed all the words and sounds that she knows as of right now (purely for my knowledge and don't have to read it if you don't want to). Her pediatrician was very impressed with the sheer amount of words and sounds she can communicate and told us that her development was fantastic!
  • Words - Amen, Baby, Ball, Bee, Boo, Book, Boom, Bye-Bye, Cat, Cheese, Dada, Dog, Done, Duck, Ears, Elbow, Eyes, Fly, Hello, Hi, Hide, Hop, Hot, Light, Mama, Mine, More, No, One More, Please, Rock, Sit, Shh, Shoes, Stick, Thank You, Toes, Wee, Up, Yeah
  • Animal Sounds - Cat (Meow), Cow (Moo), Dog (Woof Woof and Panting), Duck (Quack), Elephant (Pursing lips and blowing), Horse (Neigh), Lion (Rarrr), Monkey (Ooh Ooh Ah), Snake (Sssss)
  • Vehicle Sounds - Beep Beep, Choo Choo, Vroom, Airplane (Neeeyyuhh), Police Siren (Weeooweeoo)

And whatever Jessica can say, she comprehends even more. I'm amazed how I can ask her to do things, or look for something, or refer to a particular item, and she knows exactly what I mean and will infer what I'm trying to have her do even without me explaining everything thoroughly. She's just so perceptive!

Jessica is also a very affectionate child. We are very affectionate parents, so it's no surprise that she acts this way. I love that she gives hugs to her friends and blows kisses when saying goodbye. She gives hugs and kisses to us, her parents, so many times without being asked to. I love it even more when she comes up to me and just hugs my leg while I'm cooking in the kitchen, or getting ready in the bathroom. There is nothing better than being physically loved by your child, just because she wants to.

Other updates and attributes:
  • Jessica is very kind and tender to people and animals. And she loves babies.
  • She is incredibly observant of people and situations around her. She's not one to just run off into the street when a car goes by. She listens to me point out the car, stops immediately where she stands, and then walks over to the curb if we're in the road (like on our walks around the neighborhood). We "watch and wait". Once the car has passed, then she will move and knows it's safe to cross the street.
  • What a brave child she is at the splash pad. Every single time we go, she runs fearlessly under the sprinklers and spray and has multiple people comment on how brave she is. I, of course, beam with pride. This girl loves the water.
  • Jessica is pretty good at sharing with others or making a trade when needed. I think it goes back to her kind and observant nature.
  • We've introduced the kid potty to her, just to get her used to the idea and give her something to do while she's in the bathroom with me (which is a lot). No pressure. I am happy to report that she has peed in potty multiple times and pooped once since this entire series of events began. She knows exactly what the potty is for and even enjoys wiping and pouring the contents into the "big" toilet after. Early potty training, I hope?!?

18 Month Stats:
Weight: 23.35 lbs (32%ile)
Height: 31.0 inches (25%ile)

She grew! Yay!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

15 months {Jessica} and Trip to New England

People talk about time flying when you have a kid, but I do believe that someone has sprinkled pixie dust all over our lives recently and made time skyrocket. All of a sudden, our Jessica is 18 months old and I just can't believe it. So many things have changed since we took our trip to New England (when Jessica was just 15 months old) and I have a lot of catching up to do!

I'll start off with our trip at the beginning of May! We flew from SLC to Rochester to attend our friend's (and my former co-intern at Big Bend Hospice in Tallahassee) wedding. Early flight out of SLC and Jessica slept basically the entire way to Chicago. What heaven that was! People are right, Benadryl is the bomb. She was already tired and needed the sleep anyway, so I saw no problem in giving her something to help us all travel better and ensure that she got the rest she needed!

While in Rochester, we played with our friends Elaine and Gary, who you might recall were the wedding we attended last August in Rochester. Elaine took off work to entertain us, and drive us around wherever we needed to go. We visited the Strong Museum of Play and Jessica had the time of her life "shopping" at the mini Wegman's grocery store! I could see buying a yearly membership there if we lived in Rochester because it was so much fun for kids and adults alike. It was also wonderful to celebrate with Erica and Brett on their special day and to get all dressed up for the occasion. Non-LDS weddings are such big events and thankfully we could enjoy it all because Jessica was still on Utah time and her naps perfectly coincided with the festivities!

It sometimes takes a lot to get a good picture with lots of wind behind you!

After our time in Rochester, we rented a car and drove to Grafton, Vermont, where we spent a few days with our dear friends, the Thompsons. Adam's parents own a cabin there (where we honeymooned) and we loved being able to go back to the special place and show Jessica all the sights. I forgot how beautiful it really is out in the "mountains" of New England. Trees, green, rain, hearing the crickets at night, four-wheeler rides through the hills and discovering old rock fences and roads. It was heaven. After our days at the cabin and stocking up on lots of Maple Syrup and Vermont White Cheddar, we drove back to Boston where Adam, Tory, and Logan live (actually, they don't live there anymore, as they are in the process of moving to California). We enjoyed a relaxing night in Lexington (suburb where their apartment was located) and boiled our own fresh lobster. It was the perfect last night to our trip and we loved every minute of it!

I can't remember the actual stats right now, but Jessica's measurements from her 15-month checkup showed that she was cute and petite as always! I believe her height was in the 5th %ile and weight was somewhere in the teens for percentile.

As you can see, Jessica is walking and talking like crazy in these pictures. She figured out the walking deal around 14 months, but not before she was a "knee-walker", which was the funniest thing ever. She's such an explorer and is always telling us about it. We love our lives and all the fun we have together as a family!