Monday, September 29, 2014

{Blair's Birth Story}

I had a feeling all along that I’d go into labor earlier rather than later, so when my doctor told me how much progress I’d made at 37 weeks (3cm, 70% effaced), I definitely didn’t think we’d make it to 40 weeks. Add in a night of intense (but irregular) contractions that were 3-5 minutes apart during the 37th week, and I was sure she’d arrive before Labor Day. And then Labor Day came and went...and so did the first week of September...and then the second.

At my 39 week appointment, we talked about induction - something I was very adamantly against leading up to this point. I had even listed that in my birth plan, to avoid induction if at all possible. But at 39+ weeks, my perspective changed a lot...I was uncomfortable and just ready to get the show on the road! My husband had hoped all along that Blair would be born on his birthday, so when we were given the opportunity to choose her birthday, we decided to go for September 16th so they would share a birthday. At this point, I was still hoping I’d go into labor naturally before the 16th, but at least we had a plan in the event that didn’t happen.

That last week before we hit 40 weeks felt so strange - we knew that our lives would be changing within a specific number of days instead of just not knowing when it would happen. We finished up last-minute errands and cleaned up the house and tried to enjoy the last few days of just the two (or three, including Paige!) of us. It definitely felt weird ‘knowing’ that we’d meet our baby girl by the 16th after 9 months of waiting!

My last day of work was Friday, September 12th, and things started to feel a little more real at that point. My due date was Sunday, September 14th, and despite my hope that she’d arrive on her due date, she did not - so I finally accepted that an induction was going to happen. I spent the 15th trying to rest and make sure I’d packed everything and make sure the nursery was ready to go. I went to bed that night filled with a mix of emotions, from excitement to uncertainty and plenty of things in between.

We woke up at 5am on the 16th and headed to the hospital for a 6am induction time. It felt super weird to just walk into the Women’s Center at the hospital, not rushing in with labor pains, like I pictured happening. Instead, it was very casual and we got checked into our room and watched the sunrise as we waited for the nurses to come in and start setting up my IVs and Pitocin. We didn’t end up getting started until after 8am, so I had plenty of time to get anxious about everything that was about to happen! When the nurse came in and put in my IV in my arm, I got super light-headed and almost passed out - a little ammonia and some apple juice later, my blood pressure finally came back up to normal. I think it was just nerves and adrenaline that got the best of me, because needles and blood usually don’t bother me at all!

After I started to feel better, my doctor started the Pitocin and broke my water - another thing I was so sure would happen naturally, when I was out in public or somewhere super embarrassing. Let’s just say, glad that wasn’t the it felt like never-ending gushing afterwards (TMI). Unfortunately, when my water broke, my doctor noticed a bit of meconium...which I was told might prevent skin-to-skin immediately after birth since they would have to suction her lungs and maybe give her oxygen. I had hoped all along to not have to worry about this, but it’s actually a really common scenario when babies are past their due date. I tried really hard not to worry about it and focus on labor instead.

Three hours after starting the Pitocin, the contractions showing up on the monitor were so small that I hardly felt anything. My nurse suggested squatting on an exercise ball to get things going, so I did that and finally started to feel some real (and consistent) contractions! Unfortunately, Blair didn’t seem to like that and her heart rate was not staying consistent when I was bouncing on the ball, so we stopped that and instead I started walking the hallways of the labor and delivery unit. They increased my Pitocin ever so slightly and I made about a dozen trips around the hallways before I started feeling super uncomfortable. Every time a contraction hit, I could barely keep walking, so we finally decided to head back to the room. Once I sat down on the bed, I started to think maybe it was time for the epidural - after all, I didn’t want to wait until the pain was unbearable and then have to wait for the anesthesiologist to come in. When the nurse checked me at this point, I was already 5cm dilated, so I’d made it that far without any pain medicine - good enough for me! They told me to ask for the epidural as soon as I thought I needed it because I had to get through 45 minutes of fluids before I’d be able to get it. I’m pretty sure the ‘fluids’ are just a way to buy the anesthesiologist some time in case they’re working with someone else at the time. Toward the end of the 45 minutes, I was starting to feel serious pain and begged Michael to go ask how much longer until the anesthesiologist arrived. They said there were 5 people in front of me and I got super anxious - but it was less than 10 minutes before my new favorite person ever arrived(!). He did a fantastic job and I barely felt any discomfort from the needle, and within a few minutes, started to feel sweet relief. I knew going into this that I wanted the epidural, and I’m so glad I got one! It was nice to be able to relax and enjoy the experience - I honestly felt pretty amazing and could hardly believe when my doctor came in shortly after and said I was 9cm dilated and would be pushing within 30 minutes! I suddenly felt really unprepared, as I expected it to take a lot longer to make that much progress.

As we got closer to active labor, I started to feel a little discomfort again, but nothing like before the epidural. At this point, it was almost time to push, and my doctor came in and we did a few ‘practice’ pushes. She said to give it a few more minutes, and she went to check on a few other patients. Around 3:30, I started to feel major pressure, and knew that it was time. Michael went out and found my doctor and the entourage of nurses, and it was ‘go time’! Labor was nothing like I’d read about, but it was a fascinating experience nonetheless. My nurses were coaching me through the pushing - 3 pushes and then a break in between - and I’d never felt so exhausted in my life. Luckily, I pushed for less than half an hour before Blair made her appearance at 4:00pm on the dot! Michael was able to cut the cord, but then they immediately took her to suction her lungs, so I had to forego skin-to-skin. They brought her over to me to hold her before they took her to the nursery, but it made me incredibly sad that I didn’t get the one-on-one time right after birth. It was honestly so strange sitting in the room after she was born, with a newly flat stomach and no baby in my arms - while it wasn’t the experience I’d hoped for, I’m just glad she was doing well.

She had to stay in the nursery for the first two days, which was really difficult, but on the second day, she was finally able to breastfeed since she was no longer on oxygen. I went to the nursery every 3 hours to feed her that second night, and finally on our last day, she came into our room to stay. When my doctor and the pediatrician cleared us to go home that day, I felt super unprepared, since we hadn’t had any alone time with her before that point. It’s scary taking your newborn home from the hospital, but it’s even scarier when you literally haven’t had the chance to comfort her crying or change her diaper yet. It’s such a new experience and I was very anxious to be ‘on our own’ from that point on! 

We were discharged from the hospital that evening and got home around 8pm. She cried when we walked in the front door, and we realized she needed a diaper change - that was the very first diaper we had to change on our own and I’m pretty sure we both felt helpless and unprepared! That first night at home was intimidating and I don’t think I slept for longer than 30 minutes at a time - but it’s amazing how two short weeks later, we feel so much more at ease and navigating parenthood feels (slightly) less overwhelming! It certainly hasn’t been easy, but it’s been so much more amazing than I thought it would be. I’m constantly amazed at how quickly I recovered from childbirth - I honestly didn’t even feel like my body had been through 9 months of pregnancy and then labor just days after her delivery. It also feels amazing to be back in my regular clothes, just in time for Fall! We went for our first family walk 4 days after she was born, and I feel like I could go for a run at this point - which is crazy! This entire experience was so much different than I expected it to be, but in the best of ways. It’s hard to believe that I’m no longer pregnant and that we have a two week old baby at home!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Meet Blair Elizabeth!

Blair Elizabeth was born September 16, 2014 at 4:00pm, weighing a whopping 8lbs, 13oz and measures 21.5 inches long!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Baby Boyce's Nursery Reveal!

If you’re reading this, it means that Baby Boyce has arrived! Now that she’s here, I can finally give a full nursery tour (I had to wait until now since her name is on the wall!).

I had a pretty clear vision of how I wanted the nursery to look from the very beginning, so it didn’t take too long to put it all together. The first thing we purchased was the crib, and then we picked up decor pieces as we came across them. I knew I wanted the IKEA Hemnes dresser, but initially had a hard time deciding between the smaller 3-drawer dresser or the larger 8-drawer dresser. In the end, we went with the 8-drawer version, and I love how it turned out! Since we are using the dresser as a changing table also, it made sense to have more surface area for the changing pad, diapers, and other items. We definitely had a few hiccups along the way with the dresser, as it was damaged when we got home from our 10-hour round-trip to IKEA (and I didn’t even cry over it. #success). We spent a month dealing with customer service, which was admittedly a headache, but finally got a new piece to replace the damaged part. I’m just happy it’s fixed. :)

My parents ordered the crib bedding as a gift to us, and it was backordered from Pottery Barn Kids (side note: this always happens at PB...I’ve never ordered anything that could be shipped immediately!) so I was (im)patiently waiting for it to come in until the end of July. It’s gorgeous though, and I love how it looks with the wall color and rest of the decor! It’s a shame that crib bedding is so pretty, but then you have to remove the pretty bumper and quilt before baby can sleep in the crib! #FirstWorldProblems

We went ahead and started buying photo frames as we came across them, because I knew I wanted to put a few of our maternity photos and pregnancy announcement photos in them. Once we received our maternity photos, we were finally able to print a few and put the finishing touches on the wall decor. With the exception of a canvas print for one of the walls that is being ordered, the nursery decor is complete.

One of my favorite features are the bookshelves - made from IKEA spice racks. I saw this idea on Pinterest a long time ago, and made a note to remember it when we had a nursery to decorate! We requested that guests at our first baby shower bring a children’s book instead of a card, so all of the books on the shelves are extra special, since they’re signed by our friends and family.

The chair that is currently in the room is one we purchased from World Market last year and used to have in our living room, but when we moved to our new home, it no longer matched the living room decor. We had it sitting in the guest bedroom and it needed a ‘home’, so for now, it’s in the nursery. It matches pretty well, so I’m going to see if it’s possible to live without a glider/rocking chair. I’ve heard some people say a glider is a necessity, and some say that they never used one. I guess we’ll have to play it by ear!

Since the day we painted the nursery, it has been Paige’s favorite room. As soon as she goes upstairs, that’s the first place she goes...and sometimes, she just sits in there. Not sure if she thinks it’s ‘her’ room or what, but it’s really adorable! It should be interesting to see what she does now that baby is here...we think that she’s going to stay in there and sleep on the chair when baby’s in her crib!

{Pregnancy Must-Haves}

One of my favorite things while being pregnant has been hearing what other ladies 'must-haves' were while they were expecting and once baby arrives. While I clearly have zero experience with baby must-haves as a first-time mom (as of tomorrow!), I figured I have a little insight to share about my favorites during pregnancy now that 40 weeks have come & gone! 

Pregnancy Pillow. I had a Snoogle pillow, but I've also heard great things about the BumpNest as well. Regardless of which you choose, I HIGHLY recommend picking one of these up as early as possible in your pregnancy! I asked for one and got mine as a birthday gift (thanks, Mom & Dad!) at about 13 weeks pregnant, and I've loved it ever since. I can't imagine how badly I would have slept without my Snoogle. My husband hates it and can't wait to kick it out of our bed - but it's a lifesaver and I would recommend it again and again!
Epsom Salt. One of the best things my doctor told me early on was that it was more than okay to soak in the tub. A lot of things you read will tell you that taking a bath is a no-no, because you don't want to get too hot. Well, obviously, you have to give up the super hot water temperature, but there's nothing wrong with a nice, warm bath...with epsom salt. I'm convinced there's nothing better for an achy body than a soak in an epsom salt bath! My evening routine for most of my pregnancy was to go for a run or walk after dinner, then take a bath with lavender epsom salt and hop into bed. #heaven
Belly Band. I picked up a belly band when I was only 12 weeks pregnant, because I intended to keep wearing my regular pants/jeans as long as possible. Little did I know, I would STILL be able to wear my jeans with this belly band at 40 weeks pregnant. In fact, I ended up buying zero pairs of maternity pants throughout my entire pregnancy! I stuck to buying some cute dresses from Motherhood and Old Navy, and got tons of use of of these all summer long. I bought just a few maternity shirts and was able to wear those with my regular jeans the entire time, too. I couldn't recommend a belly band enough - I only paid $15 or so at Target for one of these. SO much cheaper than buying maternity pants or jeans!
Belly Support Belt. Because I wanted to keep running as long as I possibly could throughout pregnancy, I knew I needed something to support my growing belly - plus, I started to get achy after a long walk or a run before I got one of these! I ended up buying the Gabrialla Maternity Support Belt and could immediately tell a difference when I wore it while walking or running. It literally lifts your belly up and supports it - you even notice less pressure and strain on your back. If you work out a lot or if you have discomfort from your belly weighing you down, this is a great thing to have!
Burt's Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter. I swear by this stuff! I had some Palmer's Cocoa Butter, but the smell of that did not sit well with me at all, plus it's kind of greasy. This belly butter is so light and it dries super quickly, not to mention it definitely worked. My skin has stayed in great shape, even with my belly being stretched out SO much and it kept it soft and smooth, too. I always bought mine at Target, but I'm pretty sure you can find it anywhere! 

There's obviously a trend to all of my must-haves...they're all about being comfortable & pampered! That's one of the best things about pregnancy - you have an excuse to take extra great care of yourself and be pampered for 9+ months. Having an awesome husband who goes out of his way to make sure this happens is even better! ;)

What were your pregnancy must-haves?