Thursday, December 10, 2009

Time flies...

... all of a sudden, it's December and I have an almost-7-month-old! Here she is, because I know you're more interested in seeing her than reading what I have to write :) In fact ... she's doing so many new things now that I'll just post some pictures and let you see what we've been up to over the last three months.

Going swimming for the first time when she was three months old ...

Getting to meet Great-Grandma in September was so much fun!

We also got to meet little Clover May in September - Anna's cousin/half-sister! (Since their daddies have the same genes, genetically Anna and Clover are half-sisters!)

Anna's four-month birthday came and went....

... and with it came the start of both cloth diapers and solid food! (Two points to note: don't start solids and cloth dipes at the same time ... and while her first spoonfuls of rice cereal were technically on her four-month birthday, she wasn't quite ready yet so I waited a few weeks and we started for real a little before five months.)

Our good friend Nicole (Anna's godmother) was admitted to the hospital with pre-term labour (she is back home now and has made it to 37 weeks, praise God!), so we spent a lot of time at Hillcrest hanging out with her.

Just before Anna turned five months old, she got to see Uncle Matt (for the first time!!) and Auntie Peck! Steph and Matt spent nearly two weeks with us, which was wonderful.

Uncle Matt and Jess bought Anna a Jolly Jumper - and she loves it! It took her a little while to figure out how to jump, but now she goes bouncing all over the place :)

We had a fun day with Christy and her girls at the zoo:

What a wonderful way to spend ten days ... we're so thankful that they got to come!

What next? .... Anna turned five months old, and mastered the art of solid foods properly this time:

We celebrated Halloween by dressing up as Alice in Wonderland, the Mad Hatter and the Caterpillar, and hung out with Luke & Tiff and Kris & Nicole for the evening. Kris and Nicole got to dress up as people who didn't have to stay in the hospital any more!

We went to our first pumpkin patch with Anna's friends Esther and Eden (and their mom Josephine, whose husband works at In His Image with Mark), and picked out a pumpkin to make pie with :) That one little pumpkin provided us with pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, and pumpkin puree for Anna!

What a pretty punkin :)

And speaking of pumpkins ... Tiff took fall pictures of Clover and Anna, which we thought was significantly more fun than the two babies did!! She got some really good pictures, though.

Then Anna turned six months old (six months!! How is that possible?!), we moved house, Mark had a glorious week off in November which we spent doing a little road trip to see our friends the Geidls and enjoying Thanksiving. Anna sat up by herself on her 6-month birthday, what a big girl!

And that, I believe, catches me up on the last 3 months that I've missed! Sorry for the massive post and the speedy catch-up ... somewhere in all of that I also took my nursing boards (I am now a real live RN!!), found a house and a car, packed up our house and am partially finished unpacking everything in its new location, became (by some mysterious process...) small group leaders at our church, survived three more months of Residency, and got most of my Christmas shopping done!! We've been busy, but we're looking forward to our first date night in several weeks this weekend :) (Complete with babysitter - even better!)

Soon to come - Christmas pictures, family pictures and - hopefully - pictures of our new baby godson (Kris & Nicole's son Riah) who could make an appearance any day now!

Monday, August 17, 2009

This new chapter....

... Being a stay-at-home mom is, so far, probably my favourite time of my life. For the first time in years and years, I don't have any kind of pressure to be getting work done, studying (well, technically I suppose I should be studying for the NCLEX, but it's not quite the same!) ... I love it!

Anna is changing and doing new things every day. She's three month old! She has found her hands and feet, has rolled over from her back to her front several times (not OFF of anything yet, thankfully!), she grabs at her little toys that hang above her, she smiles, sings and talks ALL the time, her little head is sturdy enough to put her facing outwards in her baby carrier (with a blankie rolled up to wedge her in since she's not chunky enough to fill the whole thing!), she can let me know when she's mad vs tired vs hungry vs bored, she can stand up for a couple seconds at a time when we hold her up on our laps ... she's getting so big and clever! I LOVE watching her change every day. I still haven't solved my work/not work dilemma - but I'm feeling more and more reluctant to take care of other people's loved ones all day when someone else is taking care of mine. We'll see.

I'm spending my time cleaning and sorting the house - going through all those stacks of paper that piled up over the last 14 months, updating our filing system, getting rid of all the junk that accumulated while I didn't have time to do anything sensible with it.... going on playdates so Anna can make some friends.... and I'm also looking for a new car and a new house. (Woah, nelly - one big purchase at a time!) Our second car right now has no air conditioning so poor Mark is just dying while he drives around in our Oklahoma 105-degree summer weather, the check engine light is always on, it makes funny sounds and smells while being driven .... it's time for something a little more reliable! And on the house front, we had been planning on not moving till November since that's Mark's next 'light' month. But we're trying to find a place sooner than that so that our current house can be made available for a family that has need of temporary housing soon. So, I'm house-hunting. And should probably, therefore, start thinking about boxing things up.

Mark is busy trying to contain his time at the hospital to within his legal 80 hours per week ... and, so far, failing!! He is on one of the busiest rotations he'll have this year, so he's pretty tired when he is at home. Luckily he enjoys what he's doing and is happier when he's busy. We're both looking forward to November, though, because (somehow!) he managed to get Thanksgiving week off!

Well, that's about it for now. No spectacular news ... just happy days at home with that sweet girl :)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I've been thinking about work. Mainly, whether or not I want to do any! (Paid, that is...) I have graduated from nursing school and I'm planning on taking my boards sometime in the next couple of months, but Mark and I decided that I wouldn't start the job hunt till after Christmas. This will give me some time with Anna, which has been pretty hit-and-miss since she was born. Lousy school. Having spent a week at home with Anna being a stay-at-home-mom, the question of whether I want to get a job at all has entered my mind. Now, before you flip out that I'm making this decision based on one week's experience, I have neither made a decision nor am I naive enough to think that the rest of Anna's babyhood will be as delightful as these last few days have been! However, the wheels have been turning regarding my future role. Or roles.

The debate in my mind is between the following two issues: 1) being at home full time will allow me to invest fully into the life of my child. I will not have to depend on anyone else to follow our routine, discipline techniques (once we actually begin to implement them!) or parenting philosophies. Also, I will never have that slightly guilty thought of "What if she's having a bad day?" when I leave her with someone. I have been on the receiving end of that with other people's kids and did not kove it! 2) Going to work will provide a needed boost to our income, will allow me to make use of the training I've received - twice! - and will provide me with a challenging, stimulating arena in which adult interaction takes place. Plus I love being in the clinical setting. That's why I went to nursing school in the first place.

I think that my priority is to be fully invested in raising Anna and not take for granted that someone else will be as committed to taking care of her as I will. I just don't know whether I can do that while I spend 12-hour days taking care of other people. However ... I do believe that God called me into nursing, and gave me a love for it. Does that mean I have to sacrifice some of what I can sow into Anna's life if I stay at home with her full time?

These are my mullings today .... any thoughts?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

An end and a beginning

I am no longer pregnant ... beautiful Anna Sophie is here!! She was born on Wednesday May 13th at 51 minutes past midnight, but her story of being born should probably start on the Monday, two days before she arrived.

(A word of warning: this post is partly me journalling so that I'm able to look back and remember all the things that were important to me about Anna's birth ... so it's likely to get fairly lengthy! Feel free to drift in and out of my ramblings, or just skip to the pictures!)

As you know, I've been in school the whole time I was pregnant. I took my spring semester finals the week before Anna was born, but I still had two papers to turn in by that Monday. I spent the whole weekend working on them, turned them in on time on Monday, and went and got my prenatal massage that Mark got me for Christmas (!) - and loved every minute of it :) Mark and I had scheduled in a date night for Monday, since I was finally done with my semester, and went to The Garlic Rose to celebrate; after dinner was dessert at the hangar with Smackey, Megan, Kris & Nicole. It was an awesome day - totally relaxed (once I turned in my school work!) and fun. The weather was gorgeous, and I got to spend the day with some of my favourite people.
I woke up that night at 3:15 convinced I had just peed a little. I leaped out of bed and ran for the bathroom (to the extent that a 9-month-prego can either leap or run) ... and discovered that I was definitely not peeing but rather going into labour! I wasn't contracting at that point, so Mark and I debated whether or not to go to the hospital yet. We spent about an hour just hanging out and making sure we had everything we needed packed and ready to go, but by 4:30 I wasgradually starting to have contractions and we were both getting a little antsy about the risk of umbilical cord prolapse (Which was not incredibly likely, particularly since I was still feeling the baby move, but would have been an emergency had it happened. Sometimes having a medical background is more of a hindrance than a help...).
We arrived at Hillcrest a little after 5am on Tuesday morning. We got checked in through triage (by a very funny, large black lady who didn't approve of Mark's neat but tiny handwriting and made me redo the paperwork he filled out so she could read it without having to put her glasses on!) and were taken to our labour and delivery room. I had an awesome nurse, but only for an hour or so until the night shift ended. My day nurse was another story...!
I was dilated to about 3cm, and I was having very bearable contractions about every 5 minutes. Dr Geidl and I had talked about intermittent monitoring rather than continuous, which meant that (against my nurse's personal preference) I was able to get up and walk around with my IV pole, as long as I came back to my room and got re-attached to the doppler for 15 minutes every hour so we could check on Anna's heartbeat. By lunchtime my contractions were getting stronger and I was starting to have to focus through them. I had a little bit of food (also against my nurse's preferences - "This is a very very very VERY bad idea!" - but ok with my doctor and definitely ok with me!) and did some more walking in the hallways with Mark. I had some visitors to help pass the time - Laura and Mer came to say hello, a couple of our friends from Image who were working stopped in to check on us, Kris & Nicole were in and out, and Tiffany was there too a little later.
By about 3pm, my contractions were strong enough that I had to breathe through them. But when my nurse checked my cervix again, I had hardly dilated at all since the morning. Dave came in and checked on me, and said we would probably have to start me on Pitocin, an IV drug that augments labour. I knew that contractions with Pitocin are a lot harder and faster, so I'd been hoping I wouldn't have to have any ... but since my water had broken 12 hours ago and I hadn't progressed more than 1cm since then, I understood the decision. I think I got started on the Pitocin around 4 or 5, and sure enough, contractions were a LOT more difficult! I was using the birthing ball a lot, which I liked, and we also put my Labour playlist on the iPod to help distract me, but each contraction felt like it was taking my whole quota of strength so I wouldn't have any left for the next one! I remember sitting on the chair in my room, facing backwards and leaning over the back of it with Mark and Tiff rubbing my low back each time I had a contraction, wondering how people got through this alone!
My nurse came to check me again around 8, at which point I thought I was dying, and told me I was about a 4+. Something in me broke at that point, and I told them I'd like an epidural as soon as possible. That was something Mark and I had taked about during my pregnancy, and we had concluded that I'd try not to have one but we were open to it if I ended up needing one. So I asked for it, still feeling a little guilty but knowing that there was no way I could go through any more hours of those contractions without something for the pain! The anesthesiologist came up to my room fairly quickly, and even though I dreaded the thought of a needle in my back, I don't even remember it being painful compared to contracting! I did have a contraction while he was putting it in, which was awful, but managed to stay in my hunched-over position, grabbing Mark around the waist till I thought I was probably inflicting some kind of internal damage to his organs! Once the epidural was in, I felt like I was in heaven. I could feel tightening during each contraction, but no more pain.
At 9 my nurse checked me again - and I was complete! Immediately there was a flurry of activity as the delivery tray and bassinet were wheeled into the room, my doctor was called and everything was made ready. Once Dave arrived (extremely soon after being paged - I'm pretty sure he broke every speed limit between home and Hillcrest!), I started pushing. I was able to feel the contractions enough to know when to push with them, but I still wasn't sore. I was excited that the final stage in this whole process was starting ... but after an hour of pushing with each contraction Dave suggested (and Mark agreed!) that I take a break, since there was still no sign of the baby. I took a 30-minute nap till about 10:30, at which point the nurses and Dave and also Dr Keller, an Image faculty, came back in. I also found out that the entire Crouch family plus Kris and Nicole were all waiting out in the lobby - even Jan, despite the late hour! I started pushing again, and at some point had to have an oxygen mask because the baby's heart rate was dropping. I had to turn onto my side to help increase the blood flow to my uterus, and I kept listening to the baby's heart beat on the monitor. After more pushing, Dave & Dr Keller decided to use an intra-uterine pressure catheter to see whether my contractions were forceful enough to actually push the baby out. (The IUPC was just a little wire that they attached to my uterus to monitor contractions, and it fed to a screen that they could see.) They also attached a fetal scalp electrode to the baby's head to monitor how it was doing during contractions. They established that our poor baby was stuck at one of the parts of my pelvis; there's a ridge that its head has to pass below, and that's where it was stuck. By about midnight, 3 hours after I started pushing, I could tell that people were starting to get concerned. Mark was by my side the whole time, encouraging me to push, and at this point he started telling me I had to push harded because we really needed to get that baby out. I knew people were starting to think about the possibility of a C-section, but *thankfully* no-one ever mentioned it out loud! After a while a little head full of dark hair became visible, which gave me the energe to push a little harder. Finally, just before 1 on Wednesday morning, Dr Keller produced a vacum (out of nowhere; I'm sure there wasn't one in the room prior to the second it was in his hands!), Dave gave me a quick episiotomy to try to contain my 3rd-degree tear, and with the next push he helped me deliver our gorgeous little Anna Sophie! (So we went from wanting a natural childbirth to having Pitocin, an epidural, IUPC, fetal scalp electrode, episiotomy and a vacum-assisted delivery! Every trick in the book except a section!) She was born at 00:51 on Wednesday May 13th, weighing in at 6lb 12oz. Mark cut the cord, the nurse towelled her off and gave her to me, and I finally got to meet the little person that had been growing inside of me and kicking my guts around for the last several weeks :)
After snuggling with her for a little while (while my episiotomy was being sewn up!), the nurses took her over to the warmer and cleaned her off properly, weighed her, tidied up her little belly button and made sure she was breathing ok. Her APGARs were 8 and 9, which is a good score. Finally they gave her back to me, and her proud daddy got to go call in the troops - who were *still* waiting in the lobby! Everyone piled into the room and fell in love with her (appropriately so :) ... Kris prayed over Anna and me and Mark while we were all there together, and then everyone went home to get some over-due rest!
I was moved upstairs to the post-partum unit, and we got settled into my room there around 3am.
We ended up staying in the hospital until Friday afternoon because Anna had jaundice and her bilirubin levels were staying high for a while. Also, her blood sugar was a little low (left over results of my gestational diabetes) so she had to have tube-feedings to stabilise her glucose. But after the first day or so she was eating better and her poor little cone head started to go away so she looked better too! We're totally in love with her, but can already tell that she's going to be hard work - we're tired but happy, and we'll see what the next few weeks look like once they get here!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Are we nearly there yet...?

Here are a couple pictures - I'm up to my eyeballs in school work that's due tomorrow (what else is new?!) so I don't have time to write anything on here ... but these are my first Mother's Day pictures!

Don't squeeze that baby out....! :)

Tiff and I comparing bellies!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

The things no-one tells you about pregnancy

Even if you are not over-balancing and falling over because your center of gravity is nowhere near wherever it used to be, it will still feel like you are. If I had a dollar for every time I was poised, motionless, at the top of a staircase, looking over the edge of my monstrous belly to see where the first step was and suddenly felt I was falling down the stairs so began flailing my arms and grasping at the air - only to find I was actually still exactly where I had been for the last 5 seconds but was now also frantically waving my arms ... I would have a lot of dollars.

Getting out of bed is no longer an auto-pilot action that can be carried out while still more or less asleep. It requires shuffling your massive weight to the edge of the bed, rolling onto your side, dangling your feet over the edge, using your dangling legs as a counter-weight to pull your upper body into a sitting position, then sitting there on the edge of the bed for a minute while your baby and amniotic fluid re-equilibrate into a vertical position ... while using your remaining powers of concentration trying to not pee till you reach the toilet.

Unless you make a list of things that are important to remember, you will forget something. Once you have made your list, however, there is still only about a 50% chance that you will remember to do the things on it. This is true of to-do lists, grocery lists, lists of people, registry lists, and lists of things to pack before leaving the house.

Never congratulate yourself on making it x number of weeks into a pregnancy and still having room in your body to expand your lungs enough to breathe. All of a sudden, the next day you will find yourself gasping and out of breath while sitting still, and wondering how you ever used to do something as vigorous as folding laundry without an oxygen mask on!

Along similar lines, you will one day have to choose between satisfying your enormous appetite, and breathing. There is not enough room in there for both food and air.

Never be too proud or independent, once you can no longer reach your own feet, to ask for help putting on your shoes and socks on the way out the door! This will result in you struggling for several minutes (and becoming later than you already are because of your scatterbrainedness) while others try not to laugh. You will end up asking for help anyway, but will have looked like an idiot first ... plus spending that long scrunched over your belly trying to reach your feet is likely to result in you totally smashing what little lung capacity you have left, and passing out on the floor.

Being stretched tight across a watermelon-sized belly results in your skin becoming sunburned after about 1/4 of the time you would normally be out in the sun! Lather on that sunscreen!

Everyone in the whole world has ultrasounds for eyes (except you) and can tell what gender the baby is. And will proceed to tell you right after you've told them you're waiting to find out so you can be surprised.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Pitter-pattery little feet

We got to have another ultrasound last night - our baby's still cute :) We went to the clinic with Kris & Nicole, and Mark and Kris did all the measurements again to make sure we're still on track with the growth rate, which we are. So thus far my gestational diabetes hasn't been causing any problems, thankfully. (Other than to my diet, I mean!)
The baby weighs 4lbs 11oz according to the ultrasound calculation, which is already heavier than Mark was when he and Luke were born! They were 4 or 5 weeks premature, though, and there were two of them sharing the growing. Babycenter says that this week the baby is about the size of your average cantaloupe ... and yes, that's about what it feel like I have in my abdomen! I'm starting to feel those 'end of pregnancy complaints' ... low back pain, sore legs if I'm on my feet all day at the hospital, feeling general discomfort because my belly is so heavy, having to wake up at night just to roll over in bed because repositioning takes so much effort...! No stretch marks yet, though, for which I have mom to thank since they're a genetic trait :)

So here's our baby's right foot - 5 toes and everything! Not that I was in any doubt that its feet were in good working order - I get a thorough pummeling every time this kid wakes up! Because it's getting more crowded in there, it's harder to get those good face/ profile pictures. Plus, the way it was curled up made it hard to get to the face regardless. But Mark and Kris managed to coax a pretty cute face one out too :)

It's a little harder to tell what the face is (although I, without a touch of motherly bias, can say it's definitely getting cuter!), but the baby's laying on its side and the darker of the two dark circles is its right eye. It's fat little cheek is to the left of that in the picture, and then the nose and mouth and other eye get a little fuzzier. See? Too cute!

Mark has been gone for this last week and he'll be gone again for the coming week, so it's nice to have him back for the weekend. We went for a walk along the river yesterday afternoon to enjoy the gorgeous weather, and ran into the parents of one of Mark's friends since high school. By the end of the conversation, we had a free crib that their last grandchild just outgrew! During the conversation they asked how much longer before the baby gets here, and we established that it's about 40-45 more days - how crazy is that! I don't know whether school has made pregnancy go by quicker or if being pregnant has made my school year fly by, but I feel like the last 7 or 8 months have disappeared into nowhere in a heartbeat.

We had our last childbirth class this week - we got a recommendation for a really good natural-birth class and have been going for weekly classes all this month. (Well, last month I suppose, since it's now April.) I feel a lot more confident about going through labour without pain meds now, although I'm still open to an epidural if I end up needing to be induced. I know contractions that have been induced are a lot more intense, so I may change my mind about not having any medication if that ends up happening! We'll see.

Here are some of my maternity pictures from Nikki - I love them! She has a kind of different editing style from Tiffany, but I really like them both. Thanks girls! :)