Friday, April 11, 2014

Elise Madison's Birth Story

We're almost three weeks out at this point, and the details are starting to become a little fuzzy. I figure it's about time I get this written down, to preserve the memory of giving birth to our beautiful baby girl. It was a life changing experience, and one that I never want to forget!

After a lot of consideration, I decided I was too uncomfortable to work up until my due date, and I started my maternity leave a week before I was due. It was weird being home from work without having a baby to care for, but I am really glad I took that week off to cook, clean, and spoil myself a little bit. It was a nice bit of relaxation, and I savored it!

I was due on Sunday, March 23, and by Friday I was starting to get pretty antsy as I waited for the baby to make its appearance. My parents came into town on Friday night, after closing on their new house in Saint Louis (YAY!!). Once they were here I felt REALLY ready to get the show on the road, but Friday and Saturday I didn't have much going on besides some irregular contractions scattered throughout the day. By Sunday I was feeling a little grumpy, and just kind of blah overall. Mentally blah, physically blah, the whole 9 yards. I was just so ready to meet our little baby, but I was also pretty sure my due date was going to pass without anything happening. We went to Franks & Dawgs for lunch, and scored some amazing fabric at the Crate and Barrel outlet across the street, then we headed home to just hang out for a while.

Sunday night my parents went to meet their friends for dinner, and Joe and I were relaxing around the house. I felt the need to do something to keep me busy, so we decided to bake some cookies. We didn't get far, though, because a few minutes later my water broke! Luckily, I was just standing on the tile in the kitchen, so it wasn't too messy! That was around 7:00 pm, and we went ahead and called the doctor's office to get directions for what to do next. The doctor on call said we didn't need to rush to the hospital, but that my water breaking meant there would be risk of infection if the baby didn't come within 24 hours. We took a little time to shower and finish packing our hospital bags, and within an hour my contractions had gotten much more intense, and it was time to head in to the hospital.

I probably gave Joe a look like this when he asked how I felt about giving labor!
(Ok, this is posed. It wasn't that bad... I swear!)

We arrived at OB Triage at about 9:00 pm. The nurse who was with us for the first part of the night was really great, and worked to keep me somewhat comfortable and sane as we waited for a room down in the Labor and Delivery wing. I was already at 4 cm and 90% effaced when we arrived, so everyone was hopeful that it would be a somewhat quick process. Baby was in a good position and had a strong heartbeat, so we tried to just relax a little as we waited. The contractions were feeling pretty intense at that point, though, and I had already pretty much dismissed my original plan to try to avoid an epidural.  If we have another child and I want a natural birth, remind me to take a class on how to actual handle the pains of labor... I was NOT prepared for that!

Around 11:00 that night we got transferred downstairs to Labor and Delivery. Pretty quickly they got me the epidural, which was amazing. I was a little more numb on my left side, but overall I couldn't feel the pain of the contractions anymore. Thank God! At that point we were told to try and relax, which is easier said than done. There were monitors beeping and the occasional alarm going off, and plenty of people in and out of the room. The night was a bit of a blur. There was a point when they wanted to give me pitocin to try to speed up the process. I was a bit wary, but ended up concenting. Turns out our little baby didn't like that idea much, and one dose of the lowest amount was met with a lower heart rate from her. So pitocin was out, and we were going to need to patiently await my body getting itself ready.

Joe was an amazing support throughout the night.

There was also a point in the night when the baby's heart rate dropped for a few minutes, drawing concern from the doctors. I stayed really calm during this episode, but they had me turning side to side for a few minutes to see if it would help, and I was moments away from an emergency c-section at one point. There were about six nurses and doctors in the room at that point, and I had to just trust that they would do whatever they needed to do to take care of me and the baby. Thankfully, the baby's heart rate went back to normal, and we were all able to calm down a little bit. The night nurse's shift went until 7:00 am, and throughout the night we kept agreeing that the baby would make its appearance before her shift was over.

Unfortunately, that was not the case. The baby was a bit too comfortable, and when the doctors and nurses did their shift change at 7 am, we checked and saw that I was still not completely dilated. I was close, but they wanted to wait a little longer before trying to have me push. The next couple hours felt very long. The doctor's shifts overlapped, and they did their switch off around 9 am. At that point the new doctor came in (one from the practice that I really like... score!), and did another check. I was stalled at that last bit of dilating, and she said to again wait a little longer.  By 10:00 she came back and ended up doing the last bit of stretching manually. Thank God for that lovely Epidural! I didn't feel a thing!  And then, it was time for the real effort to begin... I needed to take any energy left in me and channel it into pushing that baby out.

Attempting to wait patiently.

If you know me at all, you know I love to eat.
So the whole idea of not eating during labor was pretty sucky in my opinion.
This popsicle was the only thing I ate for about 17 or 18 hours, and it was delightful.

It was officially one of the hardest things I've ever done. I pushed for two long hours, feeling tired, hungry, and less hopeful as that time went on. They kept telling me I was making good progress, yet it felt like I was never going to get to stop pushing and meet the baby! My contractions were kind of far apart, so there was down time in between. I remember chatting with the doctor, med student, and nurse about all kind of things... sports, summer in Chicago, neighborhoods around the city, and living in St Louis or Colorado. As the time went on, I started to lose hope, and was almost hoping they'd use the vacuum or some other intervention. I just really didn't think I could get this baby out of me! But their encouragement was really helpful, and I kept telling myself that I was strong and made to do this. Finally, about two hours after I started pushing, our little baby girl entered the world at 11:53 am on Monday, March 24, 2014.

Joe got to have a look and then tell me the sex of the baby, and I will never forget the emotion in his voice when he said, "It's a girl!" He was so surprised (I was too), and it was the most love-filled moment of our marriage up to this point. We were both in awe of how perfect she was, and just really couldn't believe that she was here! I did some skin to skin with Elise right away, and Joe cut the umbilical cord. Thus began the greatest adventure we've undertaken together...

This picture captures how tired I felt by the time Elise was born!

He's a natural!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Elise Madison

Born 3/24/14 at 11:53 am
8 pounds 3 ounces
21 inches long

Our little princess has arrived! We were really surprised to find out the baby is a girl, since everyone had been predicting a little boy. She is our princess, and we couldn't be more in love!

I'm trying to get her birth story typed out, but it's taking me forever. I'm a bit sleep deprived, and home alone with Elise during the day. I will attempt to get back to blogging at some point, at least to record her milestones. But for now, baby snuggles and diaper changes are how I'm filling my days... and I'm not complaining! 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Final Countdown...

39 weeks. We made it to the end! And my brain is full of thoughts about this, but also blissfully quiet. The quiet comes from being done with work for the time being. I'm home alone all day, with a relatively unimportant to-do list and lots of time on my hands. I'm trying my best to enjoy this quiet, because I know very well that life is about to change in a big way. But I'm also so incredibly ready for that change.

I've been reflecting back on this pregnancy a lot in recent weeks, thinking about all we've been through to get to this place. The journey started well before I got a + on the test in July, but I've dwelled on that enough. Either way, Joe and I felt very lucky to finally be expecting a new addition to our family. I've also been very lucky to have an "easy" pregnancy. I have had no medical complications, and have stayed pretty active and social through the whole 40 weeks. We still got to do some traveling, and spent nice weekends enjoying the perks of being a married couple without children. Even through the pregnancy there have been great concerts and special dinners out on the town.

But I still have to admit,  pregnancy is a challenge in so many ways. It is a challenge to your body, as you grow and stretch to make room for the baby. Simple tasks become a big deal (putting on pants, tying shoes, or getting off the couch have me bitching and moaning these days!). It is a challenge to your mind, as you get a glimpse into the worry that every parent experiences. And then there are the hormones... I never got too crazy, but still had moments of totally irrational emotion!

Now that I know what pregnancy is really like, I feel proud of myself for making it to the final days. Carrying a baby to term is an accomplishment. It's not something everyone gets to do, for many reasons. But this time around my body was strong, and I did everything I could to help it stay that way. Thanks to healthy eating (usually) and continuing my active lifestyle, I feel like I've done everything in my control to give birth to a healthy baby. I didn't complain too much, I worked hard at work and home until the end, and have really challenged myself to just stay positive and keep on truckin'. I'm not going to say there haven't been moments of complaining and eating 100 cookies for dinner, but I still feel proud of how I've handled pregnancy overall.

Though I'm ready to be done with pregnancy for the time being, it is still something I'd do again in a heartbeat. I know what's next, and I can hardly contain myself. Middle of the night feedings, figuring out cloth diapers and how to bathe a baby, a messy house... There will be moments in the next weeks and months that push me to the limit, but I am ready for it! The rewards will make it all worth it, and Joe and I can not wait for the adventure ahead.

Now let's just hope said adventure starts soon. This week already feels too long, and it's only Tuesday!

Monday, February 17, 2014

35 weeks down... 35 days to go!

34 Weeks Pregnant

Current ProgressWe have made it to the final countdown! 35 weeks down! At this point, the baby should still stay inside for at least a few more weeks. But at the same time, if it arrived early, it is probably past NICU time. The weeks have been flying by! With 5 weeks left, Joe and I both feel like we're in pretty good shape.

Weight Gain & Body Changes: My weight gain has been right on target for a healthy pregnancy. I think I've gained about 25 pounds at this point. I've had some friends and coworkers tell me I look "tiny", which seems crazy to me! I feel pretty darn huge :)  The nice thing is that the weight and growth has stayed concentrated where it should be-- mostly in my midsection. There are some days that I think it practically looks like I stuffed a basketball under my shirt. 

Anytime I'm at home,
I go straight to wearing my sweatpants.
A cute look, for sure!
How I'm feeling: READY. Physically, I'm excited to have a baby on the outside... this is getting pretty uncomfortable! Mentally, I'm so excited to meet the baby, and feel as prepared as I'm going to be. There are still some nerves with delivering the baby, but I am confident that the whole labor and delivery process will go smoothly in the end. My body is ready for this, and my mind is ready too. 

What I'm thinkingI'm thinking the nursery is so cute, and I'm thrilled with how its turned out. Cozy and sweet enough, but not too frilly or babyish, either. It very much fits with our tastes.  I'm also thinking I have so many good friends who already love this baby a ton. This was proven yet again this past week, when my book club did a little surprise shower, and had a cake and tons of sweet books for me and the baby. Ziggy already has a pretty solid library started. 

Recent milestones  I'm not sure if it counts as a milestone, but Joe and I think we've chosen names! Whether the baby is a boy or a girl, we're about 98% settled on the names. That was a tough decision! We 'graduated' from our prepared childbirth class at the hospital, and just have one more breastfeeding class we plan to take this coming week. At our 32 week ultrasound, we found out that I'm growing a big baby. It was already about 5 pounds, which puts baby at about the 85% for weight!  Hoping I don't have to give birth to a 10 pounder...

Upcoming appointments or eventsSince the baby is pretty big, we have to do a growth scan at 37 weeks. We also will check the position of the baby at our next appointment, a week from Friday. Hopefully it's scooted to a nice head-down position, as we get closer to the big arrival. After next Friday, we're doing weekly appointments, and will only have 3 or 4 of those before the baby should be here!  

At 35 weeks, I feel like it's a pretty sizable belly!

This might be the last updated I manage to post... so wish us luck if that's the case!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Pretty soon we'll have a new (tiny) roommate!

After months of planning, ordering, building, and waiting patiently, I think the baby's nursery is just about done! We're still waiting on curtains and a crib skirt, which my mom will be making. We also want to wait to buy some of the decorations to hang on the walls. I think it will be nice to know the baby's gender and name before that part. But otherwise, we're done!

Let's start from the beginning, though :)

There was a decent amount of time when the room looked like this.
I was having trouble dealing with that, with my type-A personality!

So this guy came along to save the day!

He's pretty handy. A good guy to have around!
Ta-da! It's a real crib, with a mattress and everything!
This was at 34 weeks, so right about the time I started
freaking out a little about the lack of time remaining.

This weekend we really kicked baby preparations into high gear. We installed the carseat, attached the diaper sprayer to the toilet (cloth diapers are glamorous!), and got the babies room almost completely set up. The floors are clean, the rug is down, and we picked up our glider from Buy Buy Baby. There is a decent chance I'll be spending a lot of time in that glider in the coming weeks. It's a recliner, and is so plush and comfortable! And stylish, too... I'm kind of obsessed!  

Ok, little baby! We're ready when you are :) With 5 weeks to go, it is exciting for us to say, "See you soon!" Anyone have last minute bits of advice to share with us?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

And then there was a baby shower!

Having a baby is keeping me reeeeaaaaly busy! I'm still working full time, plus a prenatal yoga class and a childbirth prep class each week. I'm trying to squeeze in time with all of my friends, too. We're getting things in order, though, which is really exciting! A really fun part of baby preparations was our recent baby shower!

We had the shower two weeks go, when I was 32 weeks pregnant. It was perfect timing. I was still feeling pretty good, but it was also late enough in the game that it didn't feel ridiculous to be getting so much baby gear. Our friends and family were so generous and thoughtful! I felt so loved and well cared for, and thought it was pretty much a perfect day. Here's a few pictures from the day, capturing some of my favorite moments and people. 

This is the girl who used to be my baby sister.
Now she's months away from college graduation and becoming a 'real adult'.
She's awesome!

Joe made a brief appearance. I have the most handsome baby daddy!!

I got all sappy for a minute before opening the gifts.
I am so amazed at the community of friends we've
made in Chicago, and also how many friends and
family traveled to Chicago to help celebrate!
This is my "OMG ADORABLE" face.
It made many appearances that day!

People say that they can tell we're related :)
Side note: cake with chocolate butter cream and ganache is amazing.

Baby Joe and Baby Erin

And now, lots of pictures of my beautiful friends and family...

My 'running friends'... though it's been a while since we're done that!

Some of my favorite co-workers.

A combination of  book club and Mizzou friends.

More Mizzou and book club ladies.

Joe's aunt and cousin joined us for the party! And my friend Angela is
someone I met through a neighborhood home brewing group,
and she is officially my neighborhood friend, since she lives about 2 blocks away!

My friend Kristen got to know Joe's mom during the lunch. Smiling faces all around :)

Sisters! I love and miss you guys! Move to Chicago, ok?

My mom and her friend Jennifer studied abroad together a few years ago :)
Now they always catch up when my mom visits Chicago.
A great picture with my mom and sisters!
Thank you for a wonderful baby shower and weekend!!

After the shower it was so fun to start putting things together in the baby's room. In the last two weeks we've built the crib, cleared out the bedroom, washed all the clothing and diapers, and really gotten things in order. It's getting pretty evident around our house that a baby is coming soon. We've got a stroller, high chair, car seat, bassinet, and so many cute tiny little things! Things are getting real... six weeks to go!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Escaping the Cold~~ A Weekend in Miami!

Last summer, when I found out I was pregnant, I was overjoyed. There was so much excitement ahead! But I quickly realized one downside to the news-- my best friend from college is getting married in early March, in Toronto, and I would have to skip the wedding. This news really bummed me out, but I knew there was no getting around it. In fact, I immediately researched how to get a baby a passport, so I could go about bringing the baby to visit Toronto as soon as is is old enough! The papers are already printed out and waiting, so we can do the application within the first couple weeks. 

When Danielle mentioned that she was interested in a destination bachelorette party, I knew I was all in. Miami in January? Sounds like just what this pregnant mama was looking for! And I was right. It was a fabulous trip. Great food, beautiful beaches, warm weather. Exactly what I was looking for. I was so happy to spend the weekend with Danielle, and to get to know some of her friends from New York. I was a little nervous about hanging out in Miami without being able to drink, but I am happy to say that it didn't affect my trip much at all. The ladies went dancing Saturday night while I went to bed, and otherwise I didn't miss out on anything. Though I wouldn't mind heading back to Miami some day, to taste some of the mojitos that everyone else got to enjoy!

I could get used to this!

My belly loved the vitamin D :)

The whole group before our fancy dinner on Saturday night.

Love ya girl!