Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Parenting Ups & Downs

1. Yesterday as I was getting Jack into nap mode, we sat down and snuggled for a bit. I decided that I wanted to give him kisses on the cheek and after about five small kisses I told him I loved him. As I moved my head away I noticed he was using sign language for the word "more." It melted my heart to know that he wanted me to love on him again, so I gave him kisses two more times!

2. Jack has decided to become quite the big brother/helper. He loves when I am doing chores, especially sweeping or vacuuming. If it were up to him, then he would get to use the broom or vacuum. Even today as I was taking the stroller out the front door, he ran back in to shut the door for me. He has become such a big helper and really loves to be a support. (He even tries to put a pacifier in Ella's mouth, although she usually doesn't want it!).

3. Ella has started to make coo sounds. I know I always say that Jack is at such a fun age, but there is truly something magical about a little tiny baby. I love when I pick her up from a nap and she is all scrunched up. And after a feeding she gives me huge smiles and coos at me. We even have a little conversation. So although I can't wait until she can start to move around, I have to constantly remind myself she won't always be so small and cute and I need to cherish it, especially since we don't plan to have more children.

4. Taking walks with Jack has become so much more fun. I usually load Ella up in the stroller and allow Jack to walk until he gets tired of it. Then I set him on the handlebars and we walk and look around at things. He is becoming aware of the world around him. Right now he is especially interested in trucks, birds, and waving at things. I probably say the word truck about 80 times, since we live in a rural area where everyone drives a truck.

1. The terrible twos have already started in our house. I guess this happens because Jack knows exactly what he wants to do, but gets upset if we don't understand him or if he doesn't get his way. He even falls to the ground. It is no fun.

2. Ella likes to scream at stop lights. A LOUD PIERCING CRY. Enough said...

3. I miss having "me time." We basically need to build it into the schedule. I need some time to do what I want, without the kids. I need to socialize with others, or work on a hobby, maybe go running/hiking. I really don't care what I do, just that I get it. Right now I have been feeling frustrated about not having that at all and I have all these ideas of things I want to do, but can't because I'm a mom first.

4. Nap time never seems long enough to get the house clean. I have started staying up after the early morning feeding (4:30am) to get going for the day which has helped some, but man are the days long now. And even if I clean, then it gets dirty almost right afterward. For example, I swept and mopped the floors yesterday afternoon and by dinner Jack had dropped half a taco on the floor. I'm getting there though, and I finally feel like I have a handle on laundry since Ella arrived.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Jack is 18 Months Old

Can you believe I have an 18 month old child? Sometimes I am so amazed that I have two children and then I think about how fast time is going by. Jack is an energetic boy from his head to his toes. What he lacks in vocabulary he surpasses in physical abilities. I am constantly amazed at what he can do and constantly frustrated by what trouble he can also get into! How do you baby proof a house when the baby knows how to open doors, unlock cabinet locks in the kitchen, and is starting to figure out his car seat! Sometimes I think he is too smart at this age, but then I'm also so impressed with him. (This post is picture heavy, since I am covering 6 months).

Well, here are the details on his progress in the past couple months:

Weight: 21 lb.
Height: 31 inches
The pictures above are from a recent climbing trip and the bottom picture is on a recent family hike. Jack decided he wanted to carry Bodhi's lease. Below that is a picture from Jump Kraze, the bouncy house place that we went to a few times in the winter months.

A lot has changed for Jack in the past couple months. We have been trying to prepare him for the arrival of baby Ella and he seemed to transition pretty well. When I was pregnant he liked to rub my belly and even gave little Ella kisses. I would always tell him that was a baby and he would point to my belly if I asked him where the baby was. And any time we were out in public I would point out other babies to help him understand. When he first came to the hospital to see Ella and I, he had the funniest look of confusion on his face. Of course he immediately wanted to sit on my lap, which was occupied since I was breast feeding. Unfortunately that hasn't changed and Jack still wants to sit on my lap when I have Ella for a feeding. I have figured out ways to accommodate both though, so we are making it work. At least he really likes to give her kisses, which usually means a sloppy wet blow into her hair.

I know he has struggled a little with sharing his time with mom and dad, because he has also become a lot more aggressive or he finds ways to get into trouble. His curiosity means that there are times that we are yelling at him to stop so he doesn't get hurt or break something. When he doesn't get his way, of course he gets mad and acts out by hitting us or the baby. I'm still trying to figure out the best discipline, and he really does test his boundaries, so discipline happens on a regular basis. Sometimes I feel bad, because I know he is just adjusting to this new stage of life and he is just trying to get our attention. So I have made it a point to focus on him each day for one-on-one time to help him feel loved. We are getting there and although he can be a challenge, he is also such a delightful boy.
Jack loves to swing himself in the baby swing. If I knew he would have liked it so much for himself then I would have kept it out. Don't you love the Santa picture? We saw Santa at the local coffee shop on a Saturday morning in December. I loved that we didn't have to wait in line or pay for the quick photo! Below that is a picture of Jack holding my lunch bag like a purse.

We have spent a few days learning how to figure paint. He seemed to like it and we used that momentum to make a few holiday gifts with finger paint.

Jack waves at everyone and everything. He waves at cars and trucks, dogs, the shower, people, pretty much everything. I think it is so cute and of course strangers are always entertained by his kindness! He also plays really well with other kids and does so well when I drop him off in the nursery at church. We have been going to music class each week and it has been neat to see him get more interested each week. He will dance and gets super excited when the teacher pulls out the musical instruments for all to play with. He used to just run around the room, but now it seems that he is getting more into the music. We try to find time each day to dance at home too.

Although Jack has been fairly healthy in his first year of life, he has made up for it since then. He has had two big colds with fevers and runny noses and had his first ear infection. Fortunately the weather is starting to change though, so maybe he will do better through the summer.

Jack waves at everyone and everything. He waves at cars and trucks, dogs, the shower, people, pretty much everything. I think it is so cute and of course strangers are always entertained by his kindness! He also plays really well with other kids and does so well when I drop him off in the nursery at church. We have been going to music class each week and it has been neat to see him get more interested each week. He will dance and gets super excited when the teacher pulls out the musical instruments for all to play with. He used to just run around the room, but now it seems that he is getting more into the music. We try to find time each day to dance at home too.

Although Jack has been fairly healthy in his first year of life, he has made up for it since then. He has had two big colds with fevers and runny noses and had his first ear infection. Fortunately the weather is starting to change though, so maybe he will do better through the summer.

Some of Jack's favorite things are...hmm....his toy tool set, books, climbing on everything, going down the slide, Jeopardy, snuggling up at nighttime, throwing things, chasing the cat, pulling items out of drawers then putting them back, and most of all spending time with his daddy. Jack really loves to play and has a lot of energy. He especially likes when his daddy gets home and takes him for walks. He continues to play well on his own and we can bring him anywhere and he will find something to get into...he is sneaky like that. I guess that is because he is so advanced in his skills, he throws things, climbs on everything, kicks things, runs, climbs up on ladders, uses a spoon and fork, tries to walk up stairs, seriously, he is so impressive with his physical skills.

On the other hand, we still don't hear too many words yet. I feel like he is right on the cusp of speaking more, but at least I know he understands though. If you ask him to pick something up and bring it to you, he will do it. He knows when he is getting into trouble because he makes a face and looks back at you waiting for you to stop him. Right now Jack will say, Mama, Dada, and Hi. Sometimes he will making a barking noise if you ask what a dog says and he is starting to say bye bye and bad. He uses sign language to ask for more or that he wants something and that he is all done. He also waves. So there is a little communication and we are starting to understand him. Probably cutest of all is that he makes a sound like, hmm? all the time for everything. It is like he is asking us questions all the time.

We took Jack to a local pumpkin patch to pick our pumpkins this year. I captured this shot of Jack and Joe using Joe's phone. We love it so much. Unfortunately he doesn't like being thrown in the air anymore.

We took Jack on a camping trip for the first time in October. We went to Boone, NC to boulder and then visited with a few friends. It was a surprisingly cold weekend and I had to stop at the outlets to buy gloves (I found a matching hat to go with it). He did just fine sleeping at night, but was not so happy during hikes since it was half snowing. I have to admit, I think he was a real trooper and I can't wait to bring him and Ella camping again this spring and summer. Below are pictures from the camping trip.

Honestly he is so much fun and I keep saying that he is at such a fun age. We are able to do a lot with him and I really can't wait to see him continue to grow. I wonder, will he love soccer or baseball? Will he like to climb? Will he continue to love music? Will he be a good big brother? I love watching him grow up and hope I am doing my best as his mommy.

Ella at 2 Months

The second month has gone by really quickly. I can't believe that we are entering into her third month. Thankfully I feel like we have settled into a good routine. Now that the guest bedroom is finished, I'm back to sleeping in my bed and we are slowly working on getting Jack back into his shared bedroom with Ella. He goes to sleep in his bed just fine, but doesn't want to stay in there through the night, so that is what we need to work on. Fortunately Ella is adapting to her crib nicely and seems to be a solid sleeper. The past two nights she has slept a straight 7 hours before a feeding, but I don't want to jinx myself since that could very easily change!

Here is a monthly update of her stats:

Nicknames: Turtle, Hazel Nut, Ella Bella

Weight: 9 lb. 6 oz. Height: 22.5 inches

Temperament: She continues to be a little more demanding and fussy. I know it is too soon, but she seems to respond the best for mommy. Joe has had some terrible days when I was tutoring and she just continued to cry. I think I might just have the magic swaddling touch. My mom also seems to do well too (or maybe we are just more patient?). Last weekend we went to my sister-in-law's baby shower and Ella cried for everyone expect me or my mom. Actually, I'm starting to begin to understand her cries. I can tell when she is mad because we have not picked her up (this usually happens when she is in the car seat), then there is a cry for when she is sleepy, and it is more of a fussy whimper to a cry when she is hungry. On the plus side, she is starting to smile and we got to see her first smiles on March 9th. I hope that means she is a pretty happy baby. She also stays awake longer each day and likes to lay on the play mat to look around at everything.

First/New Experiences: We went to Northern Virginia for a trip to see family last weekend. It was her first road trip and other than a few times crying on the way up, she was great. I was able to put her in the pack and play to sleep each night and she seemed happy. It was a busy weekend filled with family time and running errands. Of course as I mentioned already, she started to smile and now she is doing it all the time. I love a gummy grin. Most of the time she sticks her tongue out when she smiles, it makes my heart melt. Oh, she has also started fitting into her cloth diapers. They look so cute on her little body!

Items/Toys That We Love: When Jack was born we rarely used the baby swing. I always felt like it moved to quickly and he just didn't seem to like it much. He was more of a fan of the vibrating bouncy seat. The opposite seems to be true for Ella. She loves to motion from the swing. Well, she also uses the bouncy seat for a nap while I am showering but refuses to sit in it at any other time. The play mat has been nice for her to look at bright and colorful objects, but I have to watch Jack carefully so he doesn't try to lay on her or put a blanket in her face (two things he has tried to do).

This next month should be a busy one...let's see, another trip to VA with friends, the chocolate festival in Lewisburg, and her first Easter!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Ella's Birth Story

As I was nearing the end of my pregnancy, I began to worry a little about delivery. I knew what I was going to experience. It was only 16 short months before that I had delivered my son and it was a painful process. I remembered all the problems that were experienced with the epidural and I was afraid to get one with this pregnancy, but I was afraid to not get it, since I also knew how uncomfortable it can be. I remembered all the back labor and I was afraid of having that again. All this fear was apparent as I went to each doctor's appointment, since I mentioned to my doctor, who has become a friend, that I wanted to go natural, but knew I was also not that brave of a person. I really expected our daughter to arrive after her due date. Jack was late and I felt now signs of things happening any sooner. In fact, when my doctor asked if I wanted to be checked at my 39 week appointment I said no. What was the point? I knew I still had another week to go.

Of course, I was uncomfortable and I felt contractions every now and then, but I had been experiencing braxton hicks since I was about 25 weeks along, so I didn't think to much of them. Then on Wednesday morning, four days after my 39 week mark, I woke up through out the early morning hours with contraction discomfort. I was every dreaming about them. I might have even mentioned this in a facebook post, once again, figuring it was just braxton hicks. Joe had decided to take the day off (he wasn't feeling all that well and needed a mental health day). So we played with Jack, completed some daily chores, and pretty much hung around. I happened to noticed that the contractions continued throughout the day. Usually it hurt when I got up and started to walk around, but they would also feel like they went away. Nothing was consistent. And since they were never regular, I figured I was just getting closer to the end and I would probably have these contractions off and on. Don't get me wrong, they were definitely uncomfortable, but since they were so irregular, I really didn't mind them too much. So I went to the grocery store.

I guess secretly in the back of my mind I wondered if I really was going into labor. They weren't going away, so I thought I might be headed to the hospital the next day and it might be better to have a house full of groceries, just in case. So I loaded Jack up and we headed over to Walmart. I finally decided something might be up when I realized I had experienced three very painful contractions at the store (in about an hour's time). I'm sure I looked funny as I had to stop pushing the shopping cart and lean forward to breath through the pain. For whatever reason, I really felt like I needed to buy Ella's baby book, so I searched in the baby section until I found one and then I called my mom. It was about 1:30 in the afternoon and I wanted to give her a heads up that she may be heading this way the next morning...I still didn't believe I was in full on labor. I didn't want her to to get in the car just yet, because I wanted to head home and lay down for an hour to see if they went away or continued.

So off we went, back home. I told Joe that I needed to lay down and he was in charge of Jack. I kept my phone by my side to keep track of the time and of course I had three more contractions, but they were irregular. One at 16 minutes apart, then 10 minutes apart, and about 20 minutes apart. I debated calling the doctor to go to her office and see if I was dilated. I asked Joe for his opinion and he thought we should wait. When I was in labor with Jack everything happened very regularly, so we decided to wait until they were at least 10 minutes apart before we called. So I called my mom back and told her it wasn't labor...little did I know that she was already planning to come down that night. I think she would have left within a few minutes if I had not called her. My sister was also planning to come down too. She was going to be there for the delivery and my mom was going to watch Jack. I found out that she had called my sister and that my sister had already made sub plans and called out of work the next day. I felt bad because she had to cancel the sub and it was a mess, but really, I wasn't in labor yet...at least, I didn't think so. Only, these contractions were getting more painful.

This was about the time that I really started to wonder if I was wrong, maybe this was labor. It certainly was starting to hurt more. That's when it all came back to me and I remember how painful labor really was. The fear set in and I just didn't want it to be real. I needed one more day to prepare for this. However, by 6pm, I was on the phone again with my mom. I was wrong and she needed to leave ASAP. She was making brownies and said, "well, I will leave in an hour once they are done cooking, since I told your dad I would make some for his work." That's when I reminded her that it was a five hour drive and I didn't know how long I would last. My first labor was 24 hours, so I figured we had time, but then again, these contractions were coming on faster and closer together. I practically begged her to forgot about the brownies, since we needed her to watch our son (my friends in town that had said they could help, just happened to be out of town for that one night). By 7pm I realized I needed to call my doctor. The contractions were at 6 minutes apart and the pain was beginning to be unbearable. She suggested that I head to the hospital...but who was going to watch my son?

After talking it over with Joe we decided that we needed to call a friend from my church. She was about thirty minutes away and said she would leave right then to watch Jack at our house. I thanked her for agreeing to help at the last minute, but almost immediately after getting off the phone I realized, I was not going to make it thirty minutes, because it was so painful. We decided to all load up in the car and I called my back up babysitter and asked her to meet us at the hospital.

By 8pm we were registering at Summersville Medical Center. It felt like forever to give them our insurance information, but thankfully the hospital was pretty quiet. At this point contractions were coming regularly, but I noticed that I was having two lighter contractions and then one really long and painful one. That made me a little concerned and I was totally afraid that it was false labor. Fortunately, I was the only patient in labor and delivery, so they were able to check me right away and I found out I was already at 4 centimeters. That felt promising, and I knew I was in labor. With Jack, I had the same amount of pain, but was only at 1 centimeter when I arrived at the hospital, so this actually made me very happy. Thankfully our babysitter arrived about fifteen minutes after we were brought back into the delivery room. Jack was so good, but probably just tired as he watched me deal with the pain.

I wanted to try going without the epidural so I requested the IV medicine, which definitely helped numb the pain, but I knew at that point I definitely wanted an epidural. I kept thinking that this pain would only increase while the medication decreased. Within an hour I was given the epidural after two bags of fluid (I had told them about my blood pressure problems while delivering Jack). It was a great relief and actually wasn't as strong as I remember with Jack. At this point I called my sister to check on them and found out she would be there in about an hour. The lights were turned off and I just relaxed and in fact Joe and I slept. Let me just say, sleeping while in labor is amazing. I am so thankful for the epidural, just so I had the rest that I needed. I awoke when my sister arrived and we talked casually for about an hour before I decided I needed my rest only to finally close my eyes and my water broke. The nurses came in to change my sheets and we ended up talking with the nurses for a while until I realized I was going to throw up.

I didn't know this until then, but apparently many women vomit when they are transitioning to the point of pushing. My nurse decided to check as we guessed how much longer it was going to be and she said, not long at all since I was ready to push. I couldn't believe I was already dilated 10 centimeters, when only 45 minutes before I had been at a 6. This was nothing like my first delivery and I was surprised I didn't even feel the urge to push. My doctor was brought in the room and we all joked about how nicely things had progressed so far. Then my doctor said that we would all wait until I was ready to push because there was no reason to try until I felt that urge. This made me feel overwhelmed, since I didn't have that urge and everyone was there waiting for me. So I just decided that the slight pressure I felt down there was good enough and I prepped to push. That's when my doctor said, "wow, her head is right there." It literally took about two contractions and Ella was out! In fact, I think the doctor had to almost hold her head back so she didn't come out too fast. Once again, nothing like my first delivery, where I was pushing for almost an hour.

Ella was placed on my chest and I was thrilled. She was healthy and I didn't have to worry about them taking her away to the nursery. I was able to hold her for a while, which was when we discovered that one of her feet was bent (as I have mentioned before). The nurses took her to clean her up and I was supposed to delivery the placenta. This might have been the most uncomfortable part. It didn't want to detach, so my doctor literally had to reach in and get it. That was a strange feeling and uncomfortable, but I was just so happy to have a healthy baby that I would be able to try to breastfeed. A baby that would be able to be in my hospital room with me. A baby that was just as beautiful and wonderful as my first. I'm just so glad it was an easier delivery for me. It almost makes me want to have another, almost.

Update in February

One might think that having several snow days would give me the time to write in my blog, but I have been spending a lot of time working on ...