Monday, December 26, 2011

Traveling with a Sack of Sugar

It's been almost a week since my last post? Weird..

Because it's Christmas, we are traveling all the way up Virginia and on to Pennsylvania. With a not quite 2 month old, it takes preparation, patience, and pit stops. Our car could barely fit all of her stuff and our cat's. (We decided to bring our already attention starved cat since we'll be gone for over a week - we can also test out our ADT motion detectors). With a baby, we had her clothes, diapers, stroller, and bed/rocker. Adelaide required her litter box and food. This will be the lightest load we will ever have with Joanna because we're not packing toys or extra items like a bumbo, high chair, etc. Even though it was light, it was very tight.

We decided to use cloth diapers this week with a few days in disposables when we were away from my parent's house. After a day at the in-laws with disposables, we have now grown to loathe those paper creations. We ended up changing Joanna about 10 times when we would have normally changed her 6-7. My savings calculations may be completely off based on these findings. It was further confirmation that we made an excellent choice in using cloth.

To prepare for our journey, I timed it so she would be in her last diaper while the other diapers dried. This way we wouldn't have to drive with a stinky/er diaper for 3 hours. We brought the diaper pail and kept the clean diapers and pail liners in it as we traveled. We got to my parent's house, set up our diaper station, and it was just like home! (We used a plastic grocery bag for the used wipes instead of bringing our tiny trash can.) My mom is generously letting us wash the diapers every other day in their HE washer and dryer.

By the way, Joanna did so well in the car! She only started screaming after 3 hours because she finally realized her stomach and bladder were empty. After we fixed both empty vessels, she was a happy camper again. This kid is amazing - I really hope we get another one just like her. That'd be so nice.

I'm looking forward to when she can hold her giant head up. ("It's like an orange on a toothpick!") It's adorable to have her wobbly noggin come crashing into our chins, but it'll be even greater when she can look around at things on purpose instead of convenience.

Motherhood calls - later.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Poo Tracking

As a part of my increased nursing, my consultant wanted me to keep track of how many and what kind of changes we're doing each day. We've gone from 5-6 diapers a day to 8-9 diapers a day! It's a wonderful thing that she's gaining weight and it's been a learning experience to say the least.

I know babies poop but I had no idea how much poop could come out of such a small body. She used to poo every other day and now she's up to two poos a day. Two very full, stinky diapers a day are completely dedicated to poop. Thankfully she spaces them out so I get to change one and daddy gets to change one. She's an equal opportunity stinker. She's also considerate enough to give us some variety so we don't know what to expect. Color, consistency, you name it.

A word to the wise: When changing a diaper, be aware that girls and guys are different. When boys pee, it takes a few moments for their stream to cease. When girls pee, it all spills out in seconds. When you see a baby girl pee, it's too late to prepare. Just suck it up and clean up the aftermath. When I dealt with one of her stink bombs today, I lifted her feet to clean her bum and lower back when I saw a trickle of a mini waterfall come down. I thankfully had a diaper beneath her bum, but because I had her lifted, I was supplying the perfect angle for her urine to travel up her back and all the way to her neck. I was so careful not to get poo on her white shirt that it became the perfect place for her pee! Ah well. She has plenty of adorable outfits.


I'm so thankful for cloth diapers. We've had to increase our changes each day because of this growth spurt. I'm sure we've saved at least $15 this week rather than the usual $12.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Audrey II

I've come to the conclusion that we are raising our own Audrey II.



We started with me singing "Grow For Me", hoping she would learn to appreciate my care and attempts to feed her. Just like Seymour.


My supply is increasing and we're both getting the hang of it now.



But then she decides to celebrate her 7 weeks of life by singing, "Feed Me" and goes through a monster growth spurt that no single person's supply can satisfy. Just like Seymour.



I hope my Audrey II won't grow to be a man-eater that tries to take over the world.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Nursing: Part Two

I saw the amazing Laurie Flower and she helped me so much! I explained to her everything that led up to yesterday and for the most part she sat shaking her head at what people had told me to do (and what they didn't inform me of in the first place).  I was doing a lot of things wrong! The session was $75 and it was totally worth it. She also weighed Joanna: she's back to her hospital discharge weight of 8lb 15oz.  I'm going to have a huge freakin' party when she's at her birth weight. This whole ordeal is super stressful and guilt inducing.

My biggest boo boo? Using formula in the first place. A mother's milk production is stimulated when there's a baby there to drink it. When I pump or supplement, it's not giving my brain and body the signals I need to make more milk. So rather than worry that she's not eating enough and trying to pump as often as possible, I need to:

  • Nurse every 2 hours during the day and every 3 hours at night.
    • If she's asleep, wake her up.
  • No cigarette hold 
    • No squeezing between your index and middle finger. Instead she recommended a C hold: using my entire hand and shaping it like a C. 
  • Mother's milk tea and lots of it. 
    • I'm instructed to drink 5 cups a day of this licorice nastiness. Bleh. I just gulp it and go.
  • Fenugreek and other herbs
  • Burp her when she gets squirmy rather than try to reattach her right away.
  • No more pacifiers.

Thankfully, Joanna is latching well and is doing a great job. She has great duck lips and stays awake for the most part. When I poke and prod and pull off her socks, she stays awake for the feeding.

Oh, and did I mention no more pacifier?.. We'll see how that one goes. Since she's not having an issue with latching, I may just minimize the pacifier rather than throw it away completely. Soon after the session, I brought her with me to worship practice and the whole no pacifier thing was a poorly timed instruction. She howled for 5 minutes before I finally gave in and shoved her beloved friend into her open pout. Within milliseconds, she was content and glassy eyed. Phew.

Yea, we won't be throwing away pacifiers quite yet.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Products That Save Us Money

I don't know if you've noticed, but I love saving money!

Some of these products seem expensive compared to their modern alternatives, but the return on investment is usually met in months or even weeks. Also, many of these options are pretty old school.

Wet Shaving ($50 - $100) [Jonathan uses products from West Coast Shaving]
  • I married a wonderful, masculine, and hairy man. Jonathan shaves his face every day if he is clean shaven and every other day if he is managing a beard. When we were first married, I was shocked at how often we were buying razors. I thought maybe Jonathan was being careless in buying the wrong shaving cream or just shaving too often. I just wasn't used to living with a guy! One of my co-workers was telling me about how he saves a lot of money and protects his skin from over drying: Wet Shaving! It's like being transported back to the 60s every morning! West Coast Shaving is a great resource and store to fulfill all wet shaving needs. Our initial investment of $100 was quickly "paid off" in a year of disposable razors. 
  • Gift giving was made simple because now I can buy him new shaving soaps and accessories for his shaving. I also LOVE how smooth his face is compared to the dry and sometimes still stubbly aftermath of disposables. Even his electric razor didn't produce these kinds of results. 
    Stovetop Espresso Maker ($20 - $60) [We use Moka Stovetop Espresso Maker]
    • We are coffee drinkers on a budget. Rather than shelling out hundreds on an espresso maker, we stuck to conventional coffee for years. Recently one of Jonathan's friends showed him this amazing little contraption that comes straight from Italy. We love it so much, this newest addition to our kitchen has spawned into several Christmas gifts for others! We use regular ground coffee and get amazing results. This machine was paid off in less than a week of Starbucks drinks. 
    Slow Cooker ($20 - $60) [We use a Rival Crockpot]
    • Throw ingredients in, flip a switch, and the entire house smells delicious! The savings can depend on how often you go out to eat or how often you cook frozen meals, etc. I'm using our Crockpot more and more as I get more into couponing for quality food rather than resorting to frozen pizzas and entres for every meal.
    Dryer Balls ($5 - $20) [We use Buddha Bunz]
    • A quick and easy way to increase the efficiency of your dryer. 
    • If you're also cloth diapering, be sure to use a high quality product so the oils or other substances of cheaper dryer balls don't go onto the diapers. 
      Baby Related Savings: (here are specific products)

      Cloth Diapers ($300 - $500) [We use bumGenius]
      Nursing ($0 - $300) 
      • Nursing in itself is absolutely free.
        • If you can't nurse or need to supplement (like me), there are always coupons available if you subscribe to the major companies like Nestle and Similac. Formula can range from $15-30 per can. If you're only using formula, you can easily go through 1-2 cans each week, sometimes more. This means you're saving approximately $15-$60 per week (without coupons) by nursing. That's a HUGE savings! 
      • If you need to pump, the investment can range from $50 to $300. There are many pumps out there to choose from. We use the Medela Pump In Style Advanced.
      • Washable nursing pads (compared to disposables) are about $2 - $6 per pair. I use Avent. For the same cost as 50 disposable pairs, I can purchase 3 pairs of washables. I throw them in with my cloth diapers so they're washed every other day. I've also found the washables to be much more absorbent than the disposables.  

      Other Ways We Save:

      Reading Labels

      • Laundry Detergent - a cap full is rarely the amount needed for a load of laundry. We were practically throwing away laundry detergent while simultaneously gunking up our washer with soap. After reading the label, we're using half of what we used to use.
      • Generic Drugs - they have the same ingredients but with a label that's not as shiny as the name brand. 
      • Serving Sizes - if you actually use the amount that is recommended, you'll eat less, weigh less, and save more. Who doesn't want that?

      Budgeting
      • We're the worst at budgets. We use Mint.com to help us.
      Couponing
      • It's like a giant puzzle or game. Get a paper, clip the coupons, and go to the store's websites to see when those products go on sale. Our food expenses have gone down over 50% because of quality groceries that led to not eating out as much. 
      • Just like investing money into a product that saves you money, you're investing time into a process that saves you money. I love organizing, cutting paper, making lists, and shopping! It's like getting paid to do the things I love!
        Cooking
        • I hate cooking. I really do. But I love saving money more than I hate cooking. I make the easiest/quickest possible dinners and baked goods. I'm often cooking/baking things related to the coupons I've clipped, too. 
        Sewing
        • Instead of throwing out a shirt that has a hole in the armpit, patch it up!
        • Turn old jeans into a fabulous skirt.
        • Turn old shirts into a quilt.
        • Make a New Dress a Day like this creative lady

          Saturday, December 10, 2011

          Christmas Card

          This year's Christmas Card looks way better than last year's. Mostly because Joanna is in it. A lot.

          [Created at Snapfish]

          Friday, December 9, 2011

          Cloth Diapers: Week Five

          I'm dreading Christmas for just one reason: we have to go back to disposables. Thankfully, my parents and in-laws have stocked up on disposables so we won't have to bring any big bulky diaper boxes in our already packed car.

          Speaking of Christmas, we now have two Bum Cheeks diapers in our stash! Thanks so much to Courtney, Brad, and fellow diaper buddy to Joanna: Cullen! (Be sure to check out Courtney's blog here). Pictured below is Joanna's new red diaper, which festively coordinates with her new kelly green diaper.

          I quickly learned that not all cloth diapers are created equal. This new brand took some getting used to on my part. She did leak when she first wore it for this shoot, but that was user error rather than the product not functioning. I didn't realize that the snaps could overlap for a smaller size!!

          Right after this photo was taken on her side, Joanna's pee went up through the top of the diaper onto her side and onto the nice photo studio's blanket. In the words of Rick Perry, "Oops." After a quick change into a dry diaper, she was a happy camper. At least we got some adorable crying photos out of it!

          We now overlap the snaps and haven't had an issue. These diapers also have a liner sewn into the cover, so we don't have to separate anything when we toss it into the pail! I think that's Jonathan's favorite feature.


          And now we get to add another saved $24 to our numbers:

          Cloth Diaper Investment: $100 
          (Reminder: most of our diapers were gifted to us. The usual initial cloth diaper investment can be $300-$500)

          Cloth Diaper Savings To Date : $60
          Return on Investment: -$40

          Thursday, December 8, 2011

          Guest Blogger: Center Couch Cushion

          I finally have some time to myself. That fat lady has been harassing me for months! When they first saved me from the warehouse and brought me home, the new place looked nice enough. I thought my brothers and I would live a long, quiet life in this small house. Now they laugh at my shrinking height and growing width.

          Before: So full of life and hope.


          Mom and Dad said we would all sag together as a family. What did they know? It was just the two of them. I should have stopped listening to them as soon as there were three of us. "Love Seat"? More like Smother Seat.

          Oh no she's coming back.
          WOOOOMPH.

          She's gone again.

          I wish she would give me a break at some point. Even when the other Big One comes home, she doesn't move over. She makes him choose one of my brothers. And now there's a Small One. I barely noticed it at first until it started wiggling. It's very wiggly. The Fluffy One doesn't sleep on me anymore. The Big Ones would just use that sticky wand to clean Fluffy One's leftovers before more Big Ones would visit. Now they get that big loud sucky thing.

          WOOOOMPH.
          At least she's not as fat as she was.

          Wednesday, December 7, 2011

          The Nursing Chronicles

          I've been nursing since Joanna was 45 minutes old. When I first started, she sucked at it. Meaning that she sucked at sucking. I thought infants would automatically know how, but it turns out that some need practice before they get the hang of it. Moms need practice, too!  My milk didn't "come in" until around Day 4, so Joanna lost more weight than normal at the hospital. After supplementing her with formula, she hit her goals and my milk soon arrived. One month later, she was underweight again. It turned out that we didn't really hit our stride yet with nursing.

          In her first month, I would feed her 2oz every 3 hours during the day and whenever she would wake up at night, which was usually every 4-5 hours. I was also not patient or persistent enough when she would feed. If she would break the latch and seem disinterested in more, I wouldn't give her more. If she fell asleep, I would try to wake her for a minute or two and if she didn't stir, I'd let her sleep. Both were mistakes. Infants need food, so they need to be fed. Even if they're sleeping.

          Now, I feed her 2oz every 2 hours or 4oz every 4 hours, depending on the time of day. Sometimes I'm not able to feed her as often as she needs so I supplement with formula. The only way to really tell how much I feed her is to pump first then feed. When I pump, I can get a combined 2oz. When I nurse her directly, I think she doesn't get a full 2 ounces because I'm able to pump immediately after feeding her. Whatever milk I'm able to pump after, I feed it to her immediately. I've never been able to pump more than 2oz in one sitting even though I've been nursing all this time.  I also haven't had any of the common side effects like major cramping or chapped nipples.

          I'm still getting used to/learning about nursing. If she's not gaining enough weight or if the doc has more concerns, I'm going to go to a lactation consultant.

          Sunday, December 4, 2011

          Olan Mills Photo Shoot

          Our awesome friend Lacon gifted us a photo session at Olan Mills for Joanna! It was so much fun having our photos taken and hanging out with her. Here is a peek at the fun:


          <3

          My favorite

          My little love bug!

          The best looking people I know.

          Friday, December 2, 2011

          Stupid Things People Say: Part 3

          Yes, there have been two other parts.

          Stupid Things People Say to Those Trying to Have a Baby
          Stupid Things People Say to Pregnant Women

          And now:
          Stupid Things People Say to New Moms
          • "Wow, that's a big head!" - the nurse that helped cut her out of me
          • "She has a lazy eye." - a family member at Thanksgiving. 
          • "Is it a boy or a girl?" Joanna was wearing a pink hat, pink shirt, and jeggings. 
          • "Mommy, it's a baby! Can I pet it?" "No, you don't pet a baby." - a little boy with his mom.
          • [while wearing my Moby wrap] "When I first saw you, I thought 'She has big boobies; poor thing.' Then I saw that it was a baby! How old is she?" - an old lady at Target starting a conversation in the cereal aisle.
            • On the same shopping trip, the Target greeter saw me, saw the baby, and immediately approached me and started rubbing JoJo's back while she was in my Moby. Who does that? The wrap means "don't touch my baby". She talked to me about how small babies are and how they love being held, and I tried dropping hints like "yea, she likes to sleep in it, like now," but she just kept rubbing. So awkward.

          Thursday, December 1, 2011

          Baby Farts

          Since increasing JoJo's feeding frequencies and quantities, her little body is taking it all in and pushing it all out! I'm well experienced in the world of flatulence: not only was I pregnant all year, I'm the younger sister to two big brothers. Despite my smelly resume, I'm still learning a few new things about butt rumbles:

          • Newborns can fart just as loud as grown ups. 
          • Their farts don't smell bad (yay milk and formula!)
          • They come in many varieties: legato, staccato, mezzo forte, etc.
          • Newborns will warn you of their farts by either crying or giving a "fart face".
          • Their farts will wake them up, then wear them out again so they fall right back to sleep.

          (Grand)mom says that little girls don't fart; they toot.
          I don't think you could qualify these rumbles as toots. 

          Wednesday, November 30, 2011

          1 Month Checkup

          Today was Joanna's one month check-up. I've been looking forward to her appointment for several weeks - I couldn't wait to see what percentile my giant baby would call her own! (she was born in the 95th percentile) We dressed her in one of her finest ensembles and headed to the doctor's office. When we got there, the nurse told us to strip her to her diaper then we headed to the scale. After carefully taking off her bumGenius, she went on the scale.

          8lbs 8oz

          My mind started racing. "Did that just say 8lbs??" I leaned over and verbalized my mind's question and Jonathan answered, "Let them read it then talk to us.." Then she was measured. I forgot the number because I was so caught up with the 8lbs. Overall the nurse didn't seem worried. She did make a comment about her head size. Thanks, nurse lady.

          We went back into the room with the diaper re-attached and bundled her in a handmade blanket from her Grandma. And we waited. And waited. And waited for the longest 10 minutes of my life.

          Doc came in and didn't seem concerned until he looked at the chart. He verbalized his surprise at her weight but he was glad to see her height grow so much. Turns out her weight is in the 50th percentile while her height is in the 75th percentile. He said he wasn't overly concerned about her weight because her height was on track. He also said that some babies just lose a lot of water weight.

          He asked many questions about her eating habits. I told him she eats usually 1.5-2oz per feeding and I feed her whenever she asks for it, which can be 2-4 hours at a time and 5 hours at night; I never wake her to feed her.  He said I need to start waking her for feedings every 3 hours or give her 4oz every 4-5 hours.  Doc asked if I was supplementing and I let him know that she gets formula about 2-4 times a week when I can't produce enough. He said I should supplement at each feeding for now and come back on Friday for another weight check. And he said we should use Vitamin D supplements, which I had never heard of. He said it's one of the newer trends in pediatrics and it helps in this time of year since Winter babies don't get enough sun. He ended the appointment by saying she looked good.

          As soon as he left, I started crying. I felt like a failure. I failed to feed my own child.  Jonathan immediately hugged me, told me I was not a failure, and reminded me of how lucky we are to have guidance from doctors to tell us how to make our child healthy. I love Jonathan so much. I kept crying a little bit more because once I start, the hormones take over and I can't stop easily. Joanna's beautiful big blue eyes stared at me as we put her jacket over her adorable one month appointment outfit and we headed out to pay the nice ladies behind the glass windows.


          I still feel a bit defeated but like Jonathan reminded me, I'm so thankful to have guidance on how to make our baby healthier.

          Monday, November 28, 2011

          One Month Birthday

          Today is Joanna's One Month Birthday!



          I'm going to take a picture of Joanna in this chair each month. (I stole the idea from the Darder family.)

          I wanted to list all of the amazing things that she's done this month but it's honestly too long for this blog. One month ago she didn't know how to do anything but kick her legs and punch my lungs, and those were involuntary. I hope. 

          Joanna's grip is getting stronger each day! Her long, beautiful fingers are like boa constrictors as they wrap around jewelry, shirts, and whatever else gets in her grasp.

          She can hold her head up for a few seconds before it crashes into our faces. She can sort of roll over. She's accidentally done it twice now, but I think it's because her kicking gave her momentum.

          I love her voice. It's low and passionate without being annoyingly loud. Even her wails are lovable. And laughable. My favorite is when she gets so mad she starts saying "MEH" instead of "WAH". She sounds like the Penguin:


          Golly. I love her.

          Post-Op Appointment

          Post-Op! Woo hoo!

          Jonathan wasn't able to come with me to my one month post-op today so it was the first time I was solo with a stroller. I'm still not supposed to lift things over 10lbs (ha) so I just pushed her around in the stroller instead of carrying her in the awkward carrier.

          I waited for less than 5 minutes! When I was pregnant, I would wait for up to an hour before the doctor would see me. When they called my name, I thought I owed them money up front and they were making me pay before I was seen. Turns out they just like new moms more than the waddly women with child.

          They took my blood pressure, weighed me (186!), and pricked my right ring finger to measure my iron levels. All good :)

          Doc came in, took a peak, pushed on my tummy, asked questions, answered questions, and I was done! Basically I can start doing light workouts but I can't do heavy lifting for another two weeks. I can start using a low dose birth control that won't interfere with nursing. Once the pills are in a rhythm, we can start being marital again. Yes, that's what I mean when I say marital.

          Joanna's one month appointment is Wednesday! Yay!

          Sunday, November 27, 2011

          The Muppets [movie]

          You know when you re-watch some of your childhood favorite movies and you say to yourself, "Why did I ever like this crap?"

          That didn't happen to me this weekend.

          I saw The Muppets this weekend: it's now in my top 10 favorite movies of all time! James Bobin (director from Flight of the Conchords) and Jason Segel (writer and star) did a beautiful job capturing the spirit of Jim Henson while bringing some off-beat humor to the screen. It's no surprise that the music was hilarious since the Music Director was non other than fellow Conchord Bret McKenzie. Even "Mel" (Kristin Schaal) made an appearance in the movie!

          I don't want to give anything away because I want everyone to see this movie. I can say that even people who don't enjoy musicals will enjoy this movie. It's happy, upbeat, and off-beat. You also don't need to know anything about The Muppets prior to seeing it, but it does help with some of the jokes.

          The only thing that would have made this movie better is if Pixar was involved. But wait! They kind of were! Pixar debuted their newest short film, Small Fry, prior to the Muppets.  Like The Muppets, Pixar maintained the spirit of Toy Story in this short film. It was funny and heart warming. Awwww.


          So why am I posting a movie review on my blog about Joanna? Because I can't wait to share the Muppets with her! It's like I'm bringing up a box from the basement that's full of my favorite things that were waiting to be shared. She's my little Beaker :)

          One of the best parts about seeing the movie with Jonathan was watching and listening to the kids in the theater with us. The little girl who sat beside us was leaning forward with her elbows on her knees, hands holding her head up as she eagerly absorbed every moment. That's going to be Joanna one day :)

          Saturday, November 26, 2011

          Cloth Diapers: Week Three

          I officially love cloth diapers even more :)

          We've now added a diaper pail and flip-top trash can to our diaper station (both from Target). This upped our cloth diaper investment to $100. Without the generosity of others, the investment would have been $400 - $500.

          Two new additions to our Cloth Diaper Station
          We already own 3 Planet Wise bags: 2 large pail liners ($16.50 each) and a medium wet/dry bag ($19.00) for our diaper bag. They do a fabulous job of keeping the wetness and smells inside of the bags.

          Planetwise and bumGenius: a perfect combination

          We've found a rhythm with diapering. I'm washing 12 diapers per load and washing every other day (ish). So far, I've done 10 loads for a total of 120 diapers. That's (approximately) 40 diapers per week, which is equal to a pack of diapers that we didn't have to buy. So for simple math's sake, at $12 per pack we're saving $12 each week. At this rate, we'll have our $100 investment "paid off" in 5.5 more weeks!


          Cloth Diaper Investment: $100
          Cloth Diaper Savings To Date : $36
          Return on Investment: -$64

          Thursday, November 24, 2011

          Thankful

          Thankful

          I stand grateful; He is great [and] full of grace.

          This tiny child was our delayed dream and His perfectly timed plan.

          I'm [first] thankful for God's grace and timing.
          I'm [second] thankful for my husband.
          I'm [third] thankful for our collaboration: our contribution to society.


          Wow.

          So thankful.

          Tuesday, November 22, 2011

          Mommy Purples



          I've got a case of the Mommy Purples. It's like having the Mommy Blues but a slightly lighter shade. Like a lavender color.  It's not full on blues like my former self loathing middle and high school years. It's just purples. I'm fully functional and still operating, but I feel like I'm not all here emotionally. It's hard to put into words.  I suppose it's akin to feeling like a robot on cruise control or a computer running virus software: everything reacts just a bit slower.

          My baby is amazing and she has the best temperament. Last night she debuted her howling growl of a cry, all because her binky was a few ticks stage left of her mark (my inner theater nerd is coming out).  It made me laugh instead of stressed. She loves being fed, held, and clean - what more could I ask for in an adorable little girl?

          So why do I have a case of the purples? Is it the weather? It is rather rainy and dreary outside. Is it my diet? Well, I haven't been able to buy produce as often as I'd like since I can only grocery shop every other week. Is it because Thanksgiving is coming up? Eh, could be. Is it because I can't do Black Friday for the first time in like 10 years? Possibly. Is it because I haven't had a shower in 3 days? Wait what? I haven't showered? Ew.

          I know it's not for a lack of people who love me - I'm inundated by support and encouragement. It's not for the lack of spousal love - Jonathan is an amazing husband and father. It's not for the lack of sleep - Joanna has recently been able to sleep for 5 hour stretches. It's just.. it's just the purples.

          In addition to prayer and worship, there are some physical things that help: caffeine, sugar, and productivity. Caffeine will always be the magic fuel for my veins - praise God for coffee, lattes, and Dr. Pepper! Sugar gives a quick jolt to my system until the caffeine kicks in from the coffee. Productivity helps to distract me from myself as well as help me feel proud of myself. This blog has helped me feel productive while flexing my creative muscles. Double win.


          -----
          I think I know what it is - Little Oliver's due date was this week. He was born in July, weighing one pound and lived for one amazing hour. I look at my gigantic 3 week old and try to imagine how tiny a one pound baby would be. He is still so loved. He'll always be the first grandchild and I can't wait to meet him in Heaven!

          Monday, November 21, 2011

          Guest Blogger: Adelaide the cat

          Adelaide the cat
          Dad got a new game. This time mom likes playing, too. It's one I hadn't seen before: instead of making pictures and noises in the box against the wall, it's a rounder sort of contraption that can go into any room.  Smaller but louder than the other games. Mom and dad play all the time. It bores me. All it does is wiggle and make noise.

          "It bores me."
          People come over to play, too. Each human seems to want one for their own home. After they look at it and make round shapes with their mouths then pass it to the next person. That's when I leap in with a, "Good job with that thing. You may love me as your reward," by whipping my tail and shedding on their dark clothes. You're welcome.

          I have a good life. I eat, sleep, poop, and get cuddles whenever I ask for it. But I can't help but notice they've become more and more preoccupied with this newfangled contraption. I kill bugs and accessorize clothing with my hair while that thing just wiggles and makes noise.

          I am glad mom is taking pictures of it instead of me. She also stopped getting fatter. So now I don't have a round perch for naps. I think this thing is just another phase. Like their gym memberships. They'll come crawling back.

          Mom just folded some clean laundry for me to lay on. Later.

          Friday, November 18, 2011

          Grocery Mommy Brain

          When driving home from Kroger tonight, I had a mini panic attack when I thought I left my keys at the register. I nearly turned the car around before I realized the keys were in the ignition. #mombrain

          Thursday, November 17, 2011

          Products I Love

          One of the more common questions I've had from moms-to-be is which products do I always use and which ones are useless. Rather than be mean and post "I can't believe someone told us we needed this crap", I'm going to focus on the positive and talk about how in love I am with some of the amazing gifts we've received.

          • Infant Rocker (We use Fisher Price's Infant Rocker) [Retail can vary greatly; we bought ours from a re-sale children's shop for $20]
            • This is one of the most valuable pieces of furniture we own in terms of how we value our sleep. Joanna doesn't quite like laying flat on her back yet so this rocker has been perfect for her for naps and sleep. It folds up so we can bring it with us to Grandma's house(s). 
            • It's also great for impromptu photo shoots :)
          • Moses Basket (Ours is similar to this one.)
            • We were blessed to inherit our Moses Basket from a friend at church. It came pre-loved and is a wonderful addition to Joanna's collection :) When she outgrows it, it's easily re-usable as a blanket or toy storage option.
          • Breast Pump (We use Medela Pump In Style Advanced Breast Pump from Medela) [Pumps can retail: from $50 - $350; we bought ours for $200 with a 20% and 10% off coupon at Babies R Us]
            • Nursing is not only great for the baby but it is fantastic for the mommy, too! Research shows that mothers who breastfeed have a lower  likelihood of breast cancer and other diseases. It also helps your uterus contract and shrink faster so you can get back to your pre-prego weight faster! (I lost 30lbs in 2 weeks from nursing.) 
            • The amount of money you'll save by nursing will astound you. Formula ranges from $15 to $30, depending on whether your child needs special ingredients, etc. Mama's milk is free and already specially formulated for your child's needs. Although our pump can cost up to $300, that's just 3 months worth of formula. The investment pays off. 
            • Also, moms will benefit from investing in washable nursing pads rather than buying disposable. For the price of 15 disposable pairs, you can buy 3 pairs of washable ones that you throw in with your clothes. It even comes with a little drawstring bag so they don't get lost like all of your left socks. 
          • Boppy Nursing Pillow [Retail: with slipcover from $25 to $30; we bought ours at a yard sale for $5 and received covers at our showers.]
            • At this stage in her infancy, I am only using it to help support her body while I'm nursing. It also helps her sit up (more like lean up) to get some independency and help her observe what's going on around her. As she grows, I know I'll use this pillow more and more. 
          • Bumbo Seat [Retail: up to $40. BUY THIS USED! We bought ours with a tray for $11 at the children's re-sale store. They are easy to clean and are very durable.]
            • Joanna hasn't used her Bumbo yet, but having worked as a nanny for 3 boys, I know she will. We also don't have a high chair for her; we don't even have a kitchen table! Rather than have a high chair sitting in our living room when she's eating solid foods, we'll be using the Bumbo instead. 
          • Cloth Diapers [We use bumGenius which retail for $17-$20 per diaper. We've received nearly every diaper as a gift because we were able to put them on our Target and Babies R Us registries.]
            • I am so excited we are doing cloth diapers! I've written several posts so far about our cloth diaper journey. We LOVE them! We have 14 diapers so far and are hoping to buy more during Christmas sales. With 14 diapers, I'm washing them every other day. 
            • There are a ton of accessories that accompany cloth diapers including diaper pale liners, wet/dry bags, dye and fragrance free detergents, etc. 
            • Dryer Balls- They are great to use with any laundry, not just cloth diapers.
          • Baby Wrap/Carrier(s) [prices can vary because of the selection available.] We were given a Moby [$45] and a Girasol wrap [$95] and a Bjorn carrier
            • Wraps are the best thing for an infant in their first weeks. They're used to being contained in a sac anyway. As soon as you put them in, they melt right into your chest and fall asleep in moments. 
            • Here is my review of the Moby and Girasol wraps that we own.
            • Don't use a Bjorn for infants! Stick with wraps until they're older.
          • Proper Pacifiers [prices can vary]
            • Don't stock up on pacifiers until your behbeh is born and using them. Some kids don't even need them because they find their thumb.
            • If you're planning to nurse, only buy pacifiers that actually resemble nipples. There are some strange shapes out there. 


          • Keep the Tags
            • If you end up with a giant baby like we did, you'll be returning every Newborn and half of your 0-3 month items in exchange for bigger things. Even if you don't end up birthing a toddler, you don't need as many newborn and 0-3 month outfits as you'll receive. Most of the people in my life shop at Target for baby items and their return policy is pretty good without a receipt. But be sure to take them all back in one trip. 


          You'll also need:
          • Coffee
            • Remember in college when you could pull an all-nighter then take your final exam and go out again no problem? Well, that was then and this is now. You'll still be pulling all-nighters but you won't be able to stay awake the next day without your new best friend: Mr. Caffeinated-Nectar-From-The-Gods. Brew a batch as a preemptive strike. You'll need it.
          • Hand Sanitizer
            • It's not for you - it's for them. As soon as the behbeh is born, people will want to hold behbeh, kiss behbeh, and rub their faces all over behbeh. Be sure they sanitize themselves first. 
            • God made the dirt and the dirt don't hurt, but staying up with a sick baby sucks. 
          • Sense of Humor
            • Your baby will make the funniest faces as an infant - take many photos and laugh at them. 
          • Community of Parents
            • If you're the only parent among your friends, you'll quickly become the odd one(s) out. You'll stop getting invitations, phone calls, etc. Don't ditch your non-parental pals, but do try to befriend other parents. You'll be able to talk about how amazing/annoying/smelly your baby is with them - they'll likely agree and share their own stories of their fantastic/frustrating/stinky child. Laughing with others about parenthood is almost as important as coffee. 
          • Patience
            • Your baby isn't out to get you; your baby just doesn't know how to do anything for themselves. Don't take it personally if they don't follow directions. They're a baby. 
          Other things we love that you don't really "need":
          • Baby Bath Robe - much faster than using a towel. 
          • Novelty onesies, pacifiers, and baby accessories. Hilarious.


          I hope this helps some of you mommies (and daddies) out there! 

          Tuesday, November 15, 2011

          Baby Wearing

          That term is so weird. "Baby Wearing". I guess it sounds less mummifying than "Baby Wrapping"?

          Thanks to the kindness of others, I am the proud owner of 2 fabulous wraps: a Girasol and a Moby. I finally played with them last night now that my incision is nearly healed. It's so fun! AND they are wonderful for keeping Joanna close with my hands free. 

          Girasol Wrap
          The first wrap was a gift from my mom. According to the inter webs, Girasol is, "... a Berlin-based company partners with Mayan women in Guatemala who are paid fair-trade wages to hand-weave these beautiful wraps. The Mayan women are experts in baby-wrapping, since it’s been a part of their culture for thousands of years. Now, they get to make a fair-living sharing their expertise with the rest of the world.

          There are multiple lengths available and I have the longest length so I can do all of the wrap styles. It makes it a little more cumbersome to maneuver at first, but the end result is fantastic. The fabric is woven diagonally so it won't stretch with time. It feels great, too - not too heavy, not too lightweight. The biggest downfall is that these wraps can be a bit pricy - usually between $85 and $100. I'm assuming this is an international product, being a German company that uses fair-trade workers in Guatemala.

          Moby Wrap

          Moby is a more mainstream brand for baby wearers. We were able to put this wrap on our registry so we received it at one of our showers. This wrap is more like a thick cotton t-shirt. The downside is that Moby wraps stretch over time, especially if used for multiple kids. However, it's still a great value; they range from $45 to $75.  The basic style that I have is $45, but you can purchase fun and fancy wraps with great colors and designs. Moby is an American company and the tag says the wrap is made in Thailand. I couldn't find anything saying if they were fair-trade so I'm assuming no, especially since the price is so affordable.

          Both wraps are machine washable and extremely versatile. I used a similar technique in both brands to show how you can make adjustments based on the season and your child. Joanna loves having her arms free when she's awake, so her arm is poking out in the Moby. She quickly fell asleep though so I was able to tuck it back in very easily.

          To learn the dozens of ways to wrap a baby, you can visit WrapYourBaby. I can't wait to experiment with more styles as she gets bigger!

          Monday, November 14, 2011

          The After Photo

          I promised an after photo and here it is!

          Because I'm still recovering from major surgery, I can't workout yet. The 30+ lbs weight loss is from eating well, nursing, and birthing a 10lb baby.



          Joanna lost weight, too. (It's normal for newborns to lose weight). She was born 10lb 4oz and her last weigh-in a week ago was 9lb 2oz. At first the doctors were concerned because she lost about a pound and a half in the hospital, but her bilirubin level was great! She's quickly gaining her weight back. 

          It's weird to think that she was bigger when she was inside of me. I'm still shocked how I was able to stand with that 55lb fanny pack.

          Sunday, November 13, 2011

          Cloth Diapers: Week One

          It hasn't quite been a full week [it's barely been a weekend!] but I'm still claiming it as the end of Week One because today is Sunday and I just really love these diapers!

          Happy Baby in her bumGenius AIO!
          [Joanna at 2 weeks]
          In my humble opinion, modern cloth diapering is practically the same as using disposable diapers when it comes to annoyances and inconveniences. The smells are the same, the hand washing happens just as often, and it's still poop and pee.

          The biggest difference between cloth and disposables for us comes down to money: instead of buying a $15-$20 pack of diapers each week (or more), we're tossing our diapers in the washing machine every other day. $15-$20 x 52 weeks = $780 - $1040 saved in a year. That figure doesn't even cover the wipes, diaper rash creams (cloth diapered babies don't get diaper rash), clothing replacements from blow outs, etc. Cloth diapers also greatly reduce stinky garbage (or eliminate the need for a diaper genie). That also means fewer diapers will be rotting in landfills. In addition, I love the fact that we'll always have diapers in the house - no need for a midnight run to the store for more diapers!

          They also look adorable.

          A peek at my laundry room
          Our initial investment was $60 thanks to the generosity of our family and friends. The brand of cloth diaper we chose (bumGenius) is available at Target and Babys R Us so we were able to add diapers to our registry - this was a HUGE blessing! Each diaper ranges from $17 to $20, depending on the store and if there is a sale. For the cost of a pack of diapers, you can purchase a cloth diaper - They pay for themselves in a matter of weeks! If we paid for each diaper, it would have been a $300 investment for 15 diapers. We also purchased a wet/dry bag for our diaper bag when we change her on the go ($20) and two machine washable diaper pale liners that are water proof and do an excellent job of keeping the stink inside of the bag (around $20 each). We're also still buying disposable wipes with my couponing and they end up costing $1 or less for a 64 count box. The detergent we went with is Method Free and Clear. It's an inexpensive alternative for those diapering on a budget. If we were paying for everything out of pocket, it would be about a $400-$500 investment. We'll end up paying about $150 in one year when all is said and done. I plan on posting a breakdown of our accessories in my next weekly review.

          By the way, Abby's Lane is incredible! They have a great place in Olde Town Manassas as well as a wonderful online store with FREE SHIPPING. Whenever I'm near Manassas, I try to swing by to check out new products and learn more about diapering and other great things for Joanna (like baby slings, wraps, etc).

          All of this to say: I love cloth diapers!! I'm so thankful we're doing them! Big thanks to Lisa for getting me to look into them. It's the best choice we've made for Joanna next to leaving my job to stay home with her.

          Friday, November 11, 2011

          Happy 2 Week Birthday!

          Hello lovelies!

          I had a sick baby on my hands these past few days. I've never pitied another person so much as when hearing my tiny child breathe through a stuffed nose. It was pathetically heart wrenching. Thanks to her cow humidifier and her bulb syringe (aka Kee-Koo), it's almost out of her system. Now her piggy snorts are endearing instead of heartbreaking. She just wants to have full air capacity in her face again.

          Today officially marks her first day of cloth diapers!! Yaay! (I think mom is way more excited than baby.) I'm using Method Free and Clear to wash them - it's a low cost and high quality product that I can find in Target or order on Amazon. I also like that it's small and portable in case we need to bring it with us to the Grandparents' homes.

          In addition to my beautiful baby turning 2 weeks today, it also marks when I am under 190lbs!! I weighed 189 this morning and I definitely did a little happy dance. It's weird to think that 2 weeks ago I was 218. That's nearly 30 pounds in 2 weeks! And I haven't even exercised yet! I have 25 more pounds until my pre-prego weight. My goal was to lose it before Christmas and I definitely think I'll get there. Nursing is awesome :)

          Baby woke up. Motherhood calls!

          Wednesday, November 9, 2011

          SUCCESS!!

          Joanna slept flat in her play pen in the same room with us for the entire night! WOW! Jonathan and I took turns waking up and changing/feeding/cuddling. She's like clockwork - every 3 hours she would cry about something.

          This thing is amazing:




          It's a Graco Pack n Play with a changing table and raised floor for infants. The raised floor and changing table can be removed so it's a regular Pack n Play when she's older. There's also a thing that plays music, has a night light, and even vibrates the bed so she can be soothed to sleep. Love love love this thing! It's definitely not as portable as we'd like it to be, but I'll gladly swap portability for an extra night's sleep.

          Huge shout out to my parents for getting this for us. It's amazing!

          Monday, November 7, 2011

          Anchor Baby

          Since the third trimester, I have confined myself to the couch so I can get a complete night's sleep. Although our bed is super comfortable, it's height and support in the mattress don't lend itself to waddlers and the temporarily disabled like myself. One of the things Jonathan and I were looking forward to in welcoming Joanna into the world was the return to sleeping in the same room together.


          But alas, I am still anchored to the couch.

          Our three-cushioned couch that was once ideal to supply abdominal support to my growing bump is now perfect to provide back support to my shrinking bump and throbbing incision scars. It's also much easier to get on and off of a couch compared to a raised queen sized bed, not to mention easier to diagnose and treat the tears of our anchor baby.  Tonight was going to be our first attempt at sleeping in the same room together since June. No such luck. I am typing this at 1:00 a.m. from the couch. Next to a crying, wiggly, adorable, but undeniably annoying cry baby.

          -------
          2:30 a.m. update:
          I love our little love bundle. I know she doesn't hate me when she cries. I know it's not personal that she isn't satisfied with any of my strategies. But when logic fell asleep an hour ago, the hormones take over.  Pacifiers fly, farts wail, legs flail, and she cries cries cries. Her belly is full, diaper is empty, and we cuddled quietly for over an hour. The moment she goes in her rocker, a switch was flipped like Daylight Savings and she forgot how wonderful I was a moment ago. I'm back to snuggling so she can sleep while I stay awake bouncing between infomercials and Netflix.

          Hey anchor baby, time to sleep in your rocker. For realsies.


          -------
          At 7:00 a.m., I finally had the brilliant idea to cushion her rocker with a baby blanket so she could lay flatter. It was a Christmas miracle! Why didn't I think of this at 2:00 a.m.? Praise God for my mother in law that came today to help out - I got a solid 3 hour nap. Best. Nap. Of my life.

          Friday, November 4, 2011

          Flip Flop

          • I said I would never be a stay at home mom. That changed as soon as we heard a heartbeat on the ultrasound.
          • I said I would have a natural birth like my mom did. That changed when we learned that I was literally growing a watermelon, and not one of those small perfectly round seedless watermelons-we're talking a Texas State Fair watermelon. 
          • I said I wouldn't have my baby as my Facebook profile picture. That statement remained true for about 10 hours until I had access to a laptop and my camera's memory card.
          • I said that I would only nurse my baby and never use formula. That changed when my milk didn't come in until day 5 and my baby needed more nutrients than what I could give. Baby trumps Pride every time.
          Aroo?

          But ya know what?  I also said that I would struggle with post-pardom depression based on my previous battles with depression, anxiety, and self-harm for so many years. To my surprise, the hormones get to me in the form of giggle fits and crying at beautiful moments.

          Basically, I said I would do one thing and I either changed my mind about it or I was wrong with my prediction. At the end of the day, I have a beautiful baby with my beautiful husband and I am happy. :) Very happy.



          And by the way, I'm officially under 200lbs!! I've lost 20 pounds in a week! (It helps to have a 10 pound baby in the first place.) Now I only have about 30 more to lose. I'm really looking forward to working out again.

          Wednesday, November 2, 2011

          Mommy Moo

          G'bye formula! I can make my own now :)



          That's right folks! The formula worked beautifully in the first few days when we needed it, but we're successfully nursing now! Yaaay! I feel extremely proud of Joanna for toughing it out while mommy got her hormones together. I was even able to pump a little bit to help her transition back from bottle to boob.

          By the way, electronic breast pumps are weird and wonderful.  It's eerily similar to what cows go through. Moo.

          And now a helpful list of things "they" don't tell you about breastfeeding:
          • Mom's milk usually comes in 3 days after baby is born. (It took me 5 days). But don't worry, the first few days produce chlostrum and is very good for baby. 
          • Your baby will fall asleep on the first feedings - it's okay to poke and prod them to wake them up.
          • You will bleed, and that's okay.
          • You will be in pain, and that's okay.
          • Your baby will fuss, and that's okay.
          • Your uterus will contact like crazy and that's how you lose baby weight!
          • Nursing is fun/annoying/fulfilling/emotional. 

          Tuesday, November 1, 2011

          Impromptu Photo Shoot

          My mom is a photographer and always has a camera handy. The birth of her granddaughter means that she came prepared with her personal and professional gear. After Joanna was fed and changed, we knew we'd have at least a one hour window of play time while she slept like a rock. The one hour was actually two hours and we had SO much fun dressing her and posing her in the wonderful gifts she's received from those that love her.

          Eat your heart out!


          Pink Swan
          Hail to the cuteness!
          Daddy's Girl
          Do the onesie dance!

          First Night Home

          I will start with a simple tip for any soon to be parent: get your car seat checked. Ours was pre-set for an average infant so it was set for a child that is definitely smaller than the one we have. After adjusting the seat belt, we weren't able to adjust the angle so Joanna rode in a seat that was at a 90 degree angle rather than more slanted. I sat in the back and held her head up because we couldn't figure it out. We made lemonade as we drove home in a world that looked more vibrant and real than it did last Friday.

          I got inside and just sat and relaxed. Who would have thought major surgery would require major recovery? 

          I quickly felt absolutely awful. Our doctor freaked us out into thinking we had to feed her every hour on the hour in order to prevent jaundice. We really should have just listened to our nurse and follow the cues of Joanna. I was so exhausted and sore that Jonathan used one of the formula samples for her first evening feeding. Ya know what? She did wonderfully with it!  It gave her and Jonathan a great time to bond as well. I'm looking forward to pumping so they can bond more over feeding. It's such a special thing to provide your child with nourishment - I'm glad Jonathan can experience it, too. Lesson learned: It's okay to supplement. 

          My parents left and we were soon alone with our baby. Just the three of us. Expected by the world to know what to do with this tiny stranger that sucks at communicating. No pressure.

          I'm nursing every 2-3 hours depending on her needs. She reached her wet diaper goal without the need to feed her every hour. I was actually able to sleep for 2 hour stretches last night!! Go me! Tomorrow I plan on taking a long long nap and give Joanna to [Grand]Mom. 


          PS - My parents are amazing! They are staying until Thursday and have been so excited to help us in any way they can. It can be overwhelming to feel so loved by people, especially people that love you unconditionally. They are seriously life savers for us this week!

          Okay, back to the crying baby. Bye world!

          Mama said knock you out!

          Monday, October 31, 2011

          Thoughts from C-Section Recovery

          First of all, we have the best daughter in the history of babies. I realize there is a very long history of babies, but rest assured that she is the best. Ever.


          Less than 24 hours after surgery
          The surgery was a huge success and my recovery is going better than anticipated. Each time a nurse checks my incision, they make a comment on how well its healing and how great I'm doing. (I know I'm the only one they ever say those things to because I just had the best daughter in history so they're simply recognizing my mad skills.) It took me a day or so to get back on my feet (literally) and move around "wirelessly" without an IV, catheter, and other fun medical equipment. I'm able to get in and out of bed on my own now, I can shower, I can use the bathroom, I can change diapers standing up; I feel like super woman! Thanks percecet!

          Usually recovery is longer and harder than my experience. If I hadn't just given birth to the best daughter in history with the greatest husband in the galaxy, it would be harder for me, too. Jonathan has been super human in taking care of me. Our parents have jumped at every opportunity to serve us and love us. Our incredible family and friends made sure to encourage us and love Joanna (although it's not very hard to love someone like her). Big shout out to Briana who drove 6 total hours to spend 3 hours holding her honorary niece. I can't wait to do the same for her one day!

          Daddy's girl
          In terms of pain, it's a very real and expected part of recovery. Having a C-section is not a way to skip pain - it's just a different way to give birth. Rather than having one's pain take place in one (or two) concentrated days, the pain is spread out over days/weeks. The incision hurts in a sharp way without my beautiful drugs. Cramping and getting my piping back in order causes aches and lots of pressure. Walking, sitting up, adjusting, or just using stomach muscles at all can present a variety of pains.

          The most rewarding pain of all has been trying to nurse. Our beautiful roly poly needs to maintain her gorgeous curves and I happily oblige. I'll likely do a post just about nursing because its something that most pregos experience, regardless of their birth story. I'm extremely thankful that I didn't have major lactation issues. The biggest hurdle we've encountered is her comfort level - she gets way too comfy while nursing and often falls asleep soon after latching. We have to keep her awake by keeping her cold and angry. It's a beautiful and beneficial torture technique. Not only do I have pain at the site of her nursing (obviously), but my uterus contracts while she goes at it. Nursing helps my uterus go back to its original shape and location, therefore helping me get back to my original shape.

          "Oh hai world!"
          BIG thanks to the nurses at Virginia Baptist Hospital. I'm nothing short of impressed with their professionalism, compassion, insight, and preparedness during this time. They answer our stupid questions without giving us a stupid tone, they bring extra slices of cheese cake, and they take the time to explain things to us until we understand what's going on.


          On another note, I do plan on posting a post-baby photo. When I googled for one a few months back, I was [not completely] surprised at the lack of post pardom photos of mama's. I'm certainly not pre-prego size, but I'm not ginormous either.  I'd say I'm close to where I was at Week 21.

          Off to bed for our final night in the hospital!

          Friday, October 28, 2011

          Our Birth Story

          Wow. I'm sitting here typing in the dark as my beautiful husband and beautiful baby sleep away their monumental day. I'm hooked up to several machines to monitor every move and bodily function and I still feel accomplished and humbled by God's glory.

          It all started this morning as I awoke with a grumbly belly from not being able to eat since midnight. My surgery was at 1:45 and we had to arrive at 11:45. Thanks to an unexpected detour and U-turn, we arrived at 11:50. We registered, went upstairs, had my final weigh in (218lbs!) and were taken to our first room. After changing into a gown that didn't cover my butt at all (my bump far exceeded the average allotted circumference) I sat on a stretcher to answer questions to confirm my medical history, etc. They recorded my blood pressure, took a urine sample, and gave me a glorious IV that hurt like the dickens! (Because I was so dehydrated, they skipped the numbing drug and just stuck the big needle in first. Owies.)

          Then we waited a half hour. 45 minutes. One hour. 90 minutes. Two hours.

          We learned many things during these two hours. First of all, I was having contractions 2 minutes apart and barely felt them! Doc attributed the lack of pain to my thick cervix. It was stubbornly refusing to thin and Joanna never fully engaged. Good thing we were already planning a C-section! We also learned that there were several vaginal deliveries my doc had to make before us that backed up her surgical schedule. There was another patient prego ahead of us that was getting sliced. They began prepping me at 4:00 immediately following Nate Berkus (thanks God!) and we started the fun!

          Right before surgery
          I was admitted to the OR at 4:09. That freakin' epidural hurt. Holy Moses. At first it was refreshing to have my back cooled off by the ice cold rag she used to prep the area. The numbing shot wasn't bad. The epidural was put in slightly to the right, then slightly to the left, then again, and again, and again, and again, and another time for good measure, then one more time. They layed me on the surgical slab as my body went numb from my chest down. It was weird, exciting, and confusing! I was given an oxygen mask, my bed was tilted to the left because my breathing became more difficult given the 55 lb bowling ball still on my chest.

          Jonathan entered the room looking like McDreamy and sat with me as they jostled me around. I asked when they would get started and she said that the baby was almost out. "Oh! Okay!"

          Great lungs!
          I heard crying. I heard the beautiful cries of my beautiful baby.

          "Oh there's a big round head!"

          Thanks nurse obvious :)

          They held her above the partition so I could catch a glimpse. "Wow! She has hair! She's so round! She's gorgeous!"

          They took her to get cleaned up and I asked Jonathan to snap some photos...

          "10 lb 4 oz"

          Holy crap. She really is 10 pounds!!!! YEAAA!

          She scored between an 8 and a 9 on her APGAR. Everything looked good! They were going to double check her for diabetes because of her size - no diabetes :) She does have a condition where our blood types aren't compatible, so she may have jaundice in the next few days and she may not. It's something they'll keep an eye on.

          Layer by layer, I was stitched back together as the nurses talked about what their kids would dress as for Halloween. Jonathan wheeled our little girl to the nursery to join her birthday buddies. Along the way she met up with the grandparents and they snapped tearfully proud photos of their offspring's offspring.

          I'm then wheeled to a recovery room where I'm fed ice chips and asked to wiggle my toes. I felt like Uma Thurman in Kill Bill - I couldn't do it at first but I just kept trying and trying. Those ice chips were so good. Oh my. Joanna joined us about an hour later and I was finally able to really get a good look at our contribution to society. She is so gorgeous!! While still paralyzed, I tried nursing and was mildly successful. She kept falling asleep but thankfully it didn't hurt me to breastfeed. I think I'll be one of the few that has little issues with nursing!! Praise God!

          Eventually I could move my leg but not my toes so they let me go to our mother baby room. It's here where the nausea sets in. Reminiscent of last winter, I couldn't keep anything down. It's a normal side effect of a C-section, especially for a pregnancy that already battled with nausea. I wasn't worried, nurses weren't worried, but I'm just really annoyed. At least I can taste popsicles and ice water. They tell me that as soon as I pass gas, I can have a grilled cheese sandwich! I've never been so motivated to fart!

          So here we are: I'm sitting in my electronic bed watching Craig Fergusen and listening to the beautiful snores of my brave husband. I love that guy. He gave me a beautiful gift of our daughter. And God has given us the greatest gifts of all - life and love.

          Welcome to our family, Joanna!