Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Letters to my Baby: Month One

{I'm going to try to do this each month for the first year, since so much changes during that time. We'll see how I do!}

Sweet little one,
It's hard to believe you're already one month old. What a month it has been! Your dad and I marvel at the creation we've made-- we can't believe we created such a beautiful little girl! It feels like you've been in our lives for ages already, yet also like you were just coming home from the hospital yesterday. We have learned so much about you in this last month, and I know we have so much more to learn as you continue to grow. The biggest lesson has been love. There is so much love in our home and our hearts now that you've joined our family!

You've already grown so much in this first month. You don't seem as fragile as you did at first, and you already weigh almost 10 pounds. You're super tall, too. At your two week appointment, they said your height put you in the 99th percentile! It's not a huge surprise, given your tall parents! You're doing great with tummy time, and holding your head up for a little longer each day. You've been eating like an old pro, too, which makes mommy and daddy so happy. Breastfeeding isn't always easy, but it makes us so happy that it's working out well. And pretty soon we'll give you an occasional  bottle, too, so that your daddy can feed you. You hate the pacifier so far, but we're not giving up on that quite yet! You do love bath time, though, and a little extra bare bottom time as we're getting you dressed. We're using cloth diapers most of the time, which has been a little challenge because of some slight rashes, but we're getting the hang of it. You slept a lot in this first month, and love to snuggle with us. But you're getting more wakeful these days, too, and are even hinting at the beginnings of some intentional smiling. We can't wait to see your personality continue to develop in the next months!

Here are some picture highlights of your first month of life. Not surprisingly, we took a lot! But you're too beautiful to resist, so we have to capture all of these wonderful moments.

The most amazing moment I've ever experienced.

Proud grandparents

This guy was made to be a dad!

You were so darn tiny when we brought you home from the hospital.
That didn't last :)

Bringing you home. It was so exciting, and scary, too!

More doting grandparents, and your proud papa.
Grandma H was with us for the first two weeks, which was a HUGE help!

I love to watch her sleep. So precious. 

Weekend mornings are my favorite time!

She loooooved Aunt Laura!

That face!

She's gaining weight like a champ, but still kind of a string bean :)

How could she not have us wrapped around her finger?!

After weeks of letting friends bring us food, I had
to document the first meal I cooked for us.
Fajitas and the works... yum! (She was asleep in her rocker
for a few minutes, then we switched off holding her while
we finished our meal)
Elise, this last month has been the most challenging and rewarding of your parents life. We can't wait to see what adventures the coming months have in store for us! (And we can't wait to sleep through the night again!) We love you so much baby girl!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Happy Easter!

Easter is a holiday I always enjoy, and this year was of course no exception! I like the festive atmosphere at church, and I like that it's really a low-key holiday overall. We're too far from most family, and like to spend the day having a nice brunch at home and then the afternoon with friends. This year was pretty great! We had a relaxing day, and the weather in Chicago was BEAUTIFUL. Finally! We made it into a nice weekend, too, since Joe was off work on Friday. Three day weekends are extra special now that I'm home with the baby and Joe's working all week.

Saturday we went out to Joe's parents' house. It is about a 90 minute drive from here, so it was the first time we were taking Elise on a longer drive. She did great, and slept almost the whole way there and back! We spend the afternoon hanging out with his parents, and introducing Elise to her uncle Jeff. It was a great way to spend the day, and Elise loved all the snuggles and attention :)

Elise loved meeting Uncle Jeff

Playtime with the Grandparents

I love pictures of our new family of three!

And the whole gang (minus Joe's brother and his family)

On Sunday we made sure to start the day the best way we know how... in our pajamas as long as possible! We lounged around the house, loved on Elise a whole bunch, and made a nice brunch spread to enjoy together. Then we got cleaned up, put on our nice clothes, and headed over to church. It was the first time taking Elise there, and I was pretty nervous how it would go. We got lucky, and again she slept the whole time! She looked adorable in her little dress, and we took a moment to get a few family pictures before heading home.

Happy Easter from our little family of three!

The weather was so beautiful-- 70 degree temps and clear blue skies. We took a walk around the neighborhood, and then went over to our friends' place for a while. To keep things enjoyable for all of us, we didn't stay for dinner, but we spent a couple hours hanging out and catching up with some of our favorite people. All together, I'd call it a very successful holiday!

Lots of good things to toast to these days!

My two favorite people :)

It was warm! There was sunshine! I believe there is hope for this summer!

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!