Sunday, June 5, 2016

Newborn Photos

A couple days ago, we finally took care of getting newborn pictures of Alexis, just a day before she turned a month old.  Shortly after she was born, we began talking about getting newborn pictures taken, however we didn't really put in the time to find a photographer in the area.  Once we found one we liked, we realized we couldn't justify spending the amount of money she charges for photos, as it would have cost us around $700 in total.

My husband is an amateur photographer with a decent camera and photo equipment, so we decided to just do the pictures ourselves at home again like we did with Abby.  We searched Amazon for some newborn photo props, and once they all arrived we set up a makeshift studio in our kitchen for the shoot (it has some of the best natural light in the house).

For the first set of photos, Alexis decided she wanted to stay awake, but shortly after we moved to the second set up, she gave in to the super warm 80 degree temperature we heated the house to and passed out with a fully belly for the remainder of the shoot.  Even through outfit and backdrop changes, she remained cooperative for the pictures.  We actually had a more difficult time with Abby when trying to get sister shots than we had with Alexis over the entire shoot.

Overall I am very happy with how the pictures turned out and believe we got some really cute ones.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

The Arrival of our Newest Peach

It has been just over two weeks since our family expanded and our new baby girl was born.  Delivery and recovery this time around was much different compared to what I went through with Abby.  With Abby, I had to be induced at 41 weeks.  I endured 24 hours of labor which eventually resulted in a c-section.  Recovery in the hospital following the surgery was rough after already being so exhausted upon going into the OR.  With Alexis, I had a repeat c-section, which meant that I was able to get a solid night's sleep the night before surgery.  The only downside of it being planned was the fact that I had to cease all food and liquids as of midnight the night before.

I was due at the hospital at 9am on the 4th to get admitted.  They quickly got me into a hospital gown and hooked up IV's upon my arrival back to the labor and delivery room.  Shortly after I was ready to go to the OR, I was told my c-section would be delayed by a couple hours as they had an emergency c-section case that needed to be handled first.  While it meant getting to take a nap, it also meant I had to wait that much longer to eat, drink, and meet my new baby girl.

Around 1pm, I made my way down to the OR in order to get prepped for surgery.  For some reason, it took them much longer this time around to place my epidural, so I had to sit hunched over on the edge of the operating table for quite some time while they worked to place the catheter in order to administer the drugs.  Once they got it placed, things began to move much more quickly and they finally let my husband into the room to accompany me.

With Abby, I remember being somewhat out of it during the entire procedure.  I felt off and half like something might go wrong with me.  I had a completely different experience this time around with Alexis.  I was very alert and spent the entire time talking and joking around with my husband and the anesthesiologist.  After some cutting, tugging, pushing, and pulling, our little Alexis was born at 2:10pm.  She came out crying immediately and measured in at 7lbs 5oz and 20.5 inches long (we found at her newborn follow up appointment five days later that she actually measures 19.5 inches long -- not sure where they got the 20.5 inches reported at birth).

After being stitched back up, I was wheeled back to my labor and delivery room for two hours of recovery (and baby snuggle time) before we were moved over to the mother & baby wing for the remainder of our time at the hospital.


Shortly before we moved down to mother & baby, my mother-in-law arrived with Abby, and I could not help but start to cry over seeing Abby meet her baby sister for the first time.  It was the sweetest thing.  The labor & delivery nurses were very nice to Abby and let her help lead the way as Alexis and I were wheeled from L&D to mother & baby, letting her push buttons to open doors.  She loved the attention she was getting as big sister.

Going into having baby number two, I was prepped with a game plan as far as feeding is concerned.  With Abby, breastfeeding was a real struggle.  She was unable to latch very well, and even with the use of a breast shield, she never fed very well while nursing and I ultimately had to exclusively pump in order to provide her with breastmilk, along with supplement with formula for one feeding a day after finding out she was still at birth weight at her two month well-visit.  The entire time I was giving her breastmilk, I barely managed to pump enough for each day's feedings.

For Alexis, I went into things ready to begin pumping while at the hospital.  We also went to the hospital armed with the formula we would be using to supplement, if needed, that way she would be introduced to our preferred brand from the start.

I remember with Abby, the lactation specialist was not very encouraging with regards to alternative ways to provide her with breastmilk.  She didn't understand why the nurses had given me a breast shield to use (I have flat nipples, so a latch without one nearly impossible).  She also discouraged me from pumping before returning back to work, in order to let Abby nurse to bring in my milk supply.

The lactation specialist who came to see me in the room this time was much more understanding about my need to use a breast shield and my desire to start pumping immediately.  While I brought my pump from home, she set me up with a hospital pump to use for my time there and recommended I pump every time Alexis would feed, which was my plan already.  The only real negative comment she made was talking down about our choice of bottle and that she didn't like the nipples on them.  We chose Tommee Tippee bottles for Abby before she was even born after reading the reviews and we LOVED them.  Using them with Alexis was a no-brainer.

My plan to begin pumping immediately has resulted in tremendous success as far as getting my milk in and boosting my supply.  Shortly after arriving home from the hospital, I already began having to freeze milk as I was producing double the amount Alexis was consuming.  Aside from a few formula feedings we had to give Alexis while in the hospital to help boost her blood sugar levels while waiting for my milk to come in, she has been receiving nothing but breastmilk for each feeding.  I also currently have such a large amount of frozen milk that we had to invest in purchasing a deep freezer for additional storage space.

Once the epidural wore off, I started to try moving as soon as I could, as I learned the first time around that recovery is much faster and easier the sooner you begin walking.  I'm not sure if it was because I was better rested going into surgery or because I had better pain meds given that I had an epidural/spinal combo with Alexis, but I found that I was in less pain after surgery and could get out of bed and move about more easily this time.  On my first night in the hospital, I walked around the room a fair amount to help get my strength up.  On my second night in the hospital, I went out into the hall and did a good six or seven laps around the mother & baby wing.

By the time Friday morning came, there was no question whether or not I was ready to be discharged from the hospital as I was moving and recovering so well.  Everything seemed to be going SO much better with my recovery this time around, with one exception.  After all of the drugs from my epidural/spinal completely worked their way out of my system, I slowly began to develop a small headache, in addition to pain/discomfort in my shoulders, neck, and base of my head.  I mentioned this to the nurses, however they didn't seem too concerned by it.  After I arrived home from the hospital on Friday, the pain I was feeling in the front and back of my head quickly grew and I developed a migraine that would not go away.  It was so bad that it prevented me from really doing anything at home, to the point where I felt like I couldn't even help take care of Alexis.

When we went to the hospital on Monday for Alexis's newborn follow up with the pediatrician, I was sure to mention the migraine to them to see if they recommended I be looked at.  The pain from the headache was worse than anything I had experienced with regards to recovery from the actual surgery and was so intense that I was crying.  The only time I was free of pain was when lying down completely flat.  The doctor recommended I return to labor & delivery to be seen by triage to see if there was anything they could do to help me.

After speaking with a doctor there, they sent in an anesthesiologist to consult with me.  Based on my symptoms, he quickly determined the cause of my migraine was due to leaking spinal fluid, where the spot in my back where the epidural had been placed never fully closed and I was slowly losing fluid from my head while upright, causing my brain to sit down against the back my skull.  He told me they could do an outpatient procedure called a blood patch, where they would take 20mL of my own blood from me and inject it into my spine in the exact location where the epidural had been placed, in order to clot the hole and stop the leak of fluid.

It took them a while to get the needle inserted into my spine, as they had to be sure to find the exact same location that was used for the epidural, however once they did they were able to get my blood drawn from my hands/arm and insert it into my spine.  I felt immediate relief once the procedure was done, and simply had to lie flat on my back for two hours afterward to ensure the blood would clot and I had no ill side effects from the procedure.  The blood patch worked like a charm and I felt like a million bucks by comparison upon my exit from the hospital.

Our time home hasn't been without it's challenges, such as getting Alexis's nights and days corrected so she would stop waking up every hour of the night.  But overall things are going pretty well.  Abby is completely in love with Alexis and wants to be able to see and touch her as much as possible.  The only time Abby really struggles with jealousy is when she sees me holding Alexis but I cannot pick her up.  Even though she knows that the doctors had to cut me open to get Alexis out, she doesn't understand the weight-limit I am restricted to with regards to lifting.  I do try my best to get in as much Abby time as I still can as well in order to help with the jealousy and make this transition time easier on her.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

38 Weeks

I had my 38 week doctor appointment yesterday.  Alexis is doing well, measuring in right at 38 weeks.  We brought Abby with us to the appointment, as hubby was off from work for the day and was taking care of her, so she got to hear the baby's heartbeat for the first time.  She thought the whooshing heartbeat sound was just water moving around in my belly.

I was checked to see if I am making any progress and was told I have not begun to dilate yet.  This was good news to hubby's ears, as he has a lot on his plate at work over the next week through Monday the 2nd, so he is really hoping the baby doesn't decide to make an early appearance.  No pressure on me!

I saw the nurse practitioner on my care team, as my usual doctor did not have any availability on her calendar when it came time to schedule my 38 week appointment (thankfully I'm seeing the doctor again next week for my 39 week appointment).  The NP asked me if the doctor and I had decided on a birth plan as far as VBAC vs repeat C-Section goes, and was a little confused by the plan that the doctor and I had agreed on.  Typically they schedule planned C-Sections for 39 weeks and thought it was unusual that I want to wait until 40 weeks for a repeat C-Section.  Since it wasn't usual, she didn't feel comfortable scheduling it herself and sent my request to have it scheduled for my due date up to Labor & Delivery so they could call me to discuss and schedule it.

I received a call late yesterday from Labor & Delivery to get it scheduled.  Unfortunately, the schedule is already booked up for my May 6th due date for scheduled C-Sections.  The closest date they had open around my due date is two days prior on May 4th.  While it isn't necessarily ideal as it means my mother-in-law needs to adjust her flight out here to help us with taking care of Abby, it isn't horrible.  This will only adjust my return to work date by two days as well, with my last day home on leave falling on Abby's birthday, which is a day I really wanted to be home for in order to make it an extra special day for Abby.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Week In Review

While I don't want to have two posts in a row starting off with me mentioning the time, I have to note that it is currently just after 9:00pm and I am still awake!  Even better, it is by choice lol.  My typical bedtime for much of this pregnancy has been somewhere between 7:30 and 8:30, so this is an unusual change.

For some quick updates on the childcare front, hubby first went by the child development center on base on Monday to get the girls on the wait list there.  Apparently, they actually have a longer wait for Abby's age group than for the infants.  There is currently an estimated 90-day wait for the three-year old group.  We really want to get both girls into the same school, however if that means we might have a spot secured for Alexis when it's time for me to return to work, that works since the infant classes are typically much more limited on space.  The CDC also opens at 6am, so hubby could take Alexis easily on his way to PT in the morning, while I take care of dropping off Abby.

Hubby called up the school that is at the top of our list once he was done on base, and scheduled a tour of their current sister-school, which is under the same ownership.  He went by on Tuesday to look at the school, meet the director, and get more information.  They said we would be about sixth on the wait list for getting Alexis a spot, but should have a spot secured for Abby once she turns three.  Hubby fell in love with the school, and I immediately did as well after hearing everything he saw and learned about their programs while touring.

We decided to move forward with trying to get both girls in at the school, as we feel it would be the best for them developmentally.  Hubby stopped back by on Wednesday to officially register the girls and get them on the list.  Depending on how the infants currently on the list age before the school opens, Alexis may or may not have a spot available when they open in June.  They said she would have a spot by October by the absolute latest, however that is just based on an assumption that all of the infants currently on the list won't turn six-months old and age up into the next class until that time.  We did learn that Abby will officially have a spot when the school opens, and will be placed in their preschool program.  In addition to your classroom basics that you find at any childcare center, they also incorporate math, science, and social studies into the preschool curriculum for the three-year old group.  We think this school will provide Abby the focus, direction, and challenge she needs, which has currently been lacking in her current school.

Yesterday, I saw the doctor for my 36-week visit.  Alexis is doing well, measuring in at 36 weeks on the dot and had a heart rate of 140 beats per minute.  The doctor also confirmed again that she is definitely head down, so no breach baby situation to worry about here.  At my 32-week visit, I had my counseling session with the doctor about my delivery options (VBAC vs. repeat C-section).  At that time, I was still really torn about which path I wanted to take.  Based on the details of my delivery with Abby and why a C-section was needed there, the doctor came back and said I pretty much have a 50/50 chance between being able to have a successful VBAC and needing a C-section again.

While it is customary to schedule C-sections for 39-weeks for repeat cases, she did say that I have the option to decide as late as 39 or 40 weeks that I am done and get the C-section immediately.  After talking it over with hubby and how I am feeling, with regards to gut instinct, I decided that I would like to try for a VBAC if I go into labor on my own prior to my due date.  If I do not labor naturally by my due date, then I would prefer to just have the C-section again, especially as they really try not to induce mothers who have previously had a C-section, as it means there is an increased risk of uterine rupture due to the stronger contractions caused by the use of pitocin.

I discussed this with the doctor yesterday, and she was in agreement with my plan.  She was unable to schedule a C-section yesterday for my May 6th due date, as the calendar is not yet out for May, however we are set with the plan of a C-section if I do not go into labor by my due date.  I also have all of the rest of my appointments scheduled for the remainder of the pregnancy.  The only other item I need to take care of with regards to the doctor is to get pre-admitted at the hospital, which I will take care of at my 38-week visit.

Monday, April 4, 2016

What a Weekend

It's 7:30am on Monday morning, I'm currently sitting in my car in the parking lot, waiting to go into the office, and I'm still reeling from the events of the last several days. There have been highs and lows worth note, some of which are going to result in some unexpected changes to life as we currently know it.

Friday was hubby's and my 5th wedding anniversary. This was our very first wedding anniversary where he was actually home. Every anniversary so far, he's been away from home due to TDY or deployment. While it was a big anniversary, we didn't make any plans out of the ordinary, likely because we were waiting for something to come up that would prevent us from spending the day together. We had a date night with Abby in tow at a nice seafood restaurant we had been wanting to try. The food was delicious, and they treated us with a dessert of our choice on the house to say happy anniversary. 

The same day as our anniversary, we received some upsetting news, as we learned that Abby's school is closing, with just two weeks for us to secure new childcare arrangements. This brings up several issues. First, while it shouldn't be too difficult to find a new place for Abby given her age, we also need to secure a location that will have space for Alexis in June. Infant classes have much smaller teacher-to-student ratios, so it is usually more difficult to obtain space for them. Second, we were really hoping to keep Abby's life and routine as normal as possible with the birth of Alexis coming up. Now she's going to be facing a new childcare situation just two weeks before she then becomes a big sister. We're trying to prep Abby for the change coming her way, already letting her know that she will be changing schools soon and likely won't see any of her current classmates anymore.

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of working an eight hour day, to get work done for month end close. While my day wasn't spent in the most enjoyable way, hubby tried to have some fun with Abby. For a little while, we've been talking about getting her into gymnastics. We think she would have a lot of fun with it, and it would be good for her. Hubby took Abby to go look at a gym in town and got information about their 2 and 3 year old classes. Abby loved the look of the gym so much, she got upset when they left without her getting to do anything. We hope that is a good sign. In order to make it up to Abby for not letting her "bounce" (aka, have time on a trampoline), hubby took her to a nearby trampoline park for an hour of jump time before we all met up for dinner.

For Sunday, we decided to let Abby have another fun afternoon and brought her to see Disney On Ice after we finished with church. She got really excited before we went into the arena, knowing we were doing something for her. But it wasn't until we got inside and she began to see Disney merchandise everywhere she looked when her excitement really grew. We were really shocked at how cheap the tickets were (just $20 each), but then quickly realized it was because they more than made up for it with their overpriced merchandise. We were feeling generous, though, and got Abby a storybook with the characters, as well as food to munch on and an Olaf cup filled with a snow cone that she loved. While Abby thoroughly enjoyed the show, she did get really upset during the Frozen part, when they had all of the main characters from the movie except for Sven. Apparently Sven is a very important character to her. Not that I can say I blame her, he's probably one of my favorites as well.

After we got home that evening and got Abby to bed, hubby and I made a short list of schools we wanted to check out for Abby and Alexis so he can begin making the rounds and calls today to check out our options. Unfortunately, I have to work late today, tomorrow, and possibly Wednesday, so it is up to him to do most of the legwork. There is one school in particular we are very excited about from our research, however the location we are looking at is currently still under construction, scheduled to open early summer. Currently, we're looking at possibly needing to obtain a few weeks of temporary child care, until I am out on maternity leave. While I am not looking forward to the possibility of having to care for both girls while recovering from childbirth, hubby is planning on taking a couple weeks of leave on top of the 10 days paternity leave he gets in order to assist me. Here's hoping everything works out as it should!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

To Blog or Not To Blog

Ever since I created this new blog space, I have gone back and forth between whether or not I really want to get into blogging again.  When doing it previously, I did really enjoy it and found that it was a good outlet for me to talk about what I was feeling.  Definitely therapeutic for me.  Then I got pregnant, we moved to Texas, and I began a new job shortly after.  Exhaustion trumped blogging, so I sort of just let my old blog fall to the wayside.

Last year, I began to get the itch and desire to start blogging, so I created this new place for a fresh start.  A way to re-brand myself, if you will.  Sometimes I really want to get back into it, but then at other times I'm either too exhausted (such as when I am single-parenting when my husband is sent off for training, TDY, or deployed) or I feel guilty, as though I should be spending my free-time focusing on something else around the house.

Over the last several weeks (okay, maybe more like last couple months), a growing desire has been brewing inside of me to take more time for myself and try to begin doing things just for me.

One of them is a desire to get back into a good workout routine, especially to take spin classes again.  It's been a good 3-4 years since I sat on a spin bike, and I would love to begin taking classes. While I enjoy doing things with my husband, working out directly alongside him actually stresses me out a little.  Last week, I arranged for my husband to pick up Abby from daycare for me so I could go to the gym after work.  As it was my first trip to the gym in about two years, and only my second in the past three years, I didn't want to push myself too much.  My workout consisted of hopping on an elliptical for 2.44 miles.  It wasn't the grandest workout, but it worked for me.

Another item I have wanted to do for me for a while now is to go back to school and work on getting a masters degree.  I took the steps this past spring and applied, and tomorrow I will officially begin work towards an MBA.

While I have to learn how to balance getting back into a workout routine with starting graduate school, not to mention my full time job, there is one more item I would like to add to the list.  And that is to actually make a conscious effort to blog.  Even if I can simply start off by getting back to just publishing one post a week, it'll be a good start.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

Goodbye 2014 and hello 2015!

The New Year always brings with it an opportunity for reflection as well as a time to look ahead towards the future.

While 2014 did have some lower points, such as my husband being away from home for over 1/3 of the year due to TYD's and his current deployment, overall it has been a pretty good year.
  • Early in the year, I said goodbye to my twenties as I turned 30 years old less than two weeks into 2014.  And it didn't bother me one bit!
  • Our daughter quickly mastered crawling and moved on to cruising, took her first solo steps at 9 months old before she began full-blown walking on her own at 10 months old, and turned one year old this summer.  She is now running all over the place and climbing onto everything.  She is also learning new words day after day and trying to her best to begin speaking in sentences.
  • My husband and I hit new milestones in our relationship and saw our 3rd wedding anniversary in April, celebrated 7 years as a couple in October, and most notably passed the 10 year mark of when we first met and became friends in August.
  • I received a promotion at my job in July (my second there in less than two years) and finally feel like I'm beginning to forge an actual career for myself.
  • My husband and I became more involved in our church and began volunteering, putting some of our talents to use to assist the church.  We started to develop relationships with many of the people on staff there and feel more at home.

For 2015, I definitely have some goals set, not only for myself but for my family as well.
  • When my husband returns home, I would like for the two of us to spend more time together and work on bettering our relationship.  I do not believe our relationship is bad by any means, but we have definitely shifted the focus from the two of us and moved our priorities to our daughter and our careers.  We do plan to take a vacation together, just the two of us, in order to have some alone adult time and get that honeymoon we never took.  But more than that, we need to actually schedule date nights at least once a month, bringing in a babysitter for our daughter in order to have that time together.  Since Abby was born summer 2013, my husband and I have only been out on about 4 dates without her.
  • I would like to lose the final 10 pounds of baby weight I have been hanging onto for the last year and a half.  I have managed to knock off about 4 of those pounds in the last month or so after some dietary adjustments.  While I would certainly like to lose closer to 20 pounds in total, just getting back down to my pre-baby weight would be wonderful!  Before getting pregnant, I was beginning to feel a lot more comfortable with my body thanks to the 5 workouts a week I was putting in while my husband was deployed in 2012.  The biggest thing for me is getting back into a consistent workout routine, which is hard to do when (temporarily) solo parenting a toddler and working a job that typically requires 45-50 hours a week.  As I found the last time I was working out consistently, as long as I keep at it, the pounds will come off slowly & steadily, which is the best way to maintain the loss.
  • Work on becoming more focused on the task at hand in an effort to not become quite so overwhelmed with everything on my to-do list, especially when it comes to work and my ever increasing list of responsibilities as I grow in my position.
  • Apply to graduate school in order to begin working on getting an MBA.

While I'm not fond of the fact that one of the items on my list for the year includes losing weight (so stereotypical of New Year's resolutions), it really is part of a total picture to become a healthier and happier version of myself.  I spend so much time focused on others that I forget about myself until I hit a breaking point.  That needs to change.